Sunday, October 15, 2006

What Happens when 500 Baptist Street Preachers Gather

Scary thought, huh. I read this article in my local paper(the link is actually to one not my local paper, but could not find it in the online edition. Sorry about that Shreveport Times) yesterday and couldn't believe what I was reading. 500 street preachers with the Great News Network are out to do what the president of the organization calls a "city invasion." It looks like they are heading to Deep Ellum. Oh boy. I can't imagine how that will go over and wish I could be there to watch the propositional, conquest-you methodology clash with the postmodern, bohemian culture of Deep Ellum. The mindset of this group is clear, as seen in the use of words like "boot camp," and "invasion." I regret thinking of the damage that will be done for the cause of Christ to the churches in the area who understand the Deep Ellum folks and who are trying to overcome just this kind of stereotype of Christians. And yes, the group also will be passing out those goofy $1 million bills, which really are tracts. Yeah, that will be effective.

6 Comments:

Blogger bowtiebaptist said...

I read an article about this and had the same reaction that you did. I live in Azle and I thought about how those guys would come across at the Stockyards or at Billy Bob's. Can you effectively witness to someone who is "not in their right mind" because of their intake of alcohol.

How can they integrate into a local body anyone who might actually make a profession of faith?

I remember an evangelism professor telling a story one time about a man throwing a tract out a window of a moving car at a man walking down the road. He later discovered (through God's providence I suppose) that the man had become a Christian because of the tract. I always thought of that as tossing a "gospel bomb" and hoping it explodes.

10/15/2006 11:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have watched videos of these guys, and actually "hit the streets" with some of them. (I'm not very good with stangers either).

While it sounds all macho, 99% of it is not. It's simply chatting to people & convincing them they need God. It's not a bible bashing over the head. Not much open-air preaching. Some of the open air s great, and of course you get your fruitcakes who do damage too.

I think all the macho metaphors are to try and change the mindset of a lot of Christians who are comfy in their ways.

Don't freak out too bad about the way the media portrays it. Most of that crowd are really nice people, who are just going around talking to people about God.

10/16/2006 04:03:00 AM  
Anonymous rick davis said...

John,

I saw this as well. Since I have spent a lot of time in Deep Ellum, I fear the same thought crossed my mind. To invade rather than an incarnate is so much easier/more palatable to the modern mind set than actually being there for the long haul. There won't be much positive response but there will be so many sacharine stories of persecution. Some of them might even be true in the mind of the teller, though all of them will be self-inflicted...

10/17/2006 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger John Henson said...

Well said, Rick. You are right. I am sure that there are some great stories among the Deep Ellum folks about now.

10/17/2006 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger John Henson said...

Bowtie Baptist: Great story about the tract. This gives new meaning to the term, "Hit and Run Baptists."

Coop: I don't think "convincing people they need God" is a good approach. This is just the kind of thing that repels people being witnessed to. Your assumption is that they don't have any thoughts of God or spirituality. They are left with the deep impression that the person witnessing to them has all truth and must be heard, able to respond on the spot to the drill. I admire your courage to go out with these folks and it sounds like you are the kinder, gentler street preacher.

10/17/2006 09:37:00 PM  
Anonymous John Lunt said...

John,
I don't know this particular group, but I used to do street evangelims in deep ellum. I was never good at it, but if you take people who are... they aren't repulsive. They are able to engage in conversation and the Holy Spirit directs it so that people understand their need for Jesus.

I've seen people talking to hurting people in Deep Ellum and those people say that they had been thinking of taking their lives and the street ministers, showed them hope.

It's important to remember, if God is directing, he can decide who to touch and how.

It's real easy to sit back an criticize a certain group because what they do isn't politically correct, or maybe it doesn't produce the fruit others think it needs to produce. But God knows what results he's after. Maybe he's only after one or two young people who will listen.

I would go so far to argue, that it's not really the street preachers that would turn off people in a place like Deep Ellum, it's church. They see our hypocricy, lack of love, judgementalism and they don't want to be there. Many were hurt in chruches. It's not the street minister they dislike it's the whole church scene.

Some of these street ministers actually bring some love to hurting people. I've seen street ministers empty their pockets to get a bus ticket to help someone get back home. I've seen them buy meals for people and even take them into their homes.

Jesus said the good shepherd would leave the 99 for the one. These street ministers are sometimes going after the one.

Again, I don't know this particular group, so I don't know what they are planning to accomplish, but please be careful about painting with broad strokes.

I don't believe street ministry or evangelism is the most effective means of evangelism. I think the best way to introduce people to Jesus is to develop real relationships. But don't shortchange what God is able to do with a willing heart even if the package isn't one a lot of people like.

10/18/2006 09:46:00 AM  

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