Yesterday I waded through lists Street Preaching videos uploaded to YouTube. Among them were videos by people who scolded or harassed Street Preachers, videos of Street Preachers being attacked, videos of Street Preachers being arrested, and quite a few by Street Preachers doing their thing. I even watched a few minutes of about twenty videos.
In addition to those videos, there were instructional videos on Street Preaching as well as a video of a conference on Street Preaching. The instructional videos mostly were just more videos of guys wearing flashy “Jesus” tee-shirts and yelling to crowds of angry people. A few were videos of talking heads discussing Street Preaching. The first part of the video taken at an Atlanta Street Preachers’ Conference was about a portable megaphone system for screaming at people, confronting them.
It became clear early on as I reviewed those available videos that this form of evangelistic effort was not my thing, not my style. I don’t feel called to stand in a city screaming into a microphone at people. What, to me, was disturbing, is that these Street Preachers seemed content more to threaten people with Hell, than invite people to Heaven. Perhaps that’s a calling for them. Perhaps that’s a way to offer the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Y’shuaJesus The Messiah, to a stiff-necked, nearly reprobate people. I don’t wish to seem judgmental. All who are called use their talents their own ways to fulfill the calling.
God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.
But there are some other effective ways for the rest of us to Street Preach. A woman once told me her story. “I was in terrible shape. I didn’t know what to do. I was using drugs, living with two men, and on the very edge. . . dying inside. I was in a laundromat when a woman approached me and said, ‘God Loves You!’ ” For her, that was enough to bring things into perspective. In the midst of sin, she heard the voice of the Living G-d speak through a woman the equivalent of “I LOVE YOU!” That was all she needed to start the process of receiving Messiah Y’shuaJesus into her heart and then allowing Him to extricate her from her sin.
Now don’t get me wrong here. While Y’shuaJesus extended His hand to a woman about to be stoned for adultery, He also was clear about sinning no more. He healed people out of love from them, and still does. But Y’shuaJesus loved the Father so much He drove sinners out of the Temple. He screamed at people, calling them vipers. We can’t cite just one incident in the life of Y’shuaJesus and see it as the only way He modeled Himself for us. We must take hold Y’shuaJesus in His entirety.
So I’m not particularly comfortable with the style of Street Preaching that screams to crouds at a “Gay Festival,” things like “God hates homosexuality. It is a sin. Repent or go to hell.” But the Street Preacher is right. And those who hear the words can’t come to the judgement seat of Christ saying “Hey, we didn’t know!”
Another thing I’ll say about this form of Street Preaching is that at least those folks are actually doing something. How many people warm pews on Sunday, live their quiet lives the following week, and return to warm a pew the next Sunday? And there are many like me who say, “I’m not comfortable with that style of preaching, witnessing.” Time to raise our hands to G-d, and say, “What can I do?”
That brings to mind a song in which the refrain is something like, “We can at least pray!” That is truth. If there is nothing that we seem talented enough to do, or nothing that we truly feel comfortable doing to help save the lost, the eternally dying, then at least we can pray.
I read about a man in Wales, around the turn of the Century—19th to 20th Century. This man became the preacher of a small church. He wasn’t exactly the preacher-of-the-year sort, either. A bit weak and timid. But two older, stronger women began to pray for that young pastor. I don’t recall how long it took, but the great Welsh Revival was spawned through those two women and that pastor. That Revival spread throughout Wales, and proceeded by several years the Azuza Street Revival in the United States.
And the preacher says, “Let Us Pray!”