How Can We Love Our Non-Christian Neighbors During COVID-19?

Article
05.05.2020

Editor’s note: We asked pastors how they’d been serving their non-Christian neighbors since the pandemic disrupted regular ministry. This list will be updated as more ideas come in.

For more resources related to COVID-19, visit our new site: COVID-19 & The Church.

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By Joel Kurz, pastor of the Garden Church in Baltimore

Even during a pandemic, we must remember that our lost friends and neighbors can’t believe a gospel they’ve never heard: “How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14).

To this end, during the pandemic our church has been inviting friends and neighbors to join us for Christianity Explainedonline. Christianity Explained is a six-session evangelism curriculum I’ve used in one-to-one personal evangelism for years. I’ve now taken it to Zoom. I created an Eventbrite page for registration. I used an app on my phone called “Typorama” to create a simple flyer. Then I promoted it on social media and sent the promotion to non-Christian friends and neighbors.

Additionally, I encouraged church members to invite their lost friends and family, join the call, and use it as a conversation starter to strengthen their own evangelism. It’s a no-pressure, conversational explanation of what Christianity is all about. On Zoom, I use “white board” to teach and screen share Bible gateway. Teaching lasts 30 to 40 minutes and I allow for 20 to 30 minutes of Q&A. It has been very fruitful and sparked a number of new evangelistic opportunities.

For the Christianity Explained curriculum, click here.

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By Bob Johnson, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in suburban Detroit

I live and serve in the Detroit area where the pandemic has had a particularly big impact. Here are some ways we have sought to evangelize our community.

  • We provide printed resources on the gospel and encourage members to give those resources to neighbors and friends (usually along with another gift).
  • We provide the same resources and gifts for front-line medical workers who share these resources with co-workers and patients when able.
  • We have an evangelistic message posted on our YouTube channel and Facebook page for people to share with their neighbors. Some of our nurses share it with the family members of patients who are very distraught about not being able to be with their family members in the hospital.
  • I post my email address during our livestreams and invite non-believers to contact me so I can follow up with them.
  • I have one nurse who will give me the cell number of her patients—with their permission, of course—and I will text them prayers.

Additionally, we are seeking to serve our community.

  • Church members have sewn around 1,500 masks and skull caps for hospitals and nursing homes and delivered them to our nurses who share them.
  • We have people who call the COVID-19 hospital floors of the local hospitals once a shift and pray for the workers with them.
  • We have offered our facility to be used for overflow for patients, and our parking lot for testing and food distribution.
  • We have a group of members who are being certified by FEMA so that our facility can be used if needed.

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by PJ Tibayan, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church near Los Angeles

Here’s a sample of a few things I and members of my church have done to care for our neighbors.

  • Bought a Bible with super giant print for a non-Christian neighbor who we offered to read the Bible with.
  • blessed their neighbors by sharing their freezer or refrigerator space with neighbors in need during a blackout.
  • Calling/texting neighbors when doing a grocery run to see if they need anything
  • Front lawn bbq/picnic with social distancing
  • Dropping off Krispy Kreme Doughnuts or other desserts when going out for some
  • Sharing spare food with homeless neighbors
  • Checking in with neighbors to see if they’re ok, if we can pray for them, and if they need toilet paper
  • Dropping off food packs of 2 weeks of non-perishable foods for needy families (supplied by Children’s Hunger Fund)

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by Afshin Ziafat, pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas

Ways we are seeking to love our non-Christian neighbors right now:

  • EASTER OUTREACH PACKS: Leading up to Easter Sunday, we handed out 1,000 old-school popcorn bags (that you would get at the movie theatre) containing the following:
    • An invitation to visit our church’s website and stream our Easter services online
    • A Personal Letter to your neighbor with words of encouragement and offering to help in any way
    • A Gospel Tract (connected to the coronavirus)
    • A Movie Gift Card – with a link to Living Water’s website fullyfreemovies.com
    • A bag of Popcorn (of course!)
  • LEVERAGING SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS:
    • We have leveraged our platforms of communication and encouraged our people to share our sermons and other videos on social media.
    • Through email and social media posts we have directed our people to donate to Love Packs which is a Christian non-profit that is helping to feed the families in the area whose students who rely on school lunches.
  • CARE PACKAGES:
    • We are about to roll out our next care package outreach by delivering a gift to every member with the following:
      • A letter from the elders
      • John Piper’s Coronavirus and Christ
      • A short list of some healthy habits you can cultivate during this time
      • A short list of some practical ways that you can love, serve, and reach your neighbors right now
      • Gospel tracts to hand out
  • VIRTUAL RUN:
    • Following this Care Package Drop Off, we plan to have a “Virtual Run” to raise money to go toward blessing some medical staff in our local area. A virtual run is essentially a fundraiser for a particular cause. People can sign up to run or walk (any distance) and pledge an amount to donate. Kind of like a kids’ “fun run” fundraiser, except that everyone runs on their own time and shares their participation on social media.
    • After being encouraged and blessed through the care package from the elders, this is a great way to empower our people to be a blessing themselves to the medical staff folks who are putting their lives on the line to protect and care for the sick.