“Street preaching” is the public proclamation of a religious message. It is often accomplished with a voice louder than that used in conversation. For the purposes of this article/section, “street preaching” refers to the public proclamation of the law of God and/or the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as the public reading of God’s Word. Street preaching has a rich, post-apostolic age history. It has always been a part of Christianity, including the early church fathers, the pre-reformation teachers of the Middle Ages, the reformers, the Puritans, the pastors and circuit preachers of the Great Awakening, the revivalists of the early 20th century, and the heralds on the streets around the world today.
Why is Street Preaching essential?
- It presents the gospel to people who may not otherwise step foot into a church.
- It allows the preacher to obey the most frequent command regarding the manner in which the gospel is presented.
- It plainly understands the command of our Lord to “go into the highways and the country roads” and compel sinners to come.
- It trusts wholly that God’s Word will never return void.
- It encourages believers to go out together as a team and it mutually stirs others to more fervent and urgent evangelism.
- It convicts Christian passers-by who are not sharing their faith to consider evangelizing with greater zeal.
- It always glorifies God because His Word is being proclaimed.
- It depends wholly on the sovereign Work of the Holy Spirit to quicken dead hearts to new life as sinners hear the word preached.
Some Biblical examples of Street Preachers and Street Preaching
There are many examples of street preaching in the Bible as summarized by Tony Miano. Street preaching is simply the public reading of Scripture, proclamation of the law, and/or preaching of the gospel in an outdoor setting.
- Noah was a “herald of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5).
- Solomon addressed the entire nation of Israel “with a loud voice” (1 Kings 8:54-56).
- Ezra called the people of Israel to repentance as they sat in the “open square” (Ezra 10:9-14).
- Ezra read the law of God and explained it to the people of Israel while standing before them (Nehemiah 8:1-8).
- Jeremiah stood at the gate of the Lord’s House and “proclaimed” the very words of God (Jeremiah 7:1-3).
- Jonah preached on the streets of Nineveh (Jonah 3:1-5).
- The prophets of old were hated by the people, because they heralded the word of God at the city gates (Isaiah 5:29; Amos 5:10).
- The first street preacher, the first to herald the good news in the open-air, was John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-2; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3).
- Jesus sat atop a hill and preached the greatest sermon ever preached in the open-air -- the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
- Jesus’s disciples preached on the streets in many villages (Luke 9:5-7).
- Peter preached in the open-air at Solomon’s Portico, after healing the lame beggar (Acts 3:11-26).
- Philip preached the gospel to large crowds on the streets of the city of Samaria (Acts 8:6-8).
- Paul preached the gospel to the entire city of Antioch. He was viciously heckled, yet all those whom God had appointed to be saved believed the gospel (Acts 13:44-52).
- Apollos boldly and publicly refuted the Jews and proclaimed Christ Jesus in Achaia (Acts 18:27-28).
- Paul stood before the judiciary of Athens, atop of Mars Hill, and preached to the men of Athens in the open-air (Acts 17:22-34).
The Scriptures are rich with examples of street preaching. Street preaching is clearly a biblical practice, and those who engage in it follow in the footsteps of great men of the faith and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
A few other things observed during street preachings
In the street, a man must keep himself alive, and use many illustrations and anecdotes, and sprinkle a quaint remark here and there. To dwell long on a point will never do. Reasoning must be brief, clear, and soon done with. The discourse must not be labored or involved, neither must the second head depend upon the first, for the audience is a changing one, and each point must be complete in itself. The chain of thought must be taken to pieces' and each link melted down and turned into bullets: you will need not so much Saladin's saber to cut through a muslin handkerchief as Coeur de Lion's battle-axe to break a bar of iron. Come to the point at once, and come there with all your might.
In the streets a man must from beginning to end be intense, and for that very reason he must be condensed and concentrated in his thought and utterance. It would never do to begin by saying, "My text, dear friends, is a passage from the inspired Word, containing doctrines of the utmost importance, and bringing before us in the clearest manner the most valuable practical instruction. I invite your careful attention and the exercise of your most candid judgment while we consider it under various aspects and place it in different lights, in order that we may be able to perceive its position in the analogy of the faith. In its exegesis we shall find an arena for the cultured intellect, and the refined sensibilities. As the purling brook meanders among the meads and fertilizes the pastures, so a stream of sacred truth flows through the remarkable words which now lie before us. It will be well for us to divert the crystal current to the reservoir of our meditation, that we may quaff the cup of wisdom with the lips of satisfaction.
"Christ’s sheep will hear His voice and respond in due time, so it’s not about our numerical success or conversion rate. If you are focused on visible results, you will be disappointed. Get to the gospel, get to the cross, preach repentance and faith and the exclusivity of Christ. Remember that God’s word does not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). The most important thing to remember is that you must speak. One way to help you begin is prepare a small note card with your key points. Here are the 4 points to preach: God’s holiness, man’s rebellion, the cross and resurrection of Christ as the solution, and what it means to believe and count the cost of following Christ. That is the preaching of Gospel in a nutshell.