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"What Is It To Win A Soul?"
By Charles H. Spurgeon
Taken from Faith's Checkbook - An Online Devotional
"Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer. We should each say with Simon Peter, "I go a fishing,' and with Paul our aim should be, 'That I might by all means save some.' We shall commence our discourses upon this subject by considering the question - WHAT IS IT TO WIN A SOUL?
This may be instructively answered by describing what it is not. We do not consider soul-winning to be accomplished by hurriedly inscribing more names upon our church-roll, in order to show a good increase at the end of the year. This is easily done, and there are brethren who use great pains, not to say arts, to effect it; but if it be regarded as the Alpha and Omega of a minister's efforts, the result will be deplorable. By all means let us bring true converts into the church, for it is a part of our work to teach them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded them; but still, this is to be done to disciples, and not to mere professors; and if care be not used, we may do more harm than good at this point.
To introduce unconverted persons to the church, is to weaken and degrade it; and therefore an apparent gain may be a real loss. It is a serious injury to a person to receive him into the number of the faithful unless there is good reason to believe that he is really regenerate. I am sure it is so, for I speak after careful observation. Some of the most glaring sinners known to me were once members of a church; and were, as I believe, led to make a profession by undue pressure, well-meant but ill-judged. Do not, therefore, consider that soul-winning is or can be secured by the multiplication of baptisms, and the swelling of the size of your church."
Thursday, September 1, 2011
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Friday, August 12, 2011
Biblical Open Air Preaching
A Short History of Open-Air Preaching
There are those who say that preaching in the streets was good for Biblical times, but not for today. Here we will do a historical study of open air preaching and its effectiveness throughout Church history. The subject of preaching is to be differentiated from that of "witnessing." The preaching spoken of throughout this history is best defined by Christ himself in Matthew 10:27: things heard and proclaimed from the housetops.
Image: John Wesley Preaching in the Open-Air
Charles Haddon Spurgeon: "It would be very easy to prove that revivals of religion have usually been accompanied, if not caused, by a considerable amount of preaching out of doors, or in unusual places."
STREET PREACHING has spawned major movements and Protestant denominations in the last 2000 years. Time and space will not permit us to give more than a few highlights in this format, but hopefully this information will enlighten those with eyes to see, the power and effectiveness of this bold Biblical, and "consistent with the message" approach (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18).
The Apostles spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire through street preaching, but soon the early church began to see persecution by the Roman Empire. Since public expression of faith in Jesus resulted in death, the Church went underground. When Constantine became emperor Christianity became the official state religion, and there was a decrease in zeal to spread the faith. Then the absolute power that corrupts absolutely corrupted the Church, and it became more of a political organization, losing sight of the self-sacrificing discipleship of the New Testament.
Some attempted to stay on the pure path and questioned the new directions of the "Church," challenging papal authority, infant baptism, and other unbiblical doctrines. These groups however were suppressed by those in authority, and were persecuted by the Bishop of Rome and his followers through the centuries. This faithful line, known by various names (Paulicans, Bogomiles, Cathari, Montanists, Donatists and Albigenses. See "Trail of Blood" by J. M. Carroll.) is traced back to Apostolic times, and are no doubt responsible for a continuation of the narrow path.
Because of intense persecution, public proclamation of the Word of God was virtually non-existent, but as time went on some became very vocal about their displeasure with the papacy. This came from groups within the Catholic Church upset at its growing worldliness, which became "heretics" whose exhortations got them excommunicated.
Below are just a few of the history-changing STREET PREACHERS of the last 20 centuries.
Pre-Cursors to the Protestants
CATHOLIC ORDERS: FRANCISCANS, DOMINICANS.
Though we as Protestants now carry the true form of Biblical faith and understanding concerning GOD and His kingdom, it is noteworthy to see that even within the Catholic church public proclamation of faith took place and is remembered.
The Franciscan Order in the Catholic Church was founded by Francis of Assisi (1182-1226). Francis was son of a wealthy cloth merchant, and spent his youth in pleasure and frolicking until an illness while he was a prisoner of war caused him to reflect on eternity. He later took seriously the commands of Christ to His disciples to sell all and give to the poor, which Francis and his followers did, and received permission from the Pope for their order and "to preach repentance everywhere." According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1909) Francis "usually preached out of doors, in the market-places, from church steps, from the walls of castle courtyards." FRANCIS OF ASSISI WAS A STREET PREACHER!
Many of the early Franciscan preachers were so popular that the churches were not big enough to hold the throngs that came to hear them, so they were forced to preach outside the church in the open air to accommodate the crowds. Some of such popular preachers were Berthold of Regensberg (1220-1272), Anthiony of Padua (1195-1231), and Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444). The fearlessness of these Franciscan friars can be seen in this account of some early Franciscan missionaries to Spain:
"Six brothers were sent to Arab Spain. At first they were politely received, but in Seville they entered a mosque and preached against the Koran.... They were hauled out, beaten, and dragged before the emir. They defied him and reviled Mohammed, that wicked slave of the devil. They were then taken to the top of a tower, whence they shouted down that Mohammed was an imposter. Jailed, they tried to convert the jailer and the other prisoners. Since the authorities could do nothing with them, the missioners were sent to Morocco, where, being still defiant, they were tortured and beheaded...."
Another shining light from the followers of Francis was Raymund Lully (or Ramon Lull, or Raymundus Lullus, 1232-1315). He had a burden to preach to Muslims on their own turf: he wanted to travel to North Africa and evangelize in the streets of a Mohammedan town. His dream came true when he was in his sixties, when he traveled to Bugia in North Africa and "found his way to a public place, stood up boldly, and proclaimed in the Arabic language that Christianity was the only true faith." He was promptly arrested and deported. He returned, however, when he was in his eighties, and "came forth into the open market and presented himself to the people as the same man whom they had once expelled from their town. ... Lull stood before them and threatened them with divine wrath if they still persisted in their errors." This time Raymund Lullus was stoned to death by the mob. He died a martyr, preaching in the streets of a Muslim town, in 1315. FRANCISCANS WERE STREET PREACHERS!
The Dominicans were founded by Dominic (1170-1221), who traveled with Diego and journeyed from town to town conducting open air debates. Some Dominican preachers were again so popular that they had to preach outside the church to accommodate the crowds that came to hear them. Such a Dominican preacher was Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419). DOMINICANS WERE STREET PREACHERS!
Before Luther and the Protestant Reformation came along, the groundwork for their success was laid by several groups that rose within the Catholic Church and questioned papal authority to the point of getting excommunicated. Three such groups arose in France in the 12th century and were started by STREET PREACHERS.
The Henricians were started by Henry of Lausanne (died 1148), the Petrobrussians by Peter de Bruys (died 1126). They worked together denouncing romanist doctrines like infant baptism and transubstantiation (both were eventually condemned as heretics and martyred.). They also rejected Church buildings, and "preached on the streets and in the open places." THE HENRICIANS AND PETROBRUSIANS WERE STREET PREACHERS!"
The Waldenses were started by Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant in Lyons, France in the 12th century. One day he asked a theologian what he should do to gain eternal life. He was answered with the words of Jesus to the rich young ruler, to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow Christ. Waldo took this literally, selling his business, giving away his wealth. Together with his followers, they traveled by twos, preaching in the streets, reading passages of Scripture which they translated themselves into the common language. According to Foxe's Book of Martyrs the Inquisition was originally launched against the Waldenses. THE WALDENSES WERE STREET PREACHERS!
Now we come to John Wycliffe (1330-1384), "the morningstar of the Reformation". Wycliffe was the first to translate the Bible into the English language (from the Vulgate), and the Wycliffe Bible Translators take their name from him. His followers were called Lollards, and traveled throughout England preaching in the streets and marketplaces against the errors of Popery. THE LOLLARDS WERE STREET PREACHERS!
THE PROTESTANT REFORMERS
The early Protestant reformers necessarily had to be outdoor preachers, since, as Spurgeon points out, the churches were in the hands of the papacy. William Farel (1489-1565), who paved the way for John Calvin to come to Switzerland, and has been called "the pioneer of Protestantism in Western Switzerland," was a STREET PREACHER. "He turned every stump and stone into a pulpit, every house, every street, and market-place into a church."
The Presbyterian Church was founded in Scotland by John Knox (1513-1572), who started out as a bodyguard for a STREET PREACHER named George Wishart. After Wishart was martyred in 1546, Knox took over as leader of the reformation. Wishart was not allowed to preach in the churches and so preached in the market-places and fields. John Knox accompanied him on his preaching tours, sword in hand, to protect him from violence." Later, when the Church of England was established in Scotland, Protestant preachers were banned from their pulpits and became field preachers, proclaiming their message in the open air. Some of these Scottish Presbyterian field preachers included Richard Cameron (1648-1680) and Donald Cargill (1619-1681). THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH WAS STARTED BY STREET PREACHERS!
After the Reformation other great movements were started by STREET PREACHERS.
The Methodist Church, co-founded by George Whitefield (1714-1770) and John Wesley (1703-1791) is an example of this period. These two were Anglicans, but being banned from speaking in churches since they were not "licensed," they took to FIELD PREACHING, boldly proclaiming GOD'S WORD to large crowds in streets and markets. Whitefield spoke to estimated crowds of up to 20,000 people in the open air. They traveled throughout England and the American colonies, and were instrumental in the GREAT AWAKENING, a mighty revival that swept the colonies in the eighteenth century. THE METHODIST CHURCH WAS STARTED BY STREET PREACHERS!
George Whitefield stated: "I believe I never was more acceptable to my Master than when I was standing to teach those hearers in the open fields." ... "I now preach to ten times more people than I should, if had been confined to the Churches."
Also from John Wesley: "I am well assured that I did far more good to my Lincolnshire parishioners by preaching three days on my father's tomb than I did by preaching three years in his pulpit." ... "To this day field preaching is a cross to me, but I know my commission and see no other way of preaching the gospel to every creature".
A friend of Whitefield and Wesley's started a great revival in Wales called the Welsh Revival. His name was Howell Harris, and is another example of a man known to be a FIELD PREACHER.
Another great Methodist outdoor preacher at this time was Gideon Ouseley (1762-1839). He traveled on horseback and preached several times a day, without dismounting, in streets, fairs and markets throughout Ireland. Methodists were also instrumental in America's second Great Awakening, typified by outdoor Camp Meetings, started in 1800 by James Mcready, and also featuring the preaching of Peter Cartwright (1785-1872) and Lorenzo Dow (1777-1834).
A great Baptist revival in Scotland was the result of the FIELD PREACHING of Robert (1764-1842) and James (1768-1851) Haldane and Rowland Hill (one of the founders of the Religious Tract Society, and an early advocate of vaccination). They were Anglicans, but converted to Baptists when the established Church forbade their field preaching. Robert and James left their business and sold their estate to devote their time to preaching the Gospel.
MODERN MISSIONS MOVEMENT
The first modern Protestant missionary society was started by William Carey (1761-1834), the first missionary to India. Carey had little education, but taught himself science and languages. He translated the Bible into 11 languages. He went to India and started by preaching to large crowds that gathered in the streets of the brothel district. One of his converts was a young British sailor named Robert Flockhart (1778-1857), who went back to the British Isles and preached in the streets of Edinburgh for 43 years until his death. One of Carey's associates, Mr. Chamberlain would go to the Ganges river where Hindus gathered, and start an argument with one of the Brahmins. When the argument drew a crowd, he would preach to the assembled Hindus. THE MODERN MISSIONS MOVEMENT WAS STARTED BY STREET PREACHERS!
Other famous preachers started their ministries by preaching in the streets, such as C.H. Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, and Billy Graham. Spurgeon began preaching in the streets of London at the age of 16, which he continued until he became pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle at 19.
Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) was a well known preacher in the Chicago area. The Moody Bible Institute bears his name. "One of his regular practices in the late sixties was to exhort the passersby in the evenings from the steps of the court house. Often these impromptu gathering drew as many hecklers as supporters." MOODY WAS A STREET PREACHER!
It is well known that The Salvation Army started out doing a lot of STREET PREACHING!
Coming to Modern Times there is a remnant today of those who still carry on the mission of STREET PREACHING. A particular aspect of open air preaching is utilization of the Free Speech Platforms on College and University Campuses. Cal State Berkeley was ablaze with Bible preaching in the 1960s by Hubert Lindsey (also known as "Holy Hubert" to those turbulent times). Today others follow in his footsteps.
In addition to those we have mentioned, we are sure GOD's judgment will reveal many untold stories of men who have been faithful to this most obvious work. Though little recognition and support has been historically given to such men, the Father will accord them their true glory and reward.
We have only scratched the surface concerning the impact that STREET PREACHERS have had on the world. As this information is neglected in today's churches, it is our hope that by remembering and publicizing this history, hearts and minds will be inspired to see the timelessness and power of this simple approach. STREET PREACHING is the most powerful tool for reaching the world, not only throughout Biblical times, but also in every age of history. We believe that in today's critical times the Church of Jesus Christ needs more than ever to revive this proven ministry.
As Charles Spurgeon testified:
"No sort of defense is needed for preaching out of doors, but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meeting-house. A defense is required for services within buildings than for worship outside of them."
What then is PREACHING? According to Noah Webster, "Preach" come from a Latin word meaning to "proclaim publicly… a sermon urging acceptance or abandonment of an idea or course of action , specifically in an earnestly tiresome and officious manner." "Officious" it seems is the key word in much of what is BIBLICAL preaching. The Prophets through Christ and the New Testament church told it like it was and paid the price for their boldness and "officious" manner; as it continues to be defined: "volunteering one’s services where they are not asked for or wanted; meddlesome" and "high-handed."
As we have outlined, PREACHING today is narrowly defined and misunderstood to the exclusion of the above definition. It typically refers to invited people, invited speakers, and scheduled services. BIBLICAL PREACHING, however, conforms to the above definition, and is often to hostile crowds outside "religious" services...to those who would seek to even kill the messenger.
The Old Testament
The Old Testament is rich with accounts of PUBLIC PREACHING.
"Wisdom CRIETH WITHOUT; she uttereth her voice IN THE STREETS: SHE CRIETH IN THE CHIEF PLACE OF CONCOURSE, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words…" (Proverbs 1:20-21).
"CRIETH" means shouting out loud. "WITHOUT" means outside. "CHIEF PLACE OF CONCOURSE" means where the biggest crowds are.
"Doth not wisdom CRY? And understanding PUT FORTH HER VOICE? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors." (Proverbs 8:1-3).
Old testament prophets often PREACHED at the GATES of the city. The gates were the busiest place in town. The cities in Bible times were surrounded by walls for protection, and all traffic in and out of the city went through the gate. It was the place to be to get a message to all visitors (Genesis 19:1) as well as the citizens (going in and out to work in the fields), and the king and all dignitaries. All kinds of activity took place at the gates:
Business transactions (Genesis 23:10ff; II Kings 7:1)
Community meetings/ "city hall" (Genesis 34:20ff; II Samuel 19:8; Proverbs 31:23; Lam. 5:14)
Legal decisions/court (Deut. 22:15ff; 25:7; Ruth 4:1; II Sam. 15:2; Amos 5:15; Zech 8:16)
Public executions ( Deuteronomy 22:24)
Public mourning (II Samuel 18:33)
Daily chores (II Samuel 23:15; I Kings 17:10)
Religious meetings/idolatry (I Kings 22:10; II Kings 23:8; II Chronicles 18:9; Acts 14:13)
The poor (Psa. 69:12; Proverbs 22:22; Amos 5:12)
These then are some of the things that took place at the gates. A man PREACHING at the gate would not only reach large crowds, but also have an IMPACT on and a direct outreach to such varied arenas as: the business community, court decisions, idolatrous meetings, soldiers, government, etc., etc.
AMOS WAS A STREET PREACHER!
"They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly. (Amos 5:10)
ISAIAH WAS A STREET PREACHER!
They "lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate…" (Isaiah 29:21)
JEREMIAH WAS A STREET PREACHER!
"Thus said the Lord unto me, Go and stand in the GATE of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the GATES of Jerusalem; and say unto them, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem that enter in by these gates: Thus saith the Lord…" (Jeremiah 17:19-20)
"The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Stand in the GATE of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord. (Jeremiah 7:1-2)
An interesting point about these men is that most of them spent most of their time not reaching those in other countries, or the most reprobate sinners, but God’s "chosen people," who had the Bible, as they entered the house of God to worship the LORD!
"Thus saith the Lord; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah…and thy people that enter in by these GATES." (Jeremiah 22:1-2)
"Then read Baruch in the book of the words of Jeremiah in the house of the Lord…at the entry of the new GATE of the Lord’s house, in the ears of all the people." (Jeremiah 36:10)
The PROPHETS of GOD in the Old Testament did not use "low-key," "subtle" (see Genesis 3:1) approaches, such as literature tables, passing out tracts, invitations to religious meetings, traveling Gospel singing teams, etc., etc.
These things have some limited value, but again, what is the MAIN method of outreach in the BIBLE? What is the most effective way to reach the most people at the least expense? What is the method that most ACCURATELY REFLECTS THE REAL CHARACTER OF GOD? What is the method that is most consistent with the message of Heaven or HELL? What is the one method that receives the least amount of teaching, encouragement and promotion?
"Then the Lord said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the STREETS of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them." (Jeremiah 11:6)
"The word of the Lord came to me, saying, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord…" (Jeremiah 2:1-2)
"CRY ALOUD; SPARE NOT; LIFT UP THY VOICE LIKE A TRUMPET, AND SHOW MY PEOPLE THEIR TRANSGRESSIONS AND THE HOUSE OF JACOB THEIR SINS." (Isaiah 58:1)
In JUDGES 9:7 when Jotham had a message to get to a crowd of people in Shechem (who wanted to kill him), how did he do it? Not with literature, or invitations to religious services, or any other "subtle" methods.
"Jotham went and stood in the top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and CRIED, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you." (Judges 9:7)
Jotham found a safe place from which they could all hear him, and LIFTED UP HIS VOICE. Jotham was an open air preacher (ca. 1300 B.C.)
The best example in the OLD TESTAMENT of a foreign missionary is JONAH. GOD sent him to warn Nineveh. Did he rent a hall and invite people to come to a scheduled meeting, enticing them with "special music" and Gospel entertainment? No. Jonah was charged to preach to Nineveh (as we are to the world!), not only to those who would attend his meeting, but to the whole city. The BIBLE says Nineveh was "an exceeding great city of three days journey" (Jonah 3:3); i.e., it took 3 days just to walk around it. Diodorus confirms that Nineveh was 60 miles in circumference (Herodotus records that a day’s journey was 20 miles). Jonah 3:4 says "Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he CRIED, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Jonah went "a day’s journey" into Nineveh, a city of 3 day’s journey, and CRIED. He was PREACHING as he was walking, i.e. OUTDOORS. Jonah was a STREET PREACHER, walking the streets as he preached his message of judgment and truth..
What About the New Testament?
With the subject firmly established within the largely Hebrew mission in the Old Testament, and it's mostly limited focus in the Middle East, we now turn our attention to the New Testament. Beginning with John and moving to our commission to the whole world we are instructed in Mark 16:15,
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel TO EVERY CREATURE."
Our job is to PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE IN THE WORLD. Simple logic will show the best way to accomplish this is to find where the most "creatures" are in one place at one time and proclaim the message loud enough for them all to hear.
"Whom we preach, WARNING EVERY MAN and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in CHRIST JESUS." (Colossians 1:28)
The first PREACHER in the NEW TESTAMENT was JOHN THE BAPTIST. Once again, his preaching was lacking comfortable buildings, music, entertainment, etc. John was an OPEN AIR PREACHER:
"In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, REPENT YE, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:1-2; see also Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3)
Matthew says Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan came out to hear John preaching (Matthew 3:5-6). John was baptizing in the river Jordan. Jews who traveled back and forth to Galilee refused to take the direct route through Samaria (John 4:9), but rather went to the Jordan River and followed it up to and from Galilee, so John picked out a place to preach repentance and baptize at a place of heavy traffic, with large crowds.
With the Biblical emphasis of PREACHING TO CROWDS, there is not much "one-on-one witnessing" talked about in Scripture. In today's Church however, there is alot of training and promotion of witnessing. In Sunday School, Bible colleges, seminaries, workshops and books there is heavy emphasis on this approach.
The personal witnessing experiences of JESUS CHRIST get a lot of attention, as well they should, but in the 4 Gospels, covering 2-3 years of CHRIST’s ministry, we find only about THREE cases of personal witnessing: Nicodemus, the woman at the well, and Zaccheus. The Gospels spend much more time pointing out CHRIST’S dealings with "MULTITUDES:" Matthew 4:25; 5:1; 8:1; 18; 12:15; 13:2,34; 14:14; 15:10,30-35,39; 17:14; 19:2; 21:8,11. (Also notable is that Jesus’ one-on-one situations usually came out of these "multitude" situations).
Jesus was with a large crowd when He looked up and saw Zaccheus, and invited him to come down (Luke 19:1-5). And He was in Jerusalem, crowded with Jews from all over the world for the Passover, where He drove the moneychangers out of the temple and preached, "Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise," and after causing that little stir, Nicodemus came to Him by night (John 2:13-3:1). En route back to His home in Galilee after that incident He stopped and exposed the secret sins of the woman at the well (John 4).
JESUS’ most famous sermons were delivered OUTDOORS. For example, the sermon ON THE MOUNT (Matthew 5,6,7). In Luke 6:17 he preached to a "great multitude" in "the plain" (outdoors). The "Olivet discourse" (Matthew 24) was delivered on the Mount of Olives (outdoors). In Matthew 13 His well known parables were preached to "great multitudes" by "the sea side" (JESUS was a "beach preacher"). He sat in a boat and taught the multitude on the shore.
Just to be clear, we are not saying to stop the work of witnessing : we do it and we encourage it! Again, our interest is given to the MAIN method of outreach found in the Scriptures: open air preaching.
The four Gospels are often described as John and the " three synoptic Gospels," meaning Matthew, Mark, and Luke are similar to each other, yet not much information in John is found in the "synoptics." The reason for this is simple: Matthew, Mark, and Luke devote most of their attention to Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, where He lived most of the time. But several times a year, all the Jews in the world would go to Jerusalem for the Feasts (see Exodus 23:14,17). Christ would go to Jerusalem and PREACH to these large crowds gathered there. Everything in JOHN is concerned with these trips of Jesus to Jerusalem during these feasts. The PASSOVER is mentioned in John 2:13; 6:4; and 12:1. The feast of TABERNACLES is mentioned in John 7:2. Another feast is mentioned in John 5:1. HANUKKAH is mentioned in John 10:22. JESUS CHRIST came to Jerusalem to cleanse the Temple (at least twice, John 2; Matthew 21, Mark 11and Luke19), and PREACH TO THE MULTITUDES.
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and CRIED, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." (John 7:37).
JESUS commanded His apostles:
"What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light, and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops." (Matthew 10:27)
His apostles carried this out in the book of Acts. On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), we find one of the greatest examples of STREET PREACHING of all time. The charismatic read Acts 2, see tongues, and say: We need to speak in tongues like they did in Acts 2. Some fundamentalists read Acts 2 and see 3000 added to the church in one day, and they say: We need to have large church growth like they did in Acts 2. What is missing is the recognition of the delivery and method of STREET PREACHING found in Acts 2,. TONGUES drew a crowd, Peter preached REPENTANCE (Acts 2:38), and the church grew.
It is notable that preaching repentance involves the whole counsel of GOD. In addition to the Gospel, CHRIST preached "THE Kingdom of GOD." This involves the whole of GOD’s character and all instruction on all subjects found in SCRIPTURE.
"Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore DISPUTED he in the …market daily…(Acts 17:17)
Yes, the apostles’ evangelism often involved "DISPUTING" and judgment, not just preaching GOD’s love (see Acts 6:9; 9:22,29; 11:2; 15:2,7; 17:2; 18:19,28; 19:8,9; 28:23; see also Neh. 13:11; 17,25; Proverbs 28:4; Ephesians 5:11; I Thessalonians 2:2; Jude 3,9; see also examples in Matthew 22; John 7,8).
Why the market? Crowds! The apostles wanted to get the Gospel to the most people at one time, so they went to the markets where crowds gathered, and disputed, preaching the kingdom and wisdom of GOD in the open air.
In Conclusion We See:
MODERN methods are:
Limited to reaching a few of the many who we are commanded to reach
Time and labor intensive
Deceiving, in that they have a great show of power, when in fact they are weak.
BIBLICAL methods are: Inexpensive
Strong and in line with the power and content of the message (Heaven and Hell!)
Able to provide place for the defense and explanation of all BIBLICAL matters (see Paul at Mars’ hill; Acts 17)
Able to provide for rebuke, exhortation and warning to all people and situations as required, Ezek. 3:15-21 (Watchmen!)
Time and labor efficient
Wise with the wisdom of GOD
Public, open air preaching of the Gospel and the Kingdom of GOD is imperative for the fulfillment of the GREAT COMMISSION. With the help of GOD available, this is an attainable goal within each of your groups, fellowships, and Churches. It is not unreasonable to think that of every 50 or so believers, ONE could do this work. When you add them up, a city the size of Los Angeles would net at least 500 to 600 men to shoulder the plow in this untouched field. The impact of such a group would be immediate and powerful: from the simple Gospel to the public rebuke of evil, GOD’s mind and will would be shown to all.
"He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." (2 Corinthians 9:6)
Thursday, August 11, 2011
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011
A SKETCH OF ITS HISTORY AND REMARKS THEREON
By Charles H. Spurgeon
THERE ARE some customs for which nothing can be pleaded, except that they are very old. In such cases antiquity is of no more value than the rust upon a counterfeit coin. It is, however, a happy circumstance when the usage of ages can be pleaded for a really good and Scriptural practice, for it invests it with a halo of reverence. Now, it can be argued, with small fear of refutation, that openair preaching is as old as preaching itself. We are at full liberty to believe that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, when he prophesied, asked for no better pulpit than the hillside, and that Noah, as a preacher of righteousness, was willing to reason with his contemporaries in the shipyard wherein his marvelous ark was builded.
Certainly, Moses and Joshua found their most convenient place for addressing vast assemblies beneath the unpillared arch of heaven. Samuel closed a sermon in the field of Gilgal amid thunder and rain, by which the Lord rebuked the people and drove them to their knees. Elijah stood on Carmel, and challenged the vacillating nation with "How long halt ye between two opinions?"
Jonah, whose spirit was somewhat similar, lifted up his cry of warning in the streets of Nineveh, and in all her places of concourse gave forth the warning utterance, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" To hear Ezra and Nehemiah "all the people gathered themselves to "ether as one man into the street that was before the water gate." Indeed, we find examples of open-air preaching everywhere around us in the records of the Old Testament.
It may suffice us, however, to go back as far as the origin of our own holy faith, and there we hear the forerunner of the Saviour crying in the wilderness and lifting up his voice from the river's bank. Our Lord Himself, who is yet more our pattern, delivered the larger portion of His sermons on the mountain's side, or by the seashore, or in the streets. Our Lord was to all intents and purposes an openair preacher. He did not remain silent in the synagogue, but He was equally at home in the field. We have no discourse of His on record delivered in the chapel royal, but we have the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon in the Plain; so that the very earliest and most divine kind of preaching was practiced out-of-doors by Him who spake as never man spake.
There were gatherings of His disciples after His decease, within walls, especially that in the upper room; but the preaching was even then most frequently in the court of the Temple, or in such other open spaces as were available. The notion of holy places and consecrated meetinghouses had not occurred to them as Christians; they preached in the Temple, or in such other open spaces as were available. but with equal earnestness "in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."
It would be very easy to prove that revivals of religion have usually been accompanied, if not caused, by a considerable amount of preaching out-of-doors, or in unusual places. The first avowed preaching of Protestant doctrine was almost necessarily in the open air, or in buildings which were not dedicated to worship, for these were in the hands of the papacy. True, Wycliffe for a while preached the Gospel in the church at Lutterworth; Huss and Jerome and Savonarola for a time delivered semi-Gospel addresses in connection with the ecclesiastical arrangements around them; but when they began more fully to know and proclaim the Gospel, they were driven to find other platforms.
The Reformation when yet a babe was like the new-born Christ, and had not where to lay its head, but a company of men comparable to the heavenly host proclaimed it under the open heavens, where shepherds and common people heard them gladly. Throughout England we have several trees remaining called "gospel oaks." There is one spot on the other side of the Thames known by the name of "Gospel Oak," and I have myself preached at Addlestone, in Surrey, under the far-spreading boughs of an ancient oak, beneath which John Knox is said to have proclaimed the Gospel during his sojourn in England. Full many a wild moor and lone hillside and secret spot in the forest have been consecrated in the same fashion, and traditions still linger over caves and dells and hilltops where of old time the bands of the faithful met to hear the Word of the Lord.
It would be an interesting task to prepare a volume of notable facts connected with open-air preaching, or, better still, a consecutive history of it. I have no time for even a complete outline, but would simply ask you, where would the Reformation have been if its great preachers had confined themselves to churches and cathedrals ? How would the common people have become indoctrinated with the Gospel had it not been for those far-wandering evangelists, the colporteurs, and those daring innovators who found a pulpit on every heap of stones, and an audience chamber in every open space near the abodes of men?
All through the Puritan times there were gatherings in all sorts of out-of-the-way places, for fear of persecutors. "We took," says Archbishop Laud, in a letter dated Fulham, June, 1632, "another conventicle of separatists in Newington Woods, in the very brake where the king's stag was to be lodged, for his hunting next morning." A hollow or gravelpit on Hounslow Heath sometimes served as a conventicle, and there is a dell near Hitchin where John Bunyan was wont to preach in perilous times. All over Scotland the straths and dells and vales and hillsides are full of covenanting memories to this day. You will not fail to meet with rock pulpits whence the stern fathers of the Presbyterian church thundered forth their denunciations of Erastianism, and pleaded the claims of the King of kings. Cargill and Cameron and their fellows found congenial scenes for their brave ministries amid the mountains' lone rents and ravines.
What the world would have been if there had not been preaching outside of walls, and beneath a more glorious roof than these rafters of fir, I am sure I cannot guess. It was a brave day for England when Whitefield began field-preaching. When Wesley stood and preached a sermon on his father's grave, at Epworth, because the parish priest would not allow him admission within the (so-called) sacred edifice, Mr. Wesley writes: "I am well assured that I did far more good to my Lincolnshire parishioners by preaching three days on my father's tomb than I did by preaching three years in his pulpit."
Wesley writes in his journal, "Saturday, 31 March, 1731. In the evening I reached Bristol, and met Mr. Whitefield there. I could scarce reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of which he set me an example on Sunday; having been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin, if it had not been done in a church." Such were the feelings of a man who in after life became one of the greatest open-air preachers that ever lived!
Once recommenced, the fruitful agency of field-preaching was not allowed to cease. Amid jeering crowds and showers of rotten eggs and filth, the immediate followers of the two great Methodists continued to storm village after village and town after town. Very varied w ere their adventures, but their success was generally great. One smiles often when reading incidents in their labors. A string of pack horses is so driven as to break up a congregation, and a fire engine is brought out and played over the throng to achieve the same purpose. Hand-bells, old kettles, marrowbones and cleavers, trumpets, drums, and entire bands of music were engaged to drown the preachers' voices.
In one case the parish bull was let loose, and in others dogs were set to fight. The preachers needed to have faces set like flints, and so indeed they had. John Furz says: "As soon as I began to preach, a man came straight forward, and presented a gun at my face; swearing that he would blow my brains out, if I spake another word. However, I continued speaking, and he continued swearing, sometimes putting the muzzle of the gun to my mouth, sometimes against my ear. While we were singing the last hymn, he got behind me, fired the gun, and burned off part of my hair.
After this, my brethren, we ought never to speak of petty interruptions or annoyances. The proximity of a blunderbuss in the hands of a son of Belial is not very conducive to collected thought and clear utterance, but the experience of Furz was probably no worse than that of John Nelson, who coolly says, "But when I was in the middle of my discourse, one at the ouside of the congregation threw a stone, which cut me on the head: however that made the people give greater attention, especially when they saw the blood run down my face; so that all was quiet till I had done, and was singing a hymn."
I have no time further to illustrate my subject by descriptions of the work of Christmas Evans and others in Wales, or of the Haldanes in Scotland, or even of Rowland Hill and his brethren in England. If you wish to pursue the subject these names may serve as hints for discovering abundant material; and I may add to the list The Life of Dr. Guthrie, in which he records notable open-air assemblies at the time of the Disruption, when as yet the Free Church had no places of worship built with human hands.
I must linger a moment over Robert Flockhart of Edinburgh, who, though a lesser light, was a constant one, and a fit example to the bulk of Christ's street witnesses. Every evening, in all weathers and amid many persecutions, did this brave man continue to speak in the street for forty-three years. Think of that, and never be discouraged. When he was tottering to the grave the old soldier was still at his post. "Compassion to the souls of men drove me," said he, "to the streets and lanes of my native city, to plead with sinners and persuade them to come to Jesus. The love of Christ constrained me."
Neither the hostility of the police, nor the insults of papists, Unitarians, and the like could move him; he rebuked error in the plainest terms, and preached salvation by grace with all his might. So lately has he passed away that Edinburgh remembers him still. There is room for such in all our cities and towns, and need for hundreds of his noble order in this huge nation of London—can I call it less?
No sort of defense is needed for preaching out-of-doors; but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meetinghouse. A defense is required rather for services within buildings than for worship outside of them. Apologies are certainly wanted for architects who pile up brick and stone into the skies when there is so much need for preaching rooms among poor sinners down below. Defense is greatly needed for forests of stone pillars, which prevent the preacher from being seen and his voice from being heard; for high-pitched Gothic roofs in which all sound is lost, and men are killed by being compelled to shout till they burst their blood-vessels; and also for the willful creation of echoes by exposing hard, sound-refracting surfaces to satisfy the demands of art, to the total overlooking of the comfort of both audience and speaker.
Surely also some decent excuse is badly wanted for those childish people who must needs waste money in placing hobgoblins and monsters on the outside of their preaching houses, and must have other ridiculous pieces of popery stuck up both inside and outside, to deface rather than to adorn their churches and chapels: but no defense whatever is wanted for using the Heavenly Father's vast audience chamber, which is in every way so well fitted for the proclamation of a Gospel so free, so full, so expansive, so sublime.
The great benefit of open-air preaching is that we get so many newcomers to hear the Gospel who otherwise would never hear it. The Gospel command is, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," but it is so little obeyed that one would imagine that it ran thus, "Go into your own place of worship and preach the Gospel to the few creatures who will come inside." "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in"— albeit it constitutes part of a parable, is worthy to be taken very literally, and in so doing its meaning will be best carried out.
We ought actually to go into the streets and lanes and highways, for there are lurkers in the hedges, tramps on the highways, street-walkers and lane-haunters, whom we shall never reach unless we pursue them into their own domains. Sportsmen must not stop at home and wait for the birds to come and be shot at, neither must fishermen throw their nets inside their boats and hope to take many fish. Traders go to the markets; they follow their customers and go out after business if it will not come to them; and so must we. Some of our brethren are prosing on and on to empty pews and musty hassocks, while they might be conferring lasting benefit upon hundreds by quitting the old walls for a while, and seeking living stones for Jesus.
I am quite sure, too, that if we could persuade our friends in the country to come out a good many times in the year and hold a service in a meadow, or in a shady grove, or on the hillside, or in a garden, or on a common, it would be all the ketter f or the usual hearers. The mere novelty of the place would freshen their interest, and wake them up. The slight change of scene would have a wonderful effect upon the more somnolent. See how mechanically they move into their usual place of worship, and how mechanically they go out again. They fall into their seats as if at last they had found a resting place; they rise to sing with an amazing effort, and they drop down before you have time for the doxology at the close of the hymn because they did not notice it was coming.
What logs some regular hearers are! Many of them are asleep with their eyes open. After sitting a certain number of years in the same old spot, where the pews, pulpit, galleries, and all things else are always the same, except that they get a little dirtier and dingier every week, where everybody occupies the same position forever and forevermore, and the minister's face, voice, tone are much the same from January to December -you get to feel the holy quiet of the scene and listen to what is going on as though it were addressed to "the dull cold ear of Death."
As a miller hears his wheels as though he did not hear them, or a stoker scarcely notices the clatter of his engine after enduring it for a little time, or as a dweller in London never notices the ceaseless grind of the traffic; so do many members of our congregations become insensible to the most earnest addresses, and accept them as a matter of course. The preaching and the rest of it get to be so usual that they might as well not be at all. Hence a change of place might be useful; it might prevent monotony, shake up indifference, suggest thought, and in a thousand ways promote attention and give new hope of doing good. A great fire which should burn some of our chapels to the ground might not be the greatest calamity which has ever occurred, if it only aroused some of those rivals of the seven sleepers of Ephesus who will never be moved so long as the old house and the old pews hold together.
Besides, the fresh air and plenty of it is a grand thing for every mortal man, woman and child. I preached in Scotland twice on a Sabbath day at Blairmore, on a little height by the side of the sea, and after discoursing with all my might to large congregations, to be counted by thousands, I did not feel onehalf so much exhausted as I often am when addressing a few hundreds in some horrible black hole of Calcutta, called a chapel. I trace my freshness and freedom from lassitude at Blairmore to the fact that the windows could not be shut down by persons afraid of drafts, and that the roof was as high as the heavens are above the earth. My conviction is that a man could preach three or four times on a Sabbath out-of-doors with less fatigue than would be occasioned by one discourse delivered in an impure atmosphere, heated and poisoned by human breath, and carefully preserved from every refreshing infusion of natural air.
I once preached a sermon in the open air in haying time during a violent storm of rain. The text was, "He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth," and surely we had the blessing as well as the inconvenience. I was sufficiently wet, and my congregation must have been drenched, but they stood it out, and I never heard that anybody was the worse in health, though, I thank God, I have heard of souls brought to Jesus under that discourse. Once in a while, and under strong excitement, such things do no one any harm, but we are not to expect miracles, nor wantonly venture upon a course of procedure which might kill the sickly and lay the foundations of disease in the strong.
Do not try to preach against the wind, for it is an idle attempt. You may hurl your voice a short distance by an amazing effort, but you cannot be well heard even by the few. I do not often advise you to consider which way the wind blows, but on this occasion I urge you to do it, or you will labor in vain. Preach so that the wind carries your voice toward the people, and does not blow it down your throat, or you will have to eat your own words.
There is no telling how far a man may be heard with the wind. In certain atmospheres and climates, as for instance in that of Palestine, persons might be heard for several miles; and single sentences of wellknown speech may in England be recognized a long way off, but I should gravely doubt a man if he asserted that he understood a new sentence beyond the distance of a mile. Whitefield is reported to have been heard a mile, and I have been myself assured that I was heard for that distance, but I am somewhat skeptical. Half a mile is surely enough, even with the wind, but you must make sure of that to be heard at all.
Heroes of the Cross -here is a field for you more glorious than the Cid ever beheld when with his brave right arm he smote the paynim hosts. "Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?" Who will enable us to win these slums and dens for Jesus ? Who can do it but the Lord? Soldiers of Christ who venture into these regions must expect a revival of the practices of the good old times, so far as brickbats are concerned, and I have known a flowerpot to fall accidentally from an upper window in a remarkably slanting direction. Still, if we are born to be drowned we shall not be killed by flowerpots.
Under such treatment it may be refreshing to read what Christopher Hopper wrote under similar conditions more than a hundred years ago. "I did not much regard a little dirt, a few rotten eggs, the sound of a cow's horn, the noise of bells, or a few snowballs in their season; but sometimes I was saluted with blows, stones, brickbats, and bludgeons. These I did not well like: they were not pleasing to flesh and blood. I sometimes lost a little skin, and once a little blood, which was drawn from my forehead with a sharp stone. I wore a patch for a few days, and was not ashamed; I gloried in the cross. And when my small sufferings abounded for the sake of Christ, my comfort abounded much more. I never was more happy in my own soul, or blessed in my labors."
I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother's being locked up by the police, for it does him good, and it does the people good also. It is a fine sight to see the minister of the Gospel marched off by the servant of the law! It excites sympathy for him, and the next step is sympathy for his message. Many who felt no interest in him before are eager to hear him when he is ordered to 1eave off, and still more so when he is taken to the station. The vilest of mankind respect a man who gets into trouble in order to do them good, and if they see unfair opposition excited they grow quite zealous in the man's defense.
As to style in preaching out-of-doors, it should certainly be very different from much of that which prevails within, and perhaps if a speaker were to acquire a style fully adapted to a street audience, he would be wise to bring it indoors with him. A great deal of sermonizing may be defined as saying nothing at extreme length; but out-of-doors verbosity is not admired; you must say something and have done with it and go on to say something more, or your hearers will let you know.
"Now then," cries a street critic, "let us have it, old fellow." Or else the observation is made, "Now then, pitch it out! You'd better go home and learn your lesson." "Cut It short, old boy," is a very common admonition, and I wish the presenters of this advice gratis could let it be heard inside Ebenezer and Zoar and some other places sacred to long-winded orations. Where these outspoken criticisms are not employed, the hearers rebuke prosiness by quietly walking away. Very unpleasant this, to find your congregation dispersing, but a very plain intimation that your ideas are also much dispersed.
In the street, a man must keep himself alive, and use many illustrations and anecdotes, and sprinkle a quaint remark here and there. To dwell long on a point will never do. Reasoning must be brief, clear, and soon done with. The discourse must not be labored or involved, neither must the second head depend upon the first, for the audience is a changing one, and each point must be complete in itself. The chain of thought must be taken to pieces' and each link melted down and turned into bullets: you will need not so much Saladin's saber to cut through a muslin handkerchief as Coeur de Lion's battle-axe to break a bar of iron. Come to the point at once, and come there with all your might.
Short sentences of words and short passages of thought are needed for out-of-doors. Long paragraphs and long arguments had better be reserved for other occasions. In quiet country crowds there is much force in an eloquent silence, now and then interjected; it gives people time to breathe, and also to reflect. Do not, however, attempt this in a London street; you must go ahead, or someone else may run off with your congregation. In a regular field sermon pauses are very effective, and are useful in several ways, both to speaker and listeners, but to a passing company who are not inclined for anything like worship, quick, short, sharp address is most adapted.
In the streets a man must from beginning to end be intense, and for that very reason he must be condensed and concentrated in his thought and utterance. It would never do to begin by saying, "My text, dear friends, is a passage from the inspired Word, containing doctrines of the utmost importance, and bringing before us in the clearest manner the most valuable practical instruction. I invite your careful attention and the exercise of your most candid judgment while we consider it under various aspects and place it in different lights, in order that we may be able to perceive its position in the analogy of the faith. In its exegesis we shall find an arena for the cultured intellect, and the refined sensibilities. As the purling brook meanders among the meads and fertilizes the pastures, so a stream of sacred truth flows through the remarkable words which now lie before us. It will be well for us to divert the crystal current to the reservoir of our meditation, that we may quaff the cup of wisdom with the lips of satisfaction."
There, gentlemen, is not that rather above the average of word-spinning, and is not the art very generally in vogue in these days? If you go out to the obelisk in Blackfriars Road, and talk in that fashion, you will be saluted with "Go on, old buffer," or "Ain't he fine? My eye!" A very vulgar youth will cry, "What a mouth for a tater!" and another will shout in a tone of mock solemnity, "Amen!" If you give them chaff they will cheerfully return it into your own bosom. Good measure, pressed down and running over will they mete out to you. Shams and shows will have no mercy from a street gathering.
But have something to say, look them in the face, say what you mean, put it plainly, boldly, earnestly, courteously, and they will hear you. Never speak against time or for the sake of hearing your own voice, or you will obtain some information about your personal appearance or manner of oratory which will probably be more true than pleasing. "Crikey," says one, "wouldn't he do for an undertaker! He'd make 'em weep." This was a compliment paid to a melancholy brother whose tone is peculiarly funereal. "There, old fellow," said a critic on another occasion, "you go and wet your whistle. You must feel awfully dry after jawing away at that rate about nothing at all." This also was specially appropriate to a very heavy brother of whom we had aforetime remarked that he would make a good martyr, for there was no doubt of his burning well, he was so dry.
It will be very desirable to speak so as to be heard, but there is no use in incessant bawling. The best street preaching is not that which is done at the top of your voice, for it must be impossible to lay the proper emphasis upon telling passages when all along you are shouting with all your might. When there are no hearers near you, and yet people stand upon the other side of the road and listen, would it not be well to cross over and so save a little of the strength which is now wasted?
A quiet, penetrating, conversational style would seem to be the most telling. Men do not bawl and halloa when they are pleading in deepest earnestness; they have generally at such times less wind and a little more rain: less rant and a few more tears. On, on, on with one monotonous shout and you will weary everybody and wear out yourself. Be wise now, therefore, O ye who would succeed in declaring your Master's message among the multitude, and use your voices as common sense would dictate.
In a tract published by that excellent society "The Open-Air Mission," I notice the following:
QUALIFICATIONS FOR OPEN-AIR PREACHERS
A good voice.
Naturalness of manner.
A good knowledge of Scripture and of common things.
Ability to adapt himself to any congregation.
Good illustrative powers.
Zeal, prudence, and common sense.
A large, loving heart.
Sincere belief in all he says.
Entire dependence on the Holy Spirit for success.
A close walk with God by prayer.
A consistent walk before men by a holy life.
If any man has all these qualifications, the Queen had better make a bishop of him at once, yet there is no one of these qualities which could well be dispensed with.