Street Evangelism

Last night, on our street, there was a gathering of some sort.
I’m assuming they were from a church. The group parked their van, and then set up speakers and a sound system. Then they just started yelling the Word of God while blasting Christian music of all genres.
This was during when most people on that street were enjoying their dinner.
I was told some police officers came and told them to turn down the volume.
Rahel and I drove past this, and I couldn’t help but feel a little annoyed.
I asked her, do you think this method really works? I felt more annoyed than compelled to listen to the preacher preaching loudly through the sound system.
Well, Rahel just looked at me and said, “they’re doing more than you.” Ouch. Because I know she was right.

So I’ve been sitting at my desk for the past 10 minutes trying to figure out why I’m so annoyed with some of the evangelistic methods. My secretary is on the adults Evangelism Team and she wanted me to order tracts for her. I went to the website she wanted me to go, and I felt my heart drop, because I don’t agree with the tracts. It’s all cartoon drawings, but I think it’s more damaging. For instance, in one tract, the Catholic man gets into an accident and has an out of body experience. But instead of going to heaven, he goes to hell. And he is shocked because he is a devout Catholic. His hell tour guide explains that he was wrong and all Catholics will go to hell because of their beliefs. After the tour, the man comes to and embraces the protestant faith.

I can’t really figure out why I was so annoyed with the people last night. My wife is right in saying that they are doing far more than I am. Though I am trying to break out of my shell more and more.
Or why I’m annoyed in general when people are so aggressive in getting the word of God to others. (Like the street evangelist who chased me for a block because I told him I was a Methodist. Or the sign holder in Las Vegas in front of the Bellagio’s that condemns gamblers, alcoholics, homosexuals and whatever to hell.)

And I feel bad for being annoyed and for criticizing when I’m sitting around and letting the world pass by me.
Perhaps that’s why I’m more annoyed than I should be, because it reminds me that I should get off my butt and do something…

22 thoughts on “Street Evangelism

  1. Speaking from experience, I share your pain — the pain of seeing Christians witness ineffectively and the pain of realizing, though they may appear to be ineffective, that what they were doing I should be doing also.

    About a year ago I heard a message by Ray Comfort titled Hell’s Best Kept Secret and a way of personal evangelism that I finally “got”. It’s not pushy and it’s something that anyone can learn. There’s no glamour or glitz to it, just a simple straight forward presentation of the law and the Gospel.

    To make a long story short, I now regularly witness to others, something less than a year ago I could not do if my life depended on it. I have also found that living in obedience to the Great Commission has produced in me a compassion and a zeal for reaching the lost that I can only describe as burning.

    But, I’m starting to ramble…check out I’ve also written about a few of my experiences (and failures) with personal evangelism on my web log:

  2. We used to go out on the streets of New Orleans, down into the French Quarter, etc. and share the gospel with lost people. We didn’t use vans and speakers but instead spoke to people individually. Did the method really work? I don’t know. Sometimes I believer were really were successful. Sometimes we were not. But we went to people who were not going to come to our church. And we tried to engage them with the Gospel.

    If you feel you could be doing more to reach people for Christ, then do more. Look around and find a fellow pastor/staff member who is effective in reaching people for Christ. Spend some time with them and “pick their brains” to find out what it is that makes them effective.

    Tracts are not the be all to end all evangelistic tool. But they are effective in reaching some people groups. From what I’ve read, you are a very creative person. You might want to write your own tracts to address other unreached groups. With a computer and printer you can produce just about anything. It would be a wonderful project for your youth.

    You may have been right to be annoyed with the group. I remember similar groups coming to the University I attended. They were not well received. Well meaning people can with the best of intentions sometimes share the Gospel in a less than thoughtful and even unnecessarily abrasive manner. Nevertheless these groups were clearly stating some basic Scriptural truths that were almost never voiced by any of our campus ministries. Ever how unwelcome these truths were relevant to the students and professors of that academic community.

    It is doubtful that life is really passing you by. Life is a parade. Not everyone gets to lead. But everyone can march. Everyone can shout and cheer. There’s a place in that parade for everyone. You’ll find your place. God bless you!

  3. Just my opinion, but I am definitely annoyed with street evangelism, and it has largely to do with the street evangelist that sets up a mic and speakers outside of my apartment every SATURDAY at 5 in the MORNING, telling anyone in earshot how they’re going to burn in the eternal flames of Hell if they don’t embrace Jesus as their Lord. When I actually get out of bed to peak at the amount of people gathering around the lady that’s shouting, I’ve never seen more than 2, and for the most part, I think it just annoys the neighbors.

    I’ve started to look at street evangelism as a sort of Christian infomercial. It’s hard core selling, usually fast, stripping down Christianity to a really basic level, and sometimes using the tactics of fear, because if you were to try to explain Christian love to someone it would take a lot longer. It might work, though I’ve never seen it work, and am often tempted to purchase a beebee gun to acquire more sleep on Saturday mornings, but I feel it’s also an extravagant and superfluous use of an evangelist’s time and effort.

    What has influenced me most in my walk is fellow followers of Christ. People like you, Jeremy, and Mike that have said maybe a few words of God to me, and almost always, only when I ask it of you. Yes, it’s a much longer process, after all, it took me a little more than a decade to open my eyes, but that walk is what I needed, and I feel my faith is stronger for it. I feel like time is better spent creating a strong church with followers that are wise and thoughtful in their spreading of God’s word, that try their best to take after the example of Jesus, and people are bound to bare witness these loving people. More than anything, living out God’s love is what changes people’s minds, not shouting and condemning. Ask Rahel if she’s ever tired of being wrong 😉

    1. Spencer I agree with you to some degree. It annoys me when people are abrasive and loud in their preaching to crowds, especially condemning them to the flames of Hell. I do agree though with street evangelism that people do on a one on one basis in love. I love the way Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron go out on the streets and truly love the people they are talking with and are concerned for their eternal destination and we all don’t have a long time to journey. We may have cancer or get in a car accident sooner than expected. In Christ, Janette

  4. Jerry – thanks for the links.
    Earl – I know that i could be doing more. And I should do more. And I am trying. Thanks for the encouragement.
    Spencer – Do people call the cops on them? I do like the longer approach better. You know, befriend them, show them the love of Christ through actions.

    Oh. And, Spencer, I think you should learn this before you get married. It has helped in my marriage tremendously.
    The wife is never wrong. =P

  5. Joseph, I have in my past explored many aspects of different religions, and I used to get very angry at preachers and people handing out tracts.

    Then I went through hell, spiritually about literally, and so I came to Jesus and I realized that even though I did not believe in it at the time, that each time I saw a tract each time someone told me that Jesus was God, it convicted me a little more and then a little more.

    I have no problem with street preachers, or tracts, and we need to be careful not to embrace the new age teachings that God is all love and has no righteous judement. But screaming that everyone is going to hell at 5Am in the street is just poor judgement. But God does say some will be converted by fear, some by the love of God, some by other ways because each person is different and has different strongholds. Just maybe there was someone 10 houses away that was just barely hearing this that needed to hear it. Maybe they were instructed to go. We will never know. If you are annoyed then pray for that evangelist with a pure heart that they are truly doing God’s will and that the Lord will guide them in their zest for his work.

    I know personally that when my relatives got in my face and told me that I was in danger of going to hell if I died and that Jesus is Lord, it drove me farther away for a while, in fact I thought they were crazy nuts and fanatics! But then at the end of my rope at work, I said “If you really are God, and you want me back, then I need a miracle, because I am not going to make it otherwise.” And then 10 minutes later I walked over to the sales counter and sat my head down in disgust on the shelf next to the sales counter directly square upon a 5″x5″ magnent that had a picture of Jesus’s face on it, and it said “Jesus, still saving lives” in bold writing. Probably Someone knew that I was involved in witchcraft and paganism and had set that down there, but not seeing it, I had set my head down upon it. I was so grateful at that very moment. And then I (drudgingly at the time) went to church with the relatives that had been so adament about converting me. but you know what….Jesus saved me. He took me out of that mental hell. The spiritual and physical pain that I was going through. The nightmares and evil things that I saw each night in my sleep or sleeplessness eventually were driven away by the Lord. He picked up all of the broken pieces and he glued them back together with his love for me. And while I wish my loved ones had acted a little less crazy and spoken to me in a calmer manner and actually had a discussion with me instead of freaking out and screaming at me that I was going to hell. I really really know where they were coming from, because they loved me so much that they knew that if I died in a car accident or any other way, I truly was doomed for eternal torment, and trust me, it truly is torment.

    So do not be afraid to speak in love to people and to discuss your beliefs with those of other faiths. We are not to convince them (that’s God’s job). Just tell them the truth and discuss it in a calm and gentle manner. If speaking in the street we should speak God’s word. Again, we are not converting people, the word of God is. God knows what they will go through and what they have retained in their minds. He might have a day set aside 5 years from now and he says that is the day. That is the day that he is going to need to remember the word that was spoken to him this day by my servant.

    And we have been brought up in this generation to believe that respect of religion means keeping our own beleifs quiet. Those that ascream religious freedom in the streets also seek to silence christians and the bible. If the spirit of the Lord does not fill a person, then the spirit of the world still fills them. The spirit of the world abhors love for jesus. The devil loves mediocre christians that go to a quiet church and then quietly slink out the door without sharing their beliefs. The devil loves religious churches that condemn new evangelistic methods. because while the devil is using God’s own inventions (music, drama, even knowledge of the supernatural) against him and laughing about it. Our own brethren are crucifying each other for holding dramas and having worship bands, and using the gifts of the spirit as defined in the book of Acts. This is equal to the Jewish people that wanted to hide inside of their houses and remain slaves, while moses was to lead them out. They were more afraid of change and the journey.

    The bible says that King David and the israelites and the priestly tribes responsible for music would leap and dance through the streets and play music on instruments including harps and tabrets!! Tabrets area a type of percussion instrument.

    So while using discernment and wisdom, let us still remember that God himself is also full of thunderings and controls the storm as well as the peace of day. It is not bad to be bold and passionate as long as in the direction of the voice of God. Peter stepped out of the boat, while the other apostles cowered in the boat. I would imagine that the others might have been yelling “Peter, are you insane man” And “Oh, the nut, look what he is doing now, I’m surpised he hasn’t been killed yet. But Peter wanted to follow the Lord and be near him so desparately that he fought common knowledge that we sink on water and he stepped out of the boat and towards the Lord…even if it was in the middle of the sea. He didn’t care.

    So we need to step out of the boat, but keep our eyes on the Lord. Not money, not fame, not our own gratifications. We need to keep our eyes on the Lord.

    1. Thanks Jaime. Your words cut to the bone. There are a lot of times I am afraid of man but you have encouraged me to continue handing out tracts and talking to people about God even if they reject cause they are rejecting Christ, not me…..

    2. Amen to that! thats the holy spirit right there!! Thank you Jesus! As long as we do it with a pure heart and with the Lord as the center, he will never leave us or forsake us when we go Fishing for man. Lets walk in the Great commission that our Lord Jesus Christ left for us to continue. God bless all of my fellow Fisherman!! help us not be disencouraged but help us to move by your spirit everywhere we go! in Jesus name..

  6. Maybe it is because we have not asked the Holy Spirit how to go to the streets. I found this web site, because I am asking and looking for ways. People are lost and they do not flock to the church to find Jesus. The Holy Spirit gave me a dream on a way to open up free praise time for all the body of Christ. I now will pray for what He showed me. Now is the time for awakening, and I do think our ways get in the way. We need to develope how to listen to God through the Holy Spirit. Jesus only did what He saw what the father was doing. We can do that too. Then it will work. Lord give us ears to hear and eyes to see. Also all the work Jesus did was under the power of the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? If Jesus needed the power of the Holy spirit so do we if we want to have God work in us and through us. God Bless you all

  7. You are all still “doing nothing”.
    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Matt 7.21
    If all of you navel gazers find the perfect evangelism method let me know. Until then I will (along with millions of others) use the tried and true methods of the early church (see Acts), William Boothe, The Jesus People Movement, etc. Of course none of the previously mentioned were perfect and, God forbid, “turned some people off”. But in general were responsible for millions of people who are now in Heaven.
    Talking ourselves out of what ACTS and The Gospels clearly spell out is not something the Holy Spirit takes lightly. The Dead Church Jesus wrote to in Revelation 3 was “once alive” but now is dead. Dead things do NOTHING. Jesus threatens them in order that they should come back to life and do what living things do (multiply, etc.).
    Here is a start-step away from the computer…go tell someone about Jesus.
    “Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain…” Rev. 3.2

  8. I could also quote Romans 2:24 “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” by how callous and how judgmental and how unloving we are by approach.
    but to each their own, right?

    However, let me ask you what Tony Campolo once asked (since many of the tactics i’m familiar with is the fear of hell tactic): If there was no promise of heaven OR hell, would you still follow Jesus?

  9. I do go out on regular basis to do street preaching. firstly i must tell u that it takes boldness to publictly declare the word of god, secondly closes doors of compromise and carnality and above all it confronts sin and makes people to make a decision about salvation and lastly it changes the spiritual climate of that community…

  10. Ever heard the saying “It’s easier to catch flies with honey than feces”. The bible says his goodness leads men to repentance. The fear of the lord should be reverential. People should not be terrified. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but power,Love, and a sound mind. I do street evangelism regularly in the toughest neighborhoods of my city and in unorthodox settings. We take out people’s trash. Listen to their problems, play with their kids, help meet their needs (food,clothing,help find job etc). People don’t care what you know until they know that you care (Pastor Ed Brinson). The method we use is simple we love on the people. We start by praying for whatever they say they need prayer for then if the door is open we share the gospel with them. Some sow seed, another waters. God does the increase. What’s the point of zeal without wisdom (and vice versa)?

  11. I used to quote Romans 1:16 ” I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ….” because I was trying to overcome feeling “ashamed” of witnessing. Then I realized what Paul was saying. You see I am ashamed of what alot of Christians claim to be the gospel. Preaching the law is not “good news”. When the angels came to the shepherds with good news they said glory to God and on the earth peace and goodwill TOWARDS man. God loves man and has always loved man. Many christians view God as mean and angry and if wasn’t for Jesus holding Him back we’d all be doomed. Don’t forget John 3:16 says that God loved the world so HE sent His son because HE always has and always will love us. That’s the good news and I’m not ashamed of that. And that’s the gospel that Paul was not ashamed of.

  12. I live in atlanta georgia, and i know that i should be doing street ministry, but i’m not. pray for me for the zeal and the love for God, and His people will consume me for this, I believe, end-time ministry and calling.

  13. Jesus did not set up a “church” and say “come too me to hear my word”. He didn’t say sit in a tabernacle and worship me. But to go out, spread the word, lead others too him. “We” are the church. One should never go out and “condemn”, “be-little”, or “harrass” people into listening. God isn’t “screaming” at us, but speaks in a soft, gentle , whisper. Go out and be the light, be the example, and follow the examples Christ instructed and left for us. God Bless You

  14. Thank all of you for this!! it is encouraging and well received. I pray that God continues to bless us with an unwavering faith and strength to go out and preach the gospel to all. amen

  15. Wow! All good comments and I understand where each of you are coming from. Jesus is our example as we all know but in our zeal we mix up our needing to do SOMETHING without understanding the effective way of doing it. I have heard that some “rude” person did reach
    some for Jesus. That rude person was myself! I would stick my foot in the door and say “you will listen to me because Jesus loves you” and /or boldly stand up where people were eating and “boldly proclaim the the Gospel” to my satisfaction that I was standing up for Jesus. Yes! IF,
    and I say a big IF, if God through the Holy Spirit is leading this way than hammer down! If not, you are in the flesh and not following the Spirit and will be like the demonized woman that cried out to the crowd about Paul “these men be the servants of the most high God and show us the way of salvation!” Good preaching? Yes! True word? Yes! Paul was grieved and cast a spirit of divination out of her because Paul was entering in “quietly” to reach people on an individual basis and NOT TO DRAW ATTENTION TO HIMSELF LEST HE HAD RAN IN VAIN. Satan was using a true word in the wrong way to upset and create problems for the apostle. Each situation is different. Each crowd is different. Each individual is different. After my triple bypass I led my hospital roommate to Christ. He was Ths chaplain of the Pearl Harbor Survivors. He was so excited. He passed away from the surgery but went to the arms of Jesus. They asked me to do the funeral. Two television stations, The Dallas Morning News covered it and I was still bleeding through my gauze bandages! My time to rise and shine? ABSOLUTELY NOT! the place was packed and many old Pearl survivors where there. My message? Their sacfifice at Pearl. Then I spoke concerning the greatest sacrifice. The crucifiction of Christ on the cross. I spoke of my friend and their friend and I spoke of the friend that they could have in Jesus. 32 saved including the chaplains wife of 62 years! Right in front of the cameras. Time to grandstand? You got to be kidding!!! Time to scream in the mic? Grace, grace!
    My next adventure? Youth incarceration unit. Tough kids. I was with a Marine friend of mine and I asked the assembled group how many thought that they were mean. Most raised their hand. I told them That I use to run with people that would make them mess their pants and I gave my old street name and what God had done for me. I also told them what to expect in prison and that for this moment I was their best friend and that I was here to tell them about The real Jesus and how to keep from going to Hell. All but three received Jesus Christ. Different crowd. Different approach. Walk in wisdom to those that are without. One fellow hit me then gets saved. One lady wants to kill me then gets saved. Adjust to the situation and do not destroy someones family vacation in Hawaii while they are all sitting at a sidewalk cafe and screaming at them just so that you are a “street preacher’ and “bold for God.” Try North Korea. Really be noble! Know what spirit that you are operating from. Grace or self satisfaction of being a riduculed street preacher and “suffering for Jesus”. He that ministereth, wait on his ministering. Chales Haddon Surgeon in “Lectures to my Students” says that he would not let any of his ministerial students go out and do this type of ministering until they were “in soak” for three years. Paul didn’t. Arabia first! Live and learn. Walk in grace! J. Frank Norris, that great preacher and orator said that ” new preacher boys are like wasps when hatched…Their heads are bigger than anything else.” 🙂 All in christian love. Let us all wisely sow, water and allow God to give the increase to his glory. Velvet cover steel baby! Pray for unction.

  16. The key word in street witnessing is being effective. First, if there is NO love…… will become as a sounding brass and tinkling symbol. The Gospel of Jesus is GOOD NEWS. He DID NOT come to condemn. Notice that the only times he got in peoples faces was the self righteous religious crowd. Frankly, when you go into the enemy’s camp (make no mistake street witnessing is right in the heart of it)…..#1 you must be prayed up and walking with GOD’s annointing to be effective. Secondly, nobody is going to be drawn to hearing the good news without the holy ghost drawing them in first. Relax in that and know that the ones you will witness to are the ones who are being drawn. Don’t force it. Finally, most of the worldly crowd absolutely know they are sinners and in the wee hours of the morning when they find themselves all alone…….that’s the time what we said to them on the street is going to take root. People (especially in this country) have heard about Jesus so much it would take a calculator to count how many times. What they are “dying for” is to SEE JESUS IN US……….and the power of his love and light. That aint never gonna happen screaming on a megaphone. Remember, we want to be effective. Fire and brimstone preaching probably isn’t going to draw people either. Imagine everyone you see is just like the woman who was caught in the act of adultery and the religious zealots asked Jesus should the LAW be enforced which would mean stoning her to death. Jesus used his all empowering grace (the same he gave to us) and ministered to her and set her free and what did the dogmatics do? They were nowhere to be found after he told them he who is without sin cast the first stone. People are looking for a REAL REASON to change their lives and follow the true and living GOD. IMO……….reminding all that you see that they are going to hell in a handbasket will in most cases send them scattering away from you. In conclusion, pray, pray, pray, before you go out and even while you are out there in between witnessing and whatever you do………….show GOD’s mercy, grace and LOVE. That’s going to be the difference and let GOD deal with the results of your efforts.

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