Street evangelism (or “street preaching”) has not been a popular method for Christians to share the Gospel in the 21st Century. At the outset of the new millennium, few more than 1 in 10 Christians used this method of outreach, according to one study.1 If conversations I’ve had with fellow-believers are any indication, that number could only have diminished in recent years.
Some fear that approaching strangers in public and seeking to engage in such a weighty and personal dialogue will come across as rude or offensive. However, in my experiences of street-level ministry, few have been offended and many have expressed thankfulness for my display of concern for their spiritual welfare.
A local artist — a Jewish man named Joel — once gave me one of his drawings for free as a goodwill gesture and said that he was happy to have a discussion about Jesus any time even though he’s skeptical about the apostles’ narrative. Another street merchant gave me one of her handmade bracelets as a token of friendship when we concluded an hour-long exchange about Christ. One man who I shared the Gospel with on the street last year was unmoved by my explanation, but he was grateful that I was out “trying to share God’s love with people.” He handed me some money to buy myself a cup of coffee or food and wouldn’t take “No” for an answer.
Not only do my experiences encourage me to continue practicing street evangelism, but so does my understanding of Jesus’ attitude on the subject. He once told a prophetic parable about a banquet (which represents the universal establishment of His kingdom) being held by a master (who represents Jesus) who told his servants (who present evangelists) to invite pedestrians (who represent unredeemed people) to the event. In the parable, the master tells his servants to “Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city,” to invite people to the banquet.2 Jesus also prophesied that those who would be eternally cut off from His presence at the last judgment would admit that He had “taught in our streets.”3 Jesus even sent dozens of His disciples into different towns to minister in His name. He told them that if they were largely rejected in any town, they should go “into its streets” with the parting words “the kingdom of God has come near.”4 No doubt, the Lord was in favor of this form of ministry.
One of the reasons street evangelism has been stigmatized is because many who use the method are brash and rude in their use of it. But we shouldn’t throw out what could be a valuable method because of a few disrespectful Gospel messengers. As long as we approach people in a manner that makes clear that we’re motivated by God’s love for them, we can expect positive outcomes from our outreach efforts.
- Survey Shows How Christians Share Their Faith
- Luke 14:21
- Luke 13:26
- Luke 10:10-11
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