Pt. 2: The 12-Step Program for Parades

The best part of Pre-Parade Preaching are the crowds. Lots of people, happy people, expectant and excited, anticipating that the parade will start at any moment. I look at our evangelism efforts as the warm-up act, the pre-show. Think about it: There are thousands of organic congregations along the parade route. Why not preach to them? (Read Part 1 here!)

Step 5: Preach Power to the People. Find a large concentration of spectators. The best groups are at the bends in the parades, where the parade turns down a side street. Stand about 15 feet from the onlookers and just talk. Don’t shout, don’t wave an angry finger, and don’t hold a Bible (click here for the reason why you shouldn’t use a Bible). The people will be happy and smiling; you will be a delightful curiosity.

Step 6: Have an effective springboard for your sermon. At the Hollywood Santa Parade my springboard for the Gospel started like this: “Hello! Merry Christmas! Who knows the reason for this parade? Not Santa. It’s about Jesus and remembering His birth…” I then launch into the 10 Commandments, Judgment Day and yes, even Hell. When I ask “Has anyone ever lied?” people giggle and raise their hands or force Uncle Bob to raise his hand. After I ask “Has anyone ever stolen anything?” fingers point to Aunt Martha and the kids as everyone accuses everyone else of being thieves.

It’s great fun and nothing promotes the spirit of Christmas more than letting people know that they will be found guilty on Judgment Day as lying thieves and will spend eternity in Hell. Needless to say, the crowd gets very quiet at this point.

Of course, the point of my preaching is not to deliver the bad news only, but to deliver the wonderful Good News of why Jesus was born in a manger 2000 years ago: To save people from their sins! After telling people that they need to repent and trust in the Savior, smile, wave goodbye, and move another hundred feet down—then preach again! Over and over again.

Step 7: Expect persecution. Is the preaching easy? You bet. Effective? Absolutely. Remember that God’s Word never returns void; all you are required to do is preach the Word, in season, and in the Christmas season. Is there any risk? There most certainly is…. When the Gospel is preached there is always the danger of persecution, especially now in this new anti-Christian era in America.

During the second preaching session I gave my companion Alfy the microphone.

Everything was going just fine until he asked the crowd if they had ever hated anyone, “because the Bible calls hatred murder.” (During family events, we avoid the lust question.)

At that point in his sermon, an officer from the LAPD tapped on his shoulder. “I know you have free speech rights and everything, but you can’t be doing this; you’re scaring the kids by talking about murder.”

Did you get that folks? He knew we had “free speech rights and everything, but! In other words, “You have the right to speak freely, but I’m going to stop you!”

We had the right to remain silent.

The officer continued, “I’m a God-fearing man, but you can’t do this here!”

I intervened. “Sir, where are those kids going to go if they die right now in their sins?”

“Well, you know…” said the officer apologetically. “But in uniform, I’m a police officer.”

We had a dilemma. I battled it in my mind as I tried to reason with the officer, mindful that I was also surrounded by three or four others. What should I do? What could I do? What would Jesus do?

Find out what we did by reading Part 3 here!

Comments (8)

  1. Randy Michaelsen



    Your disrespect toward and preoccupation with the police is evident. It is a poor witness for Jesus Christ and a bad example to those who follow your lead.

    At the parade and the USC event the LAPD was doing it’s job of keeping the peace and enforcing the law. Managing the safety of thousands of people, including your team, is not easy.

    God sent you a Christian officer who gave you an excellent reason as to why your “preaching” was a disturbance. Do you realize that if you unitentionally illicited a hostile response from a crowd that size that it is a public safety issue? It would be inaccurate to assume that you could “chaulk up” this interaction with those placed in authority by God to being persecuted for Christ. I’m glad you walked away – it was the right thing to do.

    Please consider being a little less sarcastic in your attempt at humor at the expense of the LAPD. One would hope that a minister of the Gospel would be more supportive of law enforcement.

    One of the officers pictured is my classmate from the Academy. Next time I see him, I will ask for his impression of this encounter.

    I realize that you have sincerely held opinions on evangelism methods. I understand that I can not persuade you otherwise.


  2. Reply

    Hi Randy,

    Thank you for your input. I’m not sure what you mean by my “disrespect toward” the LAPD. I explained that they werevery gracious and we submitted to them willingly. Are you referring to the fact that I discussed this issue with them? Do I not have that right to ask why they are stopping our preaching when they acknowleged that we indeed have those rights?

    Please let me know what Ican do better; I’m always willing to learn.

    Thanks, Steve

  3. Reply

    From a policeman’s point of view.
    I will not defend ignorance as has been posted in such previous threads like the “boardwalk” thread where the police were clearly in the wrong. Ignorant of the law they are suppose to know and unwilling to admit it or even take a minute to research it. But that was another post.

    I this situation, chances are that this poor policeman was standing his post when some “concerned citizens” approached him and told him of the big, mean, nasty people that were scaring the kids. Reality was more likely that what you were saying was scaring the adults into consciousness.

    Thirty or more years of indoctrination has taught most of us that we have the right not to be offended. WRONG. No where on any legal document does it say that you have the right not to be offended. But, that is what people believe today and if it offends me then it must be wrong.

    This poor policeman is standing his post looking for uni-bomber types and child snatchers lurking in the crowd when Mr or Mrs Busybody has to poke their nose into your business. I hope that this officer took a few minutes to explain to them about living in the USA. You would be amazed at how many people who have been victimized suddenly want me to violate other people’s rights concerning the forth amendment. You would also be amazed at how many law enforcement officers are willing out of ignorance to do just such a thing.

    There are some departments out there that are modeled on the community oriented policing tactics. A system I might say that has failed every time. If the community could police itself then police wouldn’t be needed. Duh. Now this officer has to try and make everybody happy. Yes, you have the right to free speech just not right here, right now. Sorry to have to do this to you but someone has complained and if I don’t do something then they will complain to my boss and then I will be grilled on why I didn’t do something about it.

    Steve I admire you. You are out there doing something positive. Nothing lasts forever and you should enjoy the positive side of your efforts and not dwell on the negative. You touched some people out there and that is a good thing. Pick your battles carefully. It is far better that you were out there doing something than the fact that it ended before you wanted it to.

  4. Juli


    I wonder what television shows and movies these children watch who were so frightened of your using the word murder. It is possible that there were families at the parade with young children who are not exposed to violence in media, but all too often adults will complain about the very things they allow into their own homes. Unfortunately I am guilty of this myself.

  5. Randy Michaelsen



    Thank you for your questions:

    Here are a few examples of what would be interpreted by most law enforcement personnel and many citizens as disrespectful or not supportive.

    1) They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The inverted yellow happy faces superimposed upon the officers faces posted elsewhere on your site certainly is not complimentary.

    2) How about referring to the Christian officer as “the officer” instead of “Mr. LAPD”?

    3) Your reference to how he “stammered” was unnecessary. Did you consider that his hesitation might be because he believed what you were preaching and felt awkward?

    You said some nice words as well. Which I was not contesting, it was appropriate for the situation.

    The officers simply wanted you to move to another location instead of the middle of a public street which was shut down for the purpose of a parade not preaching. Why not enter a float next year?

    As for your other questions, it goes without saying that you have every right to assert your rights. As previously stated, you did the right thing when you chose to move on. The kenosis passage of Phillippians 2 teaches us this.

    We should use wisdom even when proclaiming the gospel. This is not a cop- out for not sharing. I have led several people to Christ over the past 32 years since God graciously saved me and I’ve done a little open air preaching myself.
    I also worked on a church staff many years ago. Your efforts are appreciated. I prefer other methods such as “evangelism explosion” and others as God opens doors. Perhaps we will talk about it someday, if it is fruitful. I don’t seek agreement – simply clarity.

    May God bless you and your ministry,


    Sir, either intentionally or unintentionally you have revealed your tenure when the officer was referred to as a “policeman”.

    I don’ t know you, but you write fairly well considering it was “O’dark-thirty at the time of your post.

    Neither one of us can “Monday morning quarterback” the officers’ actions at these events.

    Obviously, my remarks are valid, especially concerning public safety. Hollywood and Yes on Prop 8 don’t exactly create an absolutely safe atmosphere. There are endless possibilities in a crowd.

    It appears that you believe my comments are ignorant. It seems that my insights have upset you. That is unfortunate.

    I am very familiar with the forth amendment, as well as the fourteenth.
    I have a copy of The Bill of Rights and the Constitution and have committed some of it to memory. Clearly, it is wiser not to call someone ignorant whom you do not know.

    May God bless you as well,

  6. Reply

    Hi Randy, Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments on my post at StoneThePreacher; I always appreciate another point of view and took your comments to heart.

    I just want to say that I have the highest regard for policemen and the LAPD in particular; they have always been helpful and courteous to us.

    I looked back over my post and made some corrections so that no one would perceive that I was being disrespectful in any way. Here’s what I did:

    Your comment: “1) They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The inverted yellow happy faces superimposed upon the officers faces posted elsewhere on your site certainly is not complimentary.”

    The officers involved with this incident kindly asked that I wouldn’t show their faces; I agreed, that’s why I put the sad faces up as a humorous gesture, not an act of disrespect. Before your comments I changed the faces to a “Blackout” instead and will soon do the same to other posts that have these two officers.

    Your comment: “2) How about referring to the Christian officer as “the officer” instead of “Mr. LAPD”?”

    Great suggestion. I will make the change!

    Your comment: “3) Your reference to how he “stammered” was unnecessary. Did you consider that his hesitation might be because he believed what you were preaching and felt awkward?

    Absolutely. I will change that, too.

    Again, thanks for your helpful suggestions. I want to edify everybody while at the same time offering an insightful, humorous report of what we are doing. I’d love to chat and give you a book that shows why we do what we do. Also, I would love to have you join us as well.

    Look forward to seeing you soon at church. Thanks again for your understanding.


  7. Ken C.


    You assume that I had read your post prior to posting my comments. I had not. Therefore, any references that you think may have been inferred have not been included.
    My post is based upon another forum thread related to this one. My post was a copy and paste to this forum which explains the rambling about the “Boardwalk” post in the first paragraph that should have been omitted along with the comments about the forth amendment which does not apply here. The comments about the 4th amendment, in the previous forum, was to illustrate how quickly other people are willing to toss out the rights of others but will expect and defend the same right as it applies to themselves.

    As to tenure, total time in law enforcement stands at 17 years (since 1991) and if you were to add my service as a paramedic and fireman since 1980 that is a total of 28 years of public safety.

    I do apologize for not reading the previous posts prior to posting my own. It was, as you said, “O-dark thirty” when I posted it. Shift work does that to you. We are after all the Boys in Blue, black, green and brown and brothers in Christ. But, to the citizens that don’t understand the issues that we have to deal with then hopefully it will shed a little light into our world.
    I honestly don’t believe that this policeman picked Steve out just to roust him. I’m sure that he had more important things on his mind (the uni-bomber and child snatcher types) than to give the bum’s rush to a street preacher that would have moved on when the parade started anyway.

  8. Ken C.


    Oh, and as to the term “policeman” I do realize that is a civilian term but the post is directed to civilians.
    I, of course, refer to them as either patrol or as the “un-informed division” and they in turn call me a “Defective Stupid-visor”.

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