Students confront aggressive preachers

Inter-denominational preachers learning "confrontational evangelism" from local preacher Jed Smock have practiced the method for the past week at Speaker's Circle to some's dismay.

Preachers from several Christian denominations across the country and overseas have gathered in the Speaker's Circle since Tuesday to practice "confrontational evangelism," a method taught by Jed Smock, a local preacher and the founder of Campus Ministry U.S.A.

Students assembled to protest Campus Ministry U.S.A. for the first time this semester on Thursday by holding signs and riding bikes around the preachers.

"I'm tired of this," freshman Kyle Masterson said. "There are better things for people to talk about."

Masterson held a sign that read "Think for yourself" on one side and "I have a sign too" on the other.

"Everyone is here for entertainment," Masterson said, "and I want to bring humor to the world."

Masterson said his decision to counter the preachers' signs with his own was "spur of the moment" and he will continue to protest in his free time.

In the week-long seminar offered by Smock's "School of Evangelism," he has taught preachers how to "draw crowds to preach the gospel," said René Langelaar, a preacher from the Netherlands.

Cindy Smock, Jed's wife, said "confrontational evangelism" is motivated by the love of God to warn people about hell. She said that the main goal of "confrontational evangelism" is to influence people to "repent of sin and believe in Jesus Christ."

Shouting and name-calling are among the confrontational tactics that Campus Ministry U.S.A. employs.

Langelaar said the preachers will call names after a person admits pride in his sins. For this reason, students and preachers often become engaged in arguments.

"It's normal to get yelled at," Langelaar said.

From what is shouted, Langelaar said, the preachers are able to get a sense of the person and discover what to talk about. The raised voices draw crowds and allow preachers to preach.

"They're not doing any service by stirring anger," junior Curtis Kukal said.

Kukal referenced Proverbs 15 and urged Cindy Smock to change her approach.

Rick Swindell, who has spent nine years in professional ministries and currently holds sermons in his home, heard about Campus Ministry U.S.A's activities from his son and showed up to counter their claims.

"Their approach is destructive. It's earnest but wrong, " Swindell said. "Salvation is not gained through works."

Despite opposition, preachers from Campus Ministry U.S.A. consider their "confrontational evangelism" successful. Langelaar pointed out the regular crowds as proof of their success.

"Preaching leads to small conversations that are life changing and key," said Ruben Israel, a preacher from the Los Angeles chapter of Bible Believers and a follower of Campus Ministry U.S.A. "We've led everyone to the Lord. Now it's up to them."

The School of Evangelism seminar ends today as the preachers move on to other universities around the country, but they could return to MU throughout the year.

"We might show up on graduation day," Israel said.

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