Street Preachers I’d Like to Meet

One day I ‘d love to be stopped on the street by someone who says, “I don’t know whether or not there is a god. What do you think?” or “God loves everyone and all of us will end up in heaven eventually,” or even “Hello! my name is…”

It’s easier to find the motivation to spread the Good News, I’d imagine, if one genuinely believes that those who don’t convert are destined to be tortured eternally in the afterlife and that the world as we know it could end at any moment.

There generally isn’t the same sense of urgency or fear for those of us who do not share these beliefs.  Of course Theists who believe in hell are going to set up informational booths about Allah or Jehovah outside of my local mall every summer or stand on the corner preaching and giving away rosaries, Jack Chick tracts, or English translations of  the Koran to the people walking by.

While I highly value treating everyone with kindness, respect, and courtesy, I have no interest in becoming Muslim, Christian or anything else but many  street evangelists don’t seem to know how to respect personal boundaries or get to know me as an individual before they share the cure for what (they believe) ails me. If we could become friends first, if we could help one another move and bring over homemade chicken soup when the other person’s entire family catches the flu a week before Christmas, if we could laugh, grieve, and dream together then at some point I would become interested in talking about God, religion and what, if anything, lies beyond this world with them.

If only street evangelism was about asking open-ended questions, not inoculating strangers with one’s version of the truth. If only there were as many Buddhist, Taoist, Atheist, Universalist, Deist, Agnostic and other types of evangelists I’ve yet to meet sharing what they suspect may be the truth as there were hellfire-and-brimstone street preachers.

If only.

0 Responses to Street Preachers I’d Like to Meet

  1. Ah, but we want to live and let live. I take the approach that I will converse will all who are interested. If not……….no big deal. Do I want to convert them? Nope. I just want them to think, reason, ask the questions.

    in my Bible thumping, street preaching days, all I wanted to do was convert the lost by any means possible and be a faithful witness for God. The number of converts? Few in number. Number of people irritated, pissed off, and angry? More than one can count.

    It seems all so less pressing now that there is no heaven or hell to concern myself with.

  2. Ah, but we want to live and let live. I take the approach that I will converse will all who are interested. If not……….no big deal. Do I want to convert them? Nope. I just want them to think, reason, ask the questions.

    in my Bible thumping, street preaching days, all I wanted to do was convert the lost by any means possible and be a faithful witness for God. The number of converts? Few in number. Number of people irritated, pissed off, and angry? More than one can count.

    It seems all so less pressing now that there is no heaven or hell to concern myself with.

  3. I wonder if Bruce knows the name ‘Jed Smock’-an evangelist who mainly went to college campuses. When we went to Bible School he was the ‘model’ of this kind of witnessing. They took the students out into the streets to do this kind of ‘force the gospel down their throats to add to the numbers’ kind of evangelism. We were never cut out for this. It was hard not to feel guilty for resisting this kind of nonsense. It wasn’t the acceptable viewpoint!
    It’s really-in a round about way- one reason I couldn’t stand going to church any longer! It just didn’t make sense to me-that if you truly believed you were to be a ‘witness’ that your only friends were your church friends…and they were your only social contacts?! It’s a club..plain and simple..and I opted out!

    • I’m curious as well, Bruce. Do you know that name?

      Teresa, I never understood the idea that good Christians should only be friends with other Christians. It was the point of much debate between me and one of my youth group leaders when I was in high school.

  4. I wonder if Bruce knows the name ‘Jed Smock’-an evangelist who mainly went to college campuses. When we went to Bible School he was the ‘model’ of this kind of witnessing. They took the students out into the streets to do this kind of ‘force the gospel down their throats to add to the numbers’ kind of evangelism. We were never cut out for this. It was hard not to feel guilty for resisting this kind of nonsense. It wasn’t the acceptable viewpoint!
    It’s really-in a round about way- one reason I couldn’t stand going to church any longer! It just didn’t make sense to me-that if you truly believed you were to be a ‘witness’ that your only friends were your church friends…and they were your only social contacts?! It’s a club..plain and simple..and I opted out!

    • I’m curious as well, Bruce. Do you know that name?

      Teresa, I never understood the idea that good Christians should only be friends with other Christians. It was the point of much debate between me and one of my youth group leaders when I was in high school.

  5. In the day I knew Jed and his wife. I preached for Jed at the Church he had near the Ohio State Campus. Jed lived in the Newark, Ohio area at the time.

    Jed was an extremist, in your face evangelism. He’d call a woman wearing skimpy clothes a whore and when her boyfriend beat him up, he called it “suffering for Jesus.” No, he suffered for being an idiot.

    Theologically Jed was a follower of Charles Finney. Jed believed in sinless perfection. He told me over lunch one day that he had not sinned in years.

    Jed’s theology and his way of doing street evangelism were enough to keep us from having any long-term relationship.

    Jed’s still out there.

    http://www.brojed.org/

  6. In the day I knew Jed and his wife. I preached for Jed at the Church he had near the Ohio State Campus. Jed lived in the Newark, Ohio area at the time.

    Jed was an extremist, in your face evangelism. He’d call a woman wearing skimpy clothes a whore and when her boyfriend beat him up, he called it “suffering for Jesus.” No, he suffered for being an idiot.

    Theologically Jed was a follower of Charles Finney. Jed believed in sinless perfection. He told me over lunch one day that he had not sinned in years.

    Jed’s theology and his way of doing street evangelism were enough to keep us from having any long-term relationship.

    Jed’s still out there.

    http://www.brojed.org/