Guest post by Rev. Mr. Leon M. Brown. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, a graduate of Westminster Seminary California (MDiv, 2011; MA Historical Theology, 2012), Assistant Pastor of New City Fellowship (PCA) in Fredericksburg, VA, and is presently pursuing doctoral studies in OT and the Ancient Near East. Here is his YouTube channel and his Facebook page.
What do you think of street preachers? Are they obnoxious? Rude? Confrontational? Are they pushing people away from Christianity as opposed to helping them see the truths therein? Is street preaching a method people should still use today? I’m sure your thoughts abound, but wherever you’ve landed on the topic, please allow me to share a couple of emails I received on Wednesday, the day I street preached on a university campus. One gentleman, with whom I spoke about homosexuality and the Bible, sent this email. I was afforded the opportunity to speak to him after I preached the gospel on this particular university campus. I changed his name for confidentiality.
Pastor Leon Brown,
My name is Sam. We met earlier today at UMW and I really enjoyed speaking with you about your religious beliefs. Just a little about myself: I was raised Muslim but no longer identify with Islam or with any of specific religion. Though I find many teachings of the Koran truly beautiful and I acknowledge that, to some extent, the fundamental teachings of Islam have shaped my moral code and my mindset itself, I have never felt any sense of a significant connection with ‘God.’ I now ascribe to the the religion of “Open-Mindedness.”
A year ago, I would’ve felt disdain towards you while hearing you publicly preach your Christian beliefs. Instead, as I told you earlier, I felt nothing but compassion and most of all curiosity. I like to believe that I am now on a spiritual journey and I would love to engage in more dialogue with you if possible.
I want you to know up front that I am not “searching” for a religion and I’m surely not eager to convert to particular one. My sole objective is to learn—to have my own beliefs challenged but, most importantly, to understand these foundational beliefs that you are obviously passionate about. Lately, I’ve been so eager to really See people and not just focus on how their words and actions affect me. Today, I saw a lot of kindness in your heart and I hope we can meet again.
My hearts leaps for joy every time I read his email. As I spoke to him, I was also surrounded by members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender) group. In fact, when I was street preaching, their table was opposite me. One lesbian young lady began our conversation by saying, “What you’ve said made me very uncomfortable.” She started off fairly intense, and rightly so. Her beliefs were being challenged, but after about 5–10 minutes, we were having a civil conversation.
Not too long after I received the above email, I also received this email.
Today, I wasn’t feeling in the best of moods but as I was on my way to get lunch, I heard [you] preaching the gospel and I stopped immediately in my tracks to listen. I felt really uplifted and encouraged by [you] as [you] shared the gospel on campus, and weeped as I heard and saw students AND professors either nonchalantly ignoring [you] or belittling [you]. My heart broke for them. Then I met Jeremy and Gary who are part of the sister ministries to [your] church (Presbyterian Church in America) and shared my faith. This was the highlight of my day.
How am I receiving these emails, you might have asked? Well, after I finish preaching, I give out invitation cards to our church to those standing around. On account of these invitation cards, people normally get in touch with me or come to church.
This method is not for everyone. In fact, many people utilize this format without any connectivity or support from their respective churches. I do it with the approval of my session.
Here is the video from the street preaching session. If I could have done anything differently, I would have interacted with the young man, whom approached me, differently. In light of his concern, I would have asked him, “What would you like me to do?” and take it from there. Who knows? He may have just asked me to lower my voice.
If street preaching is approached correctly and done in a proper venue, I think it’s a useful format for personal evangelism. And you know what else? The Westminster Larger Catechism is a great took to use in personal evangelism, too. How so? Check out the video!
“So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:22-23).