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Digital Evangelism in the Fresno Central Church

Digital evangelism continues to move the mission of the Central California Conference forward: The Adventist Message to all of Central California and the world in this generation! Fresno Central Church was one of the first churches in the conference to implement this digital evangelism campaign, and it has had a powerful impact on the Fresno community.


Daniel Gouveia, pastor of the Fresno Central Church, was told about the digital evangelistic project by Pastor Justin Kim, director of communication and digital evangelism for the conference. “I was excited, but at the same time I was a little bit afraid. Knowing the potential that Facebook ads have today, I knew we might have more contact and response than we could manage,” said Gouveia. 


He agreed to test this project in his church, but was concerned because the congregation at his church is mostly elderly. “Some of the members deal very well with technology, and some don't. I prayed about it, though, and we went ahead.” Gouveia helped put together a team at the church to handle this digital evangelism, under the guidance of Vanessa Greer. They created a group of about six people to manage the responses from the digital ads. 


The result of the digital evangelism campaign was powerful. The church received hundreds, eventually thousands, of interactions, prayer requests, and meaningful contacts. This response was initially managed with the help of a rapid response team from the Philippines and chaplains from Andrews University.


The team at the Fresno Central Church transitioned to responding to every single contact. “Now, of those hundreds of meaningful contacts—it was about 400 initially—some of them still continue to this day,” said Gouveia. “We had to stop running the ad because we were getting too many responses, and some of the people shared really heavy stuff with us and required a lot of support.” 


This project has had an impact on the Fresno Central Church that can be replicated in other churches around the conference. “I think this project has been a great blessing to our church,” said Gouveia. Most of the members of the Fresno Church are elderly, but the church has now started an active youth group as a result of the campaign. “By God's grace, we now have a youth group that is growing!” he added.


It was God

Gouveia shared that one night at 11:30 he was working late when a team member texted him saying one of their contacts had asked for prayer. The contact was at the hospital because her son had been in a car accident and she was desperate for support. She wanted someone to go to the hospital and pray for her son.


“I get there and there’s the mom and her family. And so I prayed with the family and they asked me, ‘Would you like to go in and see him?’” Gouveia went into the room where the son was under a sedative. His neck was immobilized. A truck had T-boned his vehicle, but he survived because he was thrown out of his car. The doctors decided to have surgery the next morning, but said there would be about a 1 percent chance he would ever walk again. “And so the mom was completely crushed by this scenario. We prayed. I prayed with the family, then I prayed with the son.” 


The mother continued reaching out, and Gouveia returned to the hospital the next day. “The surgery went very well,” said Gouveia. “From a 1 percent probability of him walking again, it had gone up to 50 percent. The doctors were excited.” In the next few weeks, he started physical therapy and regained mobility. 


“It was God,” added Gouveai. “But to be a part of that process was amazing and I still maintain a good relationship with his mother. She texted me, she opened up, we prayed. At the moment of their greatest need, somebody was there because of this project, because of digital evangelism.”


The experience of Fresno Central Church shows the potential of digital evangelism to reach wider audiences and strengthen community connections, providing support in times of need. As the church plans to resume its digital campaigns, the lessons learned from this pilot project will influence their plans moving forward, blending traditional pastoral care with modern digital outreach to meet the needs of the community.


For congregations looking to adopt digital evangelism, Gouveia encourages you to assess your community’s needs and your church’s resources, then start small with the plan to scale up as needed. “Prayer should really be the priority,” added Gouveia. “Make sure you have a prayer meeting that is in-person and active. Make sure you have a team of people praying. You don't need digitally savvy people to do that.”


Written by Brennan Hallock 


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