Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mall Evangelism (Week 1)

My brothers and sisters with the NorCal Seedsowers, who herald the gospel in the greater San Jose, CA, area, have the best mall evangelism ministry I know of. Their mall ministry operates in the open, with the blessing of the malls in which they minister. Here in California, by operating within mall policy, teams like the NorCal Seedsowers enjoy hours of public proclamation of the gospel, through the distribution of Christian literature and one-to-one conversations.

The community in which I live (Santa Clarita, CA) is commonly referred to as a "planned community." As such, most of the areas where people gather are areas that are privately owned, but open to the public--areas such as our ever-growing mall complex. More often than not, I have to travel outside Santa Clarita to open-air preach. This is one of the reasons I started carrying a cross in town.

For years, I've operated covertly in our mall--entering quietly, always watching for security, and very selective regarding with whom I initiate a conversation or to whom I give a tract. Frankly, I was lazy. With the laws in California so favorable toward free speech in privately-owned areas open to the public, I could have avoided all of the expended energy and wasted time trying to operate outside the malls' rules if I had simply went to mall management and asked to set up what is known as a "public access table."

So, having been encouraged and inspired long enough by the efforts of the NorCal Seedsowers, I went to the mall to talk to management about setting up a public access table. To my surprise, the process was almost too easy. Because of my suspicious nature, I wondered, "What's the catch?"

But there was no catch. The completion of a one-page application and the selection of Friday nights throughout the rest of the year, and I was set.

I really enjoy trying to add new and innovative ways to bring the gospel to the lost to my tool box--carrying a cross, stoplight preaching, a Prayer Stand. These have proven productive, while other innovations have not. Last night was my first time setting up a sanctioned evangelism table at the Valencia Town Center, and the Lord truly blessed the effort.

Ivan was the first to approach our table last night. From the Dominican Republic, and only temporarily in the United States for his employer, Ivan had a Christian background and, according to him, was on a search for truth. The opportunity to share the gospel with Ivan marked the beginning of what would be a very productive, gospel-centered evening at the mall.

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