by Tony Miano
edited by Matt Slick
It has been said of the young street preacher, “You can’t control him. You can only hope to contain him.” Many young, prospective street preachers make the mistake of moving into the street preaching world too quickly. They have great desire and zeal, but they lack certain kinds of knowledge. They make haste to get “on the box” and miss essential aspects of the street preaching craft, often rendering them about as graceful and effective as a bull in a china shop. This article will address these issues and provide counsel for young street preachers. Hopefully they will find this helpful so they can avoid making some of the common mistakes of the over-zealous.
Desire Without Knowledge Is Not Good . . .
"Desire without knowledge is not good,” (Proverbs 19:2a)
Young men who feel burdened or called to preach are often in a hurry to do so. It’s as if they experience a spiritual epiphany and realize they are not a timid house cat, but a bold lion (Proverbs 28:1). Then they realize they are lions in a cage. They feel anxious looking out of their cages, seeing a vast world filled with sidewalks, strip malls, public parks, piers, and people, which motivates them to bust out. Once they escape their cages and find themselves on the street, they do the first thing that comes to mind. They roar.
Many young street preachers have a depth of theological knowledge that puts many of their older street preaching brothers to shame. But theological knowledge doesn't mean they are living the Scriptures properly. Their desire to serve Christ and reach the lost with the gospel is wonderful, but their desire to do so without the wisdom and discernment of time and experience is not good.
Do Not Make Haste . . .
“Whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way,” (Proverbs 19:2b).
Often, young street preachers lack the life and street experience to temper and harness their zeal for preaching the gospel to the lost. They come out guns-a-blazing, but often firing indiscriminately. When clearing a building of possible threats, the worst thing an officer can do is move too quickly through the building. The quicker an officer moves, the more likely he is to miss something critically important -- like a person behind a door, or under a bed, or behind a curtain.
Puritan theologian John Gill wrote:
“And he that hasteth with his feet sinneth; who engages in anything ignorantly and rashly, he misses the mark, and fails in the performance of it, for want of due consideration and care.”1
How to begin Open-Air Preaching as a Young Man
Young man, proceed slowly as you enter the world of street preaching. What you may think you know is overshadowed by all you have yet to learn. If you are hasty in getting “on the box,” so to speak, it is likely you will miss the mark (sin) in the effort. You will run the risk of being rash with your words, failing to preach with the consideration and care for Christ and lost souls that distinguishes good open-air preachers from bad ones.
Enter into open-air preaching slowly, methodically, thoughtfully, carefully, and humbly. Seek to place yourself under the tutelage and discipleship of an older, more experienced street preacher. If one is not readily available to you, find one. Find an older brother who is willing and equipped to mentor you from afar, via email, Skype, or through one of the many social networking outlets.
Take your time. Learn not only how to preach, but also what to preach. Learn the Scriptures not only in their biblical context, but also how to apply them in your life and street ministry. Learn not only how to persuade with your voice, but also how to persist in your love for the lost.
Slow down young man.
- 1. http://biblecommenter.com/proverbs/19-2.htm