ALBANY, Ky. (KT) – Jordan Lockridge doesn’t fashion himself as the next great evangelist in Kentucky.
But the bivocational pastor of little Green Grove Missionary Baptist Church spent a tireless 12-day revival – all online – to spread God’s word during the coronavirus outbreak.
On a good Sunday morning at Green Grove, he will deliver a message to about 60 faithful members. But during one of his online sessions, using Facebook Live, he clocked in at more than 2,000 views.
“I liked to fell over when I saw that,” Lockridge said. “What did I preach that was so good? I know it ain’t me. I ain’t no good for nothin’.”
The 33-year-old pastor’s views of his messages totaled nearly 9,000 for the dozen nights. Each service included prayer requests and a Bible study for a total of about 45 minutes apiece, he said. Some nights the viewership was big and some nights not so big. The average session though was about 700 views, he said.
But here’s the best number. “We had one girl who gave her life to Jesus,” Lockridge said. “That was praiseworthy. God had his way.”
Lockridge said he mostly used the gospels and many of the parables, since that’s how Jesus taught.
“I didn’t approach it like a Sunday morning sermon. I went back to the very well- known passages, mainly from the four gospels,” he said. “The parables are easier for people to understand. People remember those and, quite honestly, they will last for eternity. Two thousand years from now, when me and you are completely forgotten, they’ll be sharing those parables.”
Lockridge is no stranger to technology having livestreamed services for a couple of years. However, he did try some engagement tools that may have helped his viewership track high numbers.
“When people were commenting, I tried to acknowledge it,” he said. “When they would write ‘Amen’ or ‘Praise God!’ I would call them out by name to keep them engaged. I found that to be effective. If they feel like they are part of the sermon, it keeps them engaged.”
He said many of the same people “were rolling back in” every night.
The numbers began to fade at the end of the 12 days, he said, with the lowest numbers coming on the last two nights. “I was tired,” he said. “That may have been part of it. I’m honestly exhausted.”
Lockridge also encouraged those who were listening to hit the “Like” button if they brought a Bible so others could see it or tab the “Like” button if they had a prayer request. He said he was actively trying to engage his viewers to build a bigger audience. Facebook algorithms suggest the more “likes” and “shares” a post receives, the audience will broaden, he said.
He also sent out a notice 15 minutes before going “live” to alert his followers. Lockridge said the idea of the 12-day revival just “came out of my mouth” while talking with church leaders about what they were going to do during the pandemic.
“The spirit was leading me,” he said. “My dream is to have other Southern Baptist ministers join together and see this (revivals) spread (online).”
Lockridge is looking first at the Wayne County community where he said 4,500 of the 18,000 are either unchurched or de-churched. “The effectiveness of reaching those lost people (via Facebook) has been great,” he said.
The young pastor, who has a family and another fulltime job, wasn’t sure about trying another 12-day revival anytime soon, but said a five- or seven-day repeat of the revival seems like a good idea.
“I do this because God called me to do it,” he said. “My main goal is for people to hear the word of God preached.”
The idea of an online revival is already catching on with several Kentucky Baptist church associations.
Churches in the Pike Association of Southern Baptists and the Muhlenburg Association will be having online revival services throughout the week leading up to Easter Sunday.