I was amazed to learn some time ago the great American street preacher D. L. Moody delivered messages no longer than twenty minutes at a time. He did this whether he was in a church or in the streets preaching. As a message went generally in churches he would go the twenty minutes minimum and up to thirty minutes at the very most. He claimed that dragging it longer only hindered the soul ready for salvation.
Charles Spurgeon on the other hand would preach at least thirty minutes if not over an hour. Again this was regardless if in a church or on the streets. His feelings were he was going to say everything possible about his subject so people once they left were no longer able to say they had not heard the entire spoken word.
Spurgeon was also convicted to witness to at least one person per day and would not rest until he did so. There are accounts of Charles readying for bed and noticing it was almost midnight, when he grabbed on clothes and headed outside to find some one to share the Gospel with, realizing his long arduous day left him without speaking God's Word. He promptly hit the street and found a person to witness to.
However your approach to time it goes without saying you must keep the crowd interested in your message. What your listeners will remember the most is your opening and your close. An opening that fails to win the crowd will ultimately lead to a disbursement of that group that had stopped to listen. You may have a dynamic message but the slow introduction and stammering tongue will ward off any potential for a great crowd.
The close is as greatly effected after your message if you hope to have them come to know Christ as their Savior. A weak and uninspired closing will cause the listener to think you were just spouting off. Now is the time to show the true compassion of Christ when you close. Your close or invitation needs to be delivered in care, compassion and detailed with the saving grace of Christ. You won the crowd with your message by the fact they are there for the end of of it. It is not a moment to think, " I got 'em now"' but a time to rejoice in the LORD God and show them the light of the world Jesus Christ lifted up.
WRITE IT OUT
Write your message out. Start with your first point and parts 1,2, 3, etc. if needed. Or use A. explain, B. Explain and so forth as the message calls for. Write out your introduction and deliver it strong and with compassion. Use all your points and ready for the close. Once ready to close slow down your delivery, be very easy in your body language, let your visitors see this is serious time. Use your voice as your greatest asset and speak slowly, in control.
The other tool you need is your Bible PERIOD. You do not want your notes at the time you start your street message. They will only seem to show the crowd you do not know what you are talking about. Gospel tracts are a great witnessing tool but not to the street evangelist. You MUST know your material, even if you have to find different spots with a different crowd and preach the same message every time you preach. Save the tracts until you are completely finished and give them as a means of having something for your crowd to take home. Your message and that of the tracts need to be similar and not conflicted. Tracts should be of grace and not of Hell and damnation.
NEVER DEBATE OR ARGUE WITH THE GATHERING
You begin your message and people start to gather, you are getting into it when a heckler wants to ask questions or start a debate, how do you respond? My opinion is stick to the message, (again) PERIOD! You may have five, ten or even fifty to one hundred people there to listen to what you have to say. Are you going to amuse the one or two hecklers and lose that one person who just might accept Christ that day while you preach? Never go at it alone, you set yourself up for just this type of thing. You must remember, the ones gathered, there is always someone there that knows more than you ever will, according to their own ignorance. Your greatest asset is your TEAM. Yes, in caps, TEAM, they are to control the crowd. A team member graciously must approach the heckler and talk to them so you may proceed.
Once you start your message never stop. Do not hesitate when the loud mouth in the crowd starts his antics. Trust your team members to be able to calmly speak to this individual and go on with your message. Never let the crowd see intimidation in you or your team. Remember you are there bringing God's Holy word to those who may never have heard. Another item of trust is your voice. I recently read scriptures in a wedding. My oldest daughter got married and I was asked to read the message before the service. It was an outside service and the tent area was long and narrow. The decision was made to have our violinist play a song while I read. It was a song that builds up to a crescendo to the end of it and ends boldly. I had to raise my voice over top of the violin so all could hear the Word be spoken. I used my voice as a tool when speaking and it was a natural thing for me hearing the music and taking my voice on up over it. I cannot say just how many compliments we received over the music which accompanied my reading. Take care of your voice and learn to raise it as you preach so you will be able to reach over the hecklers as they come.
Even when confronted by the law do not stop preaching. Have your team ready for such an occasion. While they speak with the police you keep preaching, yes, you may be forced to stop, but, KNOW the laws where you are. If you are on a street (sidewalk) or public area you are in your rights to street preach. I have heard of a team member speaking with the police just as a preacher started preaching. Thankfully the officer was a Christian and talked with the team member until the preaching was finished. They added souls to the glory of God that night.
READY FOR JAIL?
Yes, I did ask, are you ready to go to jail to keep your rights to speak openly for Christ? As the previous paragraph states, KNOW THE LAW, where you are street preaching. There are some public areas you cannot preach the Gospel. There are many open areas that you may. KNOW the difference in these areas. When you are sure beyond a doubt you are in a "free" area to speak and you feel the conviction to not stop, do not let the police tell you to stop. Again your team needs to control the situation. It is a misdemeanor offense, nothing that can hurt your public record. You will have your day in court and you can set the precedence that street preaching IS legal where you were. But I do need to say do not go at it to try and get arrested! This will not bring glory to God. There are so many that do go with this on their mind. They almost hope they get arrested to make a public statement. That does not help the cause of those of us willing to share the Gospel with the lost.
One good rule of thumb is to go into the police station and ask an officer just what you may do. Get the badge number and rank of the officer you speak with. Most all officers now have business cards, one of those is also helpful to ask from him. Then when you are confronted by the police you have the weapon to say it is OK where you are. GET ALONG with the public protection, remember one day out street preaching you just may need them.
I heard it said years ago by a wise old preacher to be humble when you approach the pulpit. As he stated," If you go up to the pulpit bold God will bring you down humbled, but , if you go up humbled God will bring you down bold." The same with being in the streets, go at it humbled. Do not go and use a show of force when delivering your message, especially at the start. Do not go as if you are high and mighty. God will surely humble you in front of the crowd. Of course to them you will just look like someone who just did not know how to preach.
Humbleness is not weakness! Do not be afraid to show a vulnerable spirit, that is vulnerable to yielding to a HIgh and Mighty God. It is the Gospel of Christ we are carrying to the lost people of this world. It is not of ourselves we have the calling to preach but by the hand of the omnipotent GOD! God has put us in trust of His Word that we may preach it until Jesus comes again to win the lost. Have the utmost respect for the Bible you are carrying and give your best to the preaching of the cross. Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life, it is Him we are lifting up to a lost world, not ourselves.
I said in Street Preaching 101 that we are to stay away from Hell fire and damnation messages on the street, that does not mean to stay away from preaching repentance. It is our duty to teach the people they need to turn from their sin. It takes not eloquent speech but a humbled, compassionate heart willing to do God's work, to teach and preach repentance.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
When you are finished the crowd is gone, and ready to leave, give God the glory. It is for the cross of Christ you were there and all accomplished was done by the Holy Spirit of Jesus. You were the messenger! Give God the glory, this ultimately is the last event of your street preaching service. Pause before you drive or walk away and praise God for allowing you the opportunity to be a public witness for HIM. PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME
Remember each one of us a quote I have heard from the Vice President of Salt Lake Baptist Bible College," A preacher who will preach from the pulpit for a pay check and not preach in the streets for free is a professional speaker. And the church member, though you give your tithes, sing, clap your hands and praise God inside the walls of the church, but, will not go out to the streets and share the Gospel is a hypocrite." Where will you go? Jesus said unto all the world, is that you?
I know some of the message in this article is repeated from Street Preaching 101. I repeated it because of the importance to the issue at hand. Capital lettered words were added as emphasis where needed to make the point stronger. So to repeat once more, adding emphasis, PRAYER is your most important tool. Seek God in prayer daily before you street preach. The old preacher said,"Knelt down, confessed up, prayed up, and by the hands of God lifted up."
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