On Twitter, Chuck O’Neal @ChuckONeal_ said this morning,
While preaching the Gospel to the crowd in front..this man slipped in behind to listen. #SneakyGospelListenersWelcome
What a beautiful photo. A man the Lord has raised up, preaching the Good News fearlessly to a hostile and dying world. But one man is drawn by God to hear His words of everlasting life. Again, a praise. Will the seeds planted by the word fall on hard ground? Thorny ground? Soft ground?
Meanwhile we don’t know where the wind blow. So we preach His Good News everywhere.
The Spirit knows.
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
Is street preaching an effective evangelism method?
Street preaching, or preaching openly in a public area, has been a method used throughout the history of Christianity for the purpose of evangelizing people who would not typically enter a church. Ever since the apostle Peter preached in the streets of Jerusalem in Acts 2, Christians have used this method to lead many to faith in Christ. Despite the long-standing tradition of street preaching throughout church history, some believe that the practice should no longer be used. They have a variety of reasons for their opinion…
And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. (Luke 14:23)
Harken An engraving, ca. 1740, of George Whitefield
preaching in the Americas. Photo: Granger, NYC / The Granger Collection. Source
In 1739, Whitefield set out for a preaching tour of the American colonies. Whitefield selected Philadelphia—the most cosmopolitan city in the New World—as his first American stop. But even the largest churches could not hold the 8,000 who came to see him, so he took them outdoors. Every stop along Whitefield’s trip was marked by record audiences, often exceeding the population of the towns in which he preached. Whitefield was often surprised at how crowds “so scattered abroad, can be gathered at so short a warning.”
The crowds were also aggressive in spirit. As one account tells it, crowds “elbowed, shoved, and trampled over themselves to hear of ‘divine things’ from the famed Whitefield.”
Once Whitefield started speaking, however, the frenzied mobs were spellbound. “Even in London,” Whitefield remarked, “I never observed so profound a silence.”
When he returned to London, he found many churches closed to his unconventional methods. He then experimented with outdoor, extemporaneous preaching, where no document or wooden pulpit stood between him and his audience.
The Gospel is always unwelcome, sometimes by those inside churches hearing it from pulpits, usually outside in the world by passersby to whom the message of Life is the aroma of death. No matter. For the one person who is later converted by the words, it will be eternally welcome.