Cross-walking, or holding a cross in public, is a rising trend in evangelical circles. This brief article will explain what it is and what it hopes to accomplish.
What It Is
Cross-walking is holding a cross so that the general public is able to see it. Some crosses are plain with no message written on them, others have brief messages written on them. Locations for cross-walking include, but are not limited to, roadway intersections, festivals, public parks, college campuses, etc.
Standard cross messages point to the reality of a coming judgment or to the person and work of Jesus Christ. The most common message is, "ARE YOU READY", others include "REPENT & BELIEVE", "It is Finished", "JUDGE & SAVIOR", and "HE IS RISEN", etc.
Cross-walking is a public ministry meant to lead to the proclamation of the gospel and cause many to consider their standing with God and their eternal destiny.
Except in a few cases, where the gospel is written on the cross, cross-walking is NOT evangelism; it is meant to lead to evangelism. Evangelism is the explicit effort of telling someone that there is forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Examples of gospel presentations written on the cross are, "It is Finished" (Hebrews 10:14), "Peace by the Blood" (Colossians 1:19-20), and "Here Grace & Justice Kissed" (Psalm 85:10), etc.
Cross-walking is NOT a means of grace or a sacrament; when Jesus said, "Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me (Matthew 10:38).", he did not mean to lift a miniature cross in order to earn Heaven. His call was to turn (repent) from living in this world, and figuratively (using the language of the cross-execution technique) to die to the world by placing full faith in him and him alone.
Goals of Cross-Walking
The primary goal of cross-walking is to proclaim the excellencies of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. Cross-walking is far from the only way to do this, but it is a valid and useful tool for the church to engage many with the message of Christianity. These goals include starting conversations, reaching large numbers of people in a short time, confronting people in their sin, encouraging Christians, and killing pride in the cross-walker.
Cross-walking draws all sorts of individuals to ask questions, some ask "What does it mean?" others ask, "Why are you doing this?" Concerning the "ARE YOU READY" cross, the question is generally, "Ready for what?" Many other questions are asked regarding doomsday prophecies, particular sins, or certain denominations. Still others are people who are seeking direction and purpose in their lives, or asking for prayer. Some are hostile to the message of Christianity and want to debate certain points.
Cross-walking cannot be expected to start only one certain kind of conversation, but it does start conversations, and the cross-walker should always be prepared to proclaim the gospel of forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said, "I endeavored to know nothing among you except for Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2)." The cross-walker should be prepared to share the gospel, all other doctrines and objections should be relegated to not being anxious as to what you will say. A great preacher once said, "The gospel is a proclamation, not an argument."
When used at intersections, the cross often causes drivers to park their cars to come speak to the cross-walker. Other times, when used locally, the cross-walker will be asked questions later, such as at work, or the grocery store, by people who recognized him.
Other times at intersections, the cross-walker may never know a conversation was started; sometimes conversations begin between passengers in cars that have seen the cross. Some of the best conversations are seen between children and their parents when the child asks about the cross he sees being held on the side of the road. This leads parents to hopefully work out their own salvation first, and then provide a teaching point for their child. Other times conversations may be started later, as someone seeks out a Christian or pastor to ask about the cross-walker, and why he would be holding a cross.
Cross-walking also starts conversations in public places, such as bar districts and parks. The most common question here is, "Why are you doing this?" The answer is, "I'm hoping it will start conversations." To which the questioner asks, "Has it started any?" At this point the cross-walker has broken the ice to have a conversation to share Jesus Christ.
To Reach the Unreachable
Cross-walking has a distinct advantage over many other methods of ministry, in that the demographic of people is as diverse as a location allows. Festivals, sporting events, and parks tend to attract a certain type of people, malls draw a predictable crowd, churches are filled with an unsurprising populace, but road-ways are filled with every age, ethnicity, religion, and personality.
Certain people will never set foot in a church, nor will ever frequent a place where they may be given a gospel tract or spoken to, but they do drive. Even locked in the privacy and exclusion of their vehicle, they may be confronted on their hell-bound journey just by seeing a cross on the side of the road.
During peak rush-hours, cross-walking also has the opportunity to impart the message of God's justice and mercy into more lives than practically any other ministry option. Television and radio ministries, as well as billboard messages, reach more, but cross-walking provides a personal touch and at practically no cost.
To Confront People in their Sin
The message of the cross, the message of an execution method, points first and foremost to the fact that something is not right in the universe. That men can die, and that they may be put to death by other men, should cause us all to stop and think about the state of the universe, and then about the state of our souls. The message of the cross is that things are desperately broken, but that they are fixable, but only fixable through the work of the Son of God willingly taking on death for his saints so that he would defeat it three days later.
Cross-walking confronts people with this message, that there is salvation available, but that they are helpless to save themselves. "ARE YOU READY" on a cross instinctively causes people to consider their eternity. Some will harden their hearts, while others may genuinely consider the question. It is vital to trust in the Holy Spirit that he is doing precisely the work the Father has called him to do, knowing that "The message of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18)."
The cross-walker ought to be in constant prayer that the Holy Spirit is convicting onlookers of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).
To Encourage Christians
One of the reasons it is so important to realize that cross-walking is not just evangelism, even when an evangelistic message is present, is because it accomplishes many purposes. One of the purposes of cross-walking is to encourage believers who see the cross-walker, openly proclaiming Christ, to be bold in their own opportunities. Every believer should not be expected to cross-walk, but every believer is expect to be salt and light in their world.
The cross-walker hopes to encourage his brothers and sisters in boldness, intentional proclamation, and trust in their Saviour. The cross-walker himself is often encouraged through approving waves and friendly horn-honks.
To Decimate the Pride of the Cross-Walker
Cross-walking is seen by the world, and much of the church, as foolish. It ought to be, it the least likely way to convince someone of the truth of your position. But God has chosen the foolish things in the world to shame the wise, he did so first by giving eternal life through the death of his Son, he continues to do so by using broken and sinful men to propagate the message of his righteousness and love demonstrated on a cross.
To stand with a cross sets a person apart as a Christian, and not just a Christian, but a Christian who trusts in the sovereignty of God and the power of his Word to save souls. A cross-walker feels self-conscious, awkward, and like he is doing nothing to advance the kingdom of Heaven. These feelings do amazing work in the cross-walker, driving him to humility, causing him to exult in his Lord and Saviour, and to recognize that he may plant or water the seed of faith, but unless God causes that seed to grow, nothing will be accomplished.
In doing so, the cross-walker takes up, not just a miniature cross, but the cross Jesus was speaking of when saying, "take up your cross and follow me," and dies to the world, setting his affections on Heaven, carrying the message of eternal life to a lost and dying world, proclaiming the excellencies of him who bled and died but lived again, the only hope of sinners, the way, the truth, and the life.
In the Lord, the Christian's labor is never in vain, therefore consider taking a cross out with you to a public place. Watch God do work through it, both in those who see you, in those you speak to, in those you encourage, and in you as he lifts you up in your humility.
Tony Miano's Explanation of Cross-Walking
Tony Miano's Blog of Cross-Encounters
Order A Cross