On the back of last week’s essay on evangelism, a la Kate, I thought it appropriate to talk about our newest evangelistic endeavour as an Intern team: street preaching. When Stephen said we would be taking to the streets of Durham to proclaim the gospel in bitesize preaches something inside me shrivelled and wanted to back away slowly from the room. Street Preachers? Us, really? I’ve never even taken part in a march or protest alongside many other poster and banner wielding enthusiasts, let alone shouted ‘Thus sayeth the Lord’ to the students and residents roaming around and minding their own business on a Thursday afternoon.
Being a bit of an amateur dramatic myself, I hid behind being a member of the choir and MC-ing (leading/introducing people) and thanked Jesus that I had not been called upon to lay down the word. So off we went, microphone and guitar in hand. Nervously I introduced us as King’s Church Interns, here to talk and sing about Jesus and why we think His message is relevant for all. After a little sing-song, the real meaty stuff began. Testimonies were shared and mini sermons were preached. I was hooked and I wasn’t the only one listening intently, if somewhat surreptitiously, in the market square.
Heads turned when asked the question “What offer would convince you to leave your great job, family, home and pet to follow a man on His mission to save the world?” People stopped to hear about battling resentment and being freed to forgive someone who hurt you. I can’t do justice to the reaction of Jesus being described as a ‘crazy shepherd man’. Some reactions were dismissive, some were shocked, but some were evidently engaged.
At the end of our hour and a half on the street I had a totally new perspective on what it means to preach on the street. These were messages of hope, of forgiveness, of there being something greater than our current situations, and that that is something worth celebrating. If we believe the gospel is for all people, which I do, then why are we (and I) so reticent to share it? The cultural stigma maybe. Or perhaps it’s personal experience of feeling judged by someone street preaching. It might be something totally different for you. Hear me when I say that this experience was hugely out of my comfort zone and I held many of these barriers that made me want to run and hide. But (and it’s a big one), that should not stop us from holding fast to the truth of the gospel and its importance for all.
Be encouraged that Jesus’ goodness goes beyond your sociocultural or experiential barriers, and that what we offer to the Lord as worship is used for our good. Sign up for June Project and challenge yourself to do street evangelism! Serve people practically and spiritually! Join in with the rest of us who are scared but love God more than our fear and together we can continue to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Saviour, the crazy shepherd man who is worth giving everything up for and who offers us forgiveness beyond anything we can imagine. It’s worth it.