Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thoughts on Open-Air Preaching Part 3...

Finally, I'm getting the opportunity to update my series on open-air preaching. In Parts 1 and 2, I shared my thoughts on two vivid examples of open-air preachers of the Old Testament, Noah and Jeremiah.

Now, on to the New Testament. Here, let's look at our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his example as an open-air preacher.

It can be easily seen throughout the gospel accounts of Christ's life and ministry that He continually drew large crowds wherever He went (Matthew 13:2, 14:14, 19:2, 20:29, 21:9, Mark 2:4, 2:13, 3:7, 3:20, 4:1, 5:21, Luke 5:1, 6:17, 8:4, 19:3, John 6:2, 12:9, 12:29, to name a few).

One of the most dramatic instances of Christ's open-air preaching can be found in John 6. If you read at the beginning of the chapter, Jesus has drawn a crowd of 5,000 people. We know this because as it is written...

Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?" Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.
(John 6:5-10 ESV)

I can only imagine what it would look like to have 5,000 people gathered around to hear one individual. Yet Jesus had the ability--through His miracles and teachings--to draw such large numbers. Having said that, continue reading the rest of the chapter as Jesus begins to preach...

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."
(John 6:25-40 ESV)

What was the reaction to Jesus' bold proclamations about Himself, His origins, and His offer?

They grumbled (John 6:41).

And Jesus, noticing their negative reaction, didn't seek to quell their growing hostility; instead, He preached more truth.

He preached the exclusivity of Himself in order to get to the Father.

He preached Himself as the fulfillment of Old Testament types and shadows.

He preached His blood as the only hope for the Jews who were yearning for a Messiah.

The reaction of the crowd after this?

"..."This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" (John 6:60)

They were not receiving this at all. Jesus who claims He came from Heaven? Jesus the only way to the Father? Jesus the "bread of life?" Jesus the one whose blood we must partake in?

First they grumbled at the teaching, then they threw up their hands in confusion. So far, it doesn't seem as though Jesus' open-air preaching is very successful, at least from the viewpoint of the audience.

But He is not done yet.

See how Jesus--who knows exactly what is troubling these Jews--answers back to them. Does He try to elaborate in a more "seeker-friendly" manner? Does he consider their "felt needs" and respond thusly?


But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."
(John 6:61-65 ESV)

Ahem? So, the crowd is hearing this preaching...they are not happy about it because what Jesus is saying not only doesn't meet their expectations, but His preaching completely neglects their felt needs and utterly rocks their preconceived notions about what it means to have a relationship with God the Father.

And after shaking up the crowd so drastically and seeing the negativity pulsing throughout the crowd, what does Jesus do?

He basically acknowledges their rank unbelief and then uses their hostility to make His point about the exclusivity of the Gospel.

So, in a chapter that began with 5,000 people hanging on every word from Jesus' mouth, this chapter ends with this sad yet inevitable reality...

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?"
(John 6:66-67 ESV)

From 5,000 to 12. In one instance of open-air preaching. And it happened to Jesus Christ.

Some might call such a dramatic turn of events a "let-down."

It would be more accurate to call this "expected." Where hard truths are preached, people will scatter. Jesus' miracles drew the crowds in, but His words turned them away.

Be encouraged, open-air preacher. If you're preaching God's word and people are grumbling, questioning, and--finally--leaving, then you're walking in the "way of the Master."

Until next time...don't stop proclaiming.

- Shane

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Night Out in Bricktown....

While I had planned on at least two more parts to my "Open Air Preaching" series, well, I got a nice sinus infection this week that put my blogging plans on hold. Now that the pressure in my head has been somewhat relieved, I do plan on finishing the "Open Air" series with some observations on Jesus' open-air preaching experience in John 6, as well as Paul's famous open-air preaching experience on Mars Hill.

Tonight, our local evangelism team descended on the Bricktown area in downtown Oklahoma City. It was a good night. About 1,000 tracts were handed out, and the Gospel was preached in the open-air on several occasions. Brady engaged in what has become known as "stoplight preaching," in which he stands on a box at a busy intersection and preaches a short Gospel presentation (2-3 minutes) to the crowds standing at the corner waiting for the traffic light to change.

I had a few lively encounters with some young people as I preached on the box. An in-depth discussion on predestination broke out with a few teenagers right after I finished my preaching! Then we ended up things with a discussion about the Trinity with a young man who seemed confused about the concept of a Triune God. It sounded as though his brief experience in Mormonism warped his view of God. We opened up the Word of God to him. On a related note, it REALLY helps to have the entire Bible on your iPhone!

So, I would like to thank Brady, Trisha, and Tom for their help, support, and encouragement tonight. It was a pleasure--as always--to do ministry with you folks.

Pray for those who received the word, both through tracts and through preaching.

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
(Isa 55:11 ESV)

Soli Deo Gloria!

In Christ,

- Shane

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thoughts on Open-Air Preaching Part 2...

As I continue to ponder the Biblical concept of open-air preaching, I was reminded of the one of the most vivid examples of a continual and persistent open-air preacher:


Jeremiah's story is rather simple and straightforward: God gave Jeremiah a message and told him to proclaim it to the general public (Jer 2:1-2; Jer 7:1-2) and to those in leadership (Jer 17:19-20; Jer 22:1-2).

Jeremiah's preaching was PUBLIC. He went into the streets and stood at the "gates," which was the center of activity in the city.

And the LORD said to me, "Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and do them.
(Jer 11:6 ESV)

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: "Stand in the gate of the LORD's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.
(Jer 7:1-2 ESV)

Thus said the LORD to me: "Go and stand in the People's Gate, by which the kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem, and say: 'Hear the word of the LORD, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates.
(Jer 17:19-20 ESV)

Thus says the LORD: "Go down to the house of the king of Judah and speak there this word, and say, 'Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, who sits on the throne of David, you, and your servants, and your people who enter these gates.
(Jer 22:1-2 ESV)

Then, in the hearing of all the people, Baruch read the words of Jeremiah from the scroll, in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the secretary, which was in the upper court, at the entry of the New Gate of the LORD's house.
(Jer 36:10 ESV)

Jeremiah's preaching was CONTROVERSIAL. He was commanded by God to publicly call out the sins of the people and those in leadership. His message was POINTED and it was SPECIFIC (Jer 2:13). Needless to say, people don't react very well to light that exposes their dark deeds (John 3:20).

What thanks did Jeremiah get for all of his pleading? What did he receive for all of the tears he shed for the sins of his people (Jer 9:1)?

Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the LORD.
(Jer 20:1-2 ESV)

And since that didn't seem to silence Jeremiah or his intense preaching, the people upped the ante...

And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, "You shall die!
(Jer 26:8 ESV)

Thankfully, the Lord protected Jeremiah's life from the hands of those who were offended by his preaching. But the persecution didn't end there...

And the officials were enraged at Jeremiah, and they beat him and imprisoned him in the house of Jonathan the secretary, for it had been made a prison.
(Jer 37:15 ESV)

So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king's son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.
(Jer 38:6 ESV)

What can we learn from Jeremiah's preaching ministry?

He took God's message to the streets where it could be heard by all.

His preaching definitely wasn't received well by all. In fact, throughout the entire book of Jeremiah, there are only two instances in which his message received a positive response.

Like Noah--who never saw a single convert during his 120 years of open-air preaching--Jeremiah saw very little visible fruit from his very public and very controversial street ministry.

And yet, Jeremiah's commitment to delivering God's message and his overall zeal for God's glory will be forever remembered as contained in the eternal word of God (Isa 40:8).

Until next time...don't stop proclaiming.

- Shane

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Some Thoughts on Open-Air Preaching...

In the coming week, I will be sharing some thoughts that have been mulling around in my head concerning the practice of preaching the Gospel in the open air. This practice of "open-air preaching" used to be quite common, but--as evangelicalism has slipped further and further into cultural irrelevancy--it has been all but abandoned.

Lately, though, the Lord has used faithful men to revive the practice. But we still have a long way to go before the Gospel is proclaimed faithfully in the public square on a consistent basis (in both urban and rural areas).

The concept is a simple one:

Stand up before a crowd (the exactly size of the crowd will vary), and preach (that is..."proclaim," "herald" or "announcing") the good news of salvation of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

The first and most obvious question is...

"Is there Biblical precedent for proclaiming the way of salvation in public to a crowd?"


According to the Scriptures, the very first "open-air preacher" was Noah. God saw that the world was evil (Gen 6:5). God told Noah that He was going to destroy the world (Gen 6:13), and instructed him to build a way to escape the destruction (Gen 6:14).

It took Noah approximately 120 years to build the ark. Did he ever engage the wicked culture during that time with the message of impending judgment? Did he ever preach repentance so that this judgment could be avoided?

Peter calls Noah a "preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:5). The author of Hebrews tells us that Noah "condemned the world."

Noah knew of the impending disaster; he had God's word on it. For 120 years, Noah labored out in the open in building this immense structure. Most certainly, the progress of the ark was clearly seen by those wicked souls who passed by. Noah did indeed preach to them. In fact, he preached to them for 120 years.

And how many converts did he see in 120 years?


That being said, look at Noah's ultimate fate...

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
(Heb 11:7 ESV) (emphasis mine)

What can we learn from Noah's experience as an open-air preacher?

The number of converts does not determine the effectiveness of the preacher.

As we continue, we'll look at a few other examples of open-air preachers in the Bible and see what we can learn from their example.

Until next time...don't stop proclaiming.

- Shane

Monday, March 15, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Parade Evangelism...

Here is some open-air preaching that Brady and I did immediately after the St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown Oklahoma City. First up was yours truly...

Part 1

Part 2

Next up was Brady Brewer, who found himself a heckler. This guy didn't seem to have any other problem than the fact that he hated the Gospel. Big time.

Part 1

Part 2

Please pray for our ministry in downtown Oklahoma City. We have enjoyed immense freedom to preach the Gospel in the heart of Bricktown and, for that, we are grateful. Comments, questions, concerns, and complaints are always welcome.

Soli Deo Gloria!

- Shane

Thursday, March 11, 2010

So Why Do Atheists Not Seek After God?

Atheists would claim that they don't seek after God because of unbelief.

Scripture has a different explanation.

In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, "There is no God."
(Psa 10:4 ESV)

The problem with atheism is not unbelief. The problem with atheism--as it is with all of us--is PRIDE.

So remember that the next time you're engaging an atheist with the Gospel.

In Christ,

- Shane

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why I'm a Big Believer in Gospel Tracts...

He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.

(Psa 147:15 ESV)

'Nuff said.

Think about it.

- Shane

Open-Air at Dealey Plaza...

Stay tuned to this blog for various updates on new evangelism/outreach events, as well as articles and other material designed to encourage and equip born-again Christians to reach out to the lost with the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is video from one of our latest open-air presentations. Carl and myself were in downtown Dallas at Dealey Plaza. That particular area is a major tourist attraction, so there were folks milling about and walking by as we both took turns on the "preaching box." Carl runs an evangelism ministry out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area called Bezeugen Ministries (

Soli Deo Gloria!