This article was written by Warren Gasaway, Evangelism + Church Health and College + Young Leaders team leader at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Arkansas Tourism representatives are anticipating up to 1.5 million visitors for the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. Astronomy websites have Arkansas as one of the prime places to view the moon passing between the sun and the earth, blocking the face of the sun. Already hotels and campgrounds are booked, and Chambers of Commerce in many towns are preparing to welcome all the visitors. Can churches utilize this time for the purposes of the Gospel?
Here are a few considerations for preparation:
- In advance, purchase approved solar eclipse glasses. Those glasses will be hard to find as the eclipse date draws near. Having glasses available will certainly be a draw to your church.
- Begin to plan and promote viewing parties. Visitors and community members may want a place where they can view the eclipse with others. A church parking lot with facilities may be an attractive option. Consider reserving space at a park or in a location with an unobstructed view. Begin now thinking through food, parking, activities, and Gospel conversation opportunities. Maybe offer breakfast or lunch at your facility.
- Bring in a guest speaker for a Sunday (the day before) or Monday evening special service. The eclipse offers a unique opportunity to engage with individuals interested in astrology, science, and creation. Ask your speaker to preach on God’s creation and include how He, as Creator, has a plan for its redemption.
- Many campgrounds will be full. On the Sunday before the eclipse, offer a service at one of your closest campsites.
- Have special Gospel cards, tracts, or information that you can give eclipse watchers that share the Gospel beginning with creation. Offer bottles of water at some of the more crowded spaces.
- Make sure your website is up-to-date and inviting for guests. Include information for those in the area to watch the eclipse.
- Post your events, watch parties, and services on community websites, including the Chamber of Commerce. Eclipse watchers will be looking for things to do while they are in Arkansas, and some of them will not think to look on a church website for opportunities. Begin now to work collaboratively and creatively with people in your community.
- Pray for the Lord to move in powerful ways through His creation. God is faithful to reveal and draw people to Himself. Let’s ask Him to do that as 1.5 million people make their way to Arkansas looking for the eclipse but ultimately encountering the Savior.
There is no doubt that the Church can use the solar eclipse as an avenue to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ. We are here to help you in the planning process. Visit www.absc.org/eclipse for additional tools and resources.