When my friend and I go downtown to witness, we usually talk to people hanging around the bars. Occasionally, there is a little rock concert that attracts 100-200 teen-agers. We enjoy when this happens, because we get to talk to some new people. We stopped at the first bar and talked to a guy for a little while. As we left, we noticed that there was a concert, and a bunch of kids hanging out on the sidewalk. My friend asked if I wanted to open-air preach, and I hesitantly agreed. I’ve never open-air preached before.
We passed out a few tracts, and my friend gestured at me to start preaching.
I said something like,
“In John 3, Jesus said unless you are born again, you will not see the kingdom of God. What that means is that we are born dead in our sins, and we must be reborn. You can test yourself to see if you were born dead in your sins by looking at the Ten Commandments. The ninth commandment is you shall not lie. If you’ve ever told a lie, you’re a liar. If you’ve ever stolen something, you’ve broken the 8th commandment, and you’re a thief. Jesus said that if you’ve ever looked at a woman with lust, you’ve committed adultery with her in your heart. If you’re guilty of any of those, you’re going to be guilty on Judgment Day, and you’ll deserve hell.
But Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. If you repent, meaning that you turn from your sin, and put your faith in Jesus, your sins will be forgiven, and you’ll be born again.”
The whole thing barely took 2 minutes, and then my friend started preaching. Part of me wishes I had a recording of it so that I could know what I did wrong. I know I left parts out that I wish I would have included, like the part about Jesus rising from the dead. The other part of me is glad there is no recording, because I’m sure I stumbled over the words, and my public speaking leaves much to be desired, and it’s probably better not to have a permanent record of my poor quality speech.
We stayed there for at least another hour, and had several great conversations. One kid told me he didn’t believe in heaven and hell, and just thinks that you just cease to exist when you die. By the end of the conversation, he seemed to believe everything I told him, but wanted to wait until his death bed to repent. I tried to point out some shortcomings with that plan, but he seemed set on his plan. However, he agreed to read the Bible, and think about our conversation.
In spite of the lack of quality in my proclamation, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). While we can debate how effective my attempt at open-air preaching was, I think the Bible makes it clear that it’s the message of the gospel that saves, not the coolness of the person delivering it.
If anyone wishes to disagree with me on this point, they will be joining many other Christians in pointing out how my evangelism is being done wrong—other Christians like the 17 year old kid with a Mohawk, who smokes pot and gets drunk, a kid with a 1 inch diameter hole in his ear lobe and doesn’t know whether he’s born again, and a band member who said the most vile things to a young girl who professed to be a lesbian.