Street Evangelism – What Comes to Mind? – or – how to smash stereotypes and avoid being a crazy street preacher.

Don't be this guy!  His Bible is too big.

Don’t be this guy! His Bible is too big.

When you you hear Street Evangelism, what do you picture?  Is it the guy to the left?  He is pretty obnoxious isn’t he, yelling at everybody to repent?  Many people think of street evangelism and this stereotype comes to mind.  Many people will only have this guy in their head when they think of someone who wants to tell them about Jesus.

Problem is, that having this stereotype in their heads is the closest that many will ever come to someone talking about the Gospel.  And he’s just a stereotype in their heads because no real person will ever ask them to consider the claims of Christ and tell them the Good News.  Sometimes Christians are even shamed into not sharing their faith because they don’t want to be classified as ‘one-of-those-obnoxious-evangelist-types.’

Now imagine street evangelism like this:

-A conversation on a park bench with a young man who has a lot of church in his background.  He is encouraged to think about Jesus and to return to a community of faith.  He expresses concern for a sick relative and he’s invited to pray for her with the person telling him the Gospel.

-A meeting with a guy down by the river.  He gets to tell his story of how he was able to leave a life of drugs and enjoy many years of sobriety, all because of an experience of reading Luke’s Gospel.  And he’s the one being evangelized, ha!  The person planning to tell him the Gospel is greatly encouraged and prays with the man for his concerns and encourages him in his faith.

-A long conversation with a Muslim man where many questions are asked, much is learned, and great respect is shown by both persons.  Jesus Christ is made much of and the fellows is encouraged to dwell on why He is like no other prophet.  The Muslim fellow finds out that he works in the building right next to the evangelist’s church.  They part ways wishing each other well and mutually thankful they met their neighbour.

This is the kind of street evangelism I do.  In fact, this was the bulk of my day today.

The point is that there are such bad stereotypes about evangelism, street preaching, and evangelicals in general.  Are they deserved?  Sometimes!  Are some street preachers obnoxious?  They probably are!  But the only way to overcome that negative stereotype is be something else.  That means having a respectful dialogue even as you challenge with the Gospel.

Not everybody needs to approach strangers in the park to tell them the Gospel.  But I can’t imagine why one couldn’t try.  The only Christian someone may ever meet might be you!

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