HIGH WYCOMBE : The noble task of gospel preaching is dismissed as ‘shouting at people’

Pastor Peter Simpson was preaching the gospel in the centre of High Wycombe on November 17th, helped by two ladies from the church and Mrs Pilkington from Chorleywood. 

An elderly lady walked by who sadly had to use a frame to support herself. This meant that she was looking down and so was able to read with some ease the posters which were on display on the pavement.

One of these included the words, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Having read this, the lady said to one of the helpers that she did not care where she went when she died.

It was gently impressed upon her in response that that would not be her attitude on the Day of Judgement. God is wondrously merciful, but He is also full of righteous anger against those who refuse to repent and come to the Saviour.  

Mrs Pilkington spoke with a Jehovah’s Witness and a New Age advocate, both of whom were very unreceptive to the gospel and the Biblical revelation. Nevertheless, the witnessing sister was encouraged by the number of tracts which she was able to hand out and by some passers-by saying that they would indeed read them.  

The witness coincided with the official turning on of the town’s Christmas lights, and so the High Street had many market stalls set up for this special occasion. However, the witness team found a space which it was thought would not be too near to anyone else or hinder the activity of the stallholders. Nevertheless, the organisers of the event, which was not to commence until later in the afternoon, quickly approached Pastor Simpson and told him that he could not preach there. 

A polite conversation with one of the event organisers, an official who represented local businesses, then ensued. Pastor Simpson made the point that Christian preaching was in a real sense connected to the turning on of the lights in that the latter event was all about a Christian festival. 

The official responded that some church groups had permission to be there as stallholders, including a homeless charity, and that they were making a very useful contribution (which one is sure was the case). The event organiser then said that these groups would not be “shouting at” people as Pastor Simpson would be doing, and she mentioned that various businesses which she represents had made complaints on previous occasions in the year about the preaching.

Pastor Simpson preaching

Whilst continuing to engage in courteous discussion, Pastor Simpson felt somewhat aggrieved by the clear intimation that the task in which he was employed, being the pursuit of his lawful profession, constituted little more than an unpleasant nuisance. How sad that the public proclamation of Biblical truth could be referred to so negatively as “shouting at people”, when it is actually the conveying of the most important message that anyone could ever hear.

The Christmas lights event included a stage with amplification for those speaking on the stage, and so this suggests that people do not have a problem with raised volumes, should the specific circumstances of any event require it. There is also on many occasions throughout the year loud amplified music being played in the high street coming from individual stallholders. However, if a Christian minister raises his voice, whilst refraining from using amplification (as in Pastor Simpson’s case), so that more people can hear than those just standing right by him, this is deemed to be unnecessary and unpleasant.  

The organisers obviously desired the Christian group to move on to another area away from the high street. The minister, wishing to be reasonable and accommodating, agreed to do this, but he also courteously pointed out, in respect of the apparent concerns expressed by local businesses about the preaching (which takes place just once a fortnight and for two hours at the most – and the actual preaching is not continuous) that the Bible teaches that when the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and people are converted, this turning back to the Lord will have a real beneficial impact upon society, and not least upon the economy of an area, and indeed, if the conversions are widespread, upon the economy of the nation as a whole. 

As we read in Deuteronomy 28, 

“All these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out” (Deuteronomy 28:2–6).