Street preacher says creation ‘is the issue’
It’s time for the church to stop avoiding the questions people want answers to
Published: 17 October 2008 (GMT+10)
I am a pastor and also part of a street preaching and evangelism team in Adelaide, South Australia and most Friday nights we meet on a busy street corner in the city to proclaim the Gospel. Everyone on the team is fully committed to the task.
However, whenever I raise the topic of old fashioned street preaching among fellow Christians I receive a mixed reaction. While some fully support the ‘bold’ approach of standing on a street corner and declaring the word of God, others are not so keen. They say that it is ‘old hat’ and ineffectual. They seem to think that unless people are being saved on the Friday night and/or coming to church every Sunday, this method of evangelism isn’t worth the effort. While there are many ways to be all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:22), street preaching has some definite advantages, one of which is listening to, and engaging with, people in the crowd. To the surprise of some people in the church (who think that non-Christians don’t like talking about ‘religious matters’), many outsiders are in fact reasonably comfortable with being asked to share about their view of God, the Bible, religion and other topics.
Get ‘street real’
There is a common topic among young people that consistently presents itself. This topic is evolution. While it is by no means the only topic that comes up, it is one of the most regular, and young people like talking about it. Why? Simply because it is what they have been taught and led to believe. It is possibly also the most ‘convenient’ way for young sinners to consciously reject God to justify their lifestyle.
One night, I had a conversation with a 20 year old guy. He proudly shared he didn’t believe in God at all, adding that he was a member of a rock band. He could not see any relevance of God in his life. I asked if he believed in evolution. He said ‘yes’, looking at me as if I had just posed a trick question. When I told him there is no indisputable evidence for evolution, his expression suddenly changed to one of shock!
I have experienced this same reaction on many other occasions. The vast majority of our youth have swallowed the lie of evolution. From my experience, starting a conversation with the Easter message, for example, will sound nice, but have little relevance to a culture soaked in humanism.
On another evening, I had finished with the team and was walking down a street mall to the train station. I passed two young men and gauged by their conversation they were university students. I handed one a tract and politely started asking some questions. They both believed God was a personal idea but had no relevance to reality. This is directly in line with the evolutionary view that there is no spiritual realm—i.e., it is just a ‘figment of the imagination’. Sure enough, the young men were utterly convinced that evolution explains origins. They were sold out to the lie that the fossil record had ample evidence for evolution. After I quoted some of the science found in Creation magazine and the the CMI website, the university students became interested and soon we were discussing everything from ultimate truth to alternative lifestyles.
Where there is a belief in evolution, there can be no logical basis for ultimate truth. I say logical because many try to mix evolution with God. This view is popular with those within the body of Christ who try to uphold a tenuous balancing act between the God of the Bible and evolution, commonly known as theistic evolution—this is illogical.
Side issue—‘yeah right!’
Still, I hear my brethren in the wider local church claim that the creation/evolution issue is not important or irrelevant, and ‘will scare people away from Christianity.’ The members of my preaching team and I say otherwise—as evidenced by our experience of witnessing to passers-by on Friday nights. Not only do passers-by pause to talk with us, but some will stay for quite some time, putting aside whatever other plans they had for the evening.
For example, after an hour and a half and missing two buses, the two university students referred to above thanked me for the discussion. Such expressions of appreciation are typical of our Friday night feedback. Young people like to be heard and articulate their thoughts about the ‘big issues’ of life, and to discuss such matters with others. That’s why young minds on a Friday night in town bother to stop and talk about such things that are considered by the majority of the church to be ‘irrelevant’ to the Gospel. Hearing answers that make sense concerning the ‘big questions’ helps them to think about their own view as well as the logic of the Christian faith. They may not believe the Gospel overnight, but when Christians set about demolishing the atheistic strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:5) with gentleness & respect (1 Peter 3:15), it definitely sows a seed in a young person’s mind!
Creation evangelism is an excellent tool and ties in beautifully with the Gospel message. The material I use is available in Creation magazine and on the CMI website. Being armed with the right information and able to answer some basic questions is a very powerful strategy to evangelize today’s youth. Telling people to just believe in Jesus regardless of the supposed evidence for evolution is a reason for people not to believe. I do not expect a sensible mind to rationalize a contradiction.
The saturation of society with evolutionary thinking makes the job of evangelism more difficult today. Sixty years ago a street preacher did not have to deal with the frequency of today’s stumbling blocks that get in the way of the Gospel. Some of these include the evolutionary slant on fossils, carbon dating, the origin of races and dinosaurs and their millions-of-years explanations.
Let me share another example of a Friday night encounter—with a young man named Danny. As he was passing by, he heard the preaching and hung around to listen. I went up to him and started a conversation. He revealed that he had been through some bad experiences with his family and no longer believed in God like he used to. Danny had already discarded the intellectual aspects of his faith because of his exposure to the constant barrage of evolution in school. He had no answers to defend his faith. After sharing how the Bible can be trusted, he asked ‘Do you believe in the story of Adam & Eve?’ Danny now had a keen interest to know more. After I gave him my answer he fired another question. ‘What about all the different people?’ (Meaning: Where did all the races come from?) Danny outwardly made an effort to appear reserved but hearing this information had clearly impacted him—I could tell he was thrilled he could believe in God again. He added ‘You gave me reasons to abandon my doubts.’
I handed Danny a Creation magazine and encouraged him to hand it to his sister after he had finished reading it, because, in Danny’s words, ‘She is no longer a Christian but an atheist now.’ To my surprise, he gave me a hug then went to catch his bus.
Of course, some listeners, whether they be on the street or in the workplace might not be comfortable about the things we say, but if you as an evangelistic believer are prepared with answers, any objections from the people you are witnessing to will be easier to deal with.
And when you see how your answers positively impact the ‘Dannys’ out there, it makes it all worthwhile. God is good.