Street evangelism is simply evangelism. This involves sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with lost sinners and inviting them to believe it. I frequently receive questions from Christians about street evangelism. Some are eager to learn. Some want to encourage me. Some push against street evangelism as being negative to the Christian witness. Some are disheartened by the discouragement they receive from other Christians, even discouragement from church leaders. With varying perspectives, our hearts and minds must be turned toward Scripture. In what follows, I hope to provide some simple answers for some of the most common questions about street evangelism. I’ve divided the questions into three categories. These labeled categories are directly related to the root of the common questions. Understanding the root of the questions will help us to see whether we are applying biblical standards or unbiblical standards to how we think about street evangelism.
Category # 1. God Defines Effectiveness in Evangelism
Jesus preached better than anyone in the history of the universe. Interestingly it seems at times Jesus went out of His way to trigger people with the truth. As a result, Jesus was rejected by many. The rejection Jesus experienced didn’t mean ineffectiveness. His rejection ultimately leads to the salvation of all who trust in Him. Christ’s ministry was effective because it was in obedience to the will of the Father. Our evangelism is effective when we are in obedience to the will of the Father. Effectiveness in evangelism is defined by God. Effectiveness is obedience to God. Effectiveness is not based on the reaction of the unbeliever.
How do people react during street evangelism?
Just like the Bible says. Some think it is foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18). It shouldn’t be a surprise if people mock, laugh, swear, or call you names. They are doing what the Bible says they will do. Others believe the good news of Jesus to be the power of God to save (1 Cor. 1:18). They’ll rejoice. Both reactions are evident during street evangelism.
How many people have you led to Christ through street evangelism?
In the proclamation of the Gospel people are led to Christ regardless of how they respond. So, when I’ve shared the Gospel, all of them. When I haven’t shared the Gospel, no one. The Christian’s role is to share the Gospel (Rom. 10:13-15). God grants repentance (2 Tim. 2:24-25). Knowing our role and God’s role in evangelism is essential. Christians don’t have the supernatural power to cause someone to be born-again. Focusing on numbers or decisions often leads to self-righteousness or despair. I’m not advocating for focusing on numbers. However, if you want to focus on a number, then let it be how many people you faithfully share the Gospel with.
Have you seen people get saved through street evangelism?
Salvation is of the Lord (Ps. 3:8). Christ will separate the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31-46). Some profess faith in Christ now and prove to be false later (1 Jn. 2:19). Some reject Christ now and may be born-again later. Who of us has the knowledge or authority to declare someone born-again upon a profession of faith? Leave that up to God. Focus on obedience.
Have you seen people come to the church from street evangelism?
Yes. However, that isn’t the primary goal. The goal is obedience to God. If the answer was no, then that wouldn’t void the command to continue to obey God. Nor would it suggest street evangelism is ineffective. Compare this to prayer. Just because God doesn’t answer a prayer in the way we expect that doesn’t mean Christians stop praying. Christians continue to pray because God commands it and He can be trusted (1 Thess. 5:17). The same is true for evangelism.
Street evangelism may have been effective for Jesus and the Apostles but is it effective for today?
Yes. Street evangelism (which is just evangelism) is effective because the Gospel is still effective to save sinners. God commands the proclamation of the Gospel. Obedience is effectiveness. Street evangelism that proclaims the Gospel is obedience to God. Therefore, street evangelism is effective for today.
Category # 2. Theology Determines Methodology
What you believe determines how you live. If you believe that confrontation is always bad, then you will create evangelism methods that cater to that. If you believe the goal of evangelism is to get the world to like Christians (or even to like Christ), then you will avoid offending the unbeliever at any cost. Theology determines methodology. Evangelism is deeply theological. It must be. It is commanded by God (Matt. 28:18-20). When theology is ignored it creates disastrous methodologies. It creates an over emphasis on types of evangelism, self-preservation, and at times a silencing and distortion of the Gospel message. Theology must determine methodology.
Don’t you fear you’ll push people away through street evangelism?
By preaching the Gospel? The only thing that can save people who stand condemned already (Jn. 3:16-18)? No. I don’t fear pushing people away. They are currently under God’s wrath (Rom.1 :18). There is nothing worse than being under God’s wrath. However, I fear being silent. I fear doing nothing as sinners will be cast into hell (Matt. 25:41). I fear becoming an armchair evangelist who critiques others without putting any of my own skin in the game (Matt. 7:1-5). I fear knowing that I’ll give an account of my life to God and that cowards are the first listed to be thrown into the lake of fire (Heb. 4:13, Rev. 21:8). We must have the right fears (Matt. 10:26-33). Theology must determine methodology.
Do you think street evangelism is the only kind of evangelism that works?
No. Evangelism that possesses the Gospel is the only kind of evangelism that works. It is less about people or strategy and more about God. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16). Any evangelism that does not possess the Gospel is not evangelism. Words are necessary (Rom. 10:13-15). Theology must determine methodology.
Isn’t street evangelism not relational or personal?
It can be relational or personal. It can also be unrelational or impersonal. The same is true for what is commonly called relational or personal evangelism. This is the difficulty of adding a category before the word evangelism, especially if it is contrasted with another category. For example, contrasting street evangelism with personal evangelism can imply that street evangelism is the opposite of personal. However, what is commonly called personal evangelism can be impersonal if it doesn’t tell of the personal Jesus who personally invites persons to repent and have a personal relationship with Him. Whereas street evangelism can be very personal. I’ve seen people cry, get angry, share about their life, and more. The main point is that the fruit of the Spirit isn’t wrapped up in one method over another method. The fruit of the Spirit should be reflective in the character of the Christian whether the Christian is evangelizing a stranger or a friend. Theology must determine methodology.
Don’t you need to earn the right to share the Gospel?
Christ didn’t limit the Great Commission to those who you’ve built a relationship with. The Great Commission is bigger than that. The Great Commission extends to all the nations. Christ in His perfect obedience earned the right for the Gospel to be proclaimed. He has all authority in heaven and on earth. He commands the making of disciples. Therefore, the Christian has the freedom to make disciples of people whom they have a lot of trust and those they have just met. Theology must determine methodology.
Isn’t street evangelism easier than personal evangelism?
Comparing methods is generally unfruitful. The comparison should be whether biblical evangelism has taken place or not. However, for the sake of the question. I don’t believe street evangelism is necessarily easier than personal evangelism. The flesh is always with you. Satan is a deceiver. The pressures of the world are present. In fact, if street evangelism was easier, then why aren’t more Christians doing it? If street evangelism is easier and many Christians aren’t doing it, then what does that say about how many are evangelizing closer relationships? Again, these questions may not even be worth pursuing. The main thing is whether biblical evangelism is taking place. Theology must determine methodology.
What if I get arrested doing street evangelism?
Don’t try to get arrested by acting sinfully (1 Pet. 4:15). However, if you get arrested for truth then rejoice, you are in the blessed state (Matt. 5:10-11). You are also in good company with Jesus and the Apostles. This may even make other Christians bold, and it may serve to advance the Gospel (Phil. 1:12-18). Theology must determine methodology.
Isn’t street evangelism too pushy and threatening?
It is, and it isn’t. It isn’t pushy or threatening because it doesn’t force anyone by government censorship, physical violence, or by chasing anyone down to believe in Christianity. Street evangelism is not thought policing. It is spreading a message of love and mercy. However, street evangelism may be perceived as pushy or threatening because unbelievers are hostile toward God (Rom. 8:7). The preached Gospel is threatening to the pride of man who seeks to worship and serve the creature rather than the creator (Rom. 1:25). The preached Gospel is perceived as pushy to the person who is intolerant toward Jesus Christ. Some, because of a love for sin irrationally perceive street evangelism as pushy or threatening. They will label street evangelism in such a manner because they are in rebellion against God and suppress the truth of God (Rom. 1:18-23). Theology must determine methodology.
Why can’t I just show Jesus by my life?
The Christian life is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). However, the Gospel must be communicated with words (Rom. 10:13-15). Your kindness is not the power of God for salvation. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16). Theology must determine methodology.
What if I run into someone I know during street evangelism?
Ask yourself the tough questions. Why would this be a problem? What does this say about your evangelism efforts with friends, family, and co-workers? What does this say about your love for Jesus and the world? Theology, not our comfort, must determine methodology.
Do you worry about offending people during street evangelism?
Christians shouldn’t add offence to the Gospel. This doesn’t mean unbelievers (even some professing Christians) won’t be offended or accuse you of being unnecessarily offensive. We live in a safe-space culture where some view necessary confrontation and speaking plainly like Christ did as the most abominable kind of sin. Many are “humble” hypocrites. The main concern should be whether God is being offended. Theology must determine methodology.
What is the most important thing for conversations during street evangelism?
Know the Bible. Believe the Bible. Use the Bible. Apply the Bible. Theology must determine methodology.
Category # 3. Evangelism is a Ministry of the Church
I love the universal and local church. I love meeting Christians from around the world and witnessing the power of God at work across the globe. I love being a part of a local body of believers who faithfully serve one another in Christ. I am thankful that the Christian life is not lived in isolation. Evangelism isolated as a personal task can be terrifying. Doing evangelism with other Christians in the context of the local church gets the Gospel to more people and it grows a hunger and desire within the Christian to confidently evangelize. If Christians were told to pray by themselves, sing by themselves, or read the Bible by themselves, at the exclusion of doing these spiritual disciplines with other Christians, then that would be a disaster. Why would it be any different for evangelism? Street evangelism (which is just evangelism) flourishes when it is normalized as a ministry within the local church.
Should every church do street evangelism?
It’s not a yes or no. It’s not about a checklist or adding a program. What should be considered is whether street evangelism is biblical (it is), whether there is opportunity (usually), and whether it is a priority (introducing people to Jesus; it should be). With these considerations in mind the question is not whether a church should practice street evangelism. The question is, why would a church not want to practice street evangelism? What does it communicate about the heart and priority of a church that has little to no outlet for the members to grow in practicing evangelism on a frequent basis? In general, what does it say about Christians who will say that such a ministry isn’t for them? Did Christ Jesus not come into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 2:15)? The focus is less about doing and more on having a heart for evangelism. It’s not about the method of street evangelism. It’s about wanting to leverage opportunities to share Christ because of who Christ is and what He has done. Street evangelism is an opportunity to share who Christ is and what He has done.
Why does it seem like a lot of churches are opposed to street evangelism?
There are different reasons for opposition. First, the seeker-movement has had a large impact on how people think about evangelism, even in some Bible preaching churches. Specifically, by applying unbiblical standards of effectiveness, bad theology leading to bad methodology, too much focus on how much the world likes Christianity and conflating the abuses of street evangelism with street evangelism itself. As a result, street evangelism has been avoided. It’s not even on the radar for many as a potential ministry of the church. It’s simply dismissed or not thought of as an option. Second, those who are interested are often given the label of extreme so that those who give the label can keep themselves at an arms distance. This hinders the normalization of Gospel proclamation. Third, some simply do not know the Gospel. They are false converts. False converts will have little desire to share the Gospel. Fourth, some are cowards. Some are cowards who would rather be exalted by men than God. So, anything that could be perceived as negative by men is avoided at all costs. Finally, some church leaders don’t prioritize it as an important ministry. If church leaders don’t take the lead on this kind of ministry, then it shouldn’t be a surprise if the members of the church don’t either. In other words, the sheep won’t go where the shepherd won’t lead. I’m very thankful for my Pastor. He not only affirms the ministry but mentions it from the pulpit and prioritizes participation in it.
How should I get street evangelism going in the church?
Are you active within your own local church already? If not, then start there. If you are, then consider the following:
A) With humility and respect talk to your church leadership about it. Don’t approach them like a bull in a china shop. Be teachable. Be accountable. Don’t be a lone ranger. If the leaders aren’t as excited about street evangelism don’t be dismayed. If they support it, even in a passive hands-off sense, be thankful. If they are opposed to it, then it is good to discuss the reasons why. Again, with humility and respect. If they oppose street evangelism by mocking it or completely dismissing it, then it would be worth considering how a church can be considered healthy for you to serve in if they are opposed to the Gospel being shared with lost sinners.
B) Find others who are biblically grounded, are already doing it, and learn from them. The school of experience can provide lessons that no classroom can provide. You will save yourself time, effort, pain, and resources, if you can speak to those involved and observe an already existing street evangelism ministry.
C) With one or more people, jump in! Evangelize! Don’t worry about doing back flips and cannon balls, simply jump in the water. You are going to grow from this. It’ll hurt at times but know that God is at work. Using good tracts may help you start a conversation.You can ask people if they have received a tract, then explain what it is. You can ask people if they are open-minded. You can ask people how they are going to pay for their sins. The list can go on and on. The point is, dive in and evangelize.
What should I expect during street evangelism?
Expect to be challenged in your faith. Expect to grow in a joy for serving Christ. Expect to grow a deeper love for God and people. Expect that evangelism is also about your sanctification. Expect that many people won’t know the Gospel. Expect to have moments of frustration as to why more Christians don’t want to participate in such a ministry. Expect to learn from other brothers and sisters. Expect diversity among believers in sharing the Gospel, don’t elevate personality difference as dogma. Expect that many people (more than most think) will take a tract or have a conversation. Expect many people to oppose you, even some professing Christians. Expect contentment with simple obedience to Christ rather than street evangelism being some Indiana Jones, treasure hunt type of experience. Expect that God is glorified through faithful obedience. Expect no praise from men.
What does your street evangelism ministry look like?
Our street evangelism ministry has existed since 2012. From around Easter to around Christmas we plan to go out most Friday evenings for a few hours. The intentional frequency is important. We go once a week. However, once a month may be a good start for some churches. We look ahead at the beginning of the year and see what events will be taking place within our region. We try to go to those events (without trespassing or preaching over the event). We (about 10-30 people) spread out at the various corners, populated areas etc. in groups of 2-4 based on gender, experience, relationships, etc. We have our own customized tract. This communicates the Gospel message and points to our local church for follow up. Sometimes we also set-up open-air preaching. We usually have someone strong near the preacher to protect him. There is also an assigned leader who is delegated to talk to law-enforcement if necessary. The conversation with law-enforcement always comes from a disposition of respecting the authority that God has instituted (Rom. 13:1-7). At the beginning and the end of the night we pray. This time at the beginning and the end of the night is also used to encourage one another and talk about ways to grow from our conversations. To learn more, check out our ministry page or Youtube channel.
Street evangelism is just evangelism. Christians shouldn’t be opposed to evangelism. Christians should leverage opportunities to evangelize. Street evangelism is an opportunity to evangelize. Street evangelism is effective and biblical. Street evangelism should be leveraged as an opportunity by churches to reach people with the Gospel. To be clear, this isn’t a legalistic command to start street evangelism ministries. It is a call to question the heart and theology behind why some are opposed to street evangelism, why street evangelism seems like an afterthought kind of ministry, and to present street evangelism as being a biblical and effective ministry within the local church.
Let’s continue the conversation. Leave a comment. Leave a question. May our hearts and minds be turned to God’s Word, and may we leverage opportunities to spread the good news of Jesus Christ!