The other day I read about a disruption at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Curch in Houston, Texas. Six young men were arrested for interrupting Osteen’s message, quoting scripture and calling him a liar. The article said that they were members of a revivalist cult called the Church of Wells. I had never heard of them before, so I did a bit of research and found that they’re a small group of self-described revivalists in the tradition of Wesley, Whitfield, Spurgeon, Finney … etc. What they apparently don’t realize is that those revivalists made history because they were effective, not because they were annoying. If they really want to carry on the tradition of revival preaching they need to do it in their churches and crusades rather than rudely disrupting the services of others and annoying people outside of schools and public buildings.
The Apostle Paul preached publicly in Athens, but it was in an accepted venue for voicing one’s views. Other than that he spoke in synagogues and churches, or spoke one on one with anybody who was interested in what he had to say. Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost and at Solomon’s Portico when crowds gathered because something miraculous occurred, but we have no record of Peter or Paul badgering people for no particular reason other than to make themselves look bold and courageous. You don’t bring glory to God by trespassing and making Christians look like rude, inconsiderate zealots.
I’m not opposed to street ministry. In fact, I’ve been involved in it myself. When I was young I would play the guitar or banjo with a few other musicians on the streets to draw a crowd, and then we would have a preacher address them. (We would always get permission from somebody before plugging in our PA system.) We would talk with them a bit, or hand them some literature and invite them to a service. People who weren’t interested would walk away, but some would stay. It was fairly effective, and we had very few complaints.
Lots of people preach on the streets, but most of them don’t take videos of their preaching and upload them to their websites like these guys do. Most of them don’t interrupt the services of other churches. Most of them don’t tell their followers to break off all ties with their families. And most of them aren’t run by three “elders” (what a joke!) under the age of thirty. I’ve got tennis shoes older than these guys.
In I Timothy 3:1-7 Paul listed the qualifications for a bishop (overseer, or pastor). In verse 7 he says:
Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Other translations say “good report” or “good reputation”. In other words, if your behavior causes people to think poorly of you as a person you’re not fit for the ministry. I think disrupting church services and being a nuisance would likely result in a bad reputation. Perhaps they should drop the “preaching” thing and grow up a bit before trying to take on the responsibilities of ministry.