Church finds new way to advance gospel through social media
Jan 4, 2021
By Johanna Willett
As COVID-19 closed churches around Arizona, Pastor Jorge Garcia found himself preaching in living rooms and kitchens — virtually, that is.
Garcia, the pastor of Spanish-speaking Iglesia Bautista Kairos in Tucson, never used social media before the pandemic struck. In fact, he admits he thought it was a waste of time. That changed when coronavirus shuttered his church for weeks last spring, forcing him to modify the way he connected with his congregation.
“I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know how to do it …” he says. “We didn’t have equipment. But we had a heart the Lord is using to get to people.”
Despite his misgivings, Garcia got help and learned fast, purchasing a new phone so his wife, Belinda, could better film Sunday services for Facebook Live. Wednesday night Bible studies also went virtual, WhatsApp became a primary forum for church updates, and Garcia began meeting regularly with other pastors over Zoom.
Most rewarding of all, Garcia knows people are watching who never previously attended his church. On a Sunday morning before COVID-19, Iglesia Bautista Kairos could expect 120 to 140 worshipers. Since returning to in-person services in May, they see 60 to 70. But online, sermons may get as many as 300 to 400 views, Garcia says. The early videos drew more than 1,000 views.
“We had to close our doors for a while, but I kept telling my people it was in order to open many of the doors and hearts for people to hear the gospel directly in their homes,” Garcia says.
Garcia does not take that responsibility lightly, praying and fasting and asking his team to do the same.
“Now I have a lot of respect for social media,” Garcia says. “I know it’s a tool the Lord has used to share the gospel in this time.”
Garcia’s son Jorge Garcia Jr. volunteers at the church in several ways, including translating services into English. He adds that even as in-person services have returned, the virtual offerings must continue.
“Even if we don’t see it physically, I think in heaven we will realize that people have been touched through the waves of the internet,” he says.
His father adds that many of the internet visitors are relatives, often Catholic, of families who do attend regularly. At a recent memorial service, some of those listeners came in person, he says.
“I’m pretty sure, deep in my heart, that the Lord has been saving and raising people,” he says.
Garcia says that in recent months he has also received an influx of Facebook friend requests from some of those same viewers — some expressing gratitude or a prayer request.
“I would say to pastors out there, please wake up and let the Lord use social media to reach more people for His kingdom,” he says. “[Right now,] I think it’s the best channel and the best way to spread the gospel. … If you don’t know how to do it, let someone else help you. It’s the only way to get into people’s houses.”
Johanna Willett, a freelance writer living in Tucson, is a member of Mountain View Baptist Church, Tucson.
–Consider how your church can use social media to reach people with the gospel.
–Share your church’s Facebook page or other virtual resources with a friend.
–Pray for your pastor on Sunday, as virtual services have extended the reach of many churches.