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?