Update: Results of give-away posted at bottom!
First let me say, that I know in your heart, you feel like you did the right thing. I can hear the “amen’s” and the handclaps after you announced to your congregation that you’d be witnessing to all the lost souls headed to The Kentucky Derby Oaks.
I can imagine the preparation it took to coordinate the people, the Bible tracts, the signs, and the electric megaphone thingies. I imagine last Friday morning, before you all headed to Churchill Downs, that you asked God to be with you, to bless you, and to draw lost people to Him through you.
I really do believe all those things about you.
That said, may I humbly make a few suggestions concerning your witnessing technique?
Holding a sign in my face that says “TURN OR BURN” does absolutely nothing to convict my sinful heart.
I tried to do it as politely as possible. I smiled at you, even. But I felt a little misunderstood when you screamed into your electronic megaphone thingy, and I quote,
Uh hem. No offense, but I wasn’t feeling the love at that moment. In fact, it sort of ticked me off.
And I’m fairly certain that screaming through the megaphone thingie to the girl in front of me,
My entire day at the Oaks, I kept thinking about you. I kept thinking about all the thousands of people who heard you. Who saw you.
And it made me an Angry Christian Person, too . Angry, and very, very sad. Angry and sad because Jesus is NOTHING like that.
He is love (I John 4:8)
He is merciful and forgiving (Daniel 9:9)
He is a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19)
He pours out His grace abundantly (I Timothy 1:14)
He is longs to be gracious to you (Isaiah 30:18)
He is compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love (Psalm 145:8)
And so while I considered this for hours throughout the day, I realized there were literally thousands of people who were hearing you, seeing you and drawing conclusions about God because of you. I couldn’t bear the thought of so many people walking away thinking my Jesus—My Wonderful, Merciful, Loving Jesus—would stand on a side walk and scream insults at them. I determined that if I had the opportunity on my way out to see you again, I would approach you and say all of this to you directly.
And there you were. Seven hours later. Same signs, same tracts, same electric megaphone thingies—screaming at the crowds.
But, just as I was about to touch your arm and say something to you privately, you literally shoved a man you were “witnessing” to. Sir, you physically shoved him.
And the icing on the cake: The Angry Christian Woman next to you who was video taping the whole thing. Videotaping the shoving and the shouting! No doubt to show to your congregation how you “evangelized” Churchill Downs and “suffered” in His Name.
Because of this unfortunate incident, the crowd moved past you—and I with it—so I never got to speak to you directly.
But my heart is still grieved by you and by every Angry Christian like you.
So if you are, by small chance, reading my blog today, I urge you to re-read the Word you preach so passionately.
So allow me to divulge a little evangelism secret: I honestly have never won a single soul to Christ by screaming at them (through an electric megaphone thingie, especially), throwing creepy Bible tracts at them, insulting them…or God forbid, physically assaulting them.
Those methods, and all others like them, just don’t work. In fact, they make people mad. Really, really mad. Not mad in a repentant, broken way. But mad in a “Christians are wacko and I will never be one” sort of way.
It’s good to speak the Truth. In fact, I commend you for your passion for Truth. But we MUST speak the Truth in LOVE. (Ephesians 4:15) Because contrary to your abrasive and offensive tactics, it is actually God’s KINDNESS that leads us to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35)
Sandy, I can not agree with you more on this! Thanks for addressing this issue, seems like “angry Christians” are everywhere. Thanks for sharing how important it is to share God’s love! I truly believe He doesn’t want us to serve Him out of fear.
Oh my goodness, what an experience!
It is stuff like this that makes people question the true nature of Christians and Jesus.
I totally agree.
“Christian” means Christlike. We may be the only “Jesus” that a person will ever meet or see. Try and live like Him.
Hey, what a concept….
Thank you so very much for sharing your thoughts and heart on this one. I so agree and it hurts to see our Savior unjustly maligned in the name of evangelism.
I’m familiar with the approach you are talking about. I don’t think it works. Trust me, I’ve learned that if I have some guy interested in me who I am NOT interested in — I just turn on the Bible Thumping Evangelism. It gets rid of them in 10 seconds.
Seriously though, this approach tends to alienate people rather than draw them closer to God. We are supposed to be Ambassadors for Christ not His “hit men”.
Sadly though, the church has responded with being really wishy washy and watering down the gospel so as not to offend or hurt anyone’s feelings.
Neither approach just reflects the Love of a Just God Seeking to Save the Lost.
And PS — My mom will occassionally be the Turn or Burn kind of evangelist. I keep tell her that her approach does not work. I get one of those “get behind me Satan” responses or glares with a “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” She’s mellowed over the years, THANK GOD!!!
Absolutely RIGHT, Sandy! I totally agree with your thoughts here and I’m so glad you had the courage to post them. Those people are only concerned with tallying up numbers, not with caring for souls. I, too, am grieved to think about how many people were turned off to the message of Christ that day. I’m sure God is grieved too.
This is the kind of ‘display’ Hollywood feeds off…so sad..it is hard to believe in this day and age…but for the grace of God and understanding it…
we forget that God is first and foremost a Gentleman…never shoves, forces, emotionally blackmails…
He reserves His ‘harsh’ words for the Pharisees….
Wow! What an experience! I have never been anywhere where that kind of thing is going on, but it would definitely turn me off too. I love Jesus with all my heart and I know that it is the mercy and goodness of God,that I definitely did not deserve, that has changed me time and time again! He is a loving, sweet, gentle God!
Yikes! Oh, ouch, that hurts. Unfortunately, those “Christian” folks have yet to encounter the Savior who died for them for the sake of mercy, or they would not be behaving in such a tragic way.
May Jesus have mercy on all of us.
What an experience!!! I have heard people talk about experiences like this, I’m still in shock.
You handled it beautifully my friend, beautiful!
Amen to that! I totally agree! You said it all sooo well.
Preach it, girl 🙂
I am a KY girl-transplanted elsewhere. Maybe that is part of the reason I am so grieved by this. We used to sell burgers in the infield to raise money for missions. There are lost people there just as there are lost people in our churches. So very sad to me. I will be praying on this one and as I have noticed more and more that even those who accept Christ in their youth are now looking at these folks and walking away…my brother included.
Great post Sandy…I can’t imagine how awful it must have been to see these doing far more harm than good in our Savior’s name! Good for you for at least trying to point out the error of their ways. I imagine I would have had an equally difficult time keeping my mouth shut in the face of such horrible witnessing technique!
Sandy, Incredible rebuttal to the “hit man” (I liked that analogy) methodolgy.
Since you were unable to voice your thoughts to the “witnesses”, and undoubtedly they are not reading your blog, perhaps you might consider submitting this in a letter to Pastor Richardson at the First Baptist Church on Main St. or even a letter to the editor of the paper.
Wow. Very well put. How it must grieve God to see people acting like this, supposedly in His name.
Come on over to Sharing Life with Lisa. I have a little something for you sweetie. I love you and I’m praying for you! Thanks for being a blessing to me.
Sandy I had come by earlier to invite you over to SLwithLisa and wanted to come back to read this as it caught my eye when I was here.
WOW! this is insightful and power packed and I pray that each person that needs to read this would find themselves here.
Angry Christians can cause many to MISS JESUS!