Just about any Christian will find something of interest here. The book is full of illustrations from the Bible, history, present times and the experiences of Open-Air Mission workers, including the author himself. The book challenges us to be more active or supportive of open-air evangelism.
The theological stance is, broadly, what Evangelical Times readers are familiar with; thoughtful readers could scarcely finish the book without being encouraged.
The book begins on the theme of fishing, starting with the Lord Jesus himself and followed by his calling and training of his disciples. The second chapter addresses our message and manner in evangelism. Successive chapters deal with the Great Commission, showing that it contains a ‘great claim’, ‘great call’, ‘great work’ and ‘great promise’.
Chapter 7 looks at opportunities that local churches have for evangelism. The following two chapters look more closely at personal conversations as a means of sharing the gospel. In chapter l0, the author addresses atheism and the theory of evolution from a creationist standpoint. The next chapter is devoted to evangelistic method. Drama is dismissed and preaching advocated.
Chapter 11 discusses some criteria for gospel preaching and gives eight advantages of hearing the central truths of salvation regularly. I would not personally limit ‘preaching the gospel’ to preaching the cross and the way of salvation, because, as Romans 1:15-17 (taken with the rest of Romans) shows, this was not an apostolic distinction. For Paul, all of Romans was preaching the gospel. However, the author is correct to emphasise the benefits of including the core of saving truth in every sermon.
Banton goes on to deal ably with criticisms made against open-air preaching. He also explains some of its benefits. Referencing 2 Timothy, he shows that the witnessing believer must match ‘talk’ with a godly ‘walk’, as child, soldier, athlete, farmer, workman, vessel and servant.
Chapter 15 gives a helpful appraisal of evangelistic work to prevent us being discouraged. The following chapter gives good advice on avoiding the manipulation of sinners into premature responses, and on recognising the Holy Spirit’s work in conversion.
The author gives some attention to justifying the work of the Open-Air Mission. The book’s strongest argument for this is its appeal to extraordinary circumstances (2 Chronicles 29:34), such as the fact that churches with only elderly members might need outside help for street evangelism.
The book closes with chapters emphasising commendably the importance of love for the lost and the urgency of evangelism. However, men pondering whether God would have them preach the gospel must look beyond this book for guidance concerning the call to preach, the spiritual gift for it, and the need for ministerial training and recognition by the church.