A stroll accross the Washington Avenue Bridge

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : December 20, 2006

Apparently my “reflections on evangelism” series isn’t exciting anyone enough for them to comment. Perhaps this means that one shouldn’t post anything like a class paper or notes for a class lecture online. Every instance of this has ended in blog silence.

Let me take my reflections on evangelism into a new direction. A couple months ago, I was walking across the Washington Avenue Bridge, which connects the U of M East Bank with the West Bank. Student organizations can promote themselves by painting a section of plywood along the interior walkway of the bridge. I noticed two things: 1) MANY Christian organizations were represented and 2) almost all of those organizations really fell short of conveying anything interesting or artistic. I decided to take cell-phone pictures of some of the more interesting displays…here’s the first one (I may show you more later). My random thoughts follow:

Ok–the classic “scare the hell outta ya’ will mean scaring Jesus inta ya’” approach. Does this really work, like ever? I wish someone would do a study on conversions among post-adolescents to determine reasons for conversion and also the extent to which fear was a motivation. I know sometimes children will convert from within strongly Christian systems out of a desire to avoid hell, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever met someone who was an adult who converted out of fear.

It is interesting that this display doesn’t mention Jesus.

Is the assumption that the non-Christian will get so scared that he or she will scribble down “Rom. 5:12″ and/or “Rev. 20:15,” proceed to run back to the dorm, go to and then look up these two verses in order to discover a way to escape coming wrath? That is a lot to expect of a casual passerby.

Let’s assume they DID visit Rom 5:12 or Rev 20:15. This is what they’d find:

Romans 5:12–Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned–

Revelation 20:15–If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
What would this casual passerby conclude from these verses?

Mark Van Steenwyk is the editor of He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.

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Viewing 2 Comments

    • ^
    • v
    Yeah, the Washington Avenue Bridge signs are disappointing.
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    • v
    If I were just a passer by, I would think to myself something like "seriously - what the whack are those people thinking?" The sad part about this particular sign to me is that (unless I can't see the details) no one group put their name to it, and I would be super suprised if this was's new fancy marketing schtick. Great post.


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