Principles for Street Evangelism

 

By Dr. Ken Matto

 

And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.  (Luke 14:23)

 

One of the most challenging ministries in evangelism is street evangelism.   This is where the people live, work, shop, and just hang out.  Understand right from the outset that street evangelism is confrontational.  The pastor of your church hides behind the pulpit.  The media minister hides behind the microphone and/or TV camera.  Many hide behind YouTube Videos and other types of media which creates a buffer between them and the people.  When I was a young Christian I watched D. James Kennedy who was Pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  He went home to be with the Lord on September 5, 2007.  I had discovered that he would go out to the streets and do street evangelism with the members of the congregation.  As far as I know, he was the only media minister that left the protection of the pulpit and actually went to the streets and meet with people right where they are and evangelize. 

 

I had done street evangelism in my home town of Perth Amboy, New Jersey.  I also did soap box preaching in Times Square in New York City, Flea Markets, Church Bazaars and I want to share some principles of street evangelism to help encourage you and to help you avoid pitfalls to make your evangelism encounters more productive and safer.

 

Know your Bible

It is imperative that you know your Bible when you hit the streets because people will have questions and especially the cults who will know their material in and out will challenge your beliefs.  Now there will be times when you do not know an answer and be honest about it.  You should have a good working knowledge of the Bible so you can show people the Scriptures which they are questioning.  For example, a person comes up to you and says that nowhere in the Bible does Jesus claim to be God.  How would you answer?  Here is how I answer that objection.

 

First I would take them to 1 Corinthians 2:13:  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  (1 Corinthians 2:13)  I would tell them that you must compare Scripture with Scripture which is the way God tells us to understand his word.

 

Then I would take them to Exodus 3:14: And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.  (Exodus 3:14)  I would tell them specifically that God revealed himself to Moses as “I Am.”

 

Then I would take them to John 8:58: Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.  (John 8:58)  John 8:58 confirms the teaching that the God of Sinai was the Lord Jesus Christ himself since both are called “I AM.”  So there is the biblical proof that Christ called himself God!  Now if they don’t believe it, that is not your fault, you gave them the truth and your job was done.

 

Talk to yourself

Hold a conversation with yourself.  What I mean by this is one way to learn your Bible in a strategic way is to ask yourself questions on specific subjects and then if you are unable to answer them, you can research the answer before you hit the streets.  Give your answer out loud so you can hear the answer for yourself and if it would be clear enough as a response to whatever question you are asking yourself.  I do this all the time when I write articles and studies to see how a person would receive the writing and how they would interpret what I am writing.  It is a very effective method to pre-answer questions you may encounter on the street. Here are some questions and comments you may receive because there is nothing new under the sun.  As you begin to answer these questions you will start to be very proficient in answering the objections quickly as you will receive them.

 

1. Jesus never claimed to be God (We answered that one above)

2. Muslims and Christians worship the same God, right?

3. What about the Jews, are they saved?

4. Why are all religions wrong and only Christianity is right?

 

Bring a Bible which if destroyed, will not contain all your notes and studies.

There are very angry and violent people on the streets so make sure that you have a Bible that you can lose if it is stolen or destroyed.  The Bible you use for personal study should not be taken to the streets unless you have no notes in them.  I would suggest a wide margin Bible for the street so you can mark it up with leading Scripture references.  For example, we just proved that Jesus was God according to the Scriptures.  If you started at 1 Corinthians 2:13, you could mark next to it Exodus 3:14 and then next to that verse John 8:58 and that fulfills the linking of the verses.  You can use a small notebook and in it do the same thing.  Place it in alphabetical order and under “J” you would have “Jesus is God>>1 Cor. 2:13>>Ex. 3:14>>John 8:58.  Using a notebook you do not have to buy the most expensive Bible and this way your notes are separate and if your Bible gets destroyed, then your notes will still be intact.

 

Get them unsaved before they can be saved

It sounds crazy because the people who you will be ministering to are mainly unbelievers.  So how do you get them unsaved?  You confront them with their overlooked sins because they will claim to be good since they never robbed a bank or killed anyone but they neglect the seriousness of small sin.  For example you can confront them with questions like this: Have you ever lied?  Have you ever taken anything that is not yours without permission such as a pen or a paper clip?  Have you ever looked lustfully upon another person?  Have you ever taken the name of the Lord in vain, either as a swear word or in a joke?  Have you ever accused someone falsely?  So then you give them the appropriate Scriptures showing them that they have violated the law of God and what would they do if they stood before God today?  In James 2:10 it states if we have broken only one of God’s laws, we are guilty before God and deserve hell.  Then you bring in the saving nature of the gospel and they will see they need a Savior because in reality they are not good as the Scriptures teach in Romans 3:12.

 

Expect to be mocked and vilified

People today have an elevated hatred for God and since you are out on the street proclaiming the gospel, you can expect to be mocked and vilified by many people especially young people since most of them have no morals because their parents never taught them properly.  Do not be surprised when this happens and you must not retaliate or else your testimony is compromised.  If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  (John 15:18)  It may not always happen but be prepared if it does.  If you have a problem with anger, this is not the ministry for you!

 

Permits are not needed

Article 1 in the Bill of Rights is not limited to newspapers, radio, TV but grants street preachers the right to exercise freedom of religion and the press.  If you use a personal PA system, you may need a permit to avoid a citation for excessive noise given by some anti-Christian police officer.   Many cities and communities have excessive noise laws which they enforce especially against Christians.  Please go to this article on my site entitled “Passing Tracts is legal.”  https://www.scionofzion.com/passtracts.htm  It is a shame but there are many in law enforcement who have never read the Constitution of either their state or the U.S. Constitution.  Have a copy with you.  They are paid to protect you and not to create new laws on site.

 

Avoid arguments

People tend to be argumentative and they will do what they can to provoke you into an argument.  Once you start an argument or if the provoking person starts it, it could escalate into a very bad situation which could lead to your arrest, or your removal from the place of ministry and it may make it harder for those in the future to do ministry.

 

Avoid debates because they are time consuming

Debates are also something you need to avoid because you may be challenged to a street debate and that will take time away from ministry.  If they want to debate and you are strong enough in the Scriptures to debate, then tell that person you will be glad to debate them and then give them a place and time.  99% of the time they will not agree to that because they are just trying to gain an audience on the street so they can discredit you.  What you have done is disarmed them and you have shown their true colors that they were really not interested in a debate.

 

If you are easily angered avoid this type of ministry

As I stated above, if you have a problem with anger then this ministry is definitely not for you.  If you get into a heated argument with someone and fists start flying, what do you think the headlines will read the next day?  “STREET PREACHER STARTS FIGHT WITH THOSE THAT DISAGREE WITH HIM.”  That paints Christianity in a bad light and makes the person who provoked the fight into an angel.  Then that would probably end street ministry in that area. 

 

Listen to those who oppose you so you know what they are believing

There are many beliefs out there and it behooves you to listen to those who are in opposition to what you are teaching.  By listening to them, you will be better prepared on how to answer those specific objections.  If one person has certain beliefs, then it is normal for others to have the same beliefs but you will be prepared to answer them.  Listening is an important part of street ministry.  Don’t wait impatiently for the other person to finish what they are saying so you can speak but listen intently so it will strengthen your defense of the faith.  But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.  (Philippians 1:17)  What you are doing is defending the true gospel and your answer will be much more intelligent and surgical if you challenge specific beliefs which are given you. 

 

Use convicting materials

Bring convicting tracts and materials and avoid the cutesy poem type tracts like:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

I have salvation

How about you?

 

Hand out tracts that go directly to the core beliefs of false religions such as Roman Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Homosexuality, Same Sex unions, Witchcraft, New Age, Apostate Protestantism, Evolution, etc.  You only have one time to reach them where they believe.  Giving out information which challenges their belief system is vital.  If a person goes into the hospital for an operation on their left hand but the surgeon decides to avoid and divert to the right hand, how has that accomplished anything?  What you must do is a surgical strike because you have one chance to do it. 

Give them a place on the tract or booklet for further information which could be a personal website or blog.  If you cannot find materials on these subjects, you can write your own and then have them photo-copied at Staples or some other place.  If you ask someone what religion they are then you will have the material available to further your street ministry.

 

Don’t be a missionary for your church but be one for Christ

One of the biggest mistakes that some street preachers make is they accidentally or intentionally tailor their preaching to make their church the focus of the message.  If you have a good church that has not compromised, then it is fine to invite people but you are out there to bring the message of salvation not the message of a church.  You are representing Christ, not a local church.  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.  (Proverbs 11:30)  Our purpose on the street is to win souls for Christ, not build the size of a local church.

 

People will ask questions, silly, real, in-depth

People will ask questions, there will be some who will ask legitimate questions based upon what they have been taught by their religion.  They may seem confused but have patience with them and try to discern what they are really asking.  There are also those who will ask silly questions and when they do, just avoid them by turning away from them and continue to minister.

 

Christianity is not a religion

Many people on the street will refer to what you are doing as religion.  God hates religion and the people should know that because religion attempts to reach God by bypassing the cross and using works.  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (John 14:6)  They should be told that Christianity is not a world religion but true Christianity is outside religion.  Christ is the only way and that means every world religion is false and will only lead to hell.  People must come through the cross and not around it.

 

Never force a “Decision”

Many churches and media ministries are interested in numbers.  Do not get enmeshed in that “religious competition.”  It is not how many people come to know Christ under your street ministry which is the focus but being faithful in spreading the message of Christ.  Always keep in mind that you do not save anyone, God is the one who saves, your responsibility is to be faithful.  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.  (1 Corinthians 4:2)  Forcing a decision from a person if they are not truly convicted deceives them into thinking they are saved when in essence they are not.  There is no such thing as a “decision” in Scripture.  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.  (John 6:37)  The Father is the one who chooses who becomes saved and if a person is truly under conviction, they will know it and it may be at a later time or they may become saved at that very moment.  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  (Romans 10:17)  If you are preaching the Word of God, then instant conviction is possible.  I know three people personally who became instantly saved when they heard the gospel.  I heard the true gospel when I was 12 years old and did not get saved till I was 27.  So it is a matter of God’s timing and not ours.  Just be faithful in handing out the word of God.  You also may want to keep a few Bibles on hand in case a person does become saved and you can give them a Bible plus appropriate information.

 

Use a King James Bible

If you use a modern version like an NIV or ESV, you will have a very difficult time witnessing to a Jehovah’s Witness or a Roman Catholic since the modern versions are one and the same with the versions of these two false religions.  The King James Bible is the word of God and does not pander to the individual belief systems of false religions.  Let me give an example:

 

Matthew 12:4

(ESV) how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?

 

(KJB) How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

 

In the ESV the term “Bread of the Presence” is another wording of the Roman Catholic belief of Transubstantiation which teaches that the priest has the authority to bring Christ out of Heaven and once again place him in a corporeal body.  Many Christians were murdered by the Roman Catholic Church for rejecting that false teaching.  Why would any Christian want to use a false Roman Catholic counterfeit version of the Bible?  One more example to show the unity between the New World translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the NIV and the ESV.

 

Luke 4:4

(KJB) And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

(NIV) Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.

(ESV) And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'"
(NWT-Jehovah’s Witnesses) But Jesus replied to him: “It is written, ‘Man must not live by bread alone.’’

 

All three of these false versions agree with each other by omitting “but by every word of God.”  Why would you want to take a false, counterfeit version of the Bible out to the streets when you are dealing with the eternal souls of people?  You need the right tools for street evangelism and that main tool is the King James Bible which omits nothing!  The King James Bible is a very convicting Bible which does not go soft on any sin.

 

Watch out for the talkers who will hinder you

When I was doing street ministry in Perth Amboy, there was one man who used to come up to me or one of the other tract passers and would start talking.  Most of the time he would talk about himself and his Christian walk, yet he never joined us in street ministry.  He was not a mean person nor was he intentionally uncaring but what he did was to stop us from handing out tracts.  While he was talking, the people were passing by and we couldn’t give them tracts because he was in the way.  So there will be those who mean no ill-will but they will hinder you so just tell them politely that you need to hand out tracts and he is hindering you.  Have a folding chair or two available and let him or her sit in it and you can talk with them while you are handing out tracts.  At least their body will be out of the way and you can still talk and do ministry.

 

Have tracts of different languages

In America there are many different languages spoken.  Perth Amboy had a large Spanish population so we would always have both Spanish and English tracts on hand.  You may live where there are a lot of Hindus, Arabs, Pakistanis, Chinese, or Japanese and you can get tracts in hundreds of languages today.  You will know which language you need by where you plan on “setting up shop.”

 

Go in groups if possible minimum 2

If possible try to go in groups to the street because you may run into someone who wants to talk spiritual things with you and if they pull you to the side, it will take away from your outreach.  It is also much safer to go in a group because a person who feels convicted will not hesitate to attack one person but may feel differently about a group of 4 or 5.  It is also good to have someone with a camera on hand, one which takes videos so if any situation arises, everything will be on video in case police involvement is necessary.  In Perth Amboy, we had sometimes 5 of us so two of us would go across the street and hand out tracts there.  The more people you have, the wider the outreach.  We handed out about 500 tracts in a 3 hour window.

 

Litter

If you hand out a tract and people take them and then after they leave your presence throw them on the ground, that is not your fault.  You cannot be cited for littering because you handed the people a tract and if they discard it, then they are the ones who are littering.  It is like if I buy a cup of coffee at a convenience store and then when I am done, I throw the cup on the ground.  It is not the store’s fault even if their name is on the cup, it would be my fault for doing that actual littering.

 

Dress according to the thermometer, especially if you will be out there for a while.

Make sure when you go to the street that you do not over-dress in the warm weather and that you do not under-dress in the cold weather.  If you plan on doing street ministry for a few hours, remember in the cold weather you will feel colder because you are basically standing still plus you may be subject to cold winds.  In the warmer weather, you may feel dehydrated or dizzy being in the sun too long.  You know your body and how you should dress, the key is to be prepared for the weather and for how long you plan on doing ministry that day.

 

Private Property is off limits unless you get permission

Shopping Malls are normally private property even though stores that are public (traded on the Stock Exchanges) are renting store space in that mall.  Sometimes these malls supply kiosks for organizations to present their material and causes to the people but it is done by permission.  There are also private properties in parks and other areas which you must obtain permission to minister.  Sometimes in public parks, organizations may reserve a grove or a portion of the park for their own cause and in that case unless they let you, you will not be allowed to minister.  However, they cannot keep you from the entrance of the park or area which would be a public area.

 

Find a place where there is a bathroom

If you plan on having an all-day outreach at some location, you need to check out the area first to see if there are any bathrooms available.  If you are on the street in a city, maybe you can find a business owner who might let you use the facilities and you can offer him $20 for the privilege of all day visits.  You can assure the owner that it will not be a constant flow of people but only a few people during the course of the day.  They might be under the belief that everyone you minister to will use their bathroom so assure the owner that only a small number of your team will use it.  If you will be out all day and there is no bathroom available, you may want to consider buying a pack of adult diapers.  The way they are making them nowadays they are not the old bulky type unless that is what you want.  After all, who is going to know you are wearing them and when you get home at the end of the day, you just toss them in the garbage, used or not.

 

An Example of Street Preaching

One of the most uncompromising street preachers I am subscribed to on YouTube is a Canadian man named Dorre Love.  I am including the link to his channel on YouTube  and I think it would do you good to listen to him in two areas: 1) The questions and comments he receives, and 2) How he responds to them.  The reason for this is for you to answer the questions and comments by the people before you go out to the street.  Please be warned that Dorre rejects the trinity making him heretical but I wanted you to watch his videos to hear the questions you may or will get asked when you hit the streets so you will be prepared to answer.

 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAWDr2F2EW8che-jv7k6jsA 

 

Summary

Street ministry can be very rewarding and at the same time challenging.  You will be meeting the people right where they are and where they are spiritually.  You will be doing a defense of the gospel and at the same time you are being an ambassador for Christ.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.  (2 Corinthians 5:20)  The key to street ministry is to be faithful to the word of God and not compromise anything, even if it seems small.  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.  (Galatians 5:1)

 

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