For this latest installment of the series I thought it best to refer you to an article when we visited an anti-war protest in Hollywood and encountered the worst kind of sign guys: The Haters. (Read Part 1 of this series by clicking here.)
If you are an ardent evangelist and attend major events you will run into them, too. What should you do? What should you say? How will it affect your loving witness? To read a very effective strategy on dealing with these misguided people, read below.
It seemed that everybody had an axe to grind at the big LA anti-war rally that marched down Hollywood Blvd. on March 21st. Most were angry; all were against something. The evangelism team was there because we were for God and for people. Our message seemed to clash with the majority who had gathered for this flashback from the bad-trip ’60’s: We wanted everyone to hear the Words of Life that saved wretches like us. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with the very first people we met: The Sign Guys (and gals). (Please read Part 1 of the Anti-War protest by clicking here.)
I don’t know what it is about people carrying Jesus signs. Whenever we meet them—and they are at all the big events like we are—the majority of them seem so angry, so against people. The message they bring is one of anger, one of hate, none of love.
At the ’09 Academy Awards we were confronted by these wrath-filled “Christian” hordes on the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Highland. They positioned themselves with horribly obscene signs that protested people, proclaiming a God who hates everyone—except them. What effect did they have, positioned as they were so that the stars could see them as they drove to the Awards ceremony in their limos?
Sean Penn mentioned these “hater Christians” as he accepted his Oscar at the Academy Awards that evening saying, “For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight…”, then essentially said that Christians should be ashamed of themselves, lumping all Christians together into this hate group.
We cautioned our group to stay away from the “Sign Guys,” and not to speak to them.
At the Emmy Awards, the Sign Guys protested the “Idolatry” of an awards show. Someone please tell me what this has to do with the Gospel?
And at the anti-war protest, the “Christian” haters had this message for the protesters, with a mega-phone, no less: “All right you Commie-lovers. We’ve had enough of you creeps from the 60’s, and it seems we can’t get rid of you.” (This is my paraphrase.)
I tried to go over and caution this man that he had the wrong message; that his message was hateful, and that he needed to change it, but I was stopped by the police. They had formed an eight-man cordon around this loudmouth so he wouldn’t be killed by the protesters. Smart idea.
When I asked the “Who Would Jesus Bomb” man why he was standing in front of the protesters instead of among them, he answered, “I’m blocking them,” as he pointed to the hate group.
Can’t blame him.
The problem with “Sign Guys” is that there is no context for the Gospel of salvation. There are only Judgment pronouncements and not much grace. “Sinners” don’t know why they must turn from sin, why they are going to Hell—and why in the world do they need Jesus? Who wants to be a Christian if you turn into a person of hate?
That’s why we explain the 10 Commandments when we preach. We explain the “Whys” of Christianity: why a person will be judged, why God sent his Son to die, why we love people enough to tell them.
Our evangelism team must contend with the “Sign Guys” at nearly every big event we attend. That’s why we must distinguish ourselves from the haters—no easy job! But we’re still able to reach people—even at a protest march—by wearing a smile, by speaking the truth in love, by being very creative, and by loving the “Sign Guys”, too.