Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

In Defense of Street Evangelism

with one comment

LOVEwalk-1Five years ago I got off a plane for an orientation with a Christian College Ministry I took a job with, and learned the training was going to entail going out and talking to strangers about the gospel. It was a very uncomfortable realization.

Street preaching, and street evangelism have become such a presence in our minds that the mere thought of it seems to cause anger to bubble up from deep within us. We have all seen bad preachers yelling at people, or disaffected church members made to stand on corners with impersonal tracts. For many Christians, that is the image conjured by the word “evangelism” and they conclude therefore that they do not like evangelism!

And that’s the funny thing. Most of us hate it. But many of us feel conflicted, because at some level we thing we are supposed to like it. Like it’s this good thing “evangelism” that we know we are all called to do. But we hate it and we want it to go away.

And we are right to hate the things we have seen. Being mean, hateful, judgmental, or yelling at people in public is bad behavior. This should be obvious and non-controversial. Street preaching does not get a free pass. You are not morally allowed to engage in bad behavior because you call it "street preaching"

Street preaching however also does not deserve unilateral condemnation. Just because some people have behaved badly and called it street preaching, does not mean that anything which could be considered preaching on a street is bad behavior.

I have come to think that loving, interesting, engaging, street preaching can be a great way for people who have never had the experience of talking about their faith to others to practice. The street is a low consequence environment with lots of people, so approaching one of them, swallowing your own sense of awkwardness and saying something like "Would you have time to talk about God with me?" even to hear a lot of "no" can make it much easier when that situation comes up with your friends and associates.

I don’t think a lot of people have authentic conversions as a result of street preaching, even good street preaching. I do not think the numbers reported by the ministries are accurate. (What kind of follow-up is really being done?) But I do think there is a place for it. Evangelism after all, is not all about conversions.


Written by RyanGaffney

March 23, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I took an evangelism course in college that required me to approach people shopping in a mall. I hated that. But I learned a lot.

    One of the things I learned is that sometimes you plant, sometimes you water, sometimes you harvest, and on the streets it is so random that you have to just go with whatever God is leading. And it is best to open with planting, because you may only have 10 seconds to make an impression.

    One of my favorite projects was when my group went out on a hot day and bought a couple of cases of bargain pop. I mean those lime kind and the cherry kind, and the grape kind that you can get for 35 cents a can. We iced them down and drove out looking for people working in the hot sun. We pulled up to some guys cutting grass and approached saying, “Here’s a little refreshment for you. We are just doing a good deed for Jesus.” Then we moved on. But not before the whole crew took a drink and thanked us.

    Then we found another and did it again. But then we found a road construction crew. And as we gave away our last 5 or 6 drinks, more guys from the crew began shutting down the equipment and approached us looking for more drinks. Suddenly we poor college students were tapped out! But we had already told these guys we were doing a good deed for Jesus. And so one of the guys reached into his wallet and produced a $20 bill. He said, I like what you are doing, I want to contribute.

    He financed two more hours of ministry! Wow!

    And that is all really light hearted stuff. Now days, I like to urban plunge and camp out with the homeless. I spend the night in homeless camps and take communion sacraments with me. I am amazed at how many of these people open up to the faith when you walk a mile with them in their shoes and share a meal, some song, some prayer and communion. A lot of times, they begin preaching and prophesying. It is quite amazing. And I can usually do it for less than $10. And what amazes me more is how sometimes the homeless begin producing money to finance this worship party and then engage in talking about Jesus deep into the night. …sometimes behind locked up church houses!

    Thanks for posting.

    I enjoyed reading this.

    Agent X
    Fat Beggars School of Prophets
    Lubbock, Texas (USA)

    Agent X

    March 23, 2016 at 9:21 pm

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