Before setting out to conduct street evangelism and open air preaching it is a good idea to research the county and city ordinances regarding noise violations and disturbing the peace. Odds are someone will get offended and call the police claiming one of the two. When police are called, they have reasonable suspicion that a crime or ordinance violation has been committed. They are obligated to respond and investigate. This should be expected. (check out Is Street Preaching Biblical?).
Some cities require you to obtain a permit to pass out flyers or do speeches on public property. It is right to seek to obtain the proper permits as most cities will not deny them knowing it will be a religious assembly and protected free speech. In some countries it is flat out illegal to give religious speeches in public. This is where a more modest personal approach is best suited like walking up to individuals and speaking to them more privately in a public location. Where religious proselytizing is illegal, than an even more subtle approach is required through networking and relationship building for the missional purpose of presenting the gospel. Once understanding the governing laws regarding public evangelism, next it is important to understand the culture of that public area.
College campuses, public parks around downtown business headquarters, suburb parks, tourist areas, and the region these parks are located in help understand the angle and focus of approach. Regions that are less culturally divers or have a concentrated sub cultures are keys to understanding the spiritual needs of that area. Once you have conducted the proper research and planning, having a game plan of what topics need to be touched and how to frame the conversations is next.
Of course the absolute end goal of all discussions are gospel presentations. But getting there is not always straight forward. On the personal level; You always want to introduce yourself, ask their name and if you can ask them some questions. Trust the Holy Spirit. If they say no and do not want to talk, move on. If you are open air preaching, and someone comes up asking genuine questions, you want to address them on a personal level. If you have an evangelism team with you, have them address that persons questions and continue preaching.
Personal Public Evangelism
When walking up to people and getting their consent to ask questions always introduce yourself and ask for their name. Throughout the conversation, call them by name; this is more personal and relates to how personal the subject matter actually is to them. Avoid using phrases like “I believe…” or “I think…” because it is not a matter of your opinion verses theirs. These are eternal truths, not personal opinionated beliefs.
Q: Do you believe in God? (yes/no)
Deck of Cards analogy; “If I throw a deck of cards in the air, what is the chance it will fall down in a completed house of cards?”, “Where did the deck of cards come from in the first place?” “If I don’t have a deck of cards, what is the chance, a deck of cards will appear in my hand from nothing?”
Piece of Paper analogy; “If I write ‘laws of nature’ on a paper, then tear it up into very small pieces, then throw it up in the air, what is the chance it will fall back into place in the correct order?”; “Where did the piece of paper come from in the first place?”; “If I didn’t have a piece of paper to write ‘laws of nature’ on, what is the chance a piece of paper will appear from nothing or the letters will form themselves to form the intelligible sentence structure and words?”
Sometimes it is best, that when someone denies the existence of God, may was well just go straight to a gospel presentation. You can do this by asking next: Do you know who Jesus is? Some may even argue that Jesus never existed either. At that point you can attempt to explain to them the historical facts but odds are they will reject those too. If that is the case, you can ask them what they believe or again, straight up ask them if they have ever heard the gospel itself. If they are still willing to listen and engage in a friendly dialog, go right head and present them the gospel.
If they already claim to believe in god, continue on to ensure they get to know the truth about the real God if they don’t know him already.
Q: Who do you think God is? (the universe / everyone / one being / unknown)
These first two questions help gauge what the person believes; New age, agnostic, atheist, or theistic.
Q: Do you think God is pleased with you and how you have live your life?
Naturally most people will say yes. The idea here sets up revealing to them their own contradictions and how they actually do not meet God’s standard with the follow up questions:
Q: Are you a good person? Are you morally perfect?
Again, naturally, most people will say yes. The Moral crime proofs then expose some flaws in their claim.
Moral Crimes Proofs; “have you ever lied; have you ever stolen anything; have you ever hurt anyone, emotionally or physically; have you ever sexually desired someone; have you ever said GD or JC, and not as a noun?” What do you call someone who has lied and stolen? What do you call someone who sexually desires someone who is not their spouse?
Repeat their own answers. Of course people who steal are called thieves and people who have lied are called liars. Then ask:
Q: Do you think God is pleased with thieves, liars, adultery/cheaters, and blasphemers?
The discussion then may steer to relative morality. The follow up question related to relative morality exposes further dilemmas in that belief:
Q: Are you opposed to racism, rape, or killing homosexuals? Why?
They are compelled to admit they are opposed to these because they are wrong.
Q: Are countries and cultures that currently practice them, are they wrong? Are societies in the past that condoned them, where they wrong? How are they wrong, when their society condones it? Is there a universal morality that applies to all mankind? Where does that come from if not from society?
Q: Does someone who commits such crimes/moral wrongs be punished? (yes/no)
Here they have been lead to see that morality is transcendent and that moral wrongs deserve punishment. Understanding the required justice is next. This is where most Christians fail. Understanding God’s perfect Justice is very important.
Q: Why not just forget about the crime of racism, rape, and killing homosexuals? Why even bother prosecuting them? Just let them go free with no punishment.
Now explain the actual value of violating God’s law and the worth of a transcendent crime. Sin has eternal value in that it is an offense against the eternal God. This eternal offense requires a just punishment.
Q: How much good can you do to pay back an eternal debt? How much good can a friend of yours do to pay back your eternal debt? If the crime of racism, rape, and killing homosexuals is just given 2 hours of community service, is that enough, why not?
Q: Early you admitted to being a thief, liar, adultery, and blasphemer. You admitted to committing transcendent crimes against a perfectly holy and just God that you can not repay and still requires an equal just punishment. Do you want to know how to be made right before God, have your debt payed for, and truly know God for all eternity?
(Due to the examples used above and given the dysfunction of today’s misquoting society, we must include this disclaimer: we do not advocate, support, or encourage teachings or actions for rape, racism, and murder)
Avoid the arianistic Christian cliche “accept Jesus in your heart” or “say the sinners prayer”. That is not what really happens and NOT what Jesus calls for. Jesus called for people to REPENT and BELIEVE. Thus, we should call for the same.
Present the Gospel message: God sent his eternal Son from heaven in the form of Jesus to die for your sin on the cross, payed your eternal debt of sin, and rose again three days later proving that he has the power to give life, eternal life. He did this so that you can be free from the punishment of sin and free to truly know God. Only Jesus lived the life you could not live and pay the price for sin that you can not pay so that you can enjoy God in this life and for eternity after this life. Are you ready to leave your sins behind, repent and believe in God The Son?
Pray with that person and ask the Holy Spirit to work in their heart, empowering them to believe, make them born again, a new creation, adopted by God, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord God and Savior. After praying, discuss any concerns they may have and give them your contact information.
This is a very general discussion with the key talking points but you will encounter all kinds of different people with all kinds of different arguments and justifications. Not having every answer is OKAY! You must remember that you are NOT the spiritual eye openers, The Holy Spirit is. You are called to be faithful to God and loving to neighbors, strangers, and enemies; and there is nothing more loving than sacrificing your time, emotions, and efforts to give someone the greatest gift we can offer, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pray that God gives the greatest gift of all; eternal life.
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