All these Bible thumpers
By Andy Waits
This past week I read an article about a local church that is taking its message “to the streets”. They wear bright colored t-shirts, hold signs with Scripture printed on them, and even preach through megaphones. Scrolling through the comments I found that everyone has a strong opinion, positive and negative.
I applaud Pearl Lake Baptist Church. While many in church today only talk about sharing the gospel, they are out doing it. Amen! I believe their heart is right. However, based on the comments I read many do not. After thinking through it I offer four points we all need to remember:
1.Open air preaching can be a good thing. The Bible has several examples of people preaching outside, sharing the good news with anyone that will listen (Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and Paul in Athens (Acts17)). Godly men such as John Wesley, George Whitefield, Ray Comfort, and Wretched TV’s Todd Friel have spent a large amount of their ministry preaching to the masses outside. Here is the big question: What is the motive? Publicity or growing the Kingdom of God? Historically this segment of ministry has proven effective only when it has been sustained for many, many years.
2. We don’t all have to agree on this issue. Our convictions don’t have to be the same. This is not a gospel issue, rather philosophy of ministry. We act as if Christians are not allowed to disagree on trivial points anymore. When someone disagrees with us spiritually, we get mad and label them a liberal. Christians, lets conduct ourselves with maturity here.
3. Does this reinforce a negative stereotype? Do the cars passing by see loving evangelists or angry protestors? Generally, the world does not view the church in a positive light. I do not want my unchurched friends thinking of poster-board signs and megaphones when the word Christian pops into their mind. Even if our intentions are pure, this almost always comes off as judgmental and pointing our fingers. Being in the South we don’t think much of a Christian group holding signs and preaching. However, if this were a group of Muslims, Buddhists, or Atheists; outrage! We need to think through how our actions are perceived by post-Christian America.
4. Is there a better way? How many disciples have been made? Are lives being changed? What’s more effective? Inviting someone to lunch or shouting at them through a mega-phone? The “turn or burn” method usually just makes people mad…..not attracted to Christ and His church.
Wherever you fall, I hope you’re praying and pulling for this church. The good news of the gospel is the only hope for a world without Christ! Now that should be something we can all agree on.