Miracle Street: Sharing the Gospel with people where they are, doing what they do
Steve Lee is a man passionate about reaching ordinary people with the Good News. He urges the Church to find ways of sharing the story of the Gospel that connect with the new, technologically-savvy generation rather than just expecting them to find their own way to our churches and immediately consider the Bible accessible.
"We need to contextualise our message so it reaches as many people as possible," Steve explains.
"The Gospel is not a product we are trying to flog. We need to be faithful to the word and faithful to the time."
He believes the Church needs to take more risks. It has a history of spewing out the misfits and yet Jesus was drawn to them. They are often the ones that are restless for change and may well be the innovators – yet too often we ignore them.
He also believes that the Church can be scared of the world, viewing it as evil, but wants to remind us all that the world is wonderful and we need to learn to engage with it more.
"Jesus was a deep connector with the culture he came into. The church is so often perceived as anti everything, which is not the way Jesus operated. It was religion and religious people that he confronted, not the people on the street."
Steve's enthusiasm spills over into his workplace, which is the charity he founded – Miracle Street. At its heart is the desperate desire to reach everyday people on their own streets - where they are, doing what they do. Here Steve tells the story of how the charity began:
"Having grown up in a pretty regular family I had always believed in God but when I was about 20 I came to the realisation that God believed in me! Very soon after I began using my slightly quirky personality and very loud voice to present the Gospel of Jesus on the streets. In those early years, when I didn't know any better, I used whatever I could find to draw a crowd in order to tell as many people as possible how Jesus had changed my life.
"As the years went by I learned how to get out of a straitjacket, saw someone in half and operate a full size guillotine! The crowds got bigger. The next stage was to believe God for a team and the resources to communicate in a better way, to many more people, to inspire and develop churches and travel the country. Miracle Street was the result."
The charity was created in the 1990s. Steve explains how it came to be called Miracle Street: "The name Miracle Street came to me in a dream at a time when I was seeking to identify a name that suggested faith but was not going to provoke a spontaneous negative reaction. It's not so much about 'street events' or even 'reaching people on the street' although that is the origins of it. The name really reflects my passion for transformation though the Gospel."
Today Miracle Street is made up of a flexible community of all kinds of people with many gift and talents. Over the last few years they have been able to purchase some wonderful resources including mobile stages. The work of Miracle Street has also grown from street presentations to Steve and the rest of the team being able to affect whole towns and cities in the UK and particularly in Spain – although they have travelled to many countries.
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Here is an example of an encounter in Spain: "In the summer of 2012 our big Mainstage was set up in the southern Spanish town of Rota and was drawing 1,000 a night to the meetings.
"We met an old lady in the supermarket while I was buying a fan. She needed one too but didn't have the money to buy it, as she was very poor. I went back into the shop and bought her the fan and watched her walk with it back to her flat in one of the high-rise blocks.
"That night she came to the Mainstage event and heard me preach on the 'Woman at the Well'. She came forward at the end of the events and we prayed for her. The next morning people in the streets were talking about the man who bought the lady the fan! That evening more people came to hear me speak just from hearing her story. It was a real-life example of the 'Woman at the Well' and was very powerful."
Steve's latest initiative is The Big Story – seven dramatic stories being told over seven consecutive nights, portraying the 'Big Story' of God's love. Steve explains: "It's a way of connecting big numbers of people with the story of the Gospel in a way that is very visual and engaging using all my stage props to illustrate the 7 dramatic stories."
Steve talks about the inspiration he has drawn from early 20th-century female evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson.
Also an actress, when she arrived in Los Angeles she built a 10,000 circular auditorium right in the heart of Hollywood. All the traditional church leaders criticised her, but she responded to them by saying: "If you can think of a better way for me to get willing people to listen to the Big Story of God, then tell me and I'll try. But please don't tell me to speak to empty seats." The cream of Hollywood attended her meetings – and that building is still a church today.
Steve and his team are telling the Big Story from 1 to 7 March at the Middle Brook Centre in Winchester. The event is free, and is being promoted on the back of Winchester buses and in 125,000 newspapers a week for the next four weeks across the region.
You may not be as loud or as quirky as Steve but surely he is to be applauded for finding new ways to connect everyday people with the message of the Gospel. How complacent have we become with our Christianity, and how safe is our 'evangelism'? Steve says: "Christians can be the people who have all the answers to all the questions that nobody is asking."
Let's not be irrelevant, but try to step out of our comfort zones and reach those that Jesus wants us to with his Big Story.
For more information about Steve's Big Story event click here