We should open-air preach where we are not tempted to do grievous sins, will not spend time on unnecessary labors, and will not harm businesses. This will be our last post in the series on the location of open-air preaching. Today, I will address these three miscellaneous subjects for your consideration.
1. Do Not Open-Air Preach Where You Are Tempted to Do Grievous Sins.
Depending upon the environment, an open-air preacher can be tempted to sin by becoming angry or committing lust in their hearts. When it comes to anger, the location does not cause the anger. It is the response of the preacher. Some preachers are prone to anger more than others. There are certain subjects that may lead to an explosive rage. This is not appropriate. If you sense that you are becoming angry at the crowd or certain individuals, then you must calm down. If you are not able to, then leave. Anger can quickly turn to violence which would defile the Gospel testimony of Jesus Christ.
James 1:19-20 says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (ESV)
Do not be prideful and try to push through it. If you have become unhinged and cannot control your emotions, then leave the location. This is the humble way to move forward. If you are prone to anger, then please remember this verse from James 1. Entrust the preaching of the Word to God. Do not get angry at the people for not responding when they are spiritually dead and can do nothing else. Remember Charles Spurgeon’s rule, “One constant rule is to be always courteous and good tempered, for if you become cross or angry it is all over with you.”
Besides anger, we must be on guard for lust. During the summer season, women will dress provocatively. This is a means that Satan uses to tempt us to sin. Remember what Job expressed in Job 31:1, “‘I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?’” (ESV) Be like Job by making a covenant with your eyes to not lust. Don’t go back for the second look. Be on guard against the lie that says, “It’s ok to look but not to touch.” This is straight from the Devil. Matthew 5:28 says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (ESV) We should treat lust with the same seriousness as our Lord and Savior. When we are tempted due to the immodesty around us, then we should follow Joseph’s example. Flee! Do not let an evangelistic outreach become a trap by Satan to ensnare you.
What places should we avoid? Avoid locations where women are dressed immodestly. I would avoid going to the beach where women are swimming in their underwear. While we should desire to seek the lost, we do not want to get lost in a pit of sexual sin along the way. Avoid going to parades or organized protests which promote immodesty. Gay Rights parades can be known for their crude behavior and dress. If you go to the Gay neighborhoods around Halloween, you will see sexually explicit costumes since the celebration has been sexualized. Also, I remember hearing of a nude 5k race. Do not go there to open-air preach. Avoid such debauchery.
Finally, the Chicago Evangelism team accidentally stumbled upon an event at the Water Tower Park in Chicago. While I was not in attendance on this day, one of my brothers explained the story to me. They went to our normal location at the park to preach on the street corner. In the middle of the park, there was a large crowd gathered with TV cameras. My brother went over to the crowd to observe the protest. As he approached, his eyes saw a sea of women who were standing topless. They did not have a shirt or a bra on. They were protesting against modesty laws that forbade their nudity. Immediately he turned away and warned the brethren. They moved to another location so that they would not be tempted by their actions.
Be on guard brothers, because the enemy wants to take out the ones who are going to the streets. Pray beforehand for the Lord’s protection that you may not cave to anger or lust. Keep preaching the Gospel to yourself as you go to preach it to others.
2. Do Not Open-Air Preach Where You Would Have Unnecessary Labors.
In the context of open-air preaching, drunkenness is common. If you preach outside of bars or sporting events, then you have encountered drunk listeners. While one drunk should not cause you to stop preaching, we should be cautious when we are preaching to a multitude of drunks. Remember Jesus’ comments in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (ESV)
At some point, our labors to a drunk crowd meet this definition. They have completely been given over to their sin. Now they are blind spiritually and incapacitated physically through the alcohol. On these occasions, it would be best to stop and move on. While we should not fear physical assault, there is wisdom in knowing if a drunk crowd is becoming hostile to the point of no return. In these situations, remember this verse and find a sober crowd to hear the Gospel.
3. Do Not Open-Air Preach Where You Will Harm Businesses.
As open-air preachers, we must remember the golden rule. Matthew 7:12 says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV). When choosing a location to preach, do not set up in front of an entrance to a business. This is not necessary when there are other locations nearby. If you had a business, you would not want loiterers blocking the entrance which would cause harm to your business. If you are using amplification, be considerate about your level of noise. I am not advocating that you can only preach if no one hears you on the inside. Instead, be courteous by having your sound level be appropriate.
On our trips to Chicago, we chose locations that would not block a business’ activities. Besides stores, there is a company that gives horse and buggy rides around the Magnificent Mile. The company has a place along the street by the park where we preach. Many couples decide to take a romantic buggy ride through Chicago on a chilly evening. As a group, we realized that if we preached next to the company, then it would negatively impact the business. Since it is not a sinful business, we wanted to show love for our neighbor. This did not take much effort. We went to the other side of the park and preached there. The crowds were just as large and many people heard the Gospel.
I pray that the Lord has used this series to encourage the brethren as you open-air preach. Lord willing, I will begin a new series next week on sermon preparation for open-air preachers. May the Lord continue to bless your labors until we meet again.
Pastor Brandon was born and raised near Springfield, IL. He graduated from Illinois College in 2007 with a B.A. in History, from Moody Theological Seminary in 2010 with a Master of Divinity, and a PhD in Historical Theology in 2021 from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. He is also an ACBC certified Biblical counselor. He is married to Karise with whom they raise Ian, Elizabeth, and Patrick. He is interested in history, especially Charles Spurgeon, and has a heart for street preaching and evangelism.