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The 12 Step Program for Parades

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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.

Click here to read part 2 and to see actual parade preaching and why the LAPD put the kibosh on it…

18 Comments

  1. I post on Facebook under my wife’s account, Claudette Pendry. In calendar 2012, two friends and I (one Baptist, one Methodist) got out more than 5,000 tracts, including 3,500 at Daytona International Speedway during 2/2012 Speed Week, and 1,100 at the past month’s Christmas parades. We do much the same as in your post, but I start 30 minutes before parade time, going the same route as the parade, from the beginning point. We have the same “get behind the line” problems here in Daytona Beach, Florida, as you mentioned. If a policeman requests us to do something unreasonable, we ask for his/her card, and for him to contact his supervisor for us, to check the validity of his/her request. If need be, we ask him to call the City Attorney, whose cell phone number we carry. We’ve met with the City Attorney, and he offered this option to us. It works well. We’re always cooperative and submissive, within the boundaries of our rights. The man of God must not strive. We have noticed, however, that our relations with the police are much better if we do not use powered amplification. The microphone brands us as a radical or rabble-rouser, not a normal citizen.

    The only street preaching I’ve done was at the intersection of Bill France Blvd. and International Speedway Blvd., aka “Turn Four” entrance. For the races, most people stream by us into the racetrack from off-site parking to the north. I was alone giving out tracts before this year’s Daytona 500, and I couldn’t keep up with the traffic flow. At each light, I had 90 seconds. I put the tracts back in my backpack, and shared the gospel about 60 times, each time to about 25 people. I was terrified, but God provided enough boldness to do what had to be done. I like tract work, because people gather more than 2 hours before the races, and they have plenty of time in the stands to read. But if required, it’s good to know that God can use His message in 90 seconds, to get the job done. By the way, I asked those who wanted to know more, to stay through the light change and see me. A few did, but most were in too much a hurry to get inside.

    Thank you for sharing what you are doing. If you come to Daytona, I would be delighted to witness with you, as my job permits. Jerry, 386-383-3615.

  2. I grew up in a small town where we had many parades. Many of the adults were very Christian and the majority of the kids were not. I remember the kids picking up all of the candy that got thrown but ignoring the tracts that got thrown with them. Once when I was thirteen I think, always being the kid looking for odd jobs, I signed up to sweep up the garbage after the parade. Literally half the trash was Chick tracts and other Bible stuff. The rest was mostly candy wrappers.
    Though I didn’t give it much thought at the time it was a bit prophetic. Despite many parents (not mine) being highly religious, and despite a high level of evangelism and attempted indoctrination the young people of my town grew up to be mostly atheists, agnostic, or “spiritual”. Of my childhood peers who were subjected to an overwhelming onslaught of tract evangelism and good news clubs, only a bare handful now identify as Christian. I think that is the failure of modern Christianity. Evangelism may sway people who already believe, and may change believers views on the religion, Christianity has lost its power to persuade the youth or convert the non believer. My experience was in the ’70s and ’80s in a largely Christian town and even there the youth rejected evangelism. Nowadays the youth are even less open to the idea of Gods. In my work I deal constantly with young adults and they are overwhelmingly non religious. I think this explains the reason religious belief keeps declining every year. Young people just aren’t buying it.
    The children are the future and the children don’t want Gods.
    It may take a few generations but I think religion is failing in America and we will see a secular society within our lifetime.

    • Ryk,
      I completely agree with you. The time has passed for America to be considered a Christian nation. We now can be called a post-Christian, or even anti-Christian nation. Still, I evangelize out of obedience to God’s Word, not because I get results. Is it frustrating? Of course. But, according to Scripture, “…salvation belongs to the Lord.” You may well ask, and I would too, what is the point, or why is everyone falling away, or why do so few believe? Jesus says, ” “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

      Also, it’s God who does the choosing of who gets saved or not. (Don’t ask me how/why he does it.) I’m just glad I’m saved. Wish you were.

      Romans 9 It is not as though God’s word had failed.

      Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

      What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,

      “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
      and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

      It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

      One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

      What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in Hosea:

      “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
      and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”

      and,

      “In the very place where it was said to them,
      ‘You are not my people,’
      there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”

      27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:

      “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
      only the remnant will be saved.
      For the Lord will carry out
      his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”

      29 It is just as Isaiah said previously:

      “Unless the Lord Almighty
      had left us descendants,
      we would have become like Sodom,
      we would have been like Gomorrah.

      • I appreciate your honesty. That is very much how I see Christianity as well. We disagree on that description being applicable to a being that could possibly be called good, but we seem very much in agreement that it is the will of the God not the will of people that determine salvation.

        I have long maintained that the God has chosen who will be saved and who will be damned and while humans may have free will, that free will has no impact on ones eternal fate. I think creating beings and then choosing them to be tortured for eternity is an act of extreme evil. You may be correct that a creator can create as it wishes, but having power and freedom does not absolve it of wickedness.

        Now I am unconcerned because I have no reason to believe any of this is real but even as just a story, it is a story that describes an evil God.

        That of course has nothing to do with my being an atheist. Even were the God described as the greatest example of goodness and virtue I could imagine, I still wouldn’t believe in it without evidence. The evilness of the God is however the reason I find an increase in non belief to be a good thing. Not that I would ever countenance trying to forcibly reduce belief through law or threat. In fact I would be fighting alongside Christians, Jews, Muslims, Scientologists, Hindus, Buddhists and every other believer to resist such a thing. However I see a voluntary move away from religion as a sign that our species is growing up.

      • But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? (And thanks for your own atheistic evangelistic shpiel.)

  3. I have posed an argument to many Christians over the years who reject that predestination is implicit in Christianity. I often use it as a counter to Pascal’s Wager. To date no one has been able to refute either premise or conclusion. As you seem to share my view on this I thought I would present it here for your consideration.

    1. The God described by Christianity is omniscient and infallible.
    2. If a God existed but was not omniscient and infallible it would not be the God described by Christianity.
    3. An omniscient being would know if my free will would lead me to damnation or to salvation and an infallible being could not be mistaken about this.
    4. If the being does not know it is not omniscient, if it can be mistaken it is not infallible. In either case it would not be the God described by Christianity.
    5. If the God knows my free will is going to lead me to salvation then no act I take can change this and at some point before my death I will find salvation even if I spend my entire life up to that point not believing.
    6. If the God knows my free will is going to lead to damnation then no act I take will change this so even if I had what I believe is a sincere conversion, I could never be other than a false convert and would still be damned.

    So these premises lead to only three possible outcomes.
    1. The God described by Christianity does not exist and I need not worry about my eternal fate.
    2. The God described by Christianity does exist and knows I am to be saved and I need not worry about my eternal fate because salvation is assured.
    3. The God described by Christianity exists and knows I am to be damned and while I could dread such a fate I need not worry about it because damnation is unavoidable.

    In all cases the wisest course is skepticism. As there is neither evidence of a God nor any benefit in believing in it. Even if I am mistaken and the God described by Christianity exists my belief or lack thereof has no impact on my eternal destiny.

    • Hmmm, interesting. But you sound like a hyper-Calvinist who also believes that they have to do nothing, so why share their faith? It is a mystery, one that I cannot fully explain, but God does work within our choices somehow. The true thing is, if you continue in your lifestyle and sin, then yes, you are condemned. Actually Jesus says that you are condemned already because of your unbelief. I’m not trying to be a fear-monger, just stating the biblical facts as I see them. And, yes, you still have time as long as you live.

      Thanks, Ryk!!!

      • Very welcome and thank you as well. I do not consider you being a fear mongering. I understand your belief even if I don’t share them and do not mind your concern. Also if I felt there were anything to fear regarding hells and damnation I wouldn’t really be an atheist lol.

        I know my argument is hyper Calvinist it is intended to be. However that doesn’t make it less valid. If my free will can alter what an all knowing, infallible God knows, then I would be more powerful than the God. Which considering the God is defined as all powerful would be nonsensical.

      • You have better theology than the majority of Christians I encounter! That’s a big LOL!

  4. I can talk back to God precisely because I am a human being and thus possess the ability. Why shouldn’t I? The God may have ultimate power but that does not make it a good being nor does it make it immune to criticism.

    It may not be concerned by my criticism or even find it valid, but I have every right to make it.
    Also such criticism would have no effect on my salvation or lack thereof. That is inevitable regardless of what I choose to do.

  5. Also you are welcome. I freely give of my Evangelical Spiel. 🙂

  6. Thanks Steve, I do try and read a lot of theology, Christian in particular because that is the majority religion in the US. I’ve also read quite a bit about Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. I’m still pretty ignorant about some other religions like Hindu but I’m working on it.
    I do this partly because religion is very interesting to me, I also read a lot of philosophy for the same reason. I also read theology and apologetics because I feel it would be dishonest to reject something without evidence. If there is evidence supporting a God I want to know about it.
    I know some atheists who know very little about religion. That is OK to some extent, one doesn’t need to understand something simply to lack belief in it. However when such people go beyond lack of belief and start asserting religion is false using faulty arguments and things the religion doesn’t actually teach, I get uncomfortable and embarrassed for them. There are of course Christians who do the same thing. Trying to defend their faith using faulty arguments and things not taught in the Bible. I get embarrassed for them to.
    On Ray Comforts Blog I tend to get sarcastic, dismissive, and sometimes even belligerent with the people there, sometimes even the atheists. That is the nature of Rays blog and many of Rays fans behave the same way. Even there I’m always looking for a good, polite discussion.
    Outside of Rays blog I try to be respectful of religious people and frame my argument against believing in a polite way. While I have had a few real life Christians get hostile it is rare. In my experience the hostility between atheists and religion is more of a media thing, famous people, internet personalities along with their fans and critics, plus the media in general play it up but I rarely see it in real life.

    • Have you read “Mere Christianity,” yet, Ryk?

      • Yes back in High School. I thought it was interesting and we’ll written which is to be expected considering the author, but I didn’t think he made a compelling case. While he did a good job of expressing his reasons for believing his arguments were weak and didn’t really survive scrutiny or provide a reason for others to believe. I also see a lot of unscholarly bias, he hand waves away a lot of unanswered questions, the trilemma in particular ignores that there are many other possible explanations for Jesus than the three he proposes, he also fails to properly defend any of the three. Asserting “lord” as a brute fact and essentially dismissing “liar” or “lunatic” without giving them any rigorous consideration.

        Good book though. Enjoyable to read and very thought provoking.

  7. One of the heavier themes is an argument that there are universal moral values that everyone has that would therefore imply a giver of those universal values. At one point he mentions Hitler and claims that both Christians and atheists knew what Hitler did was wrong. While true it is self refuting in that Hitler, many of his followers and even many Americans did not find Hitler’s actions wrong which would then imply there is no universal moral standard and thus no giver of a universal standard.

    It also ignores other factors such as culture, empathy, community instincts etc which could account for those standards which are very common though not universal.

    • I must say in his defense his use of the trilemma was much stronger than the way it has been used by others. Many attempt to use it as an argument to demonstrate Christ was truly what he claimed and it definitely fails at that. Lewis however only proposed it as an argument that if Christ were not what he claimed he could not be considered a great moral teacher but would be either evil or insane…liar or lunatic as it is often called. I don’t think the argument succeeded at this for the reasons I mentioned but it is much stronger in this context than it is as a proof of divinity.

      • Some atheists claim that Lewis was correct in this but claim liar and lunatic are more accurate choices. I disagree, I think if Jesus lived at all, which I am unsure of it would still be rational to validate his ministry even if his divinity were not established. I am not sure I would call him a great moral teacher because I question the morality of the teaching attributed to him but I don’t dismiss it simply due to claims of divinity.

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