Dear Street Corner Preacher . . .

largeUniversities are back in session.  Among other things, that means that the street-corner preachers are out in full force.  You know the guys I am talking about?  They stand on a busy corner and yell at students as they pass.  “You are going to hell.”  “Repent of your filth.”

I have received a couple of emails asking my thoughts on these folks and their tactics.   Here then are my thoughts, written to the street preachers.

Dear Mr Street Preacher,

I appreciate your desire to see people come into the kingdom.  I trust Christ has made a difference in your life and you want to see others come to have a relationship with him.  However, your tactics are actually working against you.  How many people have you led to Christ by your efforts?  I’m not trying to be smug, I’m simply asking you to evaluate the fruit of your efforts.  I can tell you what I see as a result of your efforts: People outside of Christ feel hated.

That girl that you yelled at today, the one you called a whore for being in a sorority, she is dealing with depression.  Much of it stems from the sexual abuse she endured as a child.  Beyond that, she felt abandoned by her mother.  Just getting through the day is a struggle for her.  She was sensing some hope and felt like maybe God was helping her. She was even contemplating going back to church on Sunday to see if she could rediscover God.  Then she ran into you.  Your words tore into her, undoing the work that God had begun in her life.

How about the guy that you told was going to hell.  Remember him?  You were sure he was traveling down the wrong road and destined for a life of destruction.  He has a name.  Did you bother to ask his name?  He has dreams.  Do you know what they are?   He has a future.  He has a past.  When you told him he was going to hell, he felt worthless.  He knows the feeling of worthlessness.  His Father continually reminds him that he is nothing.  Your voice just confirmed what he feared.  However, our heavenly Father is crazy about this young man.  He has been trying to get his attention and speak life into this student.  However with the current volume of voices, it’s hard to hear The Father.  Your condemnation just added to the noise, moving this young man a step further away from Christ.

There was another girl that you yelled at.  She is my daughter.  She is a sold-out follower of Christ.  She spends time listening to God, honors him by tithing, serves in a variety of ways, and has open conversations with people about spirituality and their relationship with Christ.  Yet you stand as a voice of condemnation toward her?  You are deeply misguided.

I know, I know, you are thinking “Well, the prophets in the Bible were hated, so I am in good company.”  God did call prophets in Biblical times, especially in the Old Testament.  But when he called people to strong in-your-face prophesy, it was typically to those who had been in covenant with God and had broken that covenant.  Even if (a big “if”) you are supposed to be that voice today, you are targeting the wrong audience.  Do people need to repent?  Yes.  Are some on a fast track to hell?  Yes.  But your tactics are not producing the results you desire.  My guess is that something in your heart is wrong, terribly wrong.

Because of your actions, people make fun of the church.  Because of the way you are saying things, students swear they will never hang out with Christians.  They think we all hate them.  People will not talk to me as a Pastor because they think I am like you – filled with hate and condemnation.

Your actions are producing the opposite results that you desire.

My life is about helping people take a step closer to Christ.  Do you desire to do the same thing? If so, I am asking that you take a hard look at the results of your actions.  As yourself, “Are these actions helping people take a step closer to Christ, or pushing them away?”


Photo credit



Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

7 thoughts on “Dear Street Corner Preacher . . .

  1. Well said scot. I couldn’t agree more. People like this do move people away from Christ not closer maybe if there tactics weren’t so based hell and more on heaven then the would lead more people to the father and not away from the father

  2. Very well put. I totally agree with everything you said. Many “church people” believe that if you encourage and lift them up to a standard higher than they are now walking in, that you are condoning their sinful lifestyle. However, the opposite is true, as you and I believe, that it will open the door, either at that moment, or at a later time, where the Holy Spirit can do His work in their lives and spur them on to a decision for a Christ-lead life. Keep up the good work! You are not alone. There a millions of born again believers who witness and teach the way you do. I was truly saved at age 12 and am now 68(I am an 18 year old trapped in this old guy’s body) and am loving my walk with God more and more everyday.

  3. very, very true and then you have some Atheist teachers in College (like I did) that made us study the Book of Jobe and told us that IF God existed it was to torture us and hate us like he did Jobe by taking away his food and family and leaving him all “alone”. Then, after leaving a class like that, to be yelled out “you’re going to Hell” then it just re-enforces the message of “God hating us”. I was raised in a Christian home (although it was broken by divorce), it was a Christian home. I was horrified to have an Atheist teacher and did not write what he wanted me to as to not go against God…God helped me from failing that class, because I did and thought the exact opposite of what he was trying to teach….but how many young students did he reach??

    Instead of yelling out at students about going to Hell, pass out flyers with a free coupon for a coke or a cup of coffee with your church name and address on it and say a few comforting witness words to them when passing it out i.e. “have a blessed day” or “hope to see you at church on Sunday” and point to the address/time of services….that will go further than “yelling at the youth”.

    OR…why don’t some of the campus preachers come together (unite) and put on the play Heaven’s Gates/Hell’s Flames and then all the preachers from each church pass out free tickets to attend…then all of them be present at the alter call at the end of the play…that is definitely a way to draw in a crowd…I was a born again Christian, then I had the chance to be in the play with my teenaged son…I was one of the many angels, he was the son in the father/son scene and it ripped my heart out to see my son dragged away by the demons in the play…I re-committed my life AGAIN and my son helped assist young people down to the alter and offered to pray with them at the age of 15!! He gave his life to the Lord at age 13. I am so proud of him.

    Speak to the young ones in a way that they WANT to listen…then watch the #’s in your congregation GROW!!!!

  4. You make an old retired preacher proud. I love the man of God that you are. I love your wife and the two of you have produced two beautiful daughters. Your letter touches a nerve. Many years ago I was that person going to hell. Then I met Sandy and something wonderful happened. God works in mysterious and wonderful ways. I will be forever grateful to Neil Windham for introducing us. You are a good man, Scot Longyear!

  5. Thanks Scot for this wonderful article you wrote..I totally agree with you….It makes me sad to hear these preachers condemn people when what they really need to hear is how much God loves them and wants to be their friend and have a relationship with them..Who in their right mind could turn down an offer like that….

  6. Thanks Scot for this wonderful article you wrote..I totally agree with you….It makes me sad to hear these preachers condemn people when what they really need to hear is how much God loves them and wants to be their friend and have a relationship with them..Who in their right mind could turn down an offer like that….