If you have read the articles in CARM’s “Street Preaching” section, you will readily notice that we have chosen to use the term “street preaching” rather than “open-air preaching.” The terms are synonymous, so why the preference of the term “street preaching” over “open air preaching"? The reason is simple. We want to take back the term “street preaching” from those who misrepresent the biblical, Christ-honoring, Christ-exalting discipline of heralding the gospel on the streets around the world.
The typical caricature of the street preacher is the angry man standing on a corner with a bullhorn yelling at people, calling them names, and assigning them to hell. Sadly, the caricature is too close to reality for many street preachers.
The street preaching community, by and large, is a wonderful, loving, Godly, biblical, selfless, sacrificial community of Christians. Still there are those individuals who misrepresent and embarrass the larger community. The street preaching community is not immune to this problem. Sadly, it seems (at least on the internet) that those who carry the title “street preacher” are those who are not properly representative of the street preaching/open-air preaching community. And, more often than not, it is the unbiblical street preacher who draws the attention of the media, while leaving the biblical street preachers to deal with the consequences of their sinful representation of Christ and His Church. Here are some examples:
- Street preachers bring a pig head on a stick to a Muslim festival, resulting in almost riotous conditions1
- A street preacher shows hatred in his heart by calling a woman names2
- A nomadic street preacher preaches legalism 3
The fact is that there are street preachers who misrepresent Christ and misrepresent other street preachers. Like street gang members in any given community, the unbiblical street preacher is the exception and not the rule. They are a minority who, unfortunately, make things miserable for the majority.
At CARM, we aim to reclaim the term “street preacher” from those who are an embarrassment to the street evangelism community, and we will do that in a number of ways. One way is to write voluminously about street evangelism and street preaching. Another way is to model biblical street evangelism and street preaching. Still another way is to highlight the biblical street preachers around the world who represent Jesus Christ, His Word, and His Church well.