As the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has spread, one Southern Baptist evangelist says it’s opening up tremendous opportunities to share the Gospel online.
Sammy Tippit, the president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE), is leaning on the Internet for a massive evangelistic outreach in partnership with church multiplication movements in ten countries in May. It’s part of a four-year journey for Tippit in investing in technology for evangelistic purposes.
“I’m encouraging everyone to get more digitally educated,” Tippit said. “Not just do a few digital things but to make it a part of their strategy. We can reach a lot more people than we ever have in evangelism. This is the greatest opportunity for evangelism the church has ever known.”
About four years ago, a question by a technology company owner opened Tippit’s eyes to the potential of technology to impact his work: “If you could do anything you want with technology, what would it be?”
At the time, Tippit couldn’t answer the question, but he kept thinking about it. Leaning on his experience in discipleship and multiplication as a Baptist pastor in Germany, he began to consider ways to multiply disciples online. At around the same time, a young Indian man contacted him. The man had recently led two hundred people to faith in Christ and was looking for a way to disciple them. For three weeks, the two discipled the new believers through Skype. Then they tried an evangelistic crusade through Skype. The church was packed, and one hundred people listened to the evangelistic presentation outside of the church. A hundred people came to faith in Christ that day. Later they’d replicate that strategy multiple times, and once even saw ten thousand people come to faith in Christ through one of these online crusades.
That experience changed Tippit’s ministry in a fresh way. Reaching out to multiplication networks he had around the world, he started ten Facebook pages in ten different languages. Tippit posts discipleship videos on those pages daily. In total, they get 6.5 million views each month.
Last year, Brazilian Baptists reached out to him and asked him to create daily videos on God’s plan for the family. Tens of thousands of Brazilian Baptists participated in the effort and engaged one another online through the WhatsApp app.
“I was just blown away by what they were doing,” Tippit said. “I asked the leaders, ‘Why don’t we take it a step further and not just pray for our families but share Christ with them?’”
Tippit has prepared thirty daily videos that walk Brazilian Baptists through how to pray for their families, share their testimonies, engage people in conversation, and more. Originally, he was scheduled to visit Brazil to conclude the thirty days with an evangelistic event. With the spread of COVID-19 impacting everyone’s travel, Brazilian Baptists will stream a Gospel presentation Tippit preached at the one hundredth anniversary of Brazilian Baptist Convention in January. Currently, Brazilian Baptists have two thousand churches involved in the effort that will culminate at the end of May with the Gospel presentation by Tippit.
Starting in January, Tippit and his team began starting groups on WhatsApp among nine other languages. To date, the ministry has started 1,120 discipleship groups in sixty-seven countries. Those numbers have grown extensively in the last month as the COVID-19 epidemic has spread.
In his work with COSBE, Tippit co-hosted the Facebook Live event "Covered by the Cross" on April 9, which featured testimonies, music, and Gospel presentations. Tippit described it as “a historic moment for COSBE,” with four hundred thousand total views online throughout Easter weekend. A Pakistani television network also translated the program into Urdu and aired it three times.
The Easter livestream was a “great start” to COSBE's online ministry, Tippit told Baptist Press after the event.
COSBE will host another Facebook Live worship experience in June called "Transformed by the Cross." More details will be available at sbcevangelist.org.
Tobin Perry is a freelance writer in Evansville, Indiana, and is a member of Center of Hope Church in Evansville.