Hey you. Long time no see. I have been off the radar, doing lots of work on personal growth. Today, I will like to talk about street evangelism and hear your take on it.
I visited London last weekend. On two separate days, while walking on the streets of the shopping malls, I was confronted by black Africans doing evangelism. First, I saw a white guy preaching with his microphone in front of the mall while black Africans were scattered across the street serving tracts. The next day I heard a man preaching with African accent through a microphone and was offered tracts by people who looked like Nigerians.
On the first day, I had passed 2 people who attempted to give me a tract. But in order to encourage them, I received from the third person. When I got home, I barely glanced at the tract before it was tossed in the bin.
The second day I didn't bother taking the tract. But I still wanted to encourage them so I told them why I wasn't taking it. "I'm a Christian", I said, "I'm born again". I added that bit 'cause in Nigeria when we did street evangelism, we found out that almost everyone was a Christian. So we would rather ask "Are you born again? " Whether that approach to street evangelism was right is another topic to debate.
But it all got me thinking. How effective is this kind of street evangelism in the UK?
When I was in Nigeria, I participated in evangelism a few times. I would accompany my mom to hospital visits where she would preach to patients. I joined school fellowship groups to preach in prison, villages and on the streets. And I have preached to friends one-on-one. Street evangelism was very popular. In fact, when I was little, I woke up daily to the sound of street evangelists shouting through their megaphone at 5am in our local language beckoning us to repent.
I have personally participated in street evangelism in the UK. First, while studying for my Masters degree. We shared tracts on the streets while some of us sang to draw attention. Not many people took our tracts. Who knows whether the very few that did only did so because they were already Christians and wanted to encourage us? Who knows if the tracts ended up in the bins as soon as they were collected?
Just before COVID-19 hit, I participated in street evangelism again a few times with my local church and an independent evangelism group in my community. Our method was to sing songs while some of us went to engage with people on the park. I think many liked the music, some stopped to watch. Some were open to be prayed for. I think very little said the sinners prayer. But when it came to getting contacts so as to follow up, they were very hesitant.
So lately I have been thinking:
Is street evangelism outdated?
The model of evangelism of shouting via megaphones in the marketplace, people going about the street handing out tracts and confronting passersby to ask "Are you born again?" may work in African villages but I think it may not be the most effective use of time here. I have observed very little results going by this model that it behooves one to ask "Isn't there a better way?".
And now I will show you the most excellent way. 1 Corinthians 12:31
Theodore Roosevelt said "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care ".
Until people can see the impact we have made in their lives, they may not willfully submit themselves to listen to us, less so (and a painful truth) listen to blacks.
How does Pastor Sunday Adelaja, a black Nigerian man, lead one of the largest churches in Europe with white folks making up over 90% of his congregation? His church engages in so many social projects that the community cannot deny her impact. People come seeking for solutions to their social problems which the church addresses. Along the line they are interested in hearing the message of the church.
Even Jesus went about doing good. Acts 10:38. He was solving their problems by healing their sick, casting out demons and multitudes came to hear him.
I believe that Christians can be more effective soul winners by serving people, meeting needs, solving problems. Then they will be the ones asking like they did to Jesus, "How can I be saved? "
Hence Christians should not take their jobs lightly. That is an avenue for service. Christians should look around their environment to discover problem areas and proffer solutions to them. Love is the most excellent way, even to soul winning.
Is street evangelism outdated?
How do you respond when you meet street evangelists? Is there a better way to do street evangelism beyond preaching or singing through a microphone and serving tracts?
Kindly share your thoughts below.
Radiant ~ September 2021
Good to read from you again! My pastor always says "there's no wrong way to evangelize but there may be better ways". In this society where a plethora of belief choices (or unbelief for that matter) are legitimate options, I find that a more relational approach is more effective, where I can understand where a person is at and try to deconstruct their position, whilst respecting their right to believe differently or disagree with my views. There's a big difference between cornering people and being in their corner so I find that people respond better when they can see that they are not just a soul-winning "target". Having said that, I hope I will always be sensitive to God leading me to a particular person, stranger or not. If and when I feel such a leading, the question is whether I have not been so conditioned by the sensibilities of the society within which we live to be bold and deliver my message without faltering.
To deny that culture plays a part in how human beings relate is to our detriment. In parts of the West, and let's say the UK or maybe even Southern UK, an in-your-face approach to evangelism is frowned at. Instead of arguing with this culture, best to go around it since it's "delivering the message" that is the ultimate aim. While I was at Imperial doing my degree, engaging in surveys about worldviews aligned more with the heady nature that prevailed on campus. So Christians need to recognise the culture they are in and adapt their witnessing methods accordingly. Sad thing is many are either too lazy, lacking knowledge or stubborn to admit that this adaptation is necessary.
@Tosin thank you for your comment. I love this - "big difference between cornering people and being in their corner" . May God help us to remain sensitive and obedient.
@Unknown Very true. We need to adapt to the culture we hope to reach. After all, Paul said " to the Jews, I became like a Jew, to those not under the law, I behaved like not under the law. I became all things to all men in order that I might save some".
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