In my previous blog, I exhorted pastors to commit to open-air preaching for one hour a week. I gave the following four reasons to justify my challenge. First, open-air preaching helps a pastor to kill the fear of man. Second, it helps a pastor be a good steward of his preaching gift. Third, it will improve a preacher’s oratory skills in the pulpit. Fourth, it sets an evangelistic example to a pastor’s church members. Now I will add to this list with four additional reasons for making open-air preaching a priority.
5. Open-Air Preaching Forces a Pastor Out of His Christian Bubble
The demands of pastoral ministry can force a preacher into isolation. First, there is the necessity to study for sermons and Bible studies. This obligation takes up several hours throughout the week. Then, church administration requires attention to plan events, rewrite the church constitution, order more tracts, and update the church billboard. When a pastor does spend time with people, it is usually with Christians. While Sunday morning services and fellowship meals may have non-Christians, a pastor is usually surrounded by the members of the body. This extends to the most faithful who come to the second service or prayer meeting on Wednesday nights. Besides these responsibilities, a pastor makes visits to the elderly in their homes, hospital rooms, or nursing homes. Do you see how the Christian bubble quickly forms? This leaves minimal opportunities to interact with non-Christians. It will only come through going out to eat, shopping, and attending community social events.
How does open-air preaching help to burst the Christian bubble? It ensures that a pastor will consistently have conversations with non-Christians. While open-air preaching is a public declaration of God’s Word, it will result in one-on-one conversations. As people walk by, God uses His Word to bring them to you to ask questions. These providential encounters will ensure that your ministry does not get trapped in the echo chamber of the Christian bubble. In fact, it will expand your ministry to a population who may never take a step into your church.
6. Open-Air Preaching Aids a Pastor in Encouraging Other Christians
2 Corinthians 9:12 states, “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” Paul pleaded with the Corinth Church to set aside money to help their brothers and sisters in Christ. Through the overflow of their abundance, they would meet the needs of the Christians in Macedonia. Their sacrificial offering would cause these churches to respond with praise and thanksgiving to God.
In the same way, our brothers and sisters in Christ are encouraged to praise God when they walk past a man who is preaching about the Savior who rescued them from their sins. When we go to the streets to preach to the lost, our activities result in causing believers from other churches to give thanksgiving to God. Pastors are responsible for focusing on their local church, but we are in the same body of Christ as believers from other congregations. Our preaching stirs up our brethren to praise the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, it will inspire them to grow in their boldness to witness to the non-Christians in their lives.
7. Open-Air Preaching Provides the Means of Bringing Sinners to Christ
Paul wrote Romans 10:14-15, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”
In this passage, Paul makes a simple but effective point. An unregenerate rebellious sinner comes to salvation by calling upon the Lord through repentance and faith. However, if nobody has ever shared with them the Gospel, then they cannot call upon Jesus. While they have the general revelation of creation, which reveals God’s existence and power, they do not have this special revelation which only comes through God’s Word. This is what Paul bemoans by writing, “And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
As preachers, we hold to this promise; God brings salvation to a sinner by the preaching of the Scriptures which the Holy Spirit applies to their souls. If this is the means that God has ordained, then we should preach as much as possible. The more Gospel seed that we sow through the open-air, then this only increases the possibility that God will draw the elect to Himself. The preaching of the Gospel is a weapon to save lost sinners from hell. Let us not only use this sword in our pulpits, but may we go to the front lines and wield it to advance the kingdom of God.
8. Open-Air Preaching Allows a Pastor to Preach to More People
If you are a pastor of an average size church in America, then your congregation is less than a hundred. Week by week you faithfully preach to the same group of people. While this is a noble responsibility from the Lord, how are we to get people to hear the Gospel if they do not attend our services? How are we to sow the seed of the Gospel into a human heart if the human heart does not sit in our church’s pew?
The answer is to preach the gospel outdoors. If you go to a spot with moderate traffic, then you might preach to a greater audience over the course of an hour than you will on a Sunday morning. Last week, I went to the University of Missouri where thousands of students walked by during our outreach. Since I pastor a church with a weekly attendance of 30, then I preached to more souls in an hour on campus than I will preach to in a calendar year at my church.
Besides the argument from numbers, think about the opportunity to share the Gospel with a person who has never heard it. With the pluralism in America, it is not uncommon to cross paths with an unbeliever who has never been told about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins. By seeking the lost, God grants us the occasion to sow a multitude of Gospel seeds to human hearts who have never heard the grace of Jesus Christ. Instead of expecting these people to attend our services to hear the Gospel, go to the people and boldly proclaim it to them!
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.