No More Beverly Hills Drive-Bys, Please! Day 9/40Naima Lett | Blog | Friday March 2 2012
DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG | Naima Lett
No More Beverly Hills Drive-Bys, Please- DAY 9/40 (LENT)
OK, this is family business.
Yesterday, I walked to the post office here in Beverly Hills and encountered the scene in the picture above: dozens of large black and yellow picket signs holding Beverly Drive hostage, donning slogans like “TURN FROM EVIL”, “FEAR GOD” and “REPENT”!
Immediately, my heart plummeted.
I lead a bible fellowship in Beverly Hills, Hope in the Hills with my husband Kevin, one block from this scene. I’ve served in ministry for over a decade, and I’m 1/2 way done with my doctorate degree. That being said, I am DONE with picket sign evangelism.
Family, can we put down the signs and take somebody to coffee? Have a meal? Meet a need? Pray for somebody?
“Is this really effective?” I asked the organizer. “Do you live here? Know anybody in this neighborhood?”
“We’re not from here!” he insisted, “We drove from _______ (suburban city 45 minutes away), because people need to know that if they don’t turn, they are condemned! If one person “drives by”, sees our sign and repents, we’ve done the work of the Lord.”
A passionate conversation ensued between us about this “drive-by” evangelistic approach. I posted part on Facebook. Some fam agreed with me. Some disagreed.
Here’s the thing. As a minister, I don’t have a problem with the concept of street evangelism. As an artist, I vehemently oppose anybody driving 45 minutes to our city to convert us ‘heathen entertainers and professionals’ of Hollywood without taking the time to invest in relationships and to get to know us.
Can we please resist the urge to roll through with picket signs and leaflets staging a protest in front of the local grocery store when people are trying to grab bagels and fruit before work? Instead, let’s do some research. Inquire of area leaders to find out the most effective way to communicate. Otherwise, we may create huge stumbling blocks and build greater walls in the city “doing in the work of the Lord” before we return to our suburban homes.
OK, this is supposed to be a daily devotional. :=)
So, let’s look at some scriptures. How did Jesus interact with people? How did He draw people to Himself? Are we following His example?
Click and read: Matthew 4:18-25
We see how Jesus calls his first disciples. We also see that his ministry is spent meeting the needs of the people. Verse 23 says that Jesus went through all Galilee teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Feel free to also read: Matthew 9:9-13
Jesus and his disciples are grilled for eating dinner and having fellowship with “tax collectors” and “sinners.” Jesus’ response is that he has come for the sick, not the healthy.
Finally, if you have time, read Luke 19:41-44
Jesus weeps for the city of Jerusalem. When is the last time we wept for the lost? If the Son of God weeps for the lost, should we not also weep for them? What a difference it would make, I think, if people knew we were moved to such compassion that we cried for them.
I am not painting Jesus as a wimpy, cry baby God. Right after he weeps for Jerusalem, in Luke 19:45-48, he turns over thieves’ tables in the temple. Most of his rebukes are to the Pharisees and religious leaders who tried to take Him out. But as Verse 48 says, the religious leaders could not find a way to kill Him before His time, “because all the people hung on his words.”
Are people hanging on our words as we speak His word?
Are we that magnetic that hundreds of people just want to be around us, day in, day out?
Are we meeting people’s needs, physically and spiritually, as Jesus did?
Jesus drew people to Himself.
He repelled the people who saw Him as a threat to the established religious order. He didn’t beat the normal folks down in their sins. He lovingly confronted their sin, usually one-on-one, i.e. woman at the well (John 4:17-26), and then invited them to believe in Him.
One-on-one means building relationships.
How many unbelievers do we genuinely care for because they are made in the image of our wonderful God? How many relationships are we cultivating? And not out of some twisted plan to get another notch on our soul-saving belts… but because we authentically love like God loves?
Family, I humbly ask that we consider ways to magnetize and draw, as opposed to repulsion, when it comes to our evangelistic approach. Let’s ask ourselves if the picket line is an effective evangelistic tool. Why are we trying to get one “drive-by” to look at a sign and repent instead of actually building relationships that lead to a much deeper and richer life for all of us.
Maybe we would change our minds about “drive-by” evangelism if we witnessed how ineffective it is in some of the dicier parts of LA. See if picketing downtown on Skid Row works. Ditch Beverly Drive and try carrying signs to gang territory. Even better, picket in the suburbs 45 minutes away. How will our own neighbors respond when we decide to stand in front of their homes with signs
saying “TURN FROM YOUR EVIL WAYS!” How will our child’s kindergarten teacher feel when we picket outside her classroom with signs like “REPENT!” But we’re not doing that, are we?
Perhaps it is easier to drive to someone else’s neighborhood and stand on a corner and hold up a sign and pat ourselves on the back that we have “done the work of the Lord”, than it is to actually “do the work of the Lord” as Jesus did and get involved in people’s lives, eating with tax collectors and sinners.
Perhaps it is easier to throw stones at my artist friends here in Hollywood than it is to actually care for the souls of artists in LA who are rejected every day, broken and just plain “broke”, trying to have faith and hold on to a dream while constantly struggling with identity crises and being fed lies that we are “not good enough, pretty enough, talented enough” to “make it”.
Want to make a difference in Hollywood? Pray for us. We need intercessors. Partner with us. We need support. If you know any professionals and artists looking for bible, food and fellowship, send them our way. We meet on Sundays from 11:30-12:30, followed by lunch.
Want to really shake things up? Pray and ask the Lord to provide you with a stable job in LA so that you can help us build this dream of a bible fellowship that looks like heaven (diverse), sounds like heaven (worship), loves like God loves and lives like Christ lives. Pray that we will continue to influence the influencers and change the media from the inside out.
When followers of Christ come to Beverly Hills, please bring hope to these hills. Please bring the good news that Jesus died and rose again because He loved us.
Life in LaLa Land is hard enough without more condemnation. Hell is real, and I don’t want any of my friends going there. So I’m weeping for them before the Lord. Will you weep with me? Can we allow our hearts to be broken and ask the Lord to give us His heart?
No more Beverly Hills drive-bys, please.
Let’s do lunch and get to know one another and others instead.
** We’ve been journeying thru this season of LENT (46 days minus 6 Sundays = 40 days of fasting and prayer leading to Easter). You’re welcome to jump in.
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