Yesterday was Palm Sunday, a day celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Typically, our church would gather outside and process around the building – waving palm branches and shouting: “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21 ESV)
Palm Sunday always holds a mixture of gladness and dread – Jesus is applauded today, but those same crowds will soon be screaming for His execution. His followers will all flee and forsake Him, and He’ll die a gruesome death.
The day marks the beginning of the last week of Lent, and we look ahead to Holy Week which the church sets apart with a number of special services. Maundy Thursday reminds us of Christ’s new commandment to the disciples, “Love one another as I have loved you,” which He then demonstrates by washing their feet and celebrating the Last Supper with them.
On Good Friday, we look deeply at Jesus’ suffering for our sins. We participate in the great exchange: Jesus assumes our sin and shame, and God gives us His righteousness. Many churches hold an Easter Vigil service on Saturday night. Holy Week concludes with a raucous, glorious, alleluia-filled celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His defeat of sin and death on Easter Morning.
But this year is different. Yesterday my family had palm branches and communion, but we participated in a church service at home, watching online – as millions around the nation did, too. We won’t be joining others for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday or Easter this year. We’re sequestered and quarantined.
Easter is typically one of the main entry points into the life of church – the other being Christmas – when many newcomers come to check things out and when some who have strayed return to the fold.
So how do believers reach out to others and invite them to hear the Good News that is normally preached at millions of churches around the world this coming Sunday?
One pastor has a simple idea. Jeremy Treat is pastor for preaching and vision at Reality LA in Los Angeles and a Council member of The Gospel Coalition. Rather than bring people to church services, he wants to take the good news to the world via social media.
Treat invites Christians to create short videos explaining how Jesus changed their lives, labeled with #JesusChangedMyLife and an invitation to join in online to their local church service.
As Treat has shared his idea, it’s grown. He told a dozen pastors in Los Angeles, and they jumped on board. He told others at The Gospel Coalition, and they embraced the idea. Now, you can find pastors and churches and individuals all across the U.S. posting their stories online and encouraging others to do so.
Here’s a short guideline from The Gospel Coalition explaining how you can participate:
- Create a one- to two-minute video of yourself sharing your testimony of how Jesus changed your life. Here are some tips on how to tell your story, as well as selfie video best practices (see also here). Include an invitation at the end of your video for others to believe in Jesus and welcome them to follow up with you or another Christian community for help in this difficult season. If you don’t want to share a video of yourself, feel free to just write your testimony in a social-media post!
- Share the video on social media starting the Monday of Easter Week (April 6). Be sure to use hashtag #JesusChangedMyLife and tag your church’s social-media handle in your post (e.g. #JesusChangedMyLife @RealityLA) so people can learn more about Jesus through a local church.
- Pray that the resurrection power of Jesus on display in these videos would inspire many to tune into a service on Easter and begin their own #JesusChangedMyLife journeys.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Treat writes that many people are “looking for answers to life’s deepest questions and wondering if there is any hope.”
A tiny virus is causing us to recognize our vulnerability. Things that we might normally depend on – our booming economy, government agencies, our health care system – are shaken and struggling. Treat says, “This, more than ever, is the time for the church to rise up and proclaim the message of the resurrection.”
#JesusChangedMyLife: Though I grew up in a Christian home, and believed in Jesus and tried to follow Him, I struggled with my sexuality and identity and sexual sin. Over time, He brought healing to past hurts. He brought freedom from habitual sins. Jesus helped me believe truth instead of lies. I experienced His grace and forgiveness. He gave me a wonderful wife and three incredible sons. I have a heart of thankfulness, instead of one filled with bitterness, shame, guilt and regret. I’ve experienced His love.
#JesusChangedMyLife. How has He changed yours?
Reality LA: #JesusChangedMyLife
The Gospel Coalition: Share Your #JesusChangedMyLife Story