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Preaching indoors and outdoors

August 2015 | by John Hawley

1. ‘It is no marvel that the devil does not love field preaching! Neither do I; I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But where is my zeal if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul? Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth. You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work’ (John Wesley).

2. ‘No sort of defence 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 defence 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 no such need for preaching rooms among poor sinners down below’ (C. H. Spurgeon).

3. ‘We can never make sacrifices too great, when the eternal salvation of souls is the object, except, indeed, we sacrifice the commands of Christ’ (William Carey).

4. ‘We must learn to overcome the fear of what people think of us’ (Rico Tice).

5. ‘You do not have to be perfect to share the love of Christ with someone. But you do have to be pursuing a right relationship with God. If you are not, your witnessing will be ineffective’ (Scott Hinkle).

6. ‘I wonder if the real reason for our failure to engage in one-on-one, door-to-door, street evangelism is our laziness, cowardice, and pride. I am speaking from my own personal experience here. I suspect the root cause is my pride. When I seek to engage people in a questionnaire in hopes of sharing the gospel with them, and, when I am rejected or mocked, I find it especially humiliating. This blow to my pride fuels my innate laziness and cowardice, and I simply find other things to do. I tend to avoid the pain of rejection at all costs’ (full article on https://banneroftruth.org/uk/resources/articles/2009/street-evangelism-in-the-modern-world/) (Allen M. Baker).

7. ‘Twelve qualifications for open-air preachers: a good voice; naturalness of manner; self-possession; 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’ (C.H. Spurgeon).

8. ‘God may not give us many more years of witness in the open air in the UK. The winds are blowing against us. Could I encourage you to consider open-air work if you have not already done so? … The Lord is faithful and stands with us when we simply speak out the great and wonderful news that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”’ (Professor Andy McIntosh).

9. ‘We don’t see big results from open-air work. But what does it do for those who do it?’ (Lance Pibworth, co-founder of United Beach Mission [UBM]).

10. ‘Many current Grace Baptist Mission missionaries now on the mission field did UBM when younger’ (Jim Sayers, GBM, Abingdon).

11. ‘Let us preach as Christ would preach, invite as he would invite, plead as he would plead, and warn as he would warn. Not with harsh unloving condemnatory tones, but with the earnest entreaties of a brother and a friend’ (Frank Cockrem; General Secretary of the Open-Air Mission 100 years ago).

12. ‘As I goeth, so he [the Holy Spirit] cometh’ (George Whitefield).

13. ‘Why do I preach in the open air? It is biblical — Jeremiah, the apostles Peter and Paul, and the Lord Jesus Christ all preached in the open air. It is effective — in Acts 2, 3000 people were converted at the first post-Pentecost open air. It is useful — where better to meet “the man in the street” than actually in the street? It reaches all types — those who would or could never come to church and those who go to a different [no-gospel] church. It has a blessed history — God greatly blessed the field preaching of Wesley and Whitefield in the eighteenth century revivals’ (Professor Steve Taylor, chairman of UBM).

14. ‘To go down among the perishing crowds is your duty. Your happiness from now on will consist in sharing their misery, your crown in helping them to bear their cross, and your heaven in going into the very jaws of hell to rescue them. Now then, go to God and tell him … you are willing to spend the rest of your days struggling in the midst of these perishing multitudes, whatever it may cost you. You must do it! You cannot hold back. You have enjoyed yourself in Christianity long enough … I hardly know which gladdened me the most: the sight of the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks; or the devotion and self-sacrifice of those whose whole being was wrapped up in the effort for their deliverance. Now what will you do?’ (William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army).

15. ‘My experience as regards preaching in the open air has been very different from what I might have expected … Perhaps the Lord has not been pleased to let me see fruit from this part of my work, though I have been many times engaged in it; or it may be that because I did not pray so earnestly respecting my outdoor preaching as my indoor preaching, the former has not been so much blessed as the latter. Though I do not consider it my work at present, yet it is a most important work, and I should delight in being so honoured now as to be allowed to engage in it’ (George Müller).

16. ‘Oh that I could do more for Him! Oh that I was a flame of pure and holy fire, and had a thousand lives to spend in the dear Redeemer’s service … The sight of so many perishing souls everyday affects me much, and makes me long to go if possible from pole to pole to proclaim redeeming love’ (George Whitefield).

17. ‘Some like to live within the sound of church or chapel bell, I’d rather run a rescue shop within a yard of hell’ (C. T. Studd).

18. ‘If you believe not the Word of God, and the danger of sinners, why are you Christians yourselves? If you do believe it, why do you not bestir yourselves to helping others? Do you not care who is damned as long as you are saved?’ (Richard Baxter).

19. ‘It is relatively easy to stand in a pulpit, but a thousand times harder to stand on the pavement and speak of Christ. But I feel that, if a man is called and gifted to stand in a pulpit, then he needs to have the courage to stand on the pavement. We are not all called to be open-air evangelists, but any man who preaches in a pulpit ought to be able to at least bear testimony on the street, where people answer back, or ask the tough questions’ (Paul Williams, pastor of Swindon Evangelical Church).

20. ‘God has blessed our feeble efforts in Oxford with much kindness and fruit. It is not uncommon to have weekly visitors in our small chapel who received a gospel tract in an open-air meeting or day of tracting. Among such visitors were a couple of teenage lads, who were met last February in an open-air meeting in the centre of Oxford. These two began attending, and after a few months of exposure to the gospel were wonderfully converted. They have invited friends and family, and now there are ten more regular attendees in our meetings through their efforts of bringing others to Christ (seven of whom have made professions of faith and been baptised)’ (Derrick Morlan, pastor of Oxford Baptist Church).

The Open-Air Mission (www.oamission.com)