When we think of a traveling preacher addressing a crowd, most of us conjure up an image like UNC’s (in)famous Pit Preacher. He stands up in the middle of a public space and loudly proclaims that everyone is going to hell because of their short skirts, rock music, and liberal politics. I imagine he thinks he’s “engaging the public square” with the gospel, much like Paul did in Acts 17.
I can’t speak to the Pit Preacher’s motives, but he’s certainly not the rightful heir to Paul in Acts 17. A quick look shows us that engaging the public square means something completely different. I see 5 insights for engaging people outside the Christian faith:
1. Grieve over idolatry (and do something about it).
When encountering idolatry in a culture, we tend to respond in one of two equally unbiblical extremes: either we share our culture’s idolatry, or we are so offended by it that we run away. But when Paul saw the idolatry of Athens for what it was, it broke his heart. And instead of running away from it in fear, he ran toward it in love.