San Diego Pride Parade Outreach 2023


For two years, it has been on my heart to reach out to the increasingly popular, sexually deviant culture. This year I finally had the opportunity and endeavored with a small group into the heart of one of the largest Pride parades in the country, hoping to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with any willing to hear. We didn't go with megaphones and signs, nor did we go with a watered-down gospel of affirmation (which is no gospel at all). We went dressed in rainbows.

Armed with tracks formatted specifically for this event, we followed along with the parade seamlessly, handing them out and talking with people.

The way I see it, there are two approaches to street outreach, each stemming from different theological roots and each having healthy and unhealthy forms. First is the open-air preaching form of outreach. I saw a few iterations of it during the parade. This seems to come from the theological conviction that the Gospel must be preached openly and forcefully. The goal is not necessarily conversion but more that God be glorified in the face of rebellion.

The best iterations of this style of open-air preachers are men like Cliffe Knechtle and Jeff Durban. I have been impressed with them, especially of those that preach at baby homicide clinics, not only saving souls but literally saving lives. Most of the open-air preachers we passed seemed to be doing well. One group even let our ex-lesbian team members testify before the passing crowd with their sound system, which I thought was very touching.

Probably the worst thing I saw at Pride was not the parade but a very disturbing religious group hurling insults at the parade. I am absolutely NOT the person who believes truth must be curtailed to feelings or that being inclusive is some sort of gospel goal. I understand that the Gospel is offered to all, but being a Christian is exclusive by nature. Jesus had some very harsh words for certain people. But, believe me, when I say this, I cannot see how a man hurling insults at a crowd like "faggots" and "Yea, spread your disgusting a** cheeks" is godly or effective for either God's glory or winning souls. Watching the bad preaching really broke the heart of one of the ex-lesbians in our group. She wanted to cross the street and reason with them, but I opted not to waste our time. If you have read the Bible and choose not to obey it, what more can we add? These "Westboro" types I would not even consider Christians. "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire." -Matthew 5:22

But we didn't go there to open-air preach. We went there to engage people, scatter Gospel seeds, and win souls, which is the second form of street evangelism and the one I prefer (although I am for all evangelism). The best iteration of this would be Ray Comfort; although he engages in all forms of evangelism, his personal, persuasive evangelism is well thought out and theologically fine-tuned.

If I could give one piece of advice for all "confrontation" evangelism, it would be this. Using antiquated or overtly Christian language is ineffective. Most people (including Christians) do not know what the word "repent" means, much less how to do it. Most people (and many church-goers) do not know what the Gospel is. So, statements like "repent and believe the Gospel" thrown out there at a crowd will not even trigger comprehension. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ," but if we aren't speaking an intelligible message, people aren't really hearing. If you've ever had a conversation with an overzealous Muslim who keeps citing Koranic passages in Arabic, or a Hebrew Israelite who switches from verse to verse faster than you can gather what he is saying, you will get what I mean. This problem is avoided by simply defining the words for your audience as you speak.

Good preaching/teaching is bringing people into the context of the Bible. Good evangelism is bringing the Bible into the context of the people.


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