About a month ago I ran into one of our local street preachers here in Valencia. Here’s the encounter:
After having a lovely lunch with my children, I was coming out of a restaurant with my head down looking at them. As I came through the door I looked up and their I was face to face with a local street preacher (who will remain unnamed). Something happened when I looked him in the eye; from the depth of my being came an audible groan and I involuntarily said with much disdain, “Oh God.” It was totally reactionary to his mere presence, I could feel it start in the pit of my stomach and pour out of my mouth.
I didn’t see the guy coming because I was paying attention to my children. I hadn’t seen him in months. So, this visceral response actually caught me by surprise.
It’s taken me a while to evaluate this event and I have come to realize that my response to him is because of his message and method.
First, he preaches a theology that looks outside the revealed God and uses an understanding of God that is not cohesive with Jesus’ life, teachings, death, and resurrection. His message is that God loves you….as long as you say the prayer because if you don’t then that loving God is going to send you to hell. This is not a God of love but of transaction–You say this…..God does this.
Second, his method is ineffective for actually creating disciples. Having someone say a prayer is not discipleship. Additionally, this method sees people as objects. They are the nails to the hammer of the “Gospel” emanating from the loudspeaker. They are numbers to be tallied at the end of the day.
Moreover, it is obtrusive to me when I am trying to drink my coffee in peace.
Because this brief moment was unexpected, and so visceral, I have come to think that I can’t be the only one. And if I am not the only one, what does that say about this style of evangelism?
Dear Street Preachers,
Saying the sinners prayer isn’t fulfilling the Great Commission. Get off your box, sit down with people, get to know them, become friends with them, live with them, walk with them spiritually. Stop berating them with a poor understanding of conversion and scripture.
In the comments tell us about your encounter with a street preacher.