Street Preaching, the LGBT, and the Westminster Larger Catechism

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.

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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).

R. Scott Clark | April 12, 2013 @ 5:00 AM | Evangelism

8 Comments

  1. Wow! As someone whose palms get sweaty at the thought of speaking before even a small group of people, what Reverend Brown did here took a lot of courage AND a lot of conviction. I love speaking with people on a personal level, one-on-one about such things, but I could never see myself doing this on a university campus. Thankfully there are people who DO have the courage to do such things, because many of these young people might never hear something like this otherwise.

    I’m reminded, Dr. Clark, of your post regarding the Roman Catholic folks who came to your door some time ago. I find the door-to-door stuff a bit bothersome, but open-air street preaching as was done here seems an almost perfect fit at a university campus.

    Good stuff. Thanks for posting this!

  2. There are many faithful and bold Christians. Thank God there are also those whom God has gifted to be winsome and patient in a challenging public setting. Since I know that I couldn’t do this, I pray more earnestly for those who can.

    The apostle Paul must have had a similar gift. I noticed something again in Acts 17 that I’d forgotten:

    Act 17:16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.

    Act 17:17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. (ESV)

    Could anyone who is harsh or short-tempered speak publicly “every day” in a hostile environment? Of course not. Surely the apostle was personally engaging

  3. to complete the post: Surely the apostle was personally engaging yet with uncompromising conviction, God-centered with a genuine love for those around him. Is this what it means to be “filled with the Spirit”?

  4. To see and hear this, leaves me with a spring in my step and cheer in my heart. I was doing exactly this, just on Saturday, as we engaged in gospel outreach in Ayr (south west Scotland), and invited all who were passing by to our services at the Bethel Mission Hall (Free Church of Scotland – Continuing). It is always a joy to share the greatest story ever told, to sinners in a perishing world. How important it is to preach and proclaim this glorious message of salvation, on the streets of every parish, north, south, east and west. Our trust is in God alone to turn the tide and visit us with His presence and power, as we bring to people the message of hope. Yes, Jesus only for believing, Jesus only of living and Jesus only for dying. The inscription under John Knox in Geneva is very revealing: One man with God is always in the majority. Truly, Christ is our exceeding great reward.

  5. Re: street preaching by the unordained.

    I am not speaking on behalf of Dr. R. Scott Clark, but if you’re in the So.Cal. area, you should stop by WSC’s library and ask to read T. Curto’s D.Min. project on street preaching. In his work, he concluded that street preaching is only for the ordained. (I am not saying that this is or is not my conclusion, but it’s an interesting read nevertheless).

    LMB

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