Street Preachers?

Posted: January 19, 2013 by Dillon in Evangelism
Tags: , , , , , ,

Street preachers.  These people are often thought of being the most hateful, mean-spirited Christians around. They sometimes have signs with them, and walk around public places condemning any and all who cross their paths.  No wonder we get uncomfortable with the idea of street preachers.

I’ve had a few encounters with people claiming to share the gospel in this fashion; this past semester a group appeared on my campus.  In fact, I was told I am a false convert because I like football and football is, “a creation of the world, thus, a creation of the devil.” I had a few choice words for these men, but bit my tongue.  These men had a handful of homemade signs with them emphasizing the sins of everyone around them. My heart was breaking as I watched this because these men were not preaching the gospel; these men were preaching condemnation and hate.  Everything about their speech was legalistic and completely ignoring the wonder that is grace.

From that experience, I had pretty much confirmed the general consensus of what a street preacher was all about. That is, until I did some research of my own.  As CARM explains it, street preaching is, “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.”  That doesn’t sound bad…it actually sounds really nice.  As I dug further, I found that the idea of “street preaching” is about as misunderstood in our culture as the idea of church.

People who legitimately preach the gospel and God’s grace have taken a new name, “Open Air Preaching.” Todd Friel, host of an internet show titled “Wretched” has a great explanation:

I have found that the angry, screaming, fire and brimstone “preacher” is actually in the vast minority of street preachers (note- open air preaching and street preaching are synonymous). Recently I’ve had the opportunity to communicate with some men who actively take part in open air/street preaching, and it has radically altered my view. And let’s not forget what Todd Friel said, even Jesus was a street preacher.

For some more information, check out the CARM series on Street Preaching

  1. Len says:

    Hey Dillon, open-air preachers come in every stripe, some are good and some are bad, but all are almost universally hated by the world and often times by the church. I have been OAP’ing for about two years, and when I started I was positive that people would receive me because; after all, I’m nicer than those sign holding, bullhorn and banner whackos. Well, guess what, no matter how much I proclaimed my love and my pure motives as I preached the Gospel lovingly, I was still reviled. Often I get the most firm rebukes by those who profess to be Christians, most claiming “This isn’t how Jesus would do it” or trying to tell me what I’m doing is unbiblical because “evangelism is ALWAYS done in the context of relationship” in spite of all the scripture to the contrary of both statements. (See some of my OAP videos at and listen to my tone contrasted with the hatred coming from those listening).

    The bottom line is that people hate God, they hate Jesus, and if God gave us a second chance today we would still choose Barabbas and send Christ to the cross. That is because Jesus claimed to be God (a claim most still deny), He claimed to be the exclusive and only way to eternal life (many in the church would even deny that, claiming that good works get you to heaven), and He demanded holiness to those who claimed to be religious (a command still ignored by the modern church).

    We preach as a form of worship and out of loving obedience, and because we know that His sheep hear his voice and they listen. We want to reach them before it’s too late. We love people enough to warn them. The gospel will always be a stench in the nostrils of those who are perishing as Paul said.

    We have a commission, not a suggestion. Just because there are people doing it wrongly doesn’t mean they aren’t Christians, nor should it discourage other Christians to do it if so called. As Spurgeon said, it is an ‘irksome task’ and in the heat of the moment preachers can get it wrong and yes, even sin, because we too are human.

    With all of that said, thank you for writing this article. The church needs to be educated on the need for this type of evangelism, even if it isn’t something that they would do personally, and these kind of articles serve well in accomplishing that end. Next time preachers come to your campus (I may be one of them), listen to them in their full context before you decide whether the message is condemnation centered or gospel centered. Spurgeon said we must preach 90% law and 10% grace and many OAP’s take that to heart and it can come off as ‘hateful.’ They are there because they love people (many of them, anyways) and they want to see people saved. Thank them, and if you are going to question their method or message, do so privately not in a way that will embarrass them or interrupt them. Most importantly, pray for them and pray for those who are listening. Encourage them, even if you think they are doing a ‘bad’ job (a soft answer turns away wrath, Proverbs 15:1) and offer support and prayers. It’s very rare and we appreciate it very much. God bless, cheering you onward and upward!

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