I had an idea to try something different at the Chinese New Year Golden Dragon Parade in Los Angeles where I like to hand out Giant Money Gospel tracts to celebrities and dignitaries who are riding in the parade. Instead of just handing them the tract, I wanted to offer them a word of exhortation.
Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, rode on by but I lost my nerve to say what I wanted to say. I have handed him these tracts at least five different times before, but based on his governance, I don’t think he ever read–or believed– what was written on the back of the tract. (You can read it yourself here.)Watch this 15 second video.
Because Villaraigosa is termed out and there’s an election in March, two candidates vying for his position were also in the parade. I mustered up my courage, handed the tract to Eric Garcetti and said what I needed to say in this 16 second video.
I was on a role. Wendy Greuel, another mayoral candidate, also rode by. I had handed out many of these soul-saving tracts to her before…and her kids loved them! I also gave her a firm and gentle reminder about her accountability before a holy God in this 17 second video.
Yep. Call it electioneering, but I’m canvassing for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Mayor of mayors.
It’s tradition: Every year I re-post this article in anticipation of “Parade Season.”
Here is a 12-step primer on how to evangelize at any parade. After this series, you will be linked to six other parades, including a gay pride parade and a radical left wing anti-war protest.
Step 1:Find a parade. Don’t laugh. Many have tried preaching to a line of elderly people on a walking tour, or to school kids getting off a bus thinking they had found a parade; those are organic congregations, not parades. Parades usually have a float or two, some dignitaries from the sanitation department and marching bands, lots of high school marching bands. Read the rest by clicking here.
EDIT: SEE UPDATED MEETING TIMES BELOW. This parade is also known as the Hollywood Christmas Parade, and this will be the 5th year in a row that we have attended. Why is it the B-Lister Parade? Because many “stars” from Disney TV, old sitcoms and the Hollywood past ride in this parade—even former pop artists!—and we are always ready to give them a Gospel tract.
To give you a little taste of what the anti-Tournament of Roses Parade is all about, I thought you’d like to see a two minute version of what goes on at the Doo Dah Parade, where we will be attending this Saturday. (Click here for info on how to join us.)
Oh noooo! It happens on occasion. Our scheduled outing to the Hermosa Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade was rained out. (Fortunately, they rescheduled it for next Saturday.)
Nevertheless, here’s a report from 2008 when the weather was a wee bit better. (And read the reasons why we consider parades to be a vital part of our evangelistic effort.) Click here to read about it.
Some groups are more difficult to reach than others with the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. If I were to stand in the midst of this “Black and gay and here to stay” crowd and preach the good news of how they can be saved from Hell by trusting in Christ and repenting of their sins, I’d probably be shouted down. Most Christians do not show God’s love to this community very often so they don’t trust us.
But, if I can get gospel tracts into the hands of these people for whom Christ died for, and they read the message and believe, they may repent and turn from death to life.
But when this all started in 2008, I never dreamed we would encounter such a great and friendly neighborhood as the one in the Crenshaw district. We even gave the dad of “Good Times” (remember that ’70s show?), a million dollar bill Gospel tract! Dy-noooo-miiiiite! (Read that account here.)
I received a private comment from a concerned reader of this blog who supports street preaching. Here it is:
Steve, I found a comment on latimes.com about the street evangelism during the Rose Parade. (Read article here.) Just wanted to make you aware of it. Not sure if the poster is talking about your group. If it was another group, like Ruben Israel’s, I can see why someone might get upset. The sign guys are a little too brash.
Here’s a video of a three minute message I gave to the crowds at the Rose Parade. Judge for yourself if I’m too brash. Also, make sure you notice the audience’s response after I finished and determine if they thought I was too belligerent. After the video, read the L. A. Times comment and then my commentary.
Here’s the comment that my reader referred to:
I find it to be really lousy, slanted journalism that the LA Times is making an extra effort to point to the Occupy float as some kind of incident or controversy at the parade while at the same time you don’t mention AT ALL that there was a large group of right wing evangelical extremists marching up and down the parade route for HOURS before the parade harassing the crowd with hateful, threatening “Jesus is gonna get you” messages. They also reappeared immediately after the official Rose Parade (and before any Occupy people were seen were I was standing near the grandstands). Despite complaints, the police would not check to see if they had a permit to hold their own pre-parade and they were much more of a nuisance and of a controversy than the Occupy folks. Shame on you for ignoring this.
Here’s my response:
The Tournament of Roses Parade brings out every type of evangelist, quite literally, the good, the bad and the ugly. The photos to the left and right are great examples of the latter two descriptions. Not only do these types of people bring an imbalanced view of who God is, they promote false doctrine and ONLY ONE WAY. Of course, their one way is only through their organization. See for yourself at the 800HowTrue website. I reported on them in an article from 2009.
My reader mentioned Ruben Israel. The photo below (from his website), shows the type of message he and his group display.
I dialogued with Ruben a little over a year ago on Facebook discussing his style of evangelism with mine, then posted it to my blog with his permission. To see the marked difference between our methods, read my post called “Perspectives: Inside the Mind of a Radical Sign Guy.”
I suppose our group could be considered obnoxious though we try very hard to be winsome and appealing. We approach our task with good humor and a positive attitude. We also know that not everyone shares our views on eternity, so we attempt to be gracious. Very gracious.
So how should Christians respond to those who are not so nice in their evangelistic methods, or are out there with bad intentions and ulterior motives? It’s best to respond the way the apostle Paul did, when he heard about the foolishness that was being preached in Christ’s name while he was under arrest.
“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (Phillipians 1: 15-18)
This Monday will mark the sixth year in a row that we’ve been going to the Tournament of Roses Parade. Here are some highlights (and lowlifes) from the previous five years. (See the end of the post for this year’s planned adventure on January 2.)
Earlier this year Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens and his wife Madeleine got some Gospel tracts from my daughters and their friend while riding on their wild Mustang float. (Read about it here.)
In 2010 “Righteous” Richard and myself got booed mercilessly by crowds of hundreds as we preached to the grandstands. (See below.)
In 2009 I reported on a story that wasn’t even shown on the major media outlets. Was it a hidden government agenda? An anti-Christian conspiracy… or worse?(Read about that here.)
Before that, in 2008 I preached for the very first time to the many standing outside the Porta-Potties until I was flushed in the face, so to speak. (Read about that here.)
And in 2007, the very first year we starting sharing our faith at this awesome event, George Lucas was the Grand Marshall…and a bogus Wookie almost ruined the parade! (Read about that here!)
What will happen this year at one of the largest parades in the world? Find out when you join the evangelism team at the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade on Monday, January 2, 2012.
Details: Meet at Hope Chapel at 5AM to carpool or meet the team at the end of the Metro Rail Gold Line at the Sierra Madre Villa station at approximately 6:15AM. We will take the train back to the Allen St. station and walk down to the parade.
Contact me at PastorSteveAtHope@Yahoo.com or on Facebook for further info, or call me at 310-374-4673 x.121 and leave a message. I will get back to you.
The Hollywood Christmas Parade has become a favorite destination for our evangelism team because of the huge concentration of B-list celebrities who populate it.
Who wouldn’t be excited to see Fival and Booboo Stewart?
Everyone would certainly scream with delight at the sight of Kirsten Vangsness, Gig Morton or Brendon Meyer, wouldn’t they? If not them, how about this hot list of drama kings and queens? Titus Makin, Jr. , Dillon Lane or Ted McGinley—yes, they were all there! And all of us on the sidelines wondered aloud with our traditional chant: “Who are these guys?” (In all fairness, most of these people are in shows aimed at kids…and those kids were screaming at the top of their lungs when they passed by.)
Our goal, as every year, is to hand out thousands of Gospel tracts to those watching on the side of the road. And we did. Our team of 17 nearly ran out of them after the first mile.
Because there were so many gaps in the parade (click here to watch how to preach during the gaps), some up to fifteen minutes long, we couldn’t wait for the Grand Marshall, Marie Osmond, but we did get a tract into the hands of, believe it or not… the cast of “Bucket and Skinners’ Epic Adventures”!
I thought that you would be excited about that.
A real celebrity did appear though, and La Toya Jackson took my tract willingly. I don’t know if she’s still a Jehovah’s Witness, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.
No matter how daffy our evangelistic methods may seem, God can still use all that we do to save His elect.
R.A. Torrey wrote this over a hundred years ago from his wonderfully helpful article, “The Use of Tracts.”
Comparatively few Christians realize the importance of tract work. I had been a Christian a good many years, and a minister of the Gospel several years, before it ever entered my head that tracts were of much value in Christian work. I had somehow grown up with the notion that tracts were all rubbish, and therefore I did not take the trouble to read them, and far less did I take the trouble to circulate them, but I found out that I was entirely wrong. Tract work has some great advantages over other forms of Christian work.
See the other exciting things that happened at past parades including police interference and many, many more celebrities by clicking on the years below.
Parades are a great venue for preaching the Gospel—especially when there is a big gap between you and the marching bagpipers. Here’s a review of my video from one of my many, many atheist YouTube fans:
abuchanan821 (19 hours ago): Steve, I just randomly came across 3 of your videos. I just want you to know that you have totally inspired me. I used to be just an atheist. From this day forward I will be a MILITANT ATHEIST!!!!
We tried something new at our local St. Patrick’s Day parade—and it was highly effective: Hand out tracts and preach to the people who will be marching in the parade before it starts! At most small town parades people don’t arrive until about 15 minutes beforehand. So, you may as well do something constructive with your evangelism team while you wait…
…like preach to the beer ad marchers. That’s what “Mad Mike” Stockwell did (at my urging).
As you can see they were held in rapt attention, barely able to stand upright before dropping to their knees in repentance.
You can also climb aboard the ubiquitous double-decker bus that is in every parade—and hand out tracts to the riders (like “Mad Mike” Stockwell did—on his own initiative.
You can also do more creative things, like these… (more…)