Street Evangelism: response to Alan Hirsch
I am friends with Alan Hirsch, a director at the Missional Leadership Network on Facebook and we will just say he is very committed to the missional movement. I am a huge fan of the concept personally. I have been ever since hearing Ed Stetzer talk about it at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. However, you can be a fan of something and not drink the kool-aid, so to speak.
The problem with it is the same problem with any “movement” in the charismatic church: we don’t value other expressions. I lend very strongly in the healing revival movement and I know many that think doing miracles meetings is the only way to do evangelism. I do not. I believe it is what works for me but it would not work for Alan Hirsch. He just doesn’t come across as Benny Hinn, Jr.
He is very solid in what he believes and teaches. I believe that many believers need to be much more missional. His book, the Forgotten ways, is very good. Not everyone can walk in the miracle anointing (for whatever reason) but anyone can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. In old Pentecostal churches, we use to call them “being a living tract.”
Street Evangelism is biblical!
Alan was in my hometown of Kansas City and he was down at the Plaza which is a pretty upscale area for people to shop. It was upscale shopping back before doing it was “cool.” From what I understand, Alan was there looking around and across the street came a street evangelist!
While I think the know the guy that goes down there and I personally think he to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and learn some love; Alan seems very bothered by the whole concept of street evangelism. We will just say it is not how does mission in the Kingdom.
I personally have done street evangelism since I was in high school and I am still a street evangelist. No matter how many conferences I speak at, I am still more comfortable handing out with prostitutes, drug addicts, and pimps. I would much rather read their mail than sit down and discuss the role of “sovereignty in divine healing in a modern era.” Just boring as heck to me. Sorry.
As I told Alan that day, I completely disagreed that street evangelism has no place in the modern evangelism movement. It still is very important and people still do get saved from street evangelism. If you don’t believe me, I have let over 3,000 people to Christ on the street of Manila in the last 18 months. Before you say, “That’s the Philippines, not America;” Remember, it is biblical everywhere or it is biblical nowhere. Scriptural truth works in all cultures and generations.
I am not throwing stones at Alan Hirsch at all. I understand his concerns. The “doom and gloom” street preachers need a reality check. Many of them are their rockers. However, many are going great works for the Kingdom of God too.
Street Evangelism is how many Pioneers have began
If you have studied church history like I have and especially Pentecostal history; you know that street evangelism has become critical to be foundations of some of the great statesmen of the last few hundred years. I could point to some leader going as far back as George Whitfield and John Wesley but I want to give you a few modern examples.
One of them is a name you may or may not know in America. Carlos Annacondia was a factory owner that got saved and then started to preach on the street corner in Buenos Aires and the people came for miracles. He outgrew the corners and over time, he started to filled stadiums preaching that Jesus saves, heals and delivers. However, it all started with street evangelism. If you don’t know who he is, make sure you get his book, Satan, Listen to me.
Reinhard Bonnke is another example of someone starting as a street corner preacher. His ministry for years was on the streets. It was many years before he could fill stadiums and declare, “Africa shall be saved.” His roots are very much like Carlos Annacondia. Street evangelism is where it all began for him.
I could also remind you that the great evangelist from the Brownsville Revival, Steve Hill started as a street evangelist in Dallas under the leadership of Leonard Ravenhill and David Wilkerson. The stories go on and on.
Whose fool are you? – John Wimber
One of the key things that led to the conversion of Wimber was seeing a man wearing a sandwich board in downtown Los Angeles that read, “I am a fool for Christ. Whose fool are you?” He did not get saved that day but according to his testimony, it really messed him up. It was one of the things that ultimately did lead to his conversion.
When you think of the impact of that, it is mind blogging. Wimber would go on to plant a Calvary Chapel that would later become the first Vineyard church and would lead to the whole Vineyard church movement that changed the whole landscape of Charismatic Christianity. No one can deny that churches have better worship songs because of the Vineyard. None of that would have happened without that street preacher with his sandwich sign.
At the end of the day, people come to Christ in many ways and some times, coming to Christ is a process. Salvation is not a process but the surrender to coming to Christ is. A street evangelist can be one of those “seeds” that God uses to mess with people about their lives and their position with eternity. A look through the Bible and we know that God did crazier things to get His point across. Talking Jackasses for example.
What I saying is I put great value in the missional model that people like Alan Hirsch and other teach. I think it is a legit expression of the Great Commission. However, I also put great value on street evangelism and the proclamation of the gospel on the streets to those who may never walk in a church. If it is biblical, I love it all!