Our biggest guest event outside Christmas and baby thanksgivings

Our guest blog is from Rich Pitt

Two and a half weeks ago, someone asked me ‘should we do some evangelism during lockdown?’ and I laughed and said ‘how?!’. We are now a few days after our first Questions In Crisis Sunday and are frantically plotting our follow up Alpha course. God is good.

Here’s how it went, and how your church or group can get started if you want to do something similar.

The idea is really simple. Questions In Crisis” is the name, once a month, with a relevant question each time covered in three ways

–        a pre-recorded, shorter talk

–        a pre-recorded Zoom interview with an interesting person in our church

–        a live Q&A webinar on Zoom

It’s all sitting there at Church Central if you want to see but this time we went for “How do I find peace in the pandemic?”, and I spoke on how knowing Jesus helps within the experience of everything changing, of an uncertain future, and of being separated from loved ones.

Then I interviewed Zoe, a doctor and mum in our church for 20 mins on their experiences with fighting for peace in all of this. She was gripping to listen to.

Then we did a live Q&A on Zoom. We used the webinar setting, which enabled people to attend live but without their cameras or mics being public. Only hosts could see who was on, and people could interact using the chat function if they wanted to, but were also free to keep their heads down.

It was brilliant. We had around 120 people on the Zoom webinar, at least 15 of whom were from outside of our church. We know that all of them watched the talk and interview ‘as live’ as well as several others who didn’t come on to the Q&A. This makes it comfortably our biggest guest event (except Christmas carols and baby thanksgivings) that we’ve done since I’ve worked for the church (summer 2016).

Some reports:

“One of my friends who’s not a Christian has been struggling with the uncertainty of this time and has asked questions about God. She tuned in this morning and particularly appreciated the interview.”

“My friend has found church a tricky place for years now, and has tended to stay away. This morning’s talk, interview and Q&A was ‘just what she needed’”

“Thank you so much for inviting me this morning, it was a really thought-provoking and inspiring experience, and I really enjoyed it – worth getting out of bed for! I found a lot of what you said really resonated and stuck with me over the day.”

“That was so calming. It is so useful to know I’m not on my own in how I’m feeling. So much of what was spoken about both practically and spiritually has gone in. I’ve been really struggling with my mental health but the advice and listening to others feeling the same has brought a sense of peace over me. I thank u again, I will look out for further videos.”

Now over to you. If you’re a big church with a big budget, you probably don’t need a helping hand on this stuff, but if you’re a small-ish church, or one that is just a tired after the first month of lockdown, I recognise starting something from scratch can be really daunting.

So, here’s a simple guide to doing something similar one Sunday. 5 steps.

1)    Talk – the ideal would be for someone in your church to speak, God has placed you there for such a time as this, not me. But if it gives you a week off, and simplifies things, you are free to use my pre-recorded talk as your talk if it helps you. Just get in touch, and I’ll send a file without our Q&A phone number on it etc, and you can use that.

2)    Interview – line up someone who a guest would feel a resonance with – we chose a very down to earth Doctor and mum who speaks from the heart. She was perfect. You don’t need a world-famous apologist. You need someone who loves Jesus and has a story to tell. Also, authenticity helps. Someone who hasn’t struggled one bit is probably not your best choice for this role. It’s great for low-tech people as well, you just zoom call, hit record, job done. No one cares about low quality because it’s on Zoom and even Have I Got News For You are doing it.

3)    ‘Host’ – again, we used our best welcomer at the start of the video, to set the tone, and she also hosted the Q&A – enabling a cohesion to the whole morning. Whoever will most put people at ease.

4)    Envision the church to pray – we urged people to lean hard into God and pray, pray and pray some more. This is a time for God to break in to your friends lives. Let’s go for it!!!! Let’s seize the opportunity!

5)    Envision and equip the church to courageously invite – I directly asked every member of our church to give me their courage for the four days leading up to it. I asked them to utilise the time to do two things. First, personally and directly invite some people (that’s so much more effective than the blanket share). Second, DO THE BLANKET SHARE! One of the stories above came from one of my friends who saw the image on my post and it just resonated, and she messaged me and asked if she could get involved.

Go for it. Or do something different and better. But whatever you do, please deliberately do something to get outsiders hearing of Jesus.

If you want the flyers, promo vid, advice, or want to use my talk, head to Churchcentral.org.uk/questions, scroll down, and just fill in the form and I’d be glad to send you everything.

Peace from Birmingham.

Rich Pitt

Rich lives in Birmingham and is part of the team at Church Central, a small family of churches across the city. He’s married to a Ruth, a paediatrician, and they have two daughters, Grace who is 3 and Rosie who is 1.

Published by Nay Dawson

Nay works with IFES Europe as their Regional Training Co-ordinator, training staff and students across Europe. She works on the European Regional leadership team for the charity. She was the Revive Extra Plenary Director for one of largest Student Conferences in Europe. Nay is the founder of Passion for Evangelism. PfE is a network of creative, public female speakers. Helping hundereds of women grow in confidence in public communication. Nay set up an initiative called Community in a crisis. CIAC has been helping churches and charities across Europe get online during the pandemic.

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