With church buildings closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many ministries have been done virtually. Hasani Tait, pastor at Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church in Greenville, Mississippi, United States, has found new ways to do virtual evangelism in safe, practical, and socially distanced ways.
After much prayer, fasting, and conversation with Michael Lewis, pastor from Birmingham, Alabama, on his experience with virtual evangelism, Tait and South Central Conference ministerial director Joe Grider conducted a virtual Revelation seminar at Tait’s church.
The seminar at Ephesus church resulted in 32 new members accepted via baptism or profession of faith and zero COVID cases. Here's how they did it.
COVID-Proofing the Church
The South Central Conference sent out guidelines to pastors in 2020 on precautions, protocols, and procedures to prepare churches for future reopening — socially distanced seating charts, shampooing carpets, disinfecting the entire church, removing all unnecessary furniture items, remodeling bathrooms, temperature guns, masks, sanitizer stations, safety signs, floor markers, and sanitizing microphones. Tait emphasized that Ephesus church members completed every health-and-safety protocol.
A team of four, two professional Bible workers and two local church volunteer workers, were trained in socially distanced Bible work and went door to door in the Greenville territory from September 28 to October 23, 2020. “The team was trained to wear masks and gloves, keep a distance of about 10 feet [3 meters], and place Bible studies in bags when visiting each home,” Tait reported. “The team made many good community contacts.”
Once the virtual evangelistic meeting began, Lewis and Alfred Miller, an evangelist from Birmingham, led the team.
Virtual Evangelistic Meetings
Nightly virtual evangelistic meetings were streamed from October 24 to November 7, 2020, at Ephesus church to reach individuals who had been studying with the Bible work team. Tait preached doctrinal truths from the book of Revelation in relevant and practical ways. Each evening, no more than 10 to 12 community guests were allowed in the building to listen in person. As they entered, they were given masks if needed, had temperature checked at the door, and sanitized hands upon entry. The 10 to 12 guests sat socially distanced at marked seats in the approximately 300-seat sanctuary. Each meeting was opened by Lewis, followed by a musical selection, and ending with Tait’s message. The total nightly stream, not including the intro, was less than an hour. Other guests, church members, and Bible study interests watched the replay-able livestream either on the Greenville Ephesus YouTube channel or the church’s Facebook page.
Thirty-two individuals who had made a decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and join the Ephesus church were encouraged to join via profession of faith. Those who insisted were allowed water baptism. During the evangelistic meetings, leaders organized six profession-of-faith and baptism sessions. Baptisms followed South Central Conference’s safety procedures for baptism during COVID-19.
“Praise God, the meeting was a huge blessing and major success as many individuals accepted Christ in Greenville,” Tait said.