One of the most viewed and discussed posts I’ve ever written is a personal story about dealing with some pretty horrible street preaching I witnessed at Fresno State. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to check it out. It’s the story of one of the most emotional days I’ve had in years, of continuing to attempt communication with the preachers and repeatedly failing, and finally how God used my friend Gabi to demonstrate the love of Christ to a throng of angry atheists.
I was catching up on one of my favorite podcasts the other day, Greg Koukl’s show Stand to Reason. This is one of the few podcasts I never miss an episode of and it’s had a major influence on my life. So I’m listening to the show and the first caller asks for Greg’s take on street preachers, particularly the kind who don’t seem to show God’s love very well. You can listen to this episode by clicking here, downloading either of the MP3 options and then skipping to 21:19. I’m going to summarize Greg’s two main points here though, in case you can’t listen to it yourself. I’ll also add a point from a recent blog post from STR’s newest staff member, J Warnor Wallace.
This post isn’t just relevant to street preaching. I think these tips are relevant to any pro-life advocate who wants to communicate to an apathetic world about one of the worst injustices we know about. I’ve seen a lot of pro-life communication, both in person as well as online, that feels similar to the kind of angry street preaching I’m talking about.
#1: It’s really hard to do street preaching well, and it’s really easy to do it badly. And if we’re going to do it badly, it would be better to not do it at all
Public proclamations used to be the way communication was done. For that reason, it didn’t seem odd or out of place. That’s not true anymore. Communication looks very different now than it did just 100 years ago. This is part of the reason that street preaching looks so weird to people.
That doesn’t always make it ineffective. There are a few guys that do it really well. I think Ray Comfort is very effective and Greg has also mentioned Andrew Rappaport several times on his show as being a good street preacher.
But generally speaking, for most people, street preaching is no longer as effective as other means of communication. And if you’re not going to do it well, it’s better to not do it at all. Don’t add harm, when you could help in other ways.