Preaching at American Idol, Part 3: “Kill the Preacher!”


Read Part 1 here!
Read part 2 here!

I’ve heard the scuttlebutt. I’ve seen the eyes roll. I’ve even been asked this question in regard to my preaching in the open air at unconventional places: “Steve, what’s the difference between what you do and what that crazy “Jesus Guy” does?”

The Jesus Guy, is a little strange and every city has one.

Ours haunts a local market wearing tinsel and signs and funny hats.

Our Jesus Guy drives a strange vehicle with “Jesus” and “Holy” and red ribbon all over it.

To the non-Christian there is no difference between him and me. To the lukewarm Christian who has no passion for the lost, I have to admit, that to them, there is no difference between him and me. I’m just another Jesus freak. A kook. A crazy. “What good does all your preaching do anyway?” they ask. “You’re just bothering people…”

I sometimes wrestle with my image; I know how I must look to “outsiders”; I know how I must sound. I used to be on the other side of the fence, pointing my finger and wagging my tongue. Now I’m one of them.

I do what I do because I trust that God’s Word will never return empty, but will accomplish what God desires, and will achieve the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11); God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, and penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joint and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12); God’s Word is spirit (John 6:63) and gives eternal life (John 6:68). Trusting in these facts gives me the confidence to do what I do.

That’s why after preaching in front of the Nokia Theater, I had to go back and preach to the people who had been standing in line for six hours under the hot sun hoping to get into the American Idol finals!
My voice was hoarse and my face was red, but I had at least two more sermons in me. My faithful friend, Umberto, trooper that he is, was game, shooting photos and handing out Gospel tracts alongside me.

Though bushed, I jumped back into the hedge where I had preached previously.

“You already preached to us!” someone shouted.

“That’s okay,” I replied. “You need to hear it again.” This time though, I had a heckler. For two straight minutes a lady screeched over and over, “Peace and love! Peace and love! Peace and love!”

Ignoring her, I raised my voice like a trumpet and warned that anyone who broke any of God’s 10 Commandments—if anyone had ever lied, or stolen, or blasphemed God’s name, or lusted in their hearts—then God would see them as lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterers-at-heart. On Judgment Day they would be found guilty and end up in Hell.”

“Peace and love! Peace and love! Peace and love!”

As I spoke of the good news, of the peace and love God provided by sending His son, Jesus, to die for our sins if they’d only repent and believe, Jane Fonda faded away around the corner.

I hoped her message would be remembered, especially when the tickets ran out, since I noticed that there were only about fifty left—and she was about number eighty in line.

Next I hopped onto the stool for my last sermon: in another driveway at the L.A. Convention Center.! “We’ve already heard this!” someone yelled.

“That’s okay! You need to hear it again!” People looked hot and bothered; I was hot and tired. I started my sermon intro: “I’m not out here for my health, ladies and gentlemen. As you can see, I’m not wearing a hat and I forgot my sunscreen…” Suddenly danger! A big black truck barreled down the pavement… toward me!

“Kill him! Kill him!” people screamed at the driver. “Run him over! Run him over!”

I casually and cautiously picked up my stool, giving the crowd a C’mon, really! look, then, set up on the sidewalk and resumed my preaching—out of harm’s way—while the truck drove past.

When it was clear, I picked up my stool and went to the center of the pavement. The “Jesus Guy” continued to preach on and on, much to the consternation of the line-waiters.

So to answer your question: “What’s the difference between what you do and what that crazy “Jesus Guy” does?” Uh, no difference, really, except for the tinsel. Depends on your perspective.

And “What good does all your preaching do anyway?”

At the end of the day, after preaching on steps, in driveways, on the street, and in the hedges, close to a thousand American Idolaters heard the Gospel message. Did anyone fall to their knees and get saved? Nope. That’s God’s business.

I just obeyed His command to “Go!”

George Whitefield (1714 -1770), the great open air preacher during The Great Awakening wrote:
“I never was more opposed and never met with so great success. I hope I shall learn more and more every day, that no place is amiss for preaching the Gospel. God forbid that the Word of God should be bound because some deny the use of churches! The more I am bid to hold my peace, the more earnestly will I lift up my voice like a trumpet, and tell people what must be done in them before they can be saved by Jesus Christ.

“Let the love of Jesus constrain you to go out into the highways and hedges to compel poor sinners to come in.”


Now read what happened when we actually preached on THE RED CARPET at the 2009 American Idol pre-show.


***Read two stories I wrote about our local “Jesus Guy” by clicking here and here!


  1. Awesome! That gives me some boldness to really go out and preach. Never EVER stop what you’re doing. May the peace of King Jesus be with you.

  2. Fantastic post. I really enjoyed the content of the message. Faith comes by hearing and by hearing the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17). You’ve lifted me up with your blog after some the lack of reponse from people on the streets that ignore me as I preach the gospel as they wait for the light to change. People want to know how effective my stoplight preaching is. I think to myself, when we get to heaven, we’ll find out. Keep up the amazing adventures.

  3. The taunters who cried out to the truck driver, screaming: “Kill him! Kill him!”, pointing to Steve, is akin to those who cried out to Pontius Pilate, screaming: “Crucify him! Crucify him”, pointing to Jesus.

    And for what? For preaching the beautiful and powerful GOSPEL TRUTH to the lost who don’t know that they are. Yet, this is how most people react to the gospel of Christ’s message, if not with their mouths then with their hearts: HATRED.

    Jesus reminds us: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first”. (John 15:18)

    The mocking and jeering that Steve receieved because of his faithfulness in preaching is, therefore, proof positive that he’s doing something right! And amen to that!

    But we must also remember that there could have been silent ones in that line-up who were quietly being convicted (even in their disliking of what they were hearing at the moment) and could very well be on their way to salvation partly because of what they heard from God, through Steve. And the others who heard this same message with pure hatred and die in their rejection of it (sin) will stand before the Holy One on Judgment Day, without excuse.

    The power in the Word of God being preached is that it will convict some and condemn others. It’s either one or the other. So, no matter what the eternal outcome of this preaching is, the Word will achieve the purpose for which God sent it.

  4. The way we define ‘human’ determines our view of self,
    others, relationships, institutions, life, and future. Many
    problems in human experience are the result of false
    and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised
    in man-made religions and humanistic philosophies.

    Human knowledge is a fraction of the whole universe.
    The balance is a vast void of human ignorance. Human
    reason cannot fully function in such a void; thus, the
    intellect can rise no higher than the criteria by which it
    perceives and measures values.

    Humanism makes man his own standard of measure.
    However, as with all measuring systems, a standard
    must be greater than the value measured. Based on
    preponderant ignorance and an egocentric carnal
    nature, humanism demotes reason to the simpleton
    task of excuse-making in behalf of the rule of appe-
    tites, desires, feelings, emotions, and glands.

    Because man, hobbled in an ego-centric predicament,
    cannot invent criteria greater than himself, the humanist
    lacks a predictive capability. Without instinct or trans-
    cendent criteria, humanism cannot evaluate options with
    foresight and vision for progression and survival. Lack-
    ing foresight, man is blind to potential consequence and
    is unwittingly committed to mediocrity, collectivism,
    averages, and regression – and worse. Humanism is an
    unworthy worship.

    The void of human ignorance can easily be filled with
    a functional faith while not-so-patiently awaiting the
    foot-dragging growth of human knowledge and behav-
    ior. Faith, initiated by the Creator and revealed and
    validated in His Word, the Bible, brings a transcend-
    ent standard to man the choice-maker. Other philo-
    sophies and religions are man-made, humanism, and
    thereby lack what only the Bible has:

    1.Transcendent Criteria and
    2.Fulfilled Prophetic Validation.

    The vision of faith in God and His Word is survival
    equipment for today and the future. Only the Creator,
    who made us in His own image, is qualified to define
    us accurately.

    Human is earth’s Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by
    nature and nature’s God a creature of Choice – and of
    Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive
    characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural
    foundation of his environments, institutions, and re-
    spectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is orien-
    ted to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the
    universe. selah

    – from The Season of Generation-Choicemaker
    Joel 3:14 kjv

  5. Way to go Steve.

    You are an ecourgement to me when I go out to witness. I have yet to do open air, but I know it will be soon.

    Thanks for all the posts!

  6. i can’t stop crying.

    a wonderful example of perserverence for lost souls…like stephen of the book of acts.

    i signed up for the august ambassador alliance and as a woman, i hope the God of this Universe will bestow on me this same kind of boldness.

    there is no time to wait.

  7. Wow good job. You did look hot. 🙂

  8. Keep Preachin’ Preacher! AMEN!

  9. God bless you, Steve. Thanks for your humility and obedience in service to our GREAT GOD. All praise for Him and His glory.

  10. This post is very encouraging; thank you for being obedient and fruitful. Because they were yelling, they were listening; amen!

  11. I remember hearing at the Ambassadors’ Academy Alliance #1 that you never saw a line you didn’t like, Steve. This saga proves it.

    We always hear from the loud voices of the nay sayers, but I’m believing that God heard from some who heard your pleas for repentance. Keep on keepin’ on brother.

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