I WAS WARNED NOT TO PREACH the Gospel in the Seniors Activity Center where I go each Wednesday. The manager took me aside and told me that three people complained about my “preaching.”
“You see,” she explained, “even in a private conversation someone might overhear you and get offended.” She further explained that they get government money and my preaching may put that in jeopardy.
I actually wasn’t preaching; I was just conversing with the people about what I teach at our church, and then inviting them to come visit. Yes, I know her explanation about the government money doesn’t hold water; I’m there as a private citizen. But, since I want to get to know these wonderful elderly people, I will tow the line.
For a season.
One wrote: “But they will not know the gospel!”
I replied, “It will do me no good to get kicked out. I can serve quietly and still tell them about our church. It’s a small town. I need to be wise for Jesus sake.”
To which he responded, “I’m pretty sure “being Jesus” would be preaching the gospel with words and calling people to repentance. I know your very on point with preaching the truth Steve P. Sanchez I’m not doubting that at all, I was just saying we need to speak with words. Mormons have plenty of “being Jesus” in the worlds eyes.”
Another wrote that I ought to fight to change the laws or I should confront the manager. But it’s a small town, and my purpose for even being in a Seniors Center is to get to know the people, so they will know me, and possibly come to Hope Chapel Hill Country, or send a friend there. “What a nice young Pastor” they may say.
In L.A. I had a fair amount of anonymity, and I could be quite bold. Not here. I must be a little more cautious in my interactions, especially where the gospel is concerned. Though I’m well within my rights as a private citizen to say anything I want, I am choosing to lay them down at this time for a greater purpose: to win souls through my actions. Truly that quote that was never uttered by St. Francis of Assisi applies here: “Preach Christ. If necessary, use words.”
Still another scolded me with this:
As a senior myself, and as someone who did church planting, I would say hanging around a Senior Center is a lose-lose situation.
From what you have said elsewhere, it sounds you are using them as bait to get to their younger family members. Plus, you are not wanted there. Some anti-Christian bigots complained, and perhaps another one (the manager) pulled you aside and told you that you couldn’t be who you are.
Jesus told the disciples, you and me what to do in that case in Mat 10:14. You are probably in your comfort zone clearing tables there and trying to be friends, but that is not biblical evangelism.
Then you went to your real audience, the place you can make a difference, and what did you do? Hand out those corny $T bills. Christians think they are clever, but most people think they are dumb and that’s why they didn’t want them.
What did you do then? You hung out with other pastors at the meeting! You should have heard me groan when I read that. Wow.
I’m sorry, I really hope I’m not coming across as being overly critical. I apologize if I am. I want to encourage any church planter. I added you to my prayer list about the time you moved. I wish you every blessing. But I don’t get your church-building strategy.
Of course, the man was being overly critical, not realizing that building relationships with these people is better than not having an opportunity at all. One of those seniors, in fact, appeared at Hope Chapel Hill Country today! (Read what happened the next week by clicking here.)
Here are further articles I wrote about laying down my rights as well as some when I didn’t. It’s a matter of conscience…and wisdom.
- Please read this article (part 3 of a series) about laying down my rights for the greater good when being confronted by the police.
- Here’s an article where I asserted my rights using a lawyer.
- I ignored the law completely when I prayed the name of Jesus at a City Council meeting. Click here to read it.
- I put a little spin on the law with this prayer at the City Council meeting. See what I did here.
- Finally, this is where I decided to deal politely with the police. I actually make a bold assertion that no one needs to get arrested in America for preaching the Gospel…yet. Click here.