Here is a 12-step primer on how to evangelize at any parade. Try them all!
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.
The 2008 Hollywood Santa Parade we went to had celebrities! Yes! Celebrities! Well, not real celebrities, but game show hosts and people who starred in ’60’s television series, or special guests from some long forgotten sci-fi movie.
I saw Fred Willard waving from a car and shouted, “Hey Fred! I loved ya in Wall-E!”
He grinned, acknowledged my greeting, and continued waving. There was another lady in the parade, Julie Nudie. I don’t know what she starred in, but it couldn’t have been good. Or wholesome.
Our evangelism team of 13 dubbed this parade, “The Who are These Guys?” Parade. There was Bob Baker and his Marionettes; we surmised that they couldn’t get Bob Barker. Lots of pre-teens from little watched cable shows did the Princess Di sideways wave. And there was the Scientology float. The Scientology float! Proudly displayed were many portraits of L. Ron Hubbard and the comic books he had written. We tried to stifle our boos. I failed.
Step 2: Get there about two hours early and go to the halfway point of the parade. The halfway point will buy you an extra half hour or so of time. Then hand out Gospel tracts, lots of Gospel tracts; we brought about 20,000. Divide your team up and hit both sides of the streets.
People will take them, read them, and if the tracts are really cool, like the million dollar bill or hundred dollar bill, people will ask for more.
Step 3: Finish witnessing before the parade starts. Make sure you hand out all your tracts and have all your conversations before the parade is in view. People will turn on you faster then a shaved Weimerheimer if you block their view by handing out those stupid tracts.
Step 4: Bring the kids! Put them to work! My kids cruise in and out of the crowd and get to the places where no one else can go. Take tracts and throw them into the crowd (this works great with the million dollar bills). Take a stack and hand one to a spectator and ask them to pass them on. They will. Everyone who goes out with our evangelism team must carry their cross, so make sure the family gets down to business.