An Experience in Times Square in New York City on How Not to Reach the Lost

Recently I was in New York City’s Times Square. While there I witnessed a group of Evangelical Christians waving signs and telling people to repent as they passed out tracts. Some had yelled at people. I was taken back by their behavior, but you see this every so often. Why do some evangelicals act so weird? And the question that sits on my mind is who is lost? Is it the person who is spiritually nothing? Or is the Evangelical Christian who acts like this?

“Nothing compares to a beautiful conversation with a beautiful mind.”

Annonymous     

“One good conversation can shift the direction of change forever.”

Linda Lambert

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent

Psalm 104:2 NIV

Evangelical Christians marching and carrying a cross in New York City’s Times Square

This is a post that l wanted to do in 2017, but l let it go. In 2017 my family took my Dad to New Orleans, Louisiana to visit the National World War II Museum. I flew in from Washington, D.C. a day early. I went to the aquarium and the insect zoo and explored New Orleans.  Outside the French Quarter is where l encountered it. It was an evangelist. He held his Bible in one hand and was screaming at the top of his lungs at people entering the French Quarter. He was yelling they were going to hell, and to stay away from the French Quarter. In a passionate plea he screamed at them to repent. I walked by and was tempted to play the role of a smart ass with him but decided against it. I took a picture for a blog post but then decided to let it go and not write about it. It wasn’t worth my time.

 

An Experience in Times Square in New York City with Evangelical Christians

I have taken a couple of trips to New York City and will be doing some more in 2020. I am learning the city for a planned trip with a family member. You can read more in,Maintaining a Promise Given as My Father was Dying….In early December l climbed out of the New York City subway and found myself outside Times Square. I walked around the theater district and saw advertisements and theaters for some of the musicals and plays currently performing or soon to open on Broadway. They included To Kill a Mockingbird, West Side Story, Dear Evan Hanson, Frozen, Aladdin, The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, Oklahoma and many more. I was overwhelmed by the billboards and the traffic as well as the people. There were so many people in Times Square it was stunning. The sidewalks were too small for the crowds. While my senses were taking all this in l then heard something peculiar that grabbed my attention. 

In Times Square there were a bunch of Evangelical Christians carrying a cross and calling on people to repent. Some waved signs as well. They were passing out evangelism tracts to tourists and people walking by. Some recoiled and others avoided them. Yet others took their tracts and then threw them into the first garbage can they passed. While people were walking this evangelical group then held the cross high and yelled out loud for people to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I stood there watching the circus for a couple of minutes. In other times in life l would have wanted to engage and have a discussion. But that was not on my mind today. I took a picture, which you see above, and then went to grab a coffee. As l was riding the New York City subway back to my motel room l was thinking about what l witnessed. And then decided that this time I would turn it into a blog post.

 

Why Evangelicals Can’t Reach the Lost

Let’s be honest, those evangelicals who engage in these tactics in public will never reach the Lost. It is above and beyond them. But it begs the question why do they do it? Why stand in a public place and hold signs or yell at people? Is it for them to be arrogant and rub it in? Is it a means for power to dangle the threat of hell over people? Is it due to narcissist behavior which some evangelicals can exhibit? To be forthcoming evangelicals who act in this way don’t have any compassion or love to reach others. What l saw both in New Orleans and New York City is not love. Far from it, these tactics will not work and it does not make progress. What it does is drive people away, and builds walls. I was not attracted to the circus that l saw. Instead l was filled with disgust, anger, contempt and thinking about what  a waste that was taking place.

 

Why Do Some Evangelicals Act so Strange?

Here is another question that needs to be asked. Why do some evangelicals act so strange? Why can’t they relate to other people as humans? Why can’t they speak like normal people and engage in a sane and stable way? Why can’t they hold a regular conversation? Why the yelling? Why the condescending behavior? Why do some evangelicals act in this way? Can l say something and be honest? Some of the weirdest people l have met have been evangelicals in my life. Those who think that yelling or screaming at people to repent and believe that actually works well are they struggling with mental illness? I ask this because there was one at Milwaukee who drove a station wagon around downtown with a megaphone who intimidated people as well. I had heard that he was dealing the mental illness.

Who Exactly is Lost?

At the risk of asking some questions that will anger people, who is exactly lost? Is it the person walking through Times Square, and the French Quarter in New Orleans? Or is it the person screaming and yelling or walking around with signs demanding people to repent? Those who engage in this behavior are wasting their time. And like I said above what they do is drive people away. Anger others and leave people confused. For atheists they rightfully mock and talk about fundamentalists and honestly they should. This kind of evangelism is counter productive and goes no where. But can l ask the question…..who is really spiritually lost? Is it the person who is nothing just walking by? Or is it the person so convinced of their salvation that they yell, bully and act condescending to others? Well in my view the people who are lost are those who engage in this kind of evangelicalism. Years ago as a Kool Aide drinker l would show some sympathy for those who do this. Today l really don’t. And it’s annoying as hell to watch evangelical circuses like this play out repeatedly. Who is lost and far from God? In the view of this blog it’s the Evangelical Christian who is lost.

7 thoughts on “An Experience in Times Square in New York City on How Not to Reach the Lost

  1. I remember feeling disgust one day at a group of abortion protesters at a Planned Parenthood when I was driving home…and I agreed with them…. The irony is that particular PP didn’t even do abortions. Years later I read a letter to the editor which said, “Whenever I see these people, I donate to PP”–NOT the response they hoped for, of course.

    Also, when I did my research last year into the church I long since left, I found that one of these street preacher megaphone guys has become associated with it. I believe he’s usually in Chicago, preaching and arguing with people all day long, and posting videos on Facebook of the arguments.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Why do some evangelicals act so strange? Why can’t they relate to other people as humans? Why can’t they speak like normal people and engage in a sane and stable way? Why can’t they hold a regular conversation? Why the yelling? Why the condescending behavior? Why do some evangelicals act in this way?

    Because they have made themselves so Spiritual they have ceased to be human.

    Internet Monk, “I’m Weary of Weird Christians”:
    https://internetmonk.com/archive/imonk-classic-signs-im-weary-of-weird-christians

    Or they’re in full Wretched Urgency mode, terrified that if they don’t Save More Souls (not people), God Will Punish Them (op cit Ezekiel 3:18, with God’s Hell-gun pressed to the back of their head, one up the spout and safety off).

    Internet Monk, “Wretched Urgency – Grace of God or Hamsters on a Wheel?”:
    https://internetmonk.com/archive/64264

    I ask this because there was one at Milwaukee who drove a station wagon around downtown with a megaphone who intimidated people as well.

    The level of Crazy is directly proportional to the number of bumper stickers and Bible verses on the car. If you can’t tell the original paint color under all the stickers/verses (like the station wagon in question), RUN!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember being under the thrall of the Weird Christians, many years ago. My church had some of it–fleeces and hearing from God etc.–but Pat Robertson introduced me to much more. By the end of high school I was believing in demons everywhere, and in college actively trying to get signs and words from God, though I never went full-tongues-and-shaking-Pentecostal. Then the “words” and “signs” turned out to be all wrong, Pat’s prediction of Bush’s reelection was wrong, and I stopped listening to Pat Robertson. It took a while to stop believing in charismatic signs, but I finally got there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I remember being under the thrall of the Weird Christians, many years ago.

        And they seemed to operate on “The Weirder and Crazier I Am, The More Godly I Must Be!” Which results in a Can-You-Top-This Race to the Bottom. (Because if I’m Weirder and Crazier Than Thou, I must be Holier Than Thou!)

        I think it’s a result of Spiritual vs Physical Dualism (“SPIRITUAL GOOD! PHYSICAL BAAAAAAAD!”) and Holy Nincompoop Syndrome, where you turn your back on all reason and learning as Worldly and Fleshly(TM) and just go In The Spirit(TM) with NO reality check whatsoever. I’ve heard horror stories along those lines and so have you.

        Liked by 1 person

    • A famous local type example of Weird Christian was “Rockin Rollen” AKA “The John 3:16 Guy”:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollen_Stewart

      This was the guy in the rainbow fright wig who’d hold up this big “JOHN 3:16” sign at public events in the Eighties. He made a splash in the media, got parodied on Saturday Night Live, ended up drawn into a lot of crowd scenes in The Simpsons, and was the inspiration for Steve Taylor’s song “Bannerman”:

      Well his Witnessing career came to a spectacular end in 1992. After setting off a couple bombs, he ended up barricaded in an upper-floor room of the Los Angeles Airport Hyatt (NE corner of Century & Sepulveda, right at the entrance to LAX) holding a hostage and demanding media airtime for his Jesus-Is-Coming-In-Six-Days Rapture Ready message. Spray-painted chapter-and-verse zip codes (including his trademark “JOHN 3:16”) on the room’s bedsheets and hung them out the windows while the hostage situation unfolded. LAPD SWAT finally dug him out of there and he’s been jugged ever since. I remember some Christian media claiming “PERSECUTION!!!!!” but no details.

      https://people.com/archive/end-of-the-rainbow-vol-38-no-22/

      The part that gets me is you don’t go off the deep end like that overnight. He had to have been showing signs of losing it for a while, but none of his Christian contacts noticed. Either they thought he was In The Spirit and/or “But Souls Are Being SAVED! If Only One SOUL was SAVED…”. In either case, they mistook his going round the bend for Godliness and Holiness.

      Like

  3. You asked a really good question. Any time I see a tactic or performance like one of those loud, obnoxious ones, I always wonder “what do they expect to happen?” And I really wonder about their tactics because even if somebody agreed with them and was going to tell them so, they’re too busy shouting and waving their signs around to hear the person. They can’t hear anyone; they keep yelling and not listening. So, how the hell would they know they converted anyone? No way to gather feedback means you’re wasting your time forevermore.

    To me, the whole things screams bad performance art

    Like

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