This past Saturday night, my wife and I went out to celebrate the birthday of one of her former co-workers. As we walked down Mill Ave., we passed by a group of people I find myself constantly speaking against. We’ve all seen these people before. No matter what walk of life you are from, there is no doubt that you have noticed the “street evangelists.” Now, I am a believer in Christ and a follower through and through. I one day hope to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” from the creator. Yet, I have struggled with the way we are to approach the world as it pertains to spreading the gospel.
I have many times lambasted those that stand on the corners, preaching death and destruction to the “sinful”. You see, I have always thought that we were to take the gospel message, one of love, grace and forgiveness to the masses. There is no way that a word that means “good news” should be wrapped in the idea of “turn or burn.” So that is where I have stood. I had no shame is partaking in conversations with friends about how wrong these people were. How they were missing the point of the gospel. It’s very easy to voice my complaints with those around when most of them feel the same way as me. But last Saturday night struck me differently. I finished my usual complaint to my best friend and went on with the rest of my night.
It wasn’t until I got home that night and read a little of the pamphlet they handed to me that I actually thought about my reaction to them and how I was completely wrong. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily agree that “turn and burn” messages are the best way to reach people, but there is something to be said about standing on a corner and boldly sharing a message. Once again, this would not and has not ever been the way I approach ministry, but it still needs to be said that I was wrong in my approach to these “turn and burn” street preachers.
It’s very humbling for me to be shown something in this way. I will be the first to admit that I usually believe my way of thinking is right. But God continues to amaze and encourage me through situations like these. We are all servants for the creator. Whether it’s in vocational ministry or ministry in our workplace, God has commanded us all to be making disciples as we are going throughout the world (Matthew 28:18-20). A verse that has become an increasing favorite of mine is found in the book of Ephesians. It reads,
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (3:14-19).”
This has become my prayer for my ministry team, Real Life Christian Church and the Church across the world. If someone professes to be a believer, then who am I to judge or verbally attack? It is not my responsibility to demean or detract from someone’s ministry. We have a responsibility to take the gospel to our spheres of influence. It is our responsibility to know our audience and to know the heart of God in the way we bring the message of grace.
Rob Bell has a Nooma video dealing with “Bullhorn Guy.” I admire Rob Bell and appreciate his message. I would admit that we probably fall along the same lines as to our method of ministry and theology. However, I am constantly reminded of the Bullhorn Guys throughout scripture. Most of these guys were prophets who were charged with bringing God’s people (the Jews) back to relationship with Him.
While I’m not a Bullhorn Guy myself, it is clear that I need to check myself when it comes to demeaning another believer. God’s grace transcends all human understanding. If I am to receive that grace, I need to practice it fully.