In our previous chapter on THE HISTORY OF STREET PREACHERS, we established that PREACHING OUTDOORS, has over the years, been the best way to reach the most people in the shortest time at the least expense. With this chapter we coninue with a discussion of the job itself (as it relates to modern times), and the qualifications and preparation required.
Again, as we refer to STREET PREACHING we want to make it clear what we are and are not referring to. We are not talking about witnessing, as in one-on-one conversations, or passing out tracts. We are talking about REAL PREACHING, as in LIFTING UP YOUR VOICE LIKE A TRUMPET (Isaiah 58:1), or as JESUS CHRIST described it: "FROM THE ROOF TOPS!" (Matt. 10:27) What we are talking about ONE MAN reaching a MULTITUDE by preaching loud enough for dozens or hundreds to hear in an environment where the preacher is not invited or possibly even welcome ! We are also not talking about what might come to mind: a street preacher standing on a street corner yelling into the air with people walking by that he is not communicating to. When we refer to BIBLICAL OPEN AIR PREACHING we are talking about the opportunity of taking GODS Word and proclaiming it to those with an ear to hear, within an often hostile environment, reaching those who will most likely not come to church or Christian meetings. BIBLICAL OPEN AIR PREACHING is in its most useful potential when it is done in the free marketplace of ideas or in direct confrontation at a specific event targeted because of its sin and evil nature. Several years ago 25,000 believers marched on UNIVERSAL STUDIOS when THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST was released. Picture , if you will, crowds of believers like that showing up to protest sin and evil at the annual ACADEMY AWARDS or the EMMYS, or the yearly SODOMITE PARADES. As crowds of CHRISTIANS have targeted ABORTIONS CLINICS with OPERATION RESCUE so other events SHOULD be targeted. These could be PORNO SHOPS, CULT AND OCCULT GATHERINGS (JEHOVAHs witness conventions, etc.), as well as just GOSPEL PREACHING with signs outside any large crowd at SPORTING EVENTS, COLLEGE CAMPUS free speech platforms, etc., etc. This then captures the true SPIRIT AND APPLICATION of what we hope to present and encourage.
It should be noted here that we do not mean to criticize those who witness, pass out tracts, or even "downtown street corner" preachers. Any outreach that is reaching people with the GOSPEL we applaud and support (although many of the "brethren" often criticize this approach). Our intention is to amplify the correct understanding of this work and establish its place within the body of Christ. With the freedom that we have in this country to PROCLAIM CHRIST PUBLICLY in all of these forums, it is a shame and a disgrace that the BODY OF CHRIST is not teaching, training, supporting, and encouraging people to use this freedom. Virtually all churches, BIBLE colleges and seminaries have no instruction in how to do this. There are no books on how to be an open air preacher in your local Christian bookstore. With all the workshops and seminars going on in Christendom today, there are sadly none on this subject, which again is the main method of outreach throughout the BIBLE (Jeremiah 11:6; Proverbs 1:20-21; Matthew 10:27).
So then OPEN AIR PREACHING is the ideal vehicle with which to reach those who have never heard the GOSPEL (2 Cor. 10:16), to present the Kingdom of GOD in open PROTEST OF SIN (Eph. 5:11; Prov. 28:4), and to " EXHORT THE BRETHREN " (Jer. 7:2; John 7:37; Matt. 23).
OPEN AIR PREACHING IS, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, THE MOST BIBLICAL AND EFFECTIVE WAY FOR ONE MAN TO REACH A MULTITUDE IN THE SHORTEST TIME AT THE LEAST EXPENSE.
What exactly are you getting into in this ministry? BIBLICAL PREACHING in a public place unannounced, uninvited, to a crowd that might be hostile to the message, is the truest form of "front line work" that a soldier for JESUS CHRIST can engage in. The man who works in this type of ministry usually finds himself preaching to those without and within the faith. As well, he may find himself being opposed by those without and within the faith (yes, you will find that most of your critics will be of your "brethren") . JEREMIAH , AMOS and the other OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS, as well as JOHN THE BAPTIST and JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF found themselves mostly preaching, not to pagans, but to their "brethren in the Lord," the JEWS, who believed in GOD and the SCRIPTURES, and PRAYED and WORSHIPPED in the Temple. THEIR BIGGEST ENEMIES WERE AARONS SUCCESSORS IN THE PRIESTHOOD THAT WAS ORIGINALLY SET UP BY GOD THROUGH MOSES! (See our previous chapter on Pharaseeism)
The OPEN AIR PREACHER is the POINT MAN for representing GODS TRUTH of all things to the world. As such , his job is often dangerous (the Old Testament prophets and New Testament Apostles almost all met violent deaths). Open air preachers sometimes get attacked, beaten or jailed. This is not a pastime for those seeking popularity. There will possibly be little or no recognition or reward for your labors in this life making this the truest form of A LIFE OF FAITH. The BIBLICAL OPEN AIR PREACHER may typically see NO FRUIT as a result of his labors. In this he is in good company: NOAH, JEREMIAH, EZEKIEL and other BIBLICAL preachers proclaimed their message for years (in Noahs case 120 !!) without one convert ! While an often thankless job on earth, OPEN AIR PREACHING puts you in a position to reap the greatest possible rewards and blessing of GOD. if you do not compromise the vision to become accepted and popular. (Gal. 6:9; 1 Cor. 15:58; Matt. 6:19-20).
This ministry will probably be carried out with little or no SUPPORT (Phil. 4:15; 2 Timothy 4:16). The street preacher must often be self-supporting (both spiritually and financially). JESUS CHRIST was willing to preach the truth, even though it cost Him His following: 5000 left him in one day (John 6), leaving Him with 12, who forsook Him at His arrest. Do you expect to be better able to persuade men than He? PAUL the APOSTLE, in like fashion, was put in the position of tent making to support his work. (He also would not stoop to asking people for support but rather took from the few who had "eyes to see!" 1 Cor. 9)
Not all are suited for this type of ministry. OPEN AIR PREACHING requires the faith and fortitude that most lack. OUTDOOR PREACHING is open to all but GOD has most typically chosen MEN for this work (see 1 Cor. 15:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:;11-15). In addition , due to the time and effort required, a SINGLE MAN is in a much more advantageous position to fulfill these requirements than a married man. (Matt. 19:12; 1 Cor. 7:32-33 ) It is NOT necessary for one to be "noble, mighty or wise" (1 Cor. 1:26): GOD delights in developing those least obvious for such work (see 1 Sam. 22:1-2).
Any who would undertake this mission must possess much faith and attachment to BIBLICAL truth (as opposed to what is "commonly held and "status quo"). He must be willing to devote his life to a mission that many will severely criticize. He must be able to find encouragement in his FAITH and in what GODS WORD CLEARLY SAYS. The conviction that what he is doing is RIGHT , BIBLICAL and THE BEST WAY will be able to sustain him when he is opposed by his brethren, his pastor, the one who led him to the LORD, or even those who would label him a "cult" or "divisive."
The OPEN AIR PREACHER must have a workmanlike knowledge of the BIBLE , the KINGDOM OF GOD and of GODS CHARACTER (Deut. 28:63; Psalm 7:11),. He must have a willingness to spend the time required to gain this faith and knowledge from the SCRIPTURES and a variety of related "secular" subjects. While working in public the preacher is often confronted with objections and questions ranging anywhere from evolution and science to various religions and philosophies. It is advantageous to be able to carry on an intelligent discussion on various subjects, besides having a good BIBLICAL response to all kinds of situations (1 Peter 3:15
PUBLIC, OFTEN CONTRONTATIONAL, OPEN AIR , BIBLICAL PREACHING requires men with a certain type of ATTITUDE, ZEAL and COMMITMENT to prepare for and become what you learn: to run and finish the race that starts with your inability and lack of knowledge, and concludes with a fully functioning DISCIPLE and MAN OF GOD (Luke 9:62). The STREET PREACHER must be COURAGEOUS AND BOLD for as has been described he is often faced with opposition, sin and evil (this strength is developed with time, knowledge, faith and experience). Prov. 28:1; Jer. 1:8,17-19; Acts 4:29,31.
You must be willing to RE-LOCATE to where GOD can use you best. STREET PREACHING was made to reach LARGE CROWDS and is best used WHERE LARGE CROWDS ARE: BIG CITIES. Most preachers in the BIBLE frequented LARGE TOWNS (Jerusalem, Rome, Corinth, Athens, etc.). CITIES are the centers of influence for the nation and the world. They are centers of LEGISLATURE , COMMERCE , RELIGION , EDUCATION, MEDIA, COMMUNICATIONS and TANSPORTATION. These places of great influence are also places of great opportunity. There is much in the metropolis to keep a street preacher busy: rock concerts, sporting events, cult gatherings, occult meetings, parades, awards shows, etc., etc.
As you can see this type of ministry has a hard description and some very tough qualifications. As such we realize that only a few will probably be willing and able to fulfill it. These few however, with "eyes to see and ears to hear", are historically all that God has ever had to work with and as such share a RICH and REWARDING POSITION in HIS KINGDOM !!!!!
What type of preparation is ideal for the OUTDOOR PREACHER? The KNOWLEDGE and FAITH required to do this work will be built concurrently by means of intensive personal BIBLE STUDY. Be prepared to spend 1-2 years building a foundation and workmanlike understanding of GODS WORD as well as a variety of other secular subjects to be able to begin to preach effectively. A BIBLE study method we have developed called "SECTIONING" is very helpful in attaining this goal. It involves a system of TOPICAL STUDY whereby the student personally acquires EVERY VERSE IN THE BIBLE ON ANY GIVEN SUBJECT. All you need is a BIBLE (preferably a KING JAMES version!) , a LOOSELEAF NOTEBOOK, the SPIRIT OF GOD and TIME. As you read through the BIBLE cover to cover, verse by verse you list verses on various topics on separate sheets of paper. For example, if you want a section on CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, have a sheet of paper with "CAPITAL PUNISHMENT" written across the top and whenever you come to a verse that deals with the DEATH PENALTY you write it out on that piece of paper. It would look something like this:
Genesis 9:6 "Whoso sheddeth mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man."
Exodus 21:12 "He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death."
Exodus 21:15 "And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death."
( it is also not necessary to write out the whole verse or context: you can catch the gist of the verse and the reference can be noted if you need to use, quote or write it out later. Example: Lev 20:13-sodomites)
As you continue reading through the BIBLE, every time you come to a verse on CAPITAL PUNISHMENT you turn to that sheet and add the verse to the list. Keep sections like this on any number of subjects and you will have a wealth of material at your fingertips on any topic you want. This comes in handy in many ways. For example, you can give a sermon or Sunday school lesson at a moments notice, or answer a question from a crowd when youre preaching on a college campus, or write letters to people filled with BIBLICAL references on whatever subject you like. Most importantly it will instill in you a confidence and conviction of knowing what you believe and why you believe it that you cannot get anywhere else. The value in this type of study is truly found in the fact that it is all your work: the completed sectioning of the Bible on a particular subject will expose and teach you all that GOD has to say on that subject and so prepare you with HIS mind. There are no shortcuts. Reading a book will not do. Books are written by people who are selectively picking and choosing their material to influence you to their position. You need something that you personally have researched and will stand up under criticism. Also a concordance or a topical BIBLE will not work, for they will not have organized all the topics that you personally need. Some subjects cannot be looked up in a concordance, because to get all the verses on a particular topic may require use of more than one word. For example to make a section on "HEAVEN," you may want to include verses that do not have that particular word in the verse, like verses that mention "paradise," or "Abrahams bosom," or "present with the Lord," etc.
One verse may also be a source of material for several sections. Take JOHN 3:16, for example:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life."
From this one verse you can add to sections on the following subjects: LOVE OF GOD, GODS SON, FAITH, HELL ("perish"), ETERNAL LIFE, SALVATION, UNIVERSAL INVITATION (or ANTI-CALVINISM), etc.
There are many subjects that an open air preacher will need to have firmly planted in his soul to give him confidence in the face of criticism of his METHOD and MESSAGE. Remember: you will be learning things from THE WORD ITSELF, not from status quo Christianity which, like the Jews of Christs time, is heavily influenced by tradition and overt error! You will need, for example, sections on STREET PREACHING, REBUKING, BAD RESPONSE (to the message, for those who question your method, for lack of "fruit" etc.,), HELL, WRATH OF GOD, JUDGMENT DAY, GOD HATES SINNERS NOT JUST SIN (Psalm 5:5, etc.), JUDGING, NAMECALLING, REWARDS, SINGLE FOR GOD, etc., etc.
There are many subjects in the BIBLE that come up while preaching on SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ISSUES. It is handy to have at your fingertips verses on such "secular" issues as: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, ABORTION (UNBORN), POLITICAL MOVEMENTS (Communism,etc.), RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, STRONG MILITARY, FORNICATION, HOMOSEXUALITY, DRUNKENNESS, IDOLATRY (FALSE RELIGION), etc., along with verses to use for MORMONS, MUSLIMS, KRISHNAS, JEHOVAHS WITNESSES, plus EVOLUTION, and different PHILOSOPHIES. It is also helpful to maintain files on these subjects for ready reference and instruction. In future articles we will be dealing with more pertinent subjects that will give you ideas for sections that are essential to the spiritual understanding and faith (Romans 10:17) and that you will need to keep your hand to the plow of this type of ministry.
Once you start this sectioning and filing program (which is good for all to do, not just street preachers) you may continue it the rest of your life as you think of new subjects that are of concern to you. To get a good foundation though, it would be a good idea to list several key subjects (such as the ones we have mentioned here) and have a plan to get through the BIBLE in a year. This would require sectioning 25 chapters a week, which would break down to 3 or 4 chapters a day (or 5 chapters a day, 5 days a week). At the end of a year you will have organized and listed hundreds of verses on dozens of subjects, many of which are never taught in church, BIBLE college, or book or magazine article. Most churches today preach a very watered down message compared to the pure preaching of GODS WORD.
NOTE: WE DO NOT ENCOURAGE STUDY OF GREEK OR HEBREW AS NECESSARY FOR SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING; ALL THAT IS NEEDED IS VERSE-BY-VERSE BIBLE STUDY, IN CONTEXT, WITH A KING JAMES BIBLE (untainted by modern slantings based on the latest religious controversy). THE WAY TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE IS MERELY TO READ IT, LET THE CONTEXT EXPLAIN IT, AND try to DO WHAT IT SAYS (James 1:22)!
As we said before, a single man--lacking the distractions of a wife and family and house payments, etc.--is more suited for this task in many ways: he has more time, less distractions, less espenses, less overhead, more independence. We encourage single men to consider STAYING SINGLE, at least for a time to get this foundation, and keep a simple lifestyle: get a security guard job working nights where you can study the BIBLE, and have days free to PREACH on campuses and other events. (see our previous article on the single "eunuch" lifestyle) This will also make the OPEN AIR PREACHER self-supporting, since, as we have mentioned, he will probably not be supported by the "brethren" (how many churches do you know that have STREET PREACHERS on full-time support???)
All of the above is best accomplished with other brothers who have a similar passion for PREACHING and GOD, especially experienced brothers who have practical knowledge of all these things (Prov. 13:20). Anyone starting out alone is going to have to learn by trial and error, and improve by getting knocked down a few times, and getting back up to continue on (Prov. 24:16). It is possible to perform all this without the aid and encouragement of other brothers, but it is much more difficult. The best situation is to associate with those who have the knowledge , experience and a track record of faithfulness. These brothers, as you will see, are few and far between, but GOD is able to fulfill this requirement as you seek Him.
OPEN AIR PREACHING is a tremendous burden and responsibility. It is also a great source of blessing and reward for those who have what it takes to commit and stick with it through opposition and even persecution. This ministry carries with it a satisfaction and pleasure in doing the job GODS WAY that cannot be experienced any other way! The open air preacher can find opposition and lack of support from even his closest brothers (notice the disputes in the BIBLE between CHRIST and His own apostles, and between the apostles themselves: Gal. 2:11; 2 Tim. 3:12; 4:16). In fulfilling this work he will also have the HONOR of joining the ranks of the TRUE FRONT LINE MEN OF SCRIPTURE ! As we have said this ministry is not one for those who seek acceptance and popularity on earth, but for those who TRULY KNOW AND BELIEVE THE PROMISE OF REWARD AND WISELY PURSUE THE "LAYING UP OF TREASURE IN HEAVEN"!! (Matthew 6;19-20).
Return to Help for Publick Ministers