Street Corner Evangelism

I can remember it like it was yesterday.

In the spring of 2011, our recently formed church plant team sat in a renovated Camden basement brainstorming.

We were trying to figure out a tagline that embodied the mission of our church. With paper and pens in hand and laptops open, we eventually came up with the phrase “On the block, for the block, showing off the glory of Christ.”

How “For The City” Came About

It was dope because it paid homage to our sending church, and seemed liked the perfect slogan to begin ministry in America’s most dangerous city; however, something was missing. We didn’t quite know what it was until one of us said, “Let’s change the second ‘block’ to ‘city.’” All of our eyes lit up, and that’s when “On the block, for the city, showing off the glory of Christ” was born!

Since that day in the basement, our church, by God’s grace, has sought to embody that mantra. We want to be known as a church that’s on the block reaching people for the glory of Jesus, and one of the primary ways we seek to engage our context is through a street corner evangelism ministry we call Midday Manna.

For those who are curious, here’s a primer on Street Corner Evangelism. I want you to consider 4 M’s that will aid you in reaching your context: Manpower, Material, Meals, & the Message.

1) Manpower

After prayerfully selecting a high traffic area, avoid the urge to “hit the block” by yourself.  Take people with you.  Why? Well, look at the Apostle Paul’s example in the Book of Acts and the epistles.

Paul was constantly flanked by associates and rarely engaged in ministry unaccompanied (Acts 17:16). He leveraged every moment he shared with his companions to bolster their spiritual maturity by incorporating a discipleship dimension into his evangelistic efforts (i.e. Timothy, John Mark, Titus, etc.). Evangelism and spiritual maturity are inextricably linked.

Ultimately, your disciples will find it much easier to follow you pastorally when you’re leading them missionally.

2) Materials

Now that you have the manpower, take an inventory of your materials. Don’t be cheap; make the investment and purchase a folding table from Wal-Mart, and spend the few extra dollars on a “fly” table skirt with your church or ministry’s logo on it.

Once you’ve draped the table, supply bibles and have prayer cards, pens (preferably with your emblem), and connection cards readily available with your church’s address, logo, and the time of the worship gathering(s) clearly displayed.
If people are interested in getting connected with the church, have a sign-up sheet available so you can follow up with them.

Be contextually considerate. If you suspect someone to be illiterate, kindly offer to take their information, instead of having them write it down, so they maintain their dignity.

Yes, the goal is to share Christ (I’ll explain more in the last point), but don’t neglect the power of inviting people to your church. I’ve seen our church filled with people that received personal invites, so be sure to kindly welcome them. Use Gospel savvy to woo people to Christ.

3) Meals

Let me be frank with you, many people in my city DO NOT EAT every day. Let that sink in! It’s sobering, isn’t it! So, I wholeheartedly believe in supplying meals when I’m evangelizing. Meet physical needs to address their spiritual needs.

This doesn’t have to be a meal, per say. We provide turkey sandwiches and chips or pizza, and on a hot day, we will serve water ice.

Minimally, you can buy cases of water and hand them out of a cooler filled with ice on a hot day. That’s low maintenance mission, but do what’s in your budget.

4) Message

After we set up and serve the people, we’re usually bombarded with questions about what we’re doing, and that’s when we have the opportunity to share the message.

Here’s a practical guideline to frame the conversation:

This may sound presumptuous, but I feel confident in asserting that people in the ‘hood know about the law. They understand court proceedings.

They have either been locked up, their cousin has been locked up, or someone they know has been arrested. Most can say they’ve watched a few episodes of Judge Mathis or Judge Judy. Fortunately, Christ’s atonement is placed in a judicial context.

So, when I engage a brother or sister, I explain that God’s law stipulates that we love Him with all of our heart, mind, body, and soul (Deut. 6:5), but we’ve all loved other things more than Him and have sadly acted on those preferences.

Because God is a God of justice, he cannot turn a blind eye, and we don’t get away with probation or a misdemeanor. In his holy courtroom, our crime is punishable by death (Rom. 3:10-23, 6:23). That’s when I explain that God provided a solution to satisfy the penalty of the crime in the form of His Son — Jesus (Rom. 5:8).

Jesus satisfied the judicial demands of the law by dying in our place and canceling out our debt with its legal demands. His death and resurrection provided the basis for our full acquittal, removing of our sins forever and justifying us who have faith in Him (Rom. 3:25-26).

All I did was take an excerpt from Bridges’ The Great Exchange and Piper’s For Your Joy, mix it with “Red” Kool-Aid, and present a highly contextualized Gospel message.

Leave those extravagant theological words you learned on at home. Communicate plainly and clearly with the people so they can hear Jesus.

That’s it for now.

Let’s get on the block for our city and show off the Glory of Christ.

Grace and peace!

Ernest Cleo Grant, II

Ernest Cleo Grant, II (@ernestcleogrant) is the Lead Pastor of Epiphany Fellowship Church of Camden, a graduate of Reformed Seminary (D.C.), and is currently completing his Doctorate of Education from Stockton University. He and his wife Sarah have been married for almost a decade and have two children( Amaela and Chancellor). He's an avid reader, a community advocate, and has bylines in The Witness, Christianity Today, The Star-Ledger, Desiring God, and other publications


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