This is a short book written by a man with a real heart for taking the gospel out to where the people are. He writes to those who might consider taking up the mantle of open air preaching. Having been involved in street preaching for many years the writer is rightly burdened that a new generation should ‘catch the bug’ for proclaiming the gospel on the streets of our desperately needy land.
He stresses a number of important matters, including the need for preachers to be firmly grounded in God’s Word and live consistent, godly lives before the world; the necessity for church leaders to be looking out for those who are potentially gifted in evangelism; the recognition that degree level studies in theology are not essential; and the importance of working under the authority and blessing of the local church.
However, the book is soured by many negatives. Sadly, the author comes across as being quite combative and even, at times, hard-spirited. He suggests that Pentecostalism should be placed alongside Roman Catholicism as ‘a false man-made religion of an apostate world’ (p.91). He describes any who believe in the need for ‘winsomeness’ in street preaching as ‘amongst the Arminian fraternity’ (p.43). After giving a helpful Hebrew definition for preaching that includes ‘to be cheerful’ (p.43), he goes on to say that preachers need to be, among other things, ‘stern’ (p.47). And while he rightly says that ‘we preach that God revealed his love to us’ (p.81), there is nothing to encourage the preacher to display that love and compassion to his hearers – something that was so exemplified by the Lord Jesus.
On several occasions the book strays well beyond its brief; for example an implication that only the KJV is a ‘proper Bible’ (p.33), and an assertion that ‘a woman is not allowed to vote in congregational meetings’ (p.46). And the author states that ‘there is not much room for a preacher with serious reformed convictions’ in any UK para-church Mission (p.75); but the Open Air Mission, with whom I served for 22 years, actually has plenty of room for such men.
Finally, the writer gives the false impression that every open air meeting will bring fierce opposition in its wake. Actually there are those street preachers who stir up opposition through their own stridency and belligerence. The main response from people on the streets is often one of apathy!
But whatever the response, we must ensure that we preach the truth to them in love. So it is with real sadness that I am unable to recommend this book.