Street Preaching: 201
Keeping It Simple
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 close and uninspired 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 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.
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 s