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Preaching Tips for the Open Air Preacher
Just before Jesus Christ ascended back into Heaven He gave us the Great Commission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). In this paper we would like to share all the basic things that an open-air preacher should know in order to be most effective in fulfilling the Great Commission. Below are about 50 preaching tips that I have learned over the years from those who are more experienced than I in open-air preaching. I thank God for their input in my life. I pray that these practical pointers will also be of great help to those who desire to be effective open-air preachers… The open-air preacher must have a healthy prayer-life (1 Thess 5:17) – This is the 1st lesson an open-air preacher must learn! He who wishes to have power with men (in evangelism) must first have power with God (in prayer) – Genesis 32:28. Time spent in the presence of God will greatly add to your boldness in openair preaching (Acts 4:13). Make sure that your life is clean and pure and that your house (family) is in order so that your preaching may carry power and virtue (1 Cor 2:4) – If you want your preaching to carry convicting power (1 Thess 1:5) and if you want the Holy Spirit of God to bear witness with you (and not against you!) then you must live a holy life with a clean conscience void of offense (Acts 24:16). If you have sin in your life you might just as well stay home and get on your knees and repent before you go out to point out sin in others (Mat 7:5). Your house should also be in order which will in turn increase your boldness knowing that your wife and children are behind you and supporting you (1 Tim 3:12-13). Fear nothing and no one except God! Remember, you are immortal till your work is done (Rev 11:7) – Some would-be preachers are afraid that open-air preaching will get them into trouble and cause them to lose their lives. Well, you have to count the cost before you go out and preach, but be encouraged with this thought - “You are immortal till your work is done”. God will NOT allow you to die until He thinks your ministry is over. Jesus Christ is in control of everything. Even if all the evil forces in the universe unite against you they cannot do a thing to you without God's consent. So do not fear a premature death as a result of preaching. God will take care of you if you are doing His work! Boldness comes with experience & from living a righteous life (Prov 28:1) – Do not be discouraged by a lack of boldness when you start out preaching. Everyone started out with butterflies in their stomach the day they first lifted up their voices to preach in the open-air. Over time your boldness will increase as you get more and more experienced in preaching in the open-air. The more you practise something, the easier it becomes. So it is with preaching. Living a righteous and a holy life will greatly increase your boldness too. Incidentally, boldness is also a sign that you are truly filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 4:31). Memorize Bible verses that you can use while preaching in the open-air (2 Tim 4:2) – When I first started out preaching I quickly ran out of words to
drunken sinners … 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 would be more suitable to that type of crowd! Also remember.Watch the newspapers or internet for any events/festivals/parades that attract a lot of people. etc). beaches or even the trains! We are supposed to redeem the time (Eph 5:16). He would stand on a street-corner. Acts 4:12. quote a Scripture and preach about it and continue on to another Scripture and preach about that for as long as there are people before him to preach to. Some people will judge you by saying that you should not judge … you should know the Bible well enough to reply with John 7:24. Some people will question you by asking “how do you know the Bible is true?” … you should know the Bible well enough to give a few examples of fulfilled prophecies to prove it’s Divine inspiration. For example. When I quote a verse I would preach about it and as soon as I run out of things to say I just quote another verse and preach about that and so on.You must be a diligent student of the Bible if you want to be an effective open-air preacher. You must be prepared to give a Biblical answer to any question/argument that comes your way (1 Pet 3:15). It is a much better use of time to preach in a place where there are thousands of people than to preach in a place where there are only a handful of people walking by. what you said right there is not in the Bible!” These are just a few examples that I can give to prove that it is absolutely necessary to diligently study your Bible in order to rightly divide the Word of God. Just make sure the verses apply to the crowd you are preaching to. but when you quote the Scripture in the openair you do not have to quote them word-for-word. John 14:21. yes. There are more than a hundred of these verses scattered throughout the Bible. festivals and parades are usually excellent opportunities to reach thousands of people. Romans 6:23 and Hebrews 9:27 to name a few. John 14:6. . Always look for places with the largest crowds or the largest concentration of people (Prov 1:20-21) – Go to the places where you will find the most amount of people gathered together. When Jesus said that we should “preach the Gospel to every creature” it is obvious that we should go to where the most people are gathered together and preach to them. Memorize the words accurately. Even the apostle Paul did not always quote the Scriptures exactly as they were written (compare Eph 4:8 with Ps 68:18 for an example).2 preach as I had not memorized much Bible verses yet. It is your job to search them out! Know the Bible (2 Tim 2:15) . People will come up to you and twist the Bible … you should know the Bible well enough to pick that up and to say “Hey. These places can include the streets. When preaching the Gospel in the openair you will have many people coming up to you with questions or arguments that you need to refute. Robert Flockhart (a Scottish open-air preacher) used to do the same thing. But once I started to memorize Bible verses that I can use in the open-air I never encountered this problem again. Read through the whole Bible and search for preaching-verses like Ezekiel 33:11. market-places. it is not a good idea to preach John 3:16 to a crowd of hardened. Mark 8:36. Even if you only preach the thoughts that the verses contain you are still preaching the Word of God. it is not necessary to quote Scriptures verbatim when you preach. Events. Some people will say that God’s love is unconditional … you should know the Bible well enough to convince them that that is just not true (Prov 8:17. Watch the media for events to preach at .
1 Corinthians 11:4 does not apply to you when you are preaching outside to the lost and the poor.g. Secondly. how will they ever hear? If you only preach at one place all the time the people will get so used to you that they will not notice you anymore and their hearts will get hardened. There are other places too that need to hear the Gospel! If you do not go to them. This way the other one can watch your back when you preach. So if you must wear a hat to preach in the open-air. this rule is not written in stone. This will keep you from getting sun-stroke if you plan to preach for many hours in the open-air. And no. First of all. etc (Rom 15:6) – This is important as it will only confuse an inquirer if one preacher says you must do this to be saved and another preacher says you must do that to be saved. .Jesus said that we should GO into ALL the world and preach the Gospel to EVERY creature. The whole chapter 11 deals about the practises of the church when “they come together” (verse 20). make sure you are all on the same page regarding the essential doctrines like salvation. The apostle Paul took the Great Commission literally and travelled throughout the whole known world in his time. Use your own discretion. always take another brother with you (e. Always carry a camera with you when you go out to preach – There are two important reasons for this. Furthermore. Jesus sent His disciples two-by-two … see Luke 10:1) – For security reasons it is always best to have another brother with you when you preach. it is great to take pictures and video-clips of the preaching as these can be distributed to many brothers all over the world to encourage them too 'to get with it'! Stay hydrated – Always carry a bottle (or 2) of water with you when you go out to preach. If I do not wear a hat I would not be able to preach for too long in the sun. Would-be attackers will think twice of attacking you if they see that there is a possibility that they might be caught on camera. It will also soothe your throat and help you to preach for longer without exhaustion. If another brother is not available then you do not have to stay home! Go out and preach anyway! The LORD is with you! When two or more brothers preach together. God is more concerned to see souls saved than about you wearing a hat or not. However. I've heard people mis-quoting this verse to criticise me for wearing a hat while I'm preaching. Wear a hat – If you plan to preach for many hours in the sun you must think of wearing a hat to prevent you from getting sun-stroke. The open air preacher must likewise be willing to travel to preach at other places except his home-town. it is a security-measure. Make sure that all the brothers agree together as to the essential doctrines before they preach together. then by all means wear one and get the job done! If possible. 1 Corinthians 11:4 does not forbid you to wear a hat while you are preaching. if I wear a hat I can preach much much longer in the sun and thus reach more people as a result. As a general rule do not preach at the same place more than once a month. However. Two are better than one (Eccl 4:9).3 Be willing to travel to different places (Acts 1:8) . the witness and power is greater when people see two preachers preaching the same thing (2 Cor 13:1).
he started out his message in the natural by using an altar with this inscription “To the Unknown God” for his illustration. our Supreme Example.In other words. when you preach to a crowd that includes a lot of women and children your message should be more loving in nature than when you preach to a crowd of hardened sinners which would in turn require a harder message. he must first inform the patient about the problem. . But become all things to all men that you might by all means save some (1 Cor 9:22).4 While you are preaching. Paul on Mars-hill) – When the Apostle Paul preached in Athens to the Greeks. before giving them the solution out of the danger – Jesus Christ (Gal 3:24). You must be willing to change gears (Jude 1:22-23) . then you may speak ‘Christianese” if you so desire. Elijah did it (see 1 King 18:27) – Humour is a powerful tool and it can be used to advance the Gospel with great effect. If you only preach hell and judgment then people will go away not knowing what they must do to get out of their problem. If you do not preach so that people may understand you then you will be as one speaking in the air (1 Cor 14:9). Preach so that people may UNDERSTAND you (Mark 4:33) – This is most important. This way your preaching will be balanced. Therefore we must first preach the law of God to show the sinner his danger. When you warn people about hell and the judgment to come … immediately follow it up with the Solution – Jesus Christ. who knew nothing about the true God of the Bible.g. so if you can. When the apostle Paul preached to the Jews he quoted a lot of Scriptures from the Old Testament to prove that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. before the patient would be willing to take the medicine for the problem. Adapt your message to the audience. If you are preaching to unlearned people use words that are easy to be understood. Preach both. etc. but preached a message that the Greeks could clearly follow and understand. When he preached to the Greeks he did not quote any Old Testament Scriptures.Do not use the same message everywhere. sinners will never see their need for a Saviour until they realize their need to be saved. always go back and forth between law and grace (Rom 11:22) . He then quoted a Greek poet to prove a point before he swung it over to the spiritual by preaching about the resurrection. Humour attracts and holds people’s attention! Some people are obviously more serious by nature than others. First the natural then the spiritual (e. started out most of His sermons in the natural by using parables before He turned over to the spiritual in His conclusions. do not preach ONLY hell and judgment or ONLY the grace of God. Tell people that there is a way out! This way they know you have their best interests at heart. If you are preaching to religious people. judgment day and repentance. Try to use modern-day events that people can relate to … events like natural disasters. Likewise. If you can. Even our Lord Jesus Christ. (Mat 24:7-8) and use these to get people to think about their souls and eternity. Similarly. you may lawfully use humour to prove a point. On the other hand if you preach only the grace of God then people will shrug their shoulders with indifference and say: “So what? Who doesn’t know that God loves them?” If a doctor wants to give a patient some medicine. it is good to use humour from time to time to prove a point. If you are preaching to students use their vocabulary.
Remember. your message should always include calls to repentance. Do not sermonize. However. so don’t strain it at first. John the Baptist was a voice CRYING in the wilderness (Mat 3:1-3). the Old Testament prophets preached repentance (Ezek 33:11). the Greek word for “preach” is the word “kerusso” which means to cry aloud like a town-crier! Let us follow the examples of the Men of God in the Bible! Start of slowly and increase the volume (Isa 58:1) – If you immediately start out preaching with full volume you will lose your voice really quickly. You will be able to preach longer this way. . Reasoning must be brief. or your hearers will let you know … In the street. Learn to pace yourself during a preach – In other words. Take a break here and there to sip on your bottle of water. On this subject John Wesley had the following to say: “A great deal of sermonizing may be defined as saying nothing at extreme length. If people listen to you for only 30 seconds at any point of your preaching they should hear enough in that time to understand what it is all about. use many illustrations and anecdotes. Rather pace yourself and start with a lower volume and increase your volume gradually during a preach. but outdoors verbosity is not admired. clear. This gives us license to touch any topic from Genesis to Revelation. Long paragraphs and long arguments had better be reserved for other occasions. People will be more willing to listen to you if you preach at a pace that they can follow. Jesus Christ also raised His voice when He preached! For Him to teach 5000 men at the same time He had to (Mark 6:34-44)! By the way. To dwell long on a point will never do. and each point must be complete in itself. John the Baptist preached repentance (Mat 3:2). If you preach too fast you run the risk of losing your audience in the process. and sprinkle a quaint remark here and there. We are supposed to CRY ALOUD as the prophet Isaiah says! Peter raised his voice on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14). Short sentences of words and short passages of thought are needed for the outdoors. the apostles preached repentance (Mark 6:12) and so should we (2 Pet 3:9)! Preach slowly and deliberately (James 1:19) – Make it a habit of always preaching slowly and deliberately so that people can follow you and understand you. Your voice is a muscle that must be trained.5 Be to the point. JESUS CHRIST preached repentance (Luke 13:3. and soon done with. neither must the second point depend upon the first. You must say something and have done with it and go on to say something more. a man must keep himself lively. so slow down. for the audience is a changing one. Breathe deeply when you preach (Isa 58:1) – Take deep breaths when you preach. The discourse must not be ‘forced’ over-literalized or involved.” Preach repentance (Luke 24:47)! – We are to preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2). This will enable you to preach with greater volume. – Your preaching should be direct and to the point. and come there with all your might. It is easier to control a slow turtle than a fast rabbit. Fast speaking or fast preaching is a sign of nervousness/excitement/anxiety. Give it time to get strong. Speaking or preaching slowly is a sign of authority/confidence and self-control.5). do not try to preach non-stop all the time. The chain of thought must be taken to pieces and each link melted down and turned into bullets … Come to the point at once. If you do not include repentance and forgiveness of sins in your preaching then you’ve missed the target.
when you see a fire-truck speeding by with sirens wailing you can point to the truck and preach: “There’s a fire that no fire-truck can quench…” and then continue on to warn people about hell.6 Preach in turns (1 Cor 14:31) – When two or more brothers are preaching together they should take turns in preaching. especially if you are standing within hearing distance from one another. Do not be discouraged by persecution (2 Tim 3:12) – Persecution is to be expected if you are an effective preacher! John Wesley once said that when you preach people should either get angry with you or they should repent at your preaching … if neither happens it is a sign that you are not effective enough. When you preach about “calling on the Name of the Lord to be saved” … then go on your knees yourself and show the people how to call on God’s Name! This will help you to hold people’s attention. This is one tactic that the enemy uses to silence a preacher. do not preach at the same pitch or tone all the time. Use incidences that come up during a preach as ammunition for your preaching – For example. Your voice will travel much further with the wind than against the wind. Avoid profitless talk (2 Tim 2:23) – From time to time the enemy will send someone to distract you from preaching by trying to engage you in profitless talk about this or that. Always. People will quickly get bored if you preach at the same tone all the time without varying your voice. The worst form of persecution usually comes from the religious crowd! From those who like to call . Be on the lookout for incidences such as these that might serve as additional ammunition during a preach. Move your body! – Be animated! Be lively and energetic! This will grab people’s attention! Do not just stand there like a statue when you preach! For example. when you preach about the “wailing and gnashing of teeth in hell” then throw up your hands in the air and look at the sky to give your audience some visual effects.Do not preach monotonously. When you realize that someone only wants to argue with you about minor issues then cut the conversation short and return at once to the real job at hand – that of preaching the Gospel to the multitudes! Preach with the wind – If the wind blows strongly you will have to turn your back to the wind and preach with the wind. In other words. always maintain eye-contact with your hearers! – This is very important! You want people to know that you are preaching to THEM! If you do not keep eye-contact with people they will not take your message personally. Vary your tone/pitch when you preach. If you are persecuted for preaching the Gospel then it is a sign that you are doing something right! Why else would the world hate you and persecute you if you are not hitting a sensitive nerve somewhere? The world do not like conviction. This will only cause confusion among the hearers. Vary your voice from time to time to emphasize key points. Watch what's going on around you when you preach – Be aware of your surroundings when you preach and watch out for any potential danger/trouble. Do NOT preach all at the same time.
was beheaded in prison for calling sin sin (Mat 14:110). All of the apostles. only had 12 disciples! Do not take it personally when people reject you and your message! It is not your fault! The problem is not with you or the seed that you sow. Many preachers started out well. always let the inquirer read the verses themselves. God promised in Isaiah 55:11 that His Word will never return to Him void.7 themselves “Christians”! There are still Pharisees and Sad-you-sees walking around today! They are usually the ones who will tell you not to judge them when you preach against sin … they will tell you to be more loving when you warn them about hell and the judgment to come … they will tell you to be more subtle in your approach when you lift up your voice like a John the Baptist.We have seen many preachers come and go because of this very point. People ALWAYS read banners! Banners are great attention-getters! People cannot help themselves but to read a banner and by the time they figure out what it is all about they already got the message! So take a banner or a sandwichsign with you when you preach! This way you will stand out in a crowd and your light will shine (Mat 5:16)! Wear Christian T-shirts – A Christian T-shirt is another great way of getting the Word out … even in places where public preaching are not allowed (like modern shopping centres for example!). faithful preaching of the Word of God will ALWAYS be a success … no matter how things appear to be on the surface. suffered a violent death. the majority will reject you and only a few will heed you and believe your message. Only 1 of the 4 soils are said to be good ground. The T-shirt still preach even if you don't. but with the ground on which the seed fell (Luke 8:11-15). Just read 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 some time and you will see the things the apostle Paul went through for the Lord's sake. Carry a Bible with you when you preach – If someone comes up to you with a question you will want to have a Bible with you to show the inquirer that what you say are actually in the Bible and that you are not just making things up. They are always preaching (even if you're not!). In other words.” Remember. but along the way they get discouraged by a lack of 'results' and threw in the towel completely. the voice crying in the wilderness (Mat 3:1-3). Some will even threaten to kill you! Do not be discouraged by this! The best Open Air Preacher the world has ever seen was crucified on a cross between two thieves! John the Baptist. . If possible. Be encouraged by the example of Noah! He is called a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet 2:5) and yet he preached for a 100 years (Gen 5:32 compared with Gen 7:6) with no converts except for his wife. Jesus Christ. Something will always happen behind the scenes … in the hearts of men … that you cannot see. Take a banner with you (Psalm 20:5 & 60:4) – Banners with biblical messages on them are powerful tools to get the Word out. This agrees with what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 . If you are persecuted for Christ's sake you should rejoice (Mat 5:10-12) as you are in good company! Do not be discouraged by a seemingly lack of ‘results’ (Isa 55:11) . the best Open Air Preacher of all time. his 3 sons and their wives with him. In the parable of the sower there are 4 soils.“broad is the way to destruction and there are MANY who go in by it … but narrow is the gate that leads to life and there are FEW who find it. Likewise with the world. God will see to that! Isaiah 55:11 is God's promise to you! He will keep it! Your job is just to sow the seed! God will do the rest (1 Cor 3:7)! Judgment Day alone will reveal all the countless of souls that have been saved by your preaching. except John.
Stand a few steps away so that the pedestrians might walk by unhindered. point the bull-horn to the sky so that the sound goes over the heads of people. If you must use a bull-horn in these situations. If you leave a banner unattended it might fall down with poles and all and injure someone or damage something. Never block traffic lights/signs with a banner – If you block traffic lights or traffic signs with a banner you are asking for trouble from the authorities. If you wish to extend the length of your ministry on earth then use wisdom. Please use wisdom in your use of a bull-horn. Never leave your preaching tools unattended – Never leave a banner or a bull-horn unattended in public. Always remove the batteries when not in use. Make sure that the tract has a good Gospel-message on it. When carrying a banner make sure that it does not get caught in tree-branches as these will cause damage to a banner. When you are preaching very close to people it is unwise to preach with a bull-horn directly into their ears. Use wisdom when preaching in Islamic countries – When preaching in places with a large population of Muslims … do NOT preach anything negative about their holy book or their so-called “prophet”. Never obstruct traffic – Never block an entrance to a shop or shopping centre. Do not let them go away empty-handed. If you make negative remarks about their religion you are asking to be martyred. etc. Use amplification if necessary – Use a bull-horn/loudspeaker/megaphone when you are preaching in a noisy environment. So don't underestimate the use of tracts. Make sure that someone is always holding on to the banner during a preach. etc. Cleanse the mouth-piece of your bull-horn with an anti-septic after you returned from a preach – When you preach spittle usually gathers around the mouth-piece of your bull-horn. Never do that. marketplaces. Only emphasize that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to God (John 14:6) and that salvation is ONLY found in Him (Acts 4:12). but you should be free to use these on most beaches. Remove the batteries of your bull-horn and camera after a preach – If you do not remove the batteries from your bull-horn or camera after you returned from a preach then the batteries will run down and probably cause damage to your preaching tools. Never give your cell number or physical address to a complete stranger (Mat 10:16-17) – Jesus said to “beware of men”! Enemies of the Gospel will . These tools are expensive and might get stolen if you do not keep an eye on them. When you get home after the preach. wipe it off and cleanse the mouth-piece with some anti-septic for hygienic reasons.8 Take tracts with you – Take a number of good tracts with you and give them to the people who come and talk with you. The sound will go farther this way and people will not complain that you are hurting their ears. Many many souls have been saved throughout the years by reading a tract. You want to be HEARD! Due to by-laws. most cities will not allow amplification in the city-centres. Hudson Taylor (missionary to China) was saved by reading a tract.
It will be a very interesting read a couple of years later. If you know the laws of the place you’re preaching in you may ask them: “What law am I breaking?” If they are unable to tell you then you may answer them: “Well. If the authorities are adamant that you should leave the place. ALWAYS be polite and respectful when talking with the authorities. Know the laws – It is helpful to know the laws of your country and city in dealing with the authorities. From time to time you may be confronted by law-enforcement officials or even the Police who may try to hinder you’re preaching. If possible. but to work with them by preaching the Gospel which will in turn lessen the crime in that place if the people turn to the Lord.. Pray before and after a preach (Acts 4:31) – The Word says it all! Now. Keep these reports somewhere in a file.15-16 .” Tell the Police or Lawenforcement official that you are a law-abiding citizen and that you are not there to cause trouble.9 sometimes pretend to stay in touch with you by trying to get your phone-number or physical address … only to track you down later to do you harm! If someone really wants to stay in touch with you give the person your email-address instead. go out and PREACH TO EVERY CREATURE! MK 16. If you reason with the authorities and see that they are at the point of wanting to arrest you … then submit to them and comply with their request and preach somewhere else for the time being. Any signs of disrespect or resistance on your regard will not help the cause. then ask them where do they want you to preach? Reason with them in a friendly manner and negotiate with them as to the best place you can preach at. write a report of your preach as soon as possible after you’ve returned from your preach (Acts 14:27) – This will serve as a great encouragement to others when they read about all the wonderful things God has done through you in the open-air.. Avoid arrest as far as possible. It’s safer. since I’m not breaking a law I will continue to stand here and preach.