Steet preaching and evangelism

Should we be involved in street preacing/evangelism?

  • Yes! Every day and every hour.

    Votes: 5 19.2%
  • It should be done often but NOT regularly.

    Votes: 7 26.9%
  • Only under very special circumstances.

    Votes: 12 46.2%
  • Never.

    Votes: 2 7.7%

  • Total voters
    26
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
If you stood up on a bench in a crowd and started reading ANYTHING loudly even I would be offended and want you to shut up, even if you were reading the Bible. Impoliteness in the name of evangelistic zeal is still impoliteness.

There are places where public discourse and debate is acceptable and expected, such as Hyde Park or the Areopogus. On a bench in central park while people are trying to enjoy their days is not a good way to glorify God.

I see Paul going into places where it was accepted and expected for him to speak.

I am all FOR evangelism and missions. I am against BONE-HEADED evangelism and missions. To discern what is bone-headed and what is good, we need to use more precise descriptions of what we do.

Pergamum,

I am sure that everyone on this board is for evangelism and missions but against bone-headed methods of doing this. I am also sure that all of us want to glorify God in our endeavors. I know that there have been times when I tried to talk to individuals and left thinking that I had not honored God in my attempt to make his name known and felt conviction for my actions.

Here is what I am confused by. From what I read in Acts 2, Peter seemed to be offending some of the people that he was preaching to. It is also not clear (at least to me) that he was in a place where people were expected to preach. However, he gave a clear evangelistic call to repentance and faith. Do you think Peter was improper in doing this? Perhaps I missed something in the text (honestly), so someone please correct me if I am wrong, but Peter gave a loud, bold evangelistic message to a group of people who didn't really want to hear it (at least not until the Spirit convicted them) in a place where people didn't seem to be that interested in listening to them. Why would it be inappropriate to go to a public place today and do the same thing? I ask this question in sincerity.

Thanks.


This sounds like a wonderful thing to explore, Peter's weirdnes or acceptnedness in standing up and preaching before the assembled crowds in Jerusalam and why he could do so, and whether this is normative for us.

Anyone got any info? And can Peter here be equated to a preacher on a street corner? Standing on a light post as the Mardi Gras parade passes by? Peter was still in the Jewish system of worship and the apostle Paul could, as a visiting guest, be invited to speak a word in the synagogues without being culturally inappropriate, and it seems that Peter, a jew, speaking to Jews on the Jewish Feast Day where everyone was gathered was not as amiss as Preacher Bob with his Big Heavy Bible, thundering down on 42nd Street.

One evangelistic activity I would like to do: The Annual Burning Man Festival, where it WOULD be acceptable to "express yourself with a booth and displays and activities about your faith. If I had time and could figure out how to register, I'd be there in a heartbeat!
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
I didn't vote. I'm not going to insult your wording of the poll. But I'll say that there should be more options to choose from.

I have learned that people generally don't listen to "my" message until/unless they really believe that I care about them. What I believe is the correct thing to do is befriend people before trying to evangelize them. For instance: I have taken it on myself (with our session's blessing) to evangelize some local Muslims. I've contacted a man who has a ministry to them and gotten advice on how to approach them (he's Arabic and grew up in a Muslim country). He says, "Love, love, love them!" People will find out pretty soon if you really care about them or if you're just trying to make them another knotch in your belt.

I completely understand wanting to develop a relationship first. But out of curiosity, what do we make of Peter or Paul's public sermons in Acts?

Public preaching did seem to be a mark of the early church. Of course history also shows that charity was another way the Gospel was able to spread.

But what of the public preaching in Acts? Was the a cultural nuance of the time? Or does it give us license to do the same?

_______________

And sorry the above post rhetorically answered this in some sense...but it posted while I typed this original entry.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
I voted "only rarely".

Here is why. If you do not understand the vast cultural shift that has occured in the west since the time of Spurgeon (to cite the most nearest historical example) to our own day. Or if you are incapable of distinguishing between the Oshua downtown crosswalk at 1:38pm & Mars Hill 2000 years ago, then I am not sure that I want you to exegete the scriptures for anyone other than the inmates at the local SPCA.

Now, can (& should) we "go outside" the church to "preach"? Yes! We should.

The lesson from the past, Paul, Christ, Spergeon, etc. is not to stand on a specific spot according to the plat on file at the town office. But to GO WHERE PEOPLE ARE. And when you find them; present Christ in a culturally appropriate way. Period.

I say this as someone that was part of a service that took place in a public park this past Sunday. complete with teenage hecklers & a nice middle aged gay couple that joined us for our gospel sing-along.
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
I voted "only rarely".

Here is why. If you do not understand the vast cultural shift that has occured in the west since the time of Spurgeon (to cite the most nearest historical example) to our own day. Or if you are incapable of distinguishing between the Oshua downtown crosswalk at 1:38pm & Mars Hill 2000 years ago, then I am not sure that I want you to exegete the scriptures for anyone other than the inmates at the local SPCA.

Now, can (& should) we "go outside" the church to "preach"? Yes! We should.

The lesson from the past, Paul, Christ, Spergeon, etc. is not to stand on a specific spot according to the plat on file at the town office. But to GO WHERE PEOPLE ARE. And when you find them; present Christ in a culturally appropriate way. Period.

I say this as someone that was part of a service that took place in a public park this past Sunday. complete with teenage hecklers & a nice middle aged gay couple that joined us for our gospel sing-along.

Thank you for this post :applause:
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
In 2004, I had been saved a few years, I was introduced to Hells Best Kept Secret, by Ray Comfort. It immediately changed my life and with fervent zeal, I am became an open air preacher. I did tours with organizations and traveled various cities. I open aired in parks and bus terminals. College campuses and university hall ways. My life was consumed with sharing the gospel. I was sure I was in God`s will. I met my previous pastor and he was all for this type of evangelism. So what happened?...

I, overtime became aware that we evangelists were discarding and neglecting our local churches. We, the many, had created a parachurch organization, with no moorings or accountability. The words spoken by myself and the many were idolatrous with respect to evangelism. Many became convinced that "pew" sitters were in grave sin and needed rebuking. It was mildly anarchy and I had a moment of biblical introspection and have repented. I do now stand confused over it all. What do I do with what seemed like gifting from the Lord. My current pastor has counseled with me and I am hopefully going to be working with a local OPC pastor hopefully doing some prison ministries.

I find it strange. On one hand, I was awoken from my slumber and moved to be the hands and feet of Christ. On the other hand, I am convinced by scripture that I need be under the authority of my church.

As for its effectiveness, I agree with the majority position here. It is very difficult to make disciples doing hit and run evangelism. As fruitful at times that it was for me, I believe there are better ways to participate in kingdom work. My :2cents:

P.s. it is a strawman to characterize most parachurches as having no accountability or moorings. In many cases they have better accountability and moorings than most local churches. And, the orgs I work with all try to tie local churches into missions.

-----Added 7/7/2009 at 11:19:09 EST-----

I didn't vote. I'm not going to insult your wording of the poll. But I'll say that there should be more options to choose from.

I have learned that people generally don't listen to "my" message until/unless they really believe that I care about them. What I believe is the correct thing to do is befriend people before trying to evangelize them. For instance: I have taken it on myself (with our session's blessing) to evangelize some local Muslims. I've contacted a man who has a ministry to them and gotten advice on how to approach them (he's Arabic and grew up in a Muslim country). He says, "Love, love, love them!" People will find out pretty soon if you really care about them or if you're just trying to make them another knotch in your belt.

I completely understand wanting to develop a relationship first. But out of curiosity, what do we make of Peter or Paul's public sermons in Acts?

Public preaching did seem to be a mark of the early church. Of course history also shows that charity was another way the Gospel was able to spread.

But what of the public preaching in Acts? Was the a cultural nuance of the time? Or does it give us license to do the same?

_______________

And sorry the above post rhetorically answered this in some sense...but it posted while I typed this original entry.

Paul preached in places where public speeches and intercourse was expected, i.e., the areopagus.

Peter, as a Jew, preached to assembled Jews at Pentecost. I am not sure of the cultural implications of this, but I am trying to find out.


If you want, let's compare and contrast Pter's preaching to the crowd to, say, street preachers in front of the Alamo preaching to guests there.
 

kalawine

Puritan Board Junior
I completely understand wanting to develop a relationship first. But out of curiosity, what do we make of Peter or Paul's public sermons in Acts?

Public preaching did seem to be a mark of the early church. Of course history also shows that charity was another way the Gospel was able to spread.

But what of the public preaching in Acts? Was the a cultural nuance of the time? Or does it give us license to do the same?

_______________

And sorry the above post rhetorically answered this in some sense...but it posted while I typed this original entry.

I have to admit that these instances crossed my mind also. I'm waiting for one of our experts to answer your question. I want an answer to that myself.

:popcorn:
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Grillsy, I would not call the NT examples of public preaching a "nuance", however they do reflect certain aspects of 1st century culture that are overlooked in most discussions such as this one.

To wit;

1) the typical resident of any town in Palestine at that time had an expectation of privacy that differed from our own by an order of magnitude. At that time bathing and using the "bathroom" were public functions that took place in public facilities.

The way in which this one fact influences this entire conversation can not be overestimated.

2) The typical resident cited above, most often lived in the town he was born in & never traveld more than 15 km from his birth place. The level of "social confidence" that this engendered when hearing the spoken word is difficult for us to understand.

3) The typical person cited above shares with Whitfield & Spurgeon, BUT NOT WITH US, an expectation thast the "normative" method of information delivery/reception is "first person oral".

To try to understand the role and/or suitibility of open air preaching in our time whilst at the same time "applying the NT example" in a wooden way is in my opinion a hinderence to this conversation
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
Grillsy, I would not call the NT examples of public preaching a "nuance", however they do reflect certain aspects of 1st century culture that are overlooked in most discussions such as this one.

To wit;

1) the typical resident of any town in Palestine at that time had an expectation of privacy that differed from our own by an order of magnitude. At that time bathing and using the "bathroom" were public functions that took place in public facilities.

The way in which this one fact influences this entire conversation can not be overestimated.

2) The typical resident cited above, most often lived in the town he was born in & never traveld more than 15 km from his birth place. The level of "social confidence" that this engendered when hearing the spoken word is difficult for us to understand.

3) The typical person cited above shares with Whitfield & Spurgeon, BUT NOT WITH US, an expectation thast the "normative" method of information delivery/reception is "first person oral".

To try to understand the role and/or suitibility of open air preaching in our time whilst at the same time "applying the NT example" in a wooden way is in my opinion a hinderence to this conversation

I wasn't trying to apply the NT example in a wooden way. I just asked the question to facilitate the discussion in hopes that it would be fruitful. You make many good points. I agree with you for the most part. I am not sure the privacy argument works when considering the subject is preaching within a public sphere.

But really what I wanted to pull from the Acts examples especially was the idea of the public preaching of the Gospel and whether or not that approach was suitable for us today. I am sure in some sense it is. In another sense it would be.
In the spirit of Brotherly love, I know the one thing that we most certainly agree on is that is order for someone to be saved the Gospel must be preached.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I am sure that the "public preaching of the Gospel" is warranted today; but as to its nature and circumstances, those are debatable. And whether it needs to be "preaching" or the broader term "witness" is also debatable; we often explain the Gospel better during informal dialogue than we do preaching a monologue.
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
Pergamum,

I am glad that you call witnessing "explaining the Gospel". Too often the term witnessing is hijacked into a story of "what God has done for me" or "God has a wonderful plan for your life". In some cases I have even heard people say that witnessing is simply doing good deeds (say opening the door for someone). Essentially the St. Francis approach "preach the Gospel everywhere, when necessary use words".
Thanks for making the definition of witnessing clearer.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Yes, "witnessing" has become a program instead of a lifestyle. It has been left up to "soul-winners" that seem to think it is their own personal calling and no one elses, as opposed to the witness of the poor early church which, despite being made to "witess" largely silently and secretively, added millions to their numbers within the first 300 years of our faith. If we go back to the early church, these Christians were poor, many were female and they exercised hospitality, cared for the sick and dying and witnessed as providnetial opportunity gave them chance rather than trying to get a hearing in the Roman Senate. Of course, many DID get public exposure...i..e, the Arena, where even their deaths were the means by which many were brought to faith.
 

ww

Puritan Board Senior
Don't like it and that comes from someone who even avoided it as a Fundamentalist Preacher Boy at BJU. Plenty of other effective methods of Evangelism to explore.

Whitway would you care to elaborate please?

What did you see at BJU that was you disagreed with?

Would you object to the open air preaching of men like Spurgeon? Or do you feel we are dealing with an entirely different evangelistic mentality in modern street preaching?

I can feel your pain to some extent. I have a similar background. Although not in college. My college was Campbellite institution...a whole different animal.

I disagreed with the parachurch context with no local church backing. Hit and Run Evangelism with little regard for Discipleship. Of course the immaturity of those preaching who were not licensed or ordained to Preach.

I'm not an expert on Spurgeon or Whitefield's Open Air preaching but assume that in most instances it was announced, expected, and venues in communities were more conducive to such public engagements. In our World Street Preaching could be easily dismissed as cultic or disingenuous.

Once again I'm jaded as I avoided it even as a fundamentalist, hell fire and brimstone preacher boy so maybe the others who have stated positive impacts have better and more Scripturally aligned experiences than I.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Hit and Run Evangelism with little regard for Discipleship. Of course the immaturity of those preaching who were not licensed or ordained to Preach.

I'm not an expert on Spurgeon or Whitefield's Open Air preaching but assume that in most instances it was announced, expected, and venues in communities were more conducive to such public engagements. In our World Street Preaching could be easily dismissed as cultic or disingenuous.

Lots of agreeement with these sentiments!
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Grillsy,

I do think that the "expectation of privacy" is HUGE in this discussion. And nothing illustrates the vast shift in our "expectation of privacy" like the shift in outr personal hygiene habits.

If you don't understand how this can affect peoples willingness to listen to what someone has to say then you have never played team sports or lived in a dorm that required you to use gang showers!

In our culture our "expectation of privacy" is so far removed from past ages that we consider a public space to be a "safe zone" from personal conversations. So a "sermon" shouted out at any passerby that might hear is considered "rude" because it invades our "expectation of privacy". Those same words spoken in an other context are not considered rude.

So our task is to find a way to "say the same words" in a way that will afford them the maximum hearing within our culture.
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
Kevin,

I like that you say "maximum hearing" instead of "maximum comfort". Your perspective was correct.
You're right in saying that in our culture, and by that we mean 2009 America, we do have an expectation of privacy. You are correct I cannot disagree there.
Although I do think it is a wrong expectation of privacy. But perhaps I am living in the past too much.
Things change much slower here in the South or at least in my part of the South.
Oh, and I have played team sports and used public showers. Many good theological discussions I remember from the old locker room...
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Grillsy,

I do think that the "expectation of privacy" is HUGE in this discussion. And nothing illustrates the vast shift in our "expectation of privacy" like the shift in outr personal hygiene habits.

If you don't understand how this can affect peoples willingness to listen to what someone has to say then you have never played team sports or lived in a dorm that required you to use gang showers!

In our culture our "expectation of privacy" is so far removed from past ages that we consider a public space to be a "safe zone" from personal conversations. So a "sermon" shouted out at any passerby that might hear is considered "rude" because it invades our "expectation of privacy". Those same words spoken in an other context are not considered rude.

So our task is to find a way to "say the same words" in a way that will afford them the maximum hearing within our culture.


I suppose we could frequent public showers and shout sermons at them in there!
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Kevin,

I like that you say "maximum hearing" instead of "maximum comfort". Your perspective was correct.
You're right in saying that in our culture, and by that we mean 2009 America, we do have an expectation of privacy. You are correct I cannot disagree there.
Although I do think it is a wrong expectation of privacy. But perhaps I am living in the past too much.
Things change much slower here in the South or at least in my part of the South.
Oh, and I have played team sports and used public showers. Many good theological discussions I remember from the old locker room...

My wife was born in Maryland since that was the closest hospital to her WV home! I spent 17 years in the South, FL, TN, VA, GA, so yes I do "get it" about how fast things change.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
I choose not to pick any of the choices since it is not clear who WE is

Is this the ministers or lay

and

Every day and every hour, I do not think this would be proper for anyone.

Me response would be that a minister of the gospel is free to preach the gospel where ever and when ever he feels it is appropriate.

I think where it is not unreasonable to have a positive effect on some, it is good to go out into the hi ways and by ways and where ever a hearing may be had.

To stand on some streets may be foolish some no one would hear.

But yes out side of the meeting of the saints it is good to preach the gospel since though we know there are unregenerate there and covenant children who need to be called by the gospel, it is mainly the place of worship and gathering for the saints and not a place to have only distinctively and intentionally "evangelistic" type messages preached each week, to the exclusion and deficiency of the feeding of meat to the saints.
The commission was to take the gospel to them not to wait for them to come to us.

This is a great weakness in the modern church as our culture has reduced the number of places one could sensibly preach to the masses.

Great discussion - Where and how can we take and preach the gospel reasonably to the heathen.

I think setting up special meetings on subject of service to or interest to the local towns people is a great thing and there preach also, not as a bit and switch but as a part of the presentation.
 
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