Tony Miano is a retired LA County Sheriff’s Deputy turned full-time evangelist. He has been doing full-time ministries for over 15 years, serving as a church planter while attending the Master’s Seminary. He founded Ten Four Ministries, which reaches out to police officers and other civil servants (though now run by a “brother behind the badge”). He also served for four and a half years with Ray Comfort and Living Waters.
For this episode, Tony and I talked about Biblical Evangelism. He shares his experiences, as well as the principles that drive him, and his philosophy and advice for sharing your faith both one-on-one on the street, and through open-air preaching.
An Outline of the Discussion
- Tony’s Background:
- Tony served as a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy for 20 years, retired in 2007.
- Has been in full-time ministry for 15 years, serving as a church planter while attending the Master’s Seminary. He also started Ten Four Ministries (now led by a “brother behind the badge”). Tony also served with Living Waters for four and a half years.
- Tony now works full time as a free agent doing street evangelism and open-air preaching.
- Biblical Evangelism:
- The first step in evangelism is, as Tony puts it, opening our mouths. We must be willing to speak, as the Gospel is verbally communicated.
- Next, what comes out of our mouths should be the Gospel: That God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ; lived a perfect, sinless life; voluntarily went to the cross to suffer and die in our place, paying the penalty for crimes he did not commit to take the punishment that we rightly deserve; and forever defeated sin and death when he rose bodily from the grave.
- The term “Biblical Evangelism” means that we follow the Biblical pattern, that God brings the law to the proud, and grace to the humble.
- In the story of the woman at the well (John 4:1-16), Jesus exposes the woman’s sin of adultery. Once she is aware of her sin, he then presents grace to her.
- In Jesus’ conversation with the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27), the man considered himself to be good (he followed the Law), but Jesus confronts him with his idolatry (his money was his idol) and the man walks away unrepentant. Jesus never presented him with grace, nor did he race after the man seeking to persuade him of His worth.
- Paul instructs Timothy that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully (1 Timothy 1:8), that is, as a mirror to show to people so that they can see themselves as they really are before God.
- Tony and I are both Calvinists (at least concerning our understanding of salvation), so I asked him how he responds to criticism from non-Calvinists that if man has no role in his salvation, why evangelize? (God will save whom He will save either way). Tony responds by saying that we evangelize because we are commanded to. There is no greater way to show our love for the Lord than to obey his commands. Also, we talk about that which we love. Also, the means by which people are saved is by Grace, which comes through Faith. The means by which we are brought to faith is through the preaching of God’s Word.
- One-on-One Evangelism:
- The perception is that talking to strangers is the most difficult way to evangelize, but the opposite is true, strangers tend to be the easiest people to talk to. The people we fear the most are those whom we have cultivated relationships with.
- Start by merely talking to strangers.
- When you make a list of all the reasons you fear sharing your faith with people, you will likely realize that your reasons are largely selfish (fear of rejection, fear of saying the wrong thing, etc).
- It’s easy to make evangelism much more complicated than it needs to be. Simply ask someone what if they have spiritual beliefs and take the conversation from there.
- Be yourself.
- Tony loves college campuses. College students tend to be very open to talking, and it is easy to challenge their worldviews because they have never given it a lot of thought, or been challenged.
- Tony sets up an evangelism table at this local mall (with permission from the mall).
- Tony also likes the bus stop. If people don’t have time to talk, he can give them Gospel tracts.
- Tony will sometimes leverage people’s own human nature by having a conversation with a friend via his cell phone about the Gospel within earshot of a group of people (at Starbucks for example). He will present an entire Gospel message to his friend on the phone, knowing that others are listening to him the whole time.
- I played the following video, which is by a self-described atheist, but it always brings me conviction about sharing my faith with other:
- Street Preaching:
- Tony still gets nervous every time he preaches the Gospel. Being nervous is healthy. It causes us to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in proclaiming the Gospel.
- Not everyone should get up on a box to open-air preach. It should only be done by people who know the Gospel themselves, and have their own house in order (loving your wife, caring for your children, etc.) Tony suggests that those who meet the qualifications for the office of Elder are those who are qualified to open-air preach.
- No man who is not under the accountability of a local church has any business preaching the Gospel in the open air.
- Tony suggests getting started by simply going out in public, opening your Bible, and reading it out loud. Don’t worry about pitch, inflection, eye contact, or anything else, just read the Bible.
- Find Godly open-air preachers that can mentor you (either near you or from afar).
- To prepare for hecklers, study the last question you were asked. Don’t bluff it when asked something you don’t know, be honest and say that you don’t know (people will know that you’re lying.) Then next time you’re asked, you’ll be equipped to answer.
- Prepare ahead of time, but don’t call your city and ask if you can preach the Gospel, they will likely lie to you and say no.
- If possible, bring someone along; if for no other reason, just for companionship and someone to pray for you while you preach.
- Mark 16:15
- Romans 10:14-17
- John 4:1-26
- Mark 10:17-27
- 1 Timothy 1:8
- 1 Timothy 3
- Tony’s website – tmiano.com
- Tony’s Blog – Cross Encounters
- Tony’s web show – Cross Encounters Radio
- Tony’s Youtube Channel
- Living Waters
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