I live in a tourist town. There are benefits and downsides just like there are to anything. We have a nice sized tourist-based income as a whole, but the extra upkeep it takes to keep things pretty for the visitors tends to keep our cost of living higher than neighboring areas too. C’est la vie.
One of the downsides, in my opinion, is the plethora of street preachers. Don’t misunderstand me; spreading the Gospel is part of the Christian life, a necessary one. Unfortunately the brand of “evangelist” that usually stands on the busy street corners of our ancient city is the kind that screams at all passersby about what horrible sinners they are. (Mostly right outside the door of where I work. Imagine how much my customers enjoy that while they’re trying to enjoy a relaxing weekend walk downtown.)
Yeah, because that’s what Jesus did….. NOT!
I’ve had multiple friends post pictures and negative comments on their social media about these people, friends who are lost, to whom I try to minister and present a positive outworking of the Gospel in my own lifestyle. Then someone with a sign and a big mouth comes onto campus (conveniently located within the historic district) or right outside of our favorite pizza joint and puts the sour taste back into their mouth.
My biggest complaint against the type of street preaching that takes place around here is that it is ineffective. I have never seen a single person won to Christ in any arena by a person who is berating them for the awful way they are living their lives
First of all, you don’t know how they live their life. I can personally testify that I have several friends who are not Christians. They are also not drunks, not drug users, not “fornicators” and not smokers. They are neither cheats nor liars (on most occasions). Does this make them right with God? No. But it does show that you can’t judge people by their religious affiliation or lack thereof.
It doesn’t really matter how much of the Bible you have memorized if the grace and mercy of Jesus hasn’t penetrated your heart in such a way that you can translate that into how you treat other people, whether they are close to you or total strangers.
I personally came to Christ because the Christians I knew at the time treated me like family. They took me in, as I was, with love and kindness, presented the truth of the Gospel to me without compromise, but also without beating me over the head with it. And throughout the near decade I’ve known them, they have continued to stand by me and love me through all my mistakes and heartaches, all my triumphs and trials.
THAT is how to win people. Love, grace, mercy, understanding, acceptance, integrity. Not shouting, judging, harassing, fist-shaking, anger, accusations. I don’t care how intelligent you are, how well you can argue, how much Bible you’ve studied. If you have missed the element of compassion written in Jesus’ blood across its pages, you have NOT studied hard enough.