I remember the first time I saw someone standing on a sidewalk with a bullhorn in their hands, shouting to the crowds, “Repent or Perish!”
They meant well. They had a passion for their work—they wanted people to come to realize the amazing Gospel of grace. I get that. And I applaud the desire. And the effort.
But I never thought it was an effective method of evangelism.
I always wondered if anyone ever came any closer to the gospel because the one shouting on the street corner frightened them into repentance. Maybe someone did, but somehow I doubt it’s a large number.
It doesn’t seem to me a bullhorn on a street—or a sign saying “God hates ______”—is the best way to share a message of love. And isn’t that the message? “For God so loved the world …”
Well, there’s a new bullhorn in town.
It’s loud and it’s on every street corner—figuratively speaking.
It’s called social media. It goes by names such as Facebook. Twitter. Blog.
It’s where the bullhorn holder posts or shares a condemning statement toward someone with whom they don’t agree—sinners we call them. They make a proclamation against them. They complain. They bash. They condemn. They attempt to frighten.
They are loud.
Don’t misunderstand, the person with a bullhorn almost always means well. They have strong passion and intent. I applaud them for believing what they believe. (Personally, I think we each hold that right.)
But my head is spinning about this new bullhorn. With all its good intent, I simply don’t think it’s working. At least not in my opinion.
Certainly it makes the person holding the bullhorn feel better. Like they did their part. It’s a release of pent up emotion.
And, frankly, we even celebrate the practice. It’s how a post goes viral. You’ll get more shares and likes the more divisive you are. The more controversial the subject the more it gets shared. If simply getting attention is the goal—the bullhorn works.
Here’s the problem—again, my perception.
The only people an angry online discourse appeals to is other people just as angry about the same issue as the person making the rant.
And, the other side—it makes the people who don’t agree angrier and more firm in their own position.
The online bullhorn forces people to choose sides. It backs them in the proverbial corner where they feel they have no option other than to come back fighting with their own bullhorn.
And both sides get louder.
The bullhorn approach comes across as having very little grace. And, in the bullhorn shouter’s heart, the grace may be there, but it’s covered over by the loudness of what they view as truth. (And that’s key, because it’s usually “their view.”) The loudest bullhorns are many times subjective—an opinion—often based on truth but full of their own spin or interpretation.
And, this is just my opinion—and go ahead and say it—I’m doing in this post what I’m criticizing others for doing, and maybe I am, but it needs to be said. We shouldn’t use our platform to provoke people. Especially as believers, we should use it to make the world a better place with the ultimate goal of showing the world the love of Christ.
Without love we are clanging gongs. Semi-useless. Bullhorns.
That certainly doesn’t seem to be Christ-like.
If we want to do things like Christ then, rather than blasting sinners on the street corner, we will have to meet the woman at the well. We will have to dine with Zacchaeus and his tax collector friends. We have to value the poor widow and not ignore an opportunity to love the little children.
To my believer friends, I have a suggestion—maybe a plea—let’s drop the bullhorn. Let’s build some relationships, genuinely love people so we can have any hope of sharing truth.
And that’s the end of my rant.
(Pre-post thought: In some occasions God may call us to the “repent or perish” type message—He did Jonah—but in the days of grace and with Jesus’ example, the relational approach appears to work better, again, in my opinion.)
I loved this post from Desiring God recently: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-should-christians-comment-online. I shared earlier this post on how Christians can be less mean online.