Witnessing 101, Revisited–OR–Encountering Angry Christians at an Event
Dear Angry Christian Witnessing People:
Remember me? I saw you two years ago the day before the Kentucky Derby, outside of Churchill Downs. You were screaming at people and pushing people and video taping people? I was the one walking past you, with my jaw dropped to the ground in utter disbelief. Remember, I wrote you a letter on my blog? A really nice letter? If you missed it, it’s here.
I’m thinking now maybe you didn’t read my letter, after all. Because I saw you again—two years later—still outside of Churchill Downs. But this time on Derby Day.
This year, you
screamed at shamed berated ineffectively witnessed to over 156,000 people from all over the world.
What an unusual opportunity this annual event affords the Body of Christ in Louisville. On the one hand, I’m happy to see you grasp the magnitude and take advantage of this day to spread the Gospel…sort of. However, I’m sorry to see that you failed to implement into your repertoire any of the scriptures I offered you in my last post.
I also must commend you on your equipment upgrade. Last time I saw you, you only had handmade signs (reading “turn or burn,”) a few hokey Hell-related witnessing tracks (that you tried to shove in my face,) and one of those handy-dandy electric megaphone thingies (for optimum Scripture-Screaming.) But THIS year you upgraded to a full stage with mega- speakers and a giant professional sign reading
“You Deserve Hell.”
All that was missing was a big inflatable jumpy house for the kiddos.
I’m never quite sure what to do with you, Oh Angry Christian-Witnessing People. Not just when you appear at Derby, but when you show up in blog comments and web sites, or in front of abortion clinics and gay-pride parades. On the news. The news people always find you and suggest that you represent all Christians. That you represent Christ.
On one level, I feel like I can relate to your passion and zeal to see the masses turn away from sin and come to Christ. Like you, I am totally in love with Jesus—I am a dedicated disciple, completely committed to the Gospel, now and for the rest of my life. I believe you would say the same thing about yourselves.
But, I take it very personally when I see you so glaringly misrepresenting the character of the God we both love so much. Seriously, Dude, Jesus did NOT draw people to Himself by berating, insulting and screaming. It makes me sad and confused as to how I am supposed to respond to you. But especially to those around me. I don’t want to be associated with you.
~I mean, do I just walk past you and ignore you, along with all the other 155,999 people?
~Do I turn to the people walking along-side me and assure them, “I know Jesus personally, and trust me, He’s really nothing like this. You should come to MY church. The people there are nice. And they won’t scream at you, I promise.”
~Do I engage you in a scripture war, right there in front of everyone? I’ll admit, I’ve fantasized about getting all King James on you and screaming,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”
(Too bad I don’t have one of those electric megaphone thingies, because we could have an awesome Sword fight—get it? SWORD fight? Like Sword of the Spirit?)
I don’t know. I’m seriously stumped.
I tried to take the “here-are-a-few-scriptures-for-your-consideration” approach last time. But obviously that didn’t work. You only came back harder and stronger (in a bad way) than ever before. And, no offense, but I didn’t see one single person make a decision to follow Christ that day. Not-a-one. Granted, I wasn’t there the whole time you were…but judging from the general consensus in the crowd around me, I’m thinking none of them felt broken and repentant.
I’m guessing the erecting of the stage and the creating of the professional signs and everything takes a lot of money and planning. So, I thought maybe if I approach you early enough with some suggestions, maybe it would give you enough time to revamp your program in time for Kentucky Derby 138…or whatever gay-pride parade or abortion protest…you may plan on attending in the upcoming months.
1. Just curious…does your church teach Wednesday night classes on street evangelism or something? I’m wondering if perhaps the teacher of that class needs to be repositioned into a more suitable role. Like Parking Lot Traffic Guy, in charge of screaming at speeders. Or maybe Junior High boys Sunday School class teacher. Or Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Or Body Guard for The Pastor. Our pastor doesn’t have a body guard, but I always think that’s cool when I see a pastor with a body guard—it’s so Mega-Church.
2. “You Deserve Hell” is a catchy tag line, I’ll admit. And technically correct, I might add. We all deserve Hell. Even you deserve Hell, oh, Angry Witnessing Christian Dude. But I’m thinking that it’s coming across more as “You Deserve Hell Because You Went To The Kentucky Derby And Bet On The Horse Race And Drank a Mint Julep.” Maybe for your next sign, you might want to try something that emphasizes God’s love. Something more along the lines of John 3:16—an oldie but a goodie. That verse has been on giant signs since the invention of the NFL. What’s that you say? You WANTED to berate the people for betting and drinking? Oh, then. Never mind.
3. The whole screaming at people through high-powered amplification is not working for you. Most people just want to scream back at you. I know, I do. If you are going to use any sort of amplification, might I suggest some kicking music? There’s this one song by David Crowder called “How He Loves,” that’s really been blessing me lately. There I go, with that whole “Jesus Loves You” thing again. Silly me.
4. I had the cutest shoes for Derby. I mean C-U-T-E!
However, they were K-I-L-L-I-N-G my feet after standing and walking for 7 hours. I was thinking…what if instead of investing your money in cheesy Hell-related witnessing tracks, maybe you could head over to Old Navy or Payless and buy up a bunch of cheap flip-flops. Then as the women walk past you holding their shoes, (trying to dodge the spilled beer and cigarette butts) you could hand them a pair of flip-flops. I would TOTALLY go to a church that offered me free flip-flops.
5. I know you don’t know this, because you’ve never actually stepped foot IN Churchill Downs, but they charge a stinkin $4 for an 8 oz bottle of water. It’s highway robbery, I tell you. I refuse to pay that for water. What that means is that many of us exiting Churchill Downs after 7 hours of horse-race-betting are downright parched. Wouldn’t it be cool for you, instead of videotaping your botched witnessing techniques, if you used your hands to pass out free water bottles? That whole scripture about God blessing the person who offers a cup of cold water has got to apply here. You may not care much about the drunken dehydrated man passing your giant megaphone, but Jesus does. Enough to bless you for offering him some water.
So, that’s all I’ve got for you today. I really hope you read my blog this time so we don’t have to have this conversation again next year. And now I need to go talk to Jesus so He can remind me that He loves you, too. It’s really hard for me to understand you. I need all the Jesus I can get at a time like this.
Wow. I don't even know what else to say. I'm sure that was something to see for sure.
God have mercy …
Every time I read one of your posts, I'm thinking this chick is INSIDE my head. It was a relevant, well-worded post. Let's pray for these people.
Isn't it something how Jesus is LOVE and this is how someone wants to protray his amazingness to get them saved…wow, Jesus must be crying
Not that I am a totally seeker sensitive type of person…sort of you gotta mix in the reason we need grace not just make us all feel warm and fuzzy… but this type of witnessing is so not 21st century. They really do need to get wtih the program.
Yes, if they are going to have a stage, get a really cool band to be playing. Hand out water bottles for FREE. How about snacks? Give a little meet people where they are at. Maybe some people will actually listen, someone might actually respond to the spirit, a seed might be planted. But more than likely, people will not be trying to avoid the area like the plague. Just a thought.
I really didn't know people still did this. It's kinda embarrassing.
And yes, if they would offer a pair of flip flops to women with swollen and in pain feet, that would certainly be something that would get people's attention.
Hilarious and powerfully convicting all in one (how DO you do that?!?!?)
I'm so with you…I just want to distance myself completely and say "I'm not like them!" Probably in the same way a Mormon would say that to someone who things they're all in muptiple marriages. Probably a bad example, but just sayin'.
I want to go back and re-read that original post….I'm sure it's a great read too!
I meant to say "thinks" not "things."
Yet another sad sign of Monday brain.
Wow, what an amazing post! Thank you for your wonderful assessment of what you witnessed and at the same time both exhorting and beseeching in your clever and wise way. And the second 'Wow' is for this question…….how in the name of Christ (literally) can a person think they can win someone to Him without overflowing, abundant, and unexplainable love and grace? Wow- once again!!
It is great to browse.. I appreciate you how you bring magic in your words.. You are a magician..