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Why I Am Not a fan of Street preachers

Updated on July 18, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

They seem to be every where

You have probably seen and heard them. Street preachers do seem to be everywhere. Even in the local and Christian news outlets, they pop up from time to time. But while Jesus was technically a street preacher, I am not a fan of most modern versions.

It is clear that many were called of God to perform this task, yet there are times that there seems to be a big disconnect between that calling and the implementation of it. There seems to be a lot of difference between the modern street preachers and the they Jesus did it in the 1st century.

Jesus did preach repentance

We see that his first recorded sermon in Matthew was a sermon on calling the people to repent. His words are recorded in Matthew 4:17 and the verse goes like this:

From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Jesus sermon came just after John the Baptist was arrested and imprisoned and not long after the 3 temptations he faced. It was during this time that Jesus started to call his disciples and told them that he would make them fishers of men.

Yet, we see no record of Jesus being abusive, illegal, hate filled and so on as he preached his message of repentance. In Matthew 11:20 we read that Jesus did start to denounce those villages and towns for their lack of repentance. He said,

21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the [v]miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in [w]sackcloth and ashes.

But there is a key word in there that draws a distinct line between Jesus’ style of street preaching and the kind we see take place today.

Many modern street preachers condemn first

As you can see in that verse one of the reasons Jesus started to condemn those villages was because they refused to repent AFTER all the miracles he performed in their presence. This is not something we see from many modern street preachers today.

If they do miracles, those acts of love have not made it to the news. Whenever I have heard street preachers, I have only heard a harsh salvation message condemning those who pass by. Now these modern street preachers may be trying to warn every one of the coming judgment from God, but their approach seems to lack something.

That something seems to be the love that Jesus had for the people he was ministering to. Too often modern street preachers are only after the soul of those they try to warn. They do not care about the person in the slightest way except to save the soul and let the people make it on their own.

That is the way these preachers come across and their message may be more of a tinkling bell that one fueled by the love of Christ which we read about in 1 Cor. 13.

There seems to be a lack of understanding

In reading the article Street preacher rebukes Kirk Franklin for failing to represent Christ at BET Awards”” at the Christian Post, the street preacher written about seems to lack insight and understanding. This is a common trait I have seen throughout the years.

In the modern street preacher’s mind, it seems thy think that everyone must do what they do in order to be a true Christian. They seem to forget that there is a whole body of offices that believers must fill and not all of them include ministering like a street preacher.

God uses his people in a variety of ways as he knows the hearts of the unlost. The street preachers seem to be motivated by their mission and do not apply all the scriptures to their ministry

Jesus cared about the whole person

This is evident by the number of accounts we have of the various individual interactions Jesus had with different people. When they were sick, he healed them. When they were hungry, he fed them, when they were caught in ignorance, he taught them. Jesus did more than just rebuke the Pharisees, etc., for their hypocrisy.

He met the people where they were at and helped them through their physical struggles. The widow whose only son had died, was raised from the dead. The Orman servant was healed just by his speaking and on the examples go.

Sadly, we do not see many of the modern street preachers do anything close to the acts of Jesus when they are on the street preaching at everyone who goes by. If they did do what Jesus did, certainly they would draw a crowd and gather more souls than they are currently harvesting.

We would also hear about it more often.

What makes a street preacher good

Anybody can get on a soap box and preach a hellfire message and walk away thinking that they served the Lord. It doesn’t take much training to be a street preacher. Just a bible, a place to stand and a few words in their mouths.

It takes someone special t be a street preacher like Jesus. First, they need to have compassion for the people. They are not just souls to save but fellow human beings who have struggles and problems they need help with. Some even need miracles.

Second, they need understanding. Their message cannot always be a sermon of repentance. Jesus did not preach that every time he spoke. He varied his sermons to meet the needs of his listeners at that moment.

Also, Jesus did not have everyone who converted do as he did. Many of his followers looked after other needs. Third, Jesus taught with wisdom and a vital message. His Sermon on the Mount laid out a lot of God’s rules. This allowed the people to know what they were supposed to do.

Among other important details. A close examination of Jesus’ street ministry would sow the various differences between his work and the work being done today by modern street preachers.

Some final words

For some reason many of the modern street preachers seem like fanatics instead of solid believers. They get hold of one idea and then run with it forever. They never seem to broaden their work or their message.

It is like they are stuck on their call and will not budge from it even to grow into mature believers who have a lot to give to the people they encounter on the street. They seem stuck in a rut and place themselves as greater Christians than those they rebuke.

In a final assessment, it seems that these street preachers are missing the mark on their potential. They turn more people off of Christ than they are bringing to him and this is a tragedy.

Street preaching can be an effective tool for Christians to use, but so is feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, healing the sick and other physical acts that are related to the category of the social gospel and ignored.

Doing such activities in Jesus name would bring better results than limiting one’s message to repentance and condemnation only. To be effective, street preachers need to grow a lot more in Christ and see more passages than the following one

‘If I say to the wicked, you shall surely die and you don’t warn them, their blood is on your hands- Ezekiel 3:18

We can warn while we are meeting people’s needs and do it in a nicer way than some street preachers do.

© 2019 David Thiessen


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    • david tee profile imageAUTHOR

      David Thiessen 

      23 months ago from Philippines

      JWCowgill- that is the point. I am not trying to dimish their work or their call but wish that they would do things in a better way so we do not lose more souls than we have to.

      I find a lot of them are closed-minded to wise instruction and counsel as well.

    • david tee profile imageAUTHOR

      David Thiessen 

      23 months ago from Philippines

      Yes it is. All the Bible works together and one verse does not trump all the other instructions we receive through scriptures.

      I find that many people only pray to bless their decisions and activities not to find God's will or what will glorify him.

    • profile image

      John Cowgill 

      23 months ago

      I have seen a few living here in Washington DC. One thing is that the preaching cannot be effective if no one is hearing. They may be preaching the truth but, as you mention, they lack compassion.

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      Not taking a verse out of context to fit our thinking is an important point for this discussion. Your example highlights the point well. Though I'm not perfect in it, we always need to pray first because He desires our dependance on Him since only He can reach into a heart and mind to do the needed work.

    • david tee profile imageAUTHOR

      David Thiessen 

      23 months ago from Philippines

      Kenya- I am not sure if I understand the first part correctly but your point of the unbeliever hears the gospel 5 million times is on the nose. That would fall under the category of understanding. Street preachers need to understand that their audience may have heard the gospel too often and now they need to see it in action and applied to them

    • david tee profile imageAUTHOR

      David Thiessen 

      23 months ago from Philippines

      RTalloni- I agree with much of what you say. For example the American illegal immigration problem. Too often believers take one verse, love thy neighbor, and prioritize that over obey the government.

      Many people need to pray first before they act and speak because often they do not fully understand the scriptures and how they should apply

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      Such a good discussion starter here. If we decided to do something in "Jesus' Name" we need to remember that we need to learn just what that means because we answer to Him for the way we go about it.

      The Gospel does offend because the human heart and mind is bent to love that which God warns us will harm and destroy, but ugly offensiveness in our manner rather than His merciful love and compassion is sin on our part.

      Bathing works of the so-called social gospel in prayer and prayerfully doing them in tandem with God's call to repentance according to His Word is our job, but we save no one. Our works are to love and help and teach and yes, preach, but only prayerfully for only the Holy Spirit can knead in a heart and mind the salvation of Jesus the Christ.


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