The crowds that hovered around the Hope Chapel evangelism booth at our local street fair called the Fiesta Hermosa, which attracts 150,000 visitors over the Labor Day weekend, were happy and enthusiastic as they took our Intelligence Tests. (Print your own here, see the video of an atheist taking the test here.) After failing the test (nobody passes), they received a coupon for a free Chick Fillet sandwich and Coke, a stuffed animal, a trillion dollar bill and our church bulletin. The other booths around us were astonished at how many people gathered around our humble little Christian booth (the only Christian representation in the fair).
The Tough Crowd revealed itself only when I decided to start preaching in the open air to those waiting to be taken back to their cars in the shuttle bus line. See for yourself, then read my explanation below.
It does not surprise me when people are hostile to my open air message. From a purely pragmatic, earthly perspective, it can be grating to hear a guy shouting a message that most people do not want to hear. I totally understand that. Still…
I must preach the Word.
I try to do it with a sense of humor and a good attitude; I don’t get mad at hecklers (except for these times); I’m not offended at obscene gestures or curse words hurled in my direction—that’s to be expected. I’m there for the sole reason to get the message out that those who have not trusted in the Lord Jesus are condemned already (John 3:18). I inform them of their status before God, that His wrath abides on them because of their sin (John 3:36) and that a Day of Judgment is coming (Hebrew 9:27).
To many, my preaching seems like a waste of time. What purpose does this serve anyway? Does anyone really care, does anyone ever really get saved?
I frequently like to recount this oft-told story from Charles Spurgeon. Maybe this will encourage you street preachers to keep on preaching:
You that preach in the streets, go on preaching Him. I saw a man preaching the other day with no creature but one dog to listen to him, and I really thought that he might as well have gone home. But I met with a story yesterday, which I know to be true, and it showed me that I was making a mistake. There was a woman who for years had been is such dreadful despair that she would not even hear the gospel.
She became very ill, and she said to one that called on her, “You sent a man to preach under my window 3 months ago, and I got a blessing.”
“No,” the friend said, “I never sent anyone to preach under your window.”
“Oh,” she said, “I think you did, for he came and preached, and my maid said that there was no one listening to him. I did not want to hear him; and as he made so much noise , my maid shut the window, and I lay down in bed; but the man shouted so that I was obliged to hear him; and I thank God he did, for I heard the gospel, and I found Christ. Did you not send him?”
“No,” said the good man, “I did not.”
“Well,” she said, “then God did. There was nobody in the street listening to him; but I heard the gospel, and I got out of my despair, and I found the Savior, and I am prepared to die.”
Fire away, brethren! You do not know where your shot will strike, but “there’s a billet for every bullet.” (That is, there’s a home for every sermon.)