I was reading a couple of articles about people who are taking ministry to the streets. One was a story about “street pastors” who are getting support from police as they go out to minister to people on the street. The ministry is coming under fire from a Unitarian minister of all people. I know that Unitarians are some of the most vacillating people among those who claim to have faith. There is no claim to be Christian exactly. It is kind of like B’hai without an authoritative figure. So I guess it is no surprise what this guy’s complaint is in the matter:
Last week, the Tribune reported how Islington police are backing a project where church volunteers offer support and guidance to vulnerable people at night.
But Newington Green Unitarian Church minister Andrew Pakula has called for an end to the patrols – where pastors offer Bibles but only to those looking for spiritual guidance – unless they agree to hand out other religious scriptures, such as the Qur’an or Hindu writings.
Mr Pakula said: “I was surprised at the close involvement between the police and proselytising [attempting to convert] – those are two p’s that don’t go together.”
Police don’t hand out Bibles themselves but Mr Pakula questioned their backing of the scheme. He said: “It seems like an absolute transparent recruiting drive sponsored by our government.
Never mind the silliness involved in asking Christians to hand out other religious books that they believe to be patently false, did this guy even stop to ask why the police are lending aid? Could it be that these people are making a difference in someone’s life out there?
The second article was about “street preachers” who are doing just that, preaching on the street. It is a longstanding tradition in Christianity to take the message of the gospel to people anywhere and everywhere. Maybe some who read here wouldn’t agree with their theology or their tactics, but I would bet that these people love the Lord and proclaim His message without regard for self. The story however reminded me of how desensitized people are to the gospel message. The part of this article that caught my attention was the end. There were quotes from people on the street:
Amy Melder and Gary Watson sat waiting for the train with bemused looks on their faces.
“I really don’t mind,” said Melder of Louisiana. “But it’s a little weird and seems like a waste of his time.”
Said Liz Maurine of Houston as she waited for a train: “It’s just entertaining. I mean I would much rather be watching him than the derelicts on the street.”
Is it a waste of time to preach the gospel? Is it a waste of time to take the message to the streets instead of just proclaiming it loudly in a pulpit, in a “safe” setting?