What We Can Learn From the Street Corner Evangelist

We can debate the evangelistic effectiveness, but there are also helpful principles we can learn.

[Note from Phil Cooke] Recently, Laura Woodworth, our Operations and Communications Lead here at Cooke Pictures noticed something interesting on the street here in Los Angeles that many people would have ignored. But after years working in church communication, Laura thought it was worth thinking about:

Driving through North Hollywood the other day, my eye was caught by a man jumping up and down holding a cross at a busy intersection. Many people ignored him, but he got my attention and I slowed to read his sign: “Jesus Saves.” You’ve probably seen someone like this many times, and most people just consider them a nut. I’m not recommending you should follow his lead, paint a cross on a sign and stand on a corner, but as church leaders, it made me wonder if the methods we’ve chosen to share our faith are actually effective.

At first glance, I dismissed him, but on second thought, here are a few things my sign-waver actually got right that we can glean from and apply to our own marketing efforts.

1. Who Is Your Target Audience?

He determined who his target audience was and chose a specific time and place to go where they are: a busy intersection at rush hour in the middle of Los Angeles. Who are you trying to reach? Find out where they are and meet them there. A cheap ad buy in a magazine or website may look appealing, but if your audience is on Twitter or Instagram, you’re wasting money and effort. Same is true for every communications medium out there. Focus on your target.

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2. Never Forget Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

He rose above the noise and distractions. A guy waving a sign at an intersection? You couldn’t miss him! He captured my attention, even at the end of a long workday. He stood out because he was unique. We can argue whether or not his perception was positive or negative, but he definitely knew how to rise above the noise. The question is: What is your unique selling point (or USP)? In a distracted culture, what will get you noticed? What helps your ministry stand out in a crowd? Find a creative and strategic way to share your uniqueness with the community.

3. Remember the Importance of Clarity.

The final thing my cross-waving guy got right was a clear message. Jesus saves. One quick glance as I drove by and I got it. Easy. Short and to the point. So what is your core message? Is it clear and easy to grasp or are you confusing the issue? If I visit your website right now, will I immediately see what makes your church different than all the others in the city?

Bonus Takeaway: Signage.

The guy’s sign was simple and easy to read, even from a distance. No clutter, no fancy fonts. Black on white with a singular message.

Who knows? Most of us dismiss this kind of evangelism—and I admit in many cases, these types of efforts can often make Christians look a bit crazy—but who knows? For someone driving by that day, his simple message may have forced them to stop and think.

“On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, ‘Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!’” (John 7:37).

Need help communicating your message? Cooke Pictures offers consultation and workshops to elevate your ministry team’s effectiveness in communications, media and branding/marketing. Contact us here.

Laura Woodworth is an award winning writer with a strong background in marketing and communications and a part of the Cooke Pictures team. This article originally appeared on PhilCooke.com.