Oh to have more Spirit anointed suitable gifted servants of the Lord out in our town centres declaring the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus. The mandating of this ministry by the Lord is clear in Proverbs 1:20-21 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall[d] she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech.
What I want to address here though is the way in which this ministry is undertaken. The matter has recently garnered some publicity through the arrest of a preacher outside Southgate Tube Station . One report of the incident is here.
Immediately I want to make clear that I commend and admire street preachers for their courage in declaring the Word in the public square. However, it is the conduct of the preachers that I want to muse upon.
In watching the arrest of this man I am struck by the fact that there is plenty of truth, but little grace, I admire the truthfulness, but recoil from the gracelessness. We need to remember that the Saviour we serve was full of grace and truth (John 1:14b). Furthermore, the call of the Lord through Paul in Colossians 4:6 to us (including all street preachers) is Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
It is one of my concerns in respect of street preachers who have been arrested or taken to court, to consider in what way have they conducted themselves. It is easy for the Christian media and twitterverse to make headlines out of the arrest of a Christian preacher, but we should want to know what actually happened to lead to the arrest. Of course there can be times when police officers can be vindictive and wanting to humiliate the Christian preacher. However, very often they are responding to a complaint and seeking to reasonably investigate a situation.
The gospel is not recommended when we deliberately are offensive or conduct ourselves in a way that is just simply annoying.
A final point I would want to make is that as Christians we are called to be those who respect those in authority (see Romans 13:1-7. I feel the gentleman arrested in Southgate was less than respectful. To gently interact with a police officer about what he is doing and your “rights” is very different from his finger-wagging intimidatory approach. Further, in this anti-authoritarian age we do the Lord’s cause no service when we brazenly display little respect for those in authority ourselves.