Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stoplight Preaching - Is it effective?

Reformed Servant brought up some good questions that I wanted to respond to here in my blog since the comment section would have taken up way to much space for me to answer. I will try to answer honestly with scripture and my own thoughts. Here are his questions.

How effective do you think that style of open air preaching is? (stoplight)

Do you think this style of open air preaching is the model that Paul gave us in the book of Acts?

Do you think it is important to gather a crowd before doing open air?

Do you think this style makes Christians look like bigger weirdos then we should? (and we should look like weirdos to the world)

I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability as a new and growing believer while at the same time trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide me as I answer your questions. You have brought up some great questions that I hope to respectfully answer.

First a couple of verses of God's word.

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."(Hebrews 4:12)

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."(1 Corinthians 1:17-18)

The message is as effective as the truth that is being shared. Regardless of the circumstance or situation. Whether you're on an elevator, at the base of a pier or at a street corner, Gods word does not return void. It will accomplish what pleases God.(Isaiah 55:11)

Besides the model given to us in Acts, Jesus told His disciples to, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every person" Mark 16:15 Not just certain places but all the world and that we preach in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2).

Worldly people have no problem with people performing magic, playing music or selling goods on the street, but when confronted about their sin and warned that they will spend eternity in hell unless they repent and put their trust in Jesus alone to save them is offensive, intrusive and foolishness (1 Cor. 1:23) to them. We look like fools (1 Cor. 4:10) to those who don't believe. Because they don't understand. (1 Cor. 2:14)

"but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

"And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42)

Paul and the others who followed Jesus had to flee because the Jews, Greeks and rulers wanted to mistreat them and stone them. This went beyond the notion that it was foolishness what they were preaching because they tried to kill them. I think me & my fellow brothers and sisters have not experienced such persecution for openly sharing the Gospel in the way we do. One guy spoke out that no one was listening to me at one street corner as 30-40 people waited at the light but as this man cross the street, the person behind him smiled at me, giving me the thumbs up and thanking me for what I was doing.

It's rare that a non-believer will tell us what we are doing is wrong and even commend us for standing up for what we believe in. But the sad thing is that people who profess to be Christians tell us what we are doing is wrong, that nobody is listening, that our approach is harsh. Maybe these same professing Christians could have "taught" Paul a better way to approach people with the Gospel so that he wouldn't have his life threatened. Of course Paul's method was right on target even though it offended people to the point of wanting to kill him.

Before I ever did stoplight preaching I assumed that this method wasn't appropriate because I didn't want to infringe on someones right to privacy as they waited at a public corner for the light to change. But I was wrong. The stoplight draws the crowd and then we engage the crowd with the Gospel Message. Of course we get mixed responses from people. Those who disagree don't think we should be doing this but also don't believe that the law should be used to show a person that they've sinned against God even though scripture shows us other wise (Galatians 3:24). Non-believers either pretend we don't exist, smile or even engage in conversation and shake our hands when were done talking to them. Of course there are hecklers at times and we may expect worse, to the extreme of being killed for preaching the truth, but me or none of my other friends would never provoke anyone to do such a thing.

"Faith comes by hearing, and by hearing the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17) I'm not speaking of anyone in particular but anyone that would say Gods word is ineffective when spoken forgets what scripture tells us. If someone doesn't want to listen to the preaching of Christ it's because they do not believe and will not believe unless God draws that person to Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:44) For some who think that this method will turn someone away from Jesus doesn't understand that everyone that doesn't believe already is condemned (John 3:18). Every soul belongs to God (Ezekiel 18:4) and not one that God has chosen will spend eternity in hell, not even one.(Romans 8:1)

And last but not least. We can never be more weird that we already are. We are fools for Christ (1 Cor. 4:10). God has chosen the foolish things of this world to shame the wise (1 Cor. 1:27). Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise."(1 Corinthians 3:18) "I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody." (2 Corinthians 12:11) "To my shame I must say that we have been weak by comparison. But in whatever respect anyone else is bold--I speak in foolishness--I am just as bold myself." (2 Corinthians 11:21)

Anything that goes against the love of this world is weird to unbelievers. I hope I was able to answer the questions above. Forgive me if I was vague in any way and will respond to any other questions you might have or I might have missed. I'm not someone that likes to write. I follow in the footsteps of other great street preachers of our time, such as Ray Comfort, Tony Miano, Leon Brown, Stuart Scott and many others.

All for the glory of God. Sincerely, Chris.