On our trip last month to San Francisco we worked at a tradeshow for a convention put on by Oracle with about 40,000 conference attendees. Most of them were from the IT department of their respective businesses.
Each day we would arrive from our hotel on a coach bus to the middle of beautiful downtown San Francisco for a short walk to our area of the convention. Each day without fail a man stood on the corner street preaching his voice into oblivion. He would scream so loud he was barely understandable and wave his hands in the air as he rebuked passer-bys and repeatedly called out "come to Jesus."
Something didn't sit right with me about this scene. Granted, he was anointed or at least "sounded" anointed. But for one thing, you couldn't make out what he was saying. This is important in evangelism. The Apostle Paul asked the early Church to pray for him so that he would be clear and bold. Clarity matters as we share our faith.
Secondly, he was using the wrong bait. Jesus called his first disciples, and all those who follow him today to be "fishers of men." It is important in fishing that we use the right bait for the fish we are aiming for. This street preacher, God bless him, was receiving unnecessary persecution because he was fishing for businesspeople in the wrong way. He would have done far better to connect, converse with and reach people in the way that best suits them - maybe take them out to coffee (pay for theirs) and present Christ as a business proposition in terms they would understand. Additionally, he screamed and rebuked and fumed and moaned. This may be effective for some (specifically Church people) who are used to this sort of thing - but the explicit command of the Apostle Peter was that we evangelize "with gentleness and respect." Gentleness and respect is the great key of evangelism that opens the doors of people's hearts.
Contradict this situation with a man I ran into last night. Well, let's just say he ran into me. A gentleman approached me and quickly, clearly, coherently and decisively presented a Multi-level marketing plan. He didn't mosey around his point - he went straight for it. He was well spoken, calm and had an answer for every excuse my friend and I mentioned - he had done his homework. Now, I am a magnet for MLM's, but don't have a desire to pursue them. I didn't take him up on his offer, but as he left us I sat stunned at his well crafted approach and confidence. I didn't want what he was selling, but I respected the guy.
I think we can learn something from these two stories. We are sharing the greatest story in the world, one that has and will transform nations. Let's do everything we can possibly do to bring it forth clearly, boldly, gently and respectfully to those we share it with.