Adventures of a Chicken: Street Preaching!
Tonight I was in downtown Minneapolis witnessing with some friends (first time in two months, shame on me). It was hot and muggy but we had a great time. Six of us showed up, we passed out tracts and struck up a few spiritual conversations. I try to speak in respectful, friendly-but-concerned tones. Rather than judge them I let them judge themselves as I ask questions, quote some Scripture, and let the Holy Spirit do the work in their hearts. The results are never boring!
Mike, our leader, did some street preaching. Afterwards a young lady came up to him and said she had a divinity degree from Yale, and that God doesn't like preachers talking about sin and judgment. She even took his Bible to try and find a verse to support her claim. After thumbing some pages she declared, "This isn't a real Bible!", and gave it back.
I also talked with two twenty-somethings with spiked hair and tattoos. We had a good, friendly conversation but ultimately they said they refused to believe that God holds us to the moral standards of the Bible. Then I talked with a rickshaw-bike driver who said he was a Christian but believed in karma and thought he would get to heaven because he was such a good person (he claimed that he hadn't lied even once in the past year.) We also talked with a woman who said she was a "Mormon-Christian". She basically said, "Jesus died to forgive everyone, so we are all going to heaven, so I can drink and smoke and do whatever and it doesn't matter". Another young man told me that Jesus' words about God's judgment were "just an interpretation".
It blows me away sometimes that so many people know so little about what the Bible really says.
Our team handed out over 300 cartoon gospel tracts. A few wound up on the sidewalk and one was even torn to shreds, but most people held on to them and a couple people actually read them right there in front of me. So that was pretty cool.
But there was one big highlight for me. Call me crazy but...I finally worked up the courage to try some street preaching (gulp!)
I've listened to Ray Comfort and Todd Friel do street preaching, and I've studied up on how to do it. There are a lot of wrong ways to street preach, but as Ray Comfort says, "A good street preacher can reach more people in one night than most churches reach in an entire year". So I finally worked up enough guts to take the plunge.
Public speaking is scary enough, public speaking about Jesus is even worse. So my stomach was doing sumersaults. But my friends were very supportive, and before speaking I prayed that God would use my weak, sinful tongue for His glory. When the time came to raise my voice I found myself remarkably calm. Just taking the step to lay myself on the line like that felt great, like I was getting a small glimpse of what it really means to take up my cross and follow Him.
I wanted to be careful not to shout like a weird Christian wingnut, but I didn't want to sound mamby-pamby either. So I started out holding up some bills and announcing that I was giving away money for trivia questions. I asked a few questions and gave $1 for each right answer, and that drew a small crowd of 10-12 people. Then I offered $20 to a volunteer if she could pass the "Good Person Test". I asked her if she had ever lied, stolen, used God's name in vain, etc. and after the third question she laughed and said, "I'm not going to get the $20 am I?". So far so good, she was getting the point.
Then I began talking about how we are all sinners and that we need a Savior. As soon as I mentioned Jesus, the crowd just scattered. It was like cockroaches when the light is turned on. Within less than a minute there was almost no one listening except passers-by and one woman leaning up against a nearby wall. She seemed intent on what I was saying, so I wrapped it up with a final plea and thanked everyone for their time.
I only spoke for maybe 5 minutes total, and I lost most of my crowd. But for a first-timer I think I did ok. I gave God a small offering of myself and the rest is up to Him. Even if no one listened, I felt like I took a huge step of faith and as a result I grew a little. My palms were sweaty and my knees were knocking, but that's a small price to pay for the One who bled and died for me.