Why I Preach on the Streets

By Pastor James L. Melton | Copyright © 1998

Our church makes it a regular habit to preach on the local publick streets. Our nationís Constitution grants us FREEDOM OF SPEECH, so we exercise our freedom by preaching Godís word to the general publick. No other church in our county does this, so people naturally write us off as a bunch of fanatics. A few others show their appreciation for our ministry, yet they never preach publickly themselves. Nevertheless, we continue to preach the word and distribute Gospel literature, and we do so for some very good reasons...

Godís Word Commands Street Preaching

Publick ministry is not a matter of choice or preference. Godís word clearly tells us that publick ministry was a regular part of early Christianity.

In Luke 14:23, we are commanded to "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:20, "And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house." These passages make it very clear that Christians are not only supposed to take the Gospel to the private homes of the lost, but also to the publick streets. God doesnít waste words. If He says "highways" and "publickly", then He means just that. Our nation has an abundance of pulpit, radio, and television preachers, but thereís a sad and serious shortage of Bible-believing street preachers. I preach on the streets because God told me to do so.

Many preachers refuse to preach on the streets while using excuses like "It just doesnít work" or "It just doesnít work around here." By the term "work" the preacher means that street preaching doesnít fill the pews in his church building! He figures that filling his pews is more important than warning the lost, so he doesnít preach on the street. I have found that street preaching DOES "work" if your primary goal is to preach to the lost like God commanded. Our Lord didnít say for us to go into all the churches and preach the gospel. He said for us to go into all the world. A local street corner is a fine place to start.

The Great Men of the Bible Were Street Preachers

"Then the LORD said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them." (Jeremiah 11:6) All through the Bible Godís men spoke publickly. Noah had no pulpit or building, yet the Bible declares that he was a "preacher of righteousness" (II Pet. 2:5). He was a publick open-air preacher, just like Enoch, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the rest of the prophets.

The New Testament hardly gets underway before we read of John the Baptist, the "voice of one crying in the wilderness" (Mat. 3:1-12). He was an open-air publick preacher. He had no pulpit, but he certainly had a message, and he wasnít AFRAID to preach it publickly!

The same is true with the Apostles and early Christians. They not only preached in the temple and in the synagogues, but also in the general publick (Acts 3, 8:40, 14:6-7, 17:17, 20:20).

When the Lord Jesus Christ began His preaching ministry, like all the others, He preached to the general publick (Mark 1:14-16). He preached to those gathering by the sea shore (Mat. 13:1-2). He preached to those in the outer court yard of the temple (John 7:28). He preached on a mountain (Mat. 5:1-3). Jesus was a publick street preacher. Am I better than He? No, not at all! I count it a privilege to be able to preach publickly like my Saviour! I WANT to be identified with Him and the great men of Godís word who were not afraid to lift up their voices like a trumpet in the presence of the general publick.

The World Needs to Know that Iím Different

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." (Heb. 11:13)

Every real Christian, and certainly every preacher, needs to be reminded constantly that this world is not his home. We are STRANGERS, and we should never feel at home in this wicked world. I have found that street preaching draws a very definite line between myself and the many lukewarm preachers in our area. The publick clearly sees a difference. A clear line is drawn between our church and the many liberal and compromising churches. The people in our community KNOW that we are different, and they know that we mean business. This is largely due to street preaching. We do not have to TELL people that weíre different. We PROVE it every time we street preach.

Street Preaching Attracts Attention

Preacher, you donít have to waste Godís money on expensive attractions to get a crowd. You donít have to have a special singing to get people to hear your preaching. Just take your Bible, some tracts, some Scripture signs, and a few faithful Christians to a busy intersection and start preaching! In less than an hour hundreds of people will have HEARD and SEEN your message!

I Enjoy the Filling of the Holy Spirit

Apart from the night that I received Christ as my Saviour, I know of no greater feeling of inner peace and assurance than that of street preaching. I preach or teach from a pulpit four times every week, but still, thereís nothing like street preaching. Thereís a spirit of boldness and power which accompanies street preaching, unlike pulpit preaching. I can remember the very first time I went. I was very nervous, but as soon as I opened my mouth the Holy Spirit just took control! The moment I said, "The Bible says..." the whole thing changed and I felt right at home at that busy intersection.

Occasionally, we have the opportunity to introduce others to publick street preaching. Everyone says about the same thing: "I was nervous at first, but then God just took over! Thereís nothing like it!"

Street Preaching Is Good for My Church Members

As a pastor, it brings great joy to see a few faithful church members occupy the streets for their Lord and Saviour. Any Christian can sit in a pew or eat a fellowship meal, but it takes a courageous saint to bear the reproach of street preaching. I generally do the preaching, while my members hold Scripture signs with sayings like "Ye must be born again," and "Iím a fool for Jesus Christ. Whose fool are you?" Other members offer tracts and Bible courses to those stopped at the red lights. After the preaching, there is always a spirit of joy and excitement present as we comment on our experiences of the day. Street preaching will give your members more zeal and boldness than anything else you can do. If you want to see your people serving God, get them on the streets.

If I Donít Warn the Lost, Who Will?

"And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none." (Ezekiel 22:30)

Will God say this of your community? Friend, your publick streets are filled with people who never attend church services, and many of them have never heard a clear presentation of New Testament salvation. Many of these people you will never meet anywhere else. The street is your only chance to warn them. Paul, a street preacher himself, said, "Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." (Acts 20:26-27) Can you make this statement about the men in your community? Friend, if you donít preach to the publick, who will? WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

Note: The word "public" in this tract has intentionally been spelled "publick" in order to match the Old English spelling in the King James Bible.

This tract is available through Bible Baptist Church, 125 E. Maple, Sharon, TN 38255. An eight cent donation per tract is appreciated, but not required.