From "Street Preachers' Manual" © 1989 by Rev. Gerald Sutek
Reproduced by permission.
"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression ...... Isaiah 58:1
"Men ought always to pray, and not to faint." This verse was written especially for street preachers, and you'll claim it when you face the street.
Here is a list of prayer requests to be made prior to your street preaching. Pray:
for power and filling of the Holy Spirit
for rapport with the people
for exaltation of Jesus and His word
for the fear of God to fall on the area of ministry
for the blood of Jesus to cleanse the area
for decrease of self, crucifixion of the flesh, and complete yielding
for salvation of souls
for strengthening of weak Christians
for protection from police or physical harm
Have several short verses memorized on the subject you intend to preach. I do not recommend notes. Make your notes in your head as much as possible. A street preacher must learn to be "instant in season and out of season." He must learn to think on his feet and not to be easily distracted. In actually preparing your message, meditate on the few memorized verses and on the brief comments that will compliment the scripture. Three points and a poem just won't do on the street. Most of the time, you have less than one minute to preach to any person as they pass from store to store or office to office. Parks and outside lunch areas or other similar situations might be an exception. Ninety percent of your street messages will typically be on salvation. There may be times when a different subject would be in order such as a demonstration, or gathering of queers, or anti-capital punishment proponents, or other Bible issues. Prepare your own heart with confession and praise.
Finding a place to preach is usually not too difficult if you really want to. Night hours will complicate the problem as well as extremely small towns. The element most important is people. Find a place where people gather. Bus stops, parks, flea markets, unemployment lines, college registration lines, box offices for sports, fairs, carnivals, parades, fireworks displays, lunch hour traffic, beaches (careful), public schools (before and after school), miniature golf courses, and college campuses to name a few good examples. If possible, get a float in the parade and preach. Do it with some class, though. Decorate and adjust your message to the theme of the parade.
Search your heart and find out what you want to project. This will determine your appearance, your message, your attitude, your rapport, and your result.
After eighteen years of street work, I came to Cleveland, Ohio, for yet another street meeting. We found a parking space, prayed, and carried equipment to where it was needed. We sang, preached, passed tracts, dealt personally with folks, packed up, came back to the car, prayed, and drove on.
What was wrong with that? No one got saved, but then that happens often. The real problem was that I really didn't expect anyone to get saved. I had done this so often that I had become too mechanical. I didn't expect the fear of God to come down on that area where we were preaching, and it didn't.
Don't ever make that mistake. Preach expecting the Lord to move in a mighty way, so that when He does, you'll not be shocked.
Street preaching is the single most physically vulnerable ministry that I know of. It is imperative to depend one hundred percent on the Lord, and yet there are a few rules of protection. Jesus sent His disciples out two by two, and He certainly knew what He was doing. One preaches and the other looks for obstacles or distractions which may hinder that preaching.
Positioning yourself with your back against, or almost against, a building is beneficial both for protection and as an aid to projection. While preaching in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, I found a hollowed out little concave platform made into the side of the Post Office. It was four feet above the sidewalk and just big enough for me. Best of all, it faced Canal Street, where thousands of partiers were passing. I nearly preached myself to death standing there safe and sound, my voice projecting at its maximum.
If women and children are part of your army on the street, be sure to always keep them in view.
I do not advise carrying any weapon or even mace on the street. I wonder, if Steven would have used mace or a .45, how it would have altered church history.
Stand straight and tall, drawing yourself up to your full stature. Cup one hand or hold a Bible to your mouth as a megaphone. Reach way, way down inside and grab your diaphragm (stomach muscle) and push inspired air over your vocal chords. Don't allow your voice to be gravelled or ragged. Quit before that happens. Your vocal chords are simply a muscle that can either be built up to strength, or torn and weakened if abused. Much like a body builder works out, the vocal chords should be built by strong, but not too long, repetitions with appropriate rest periods.
The preaching should be aimed toward buildings or people at least a block away. The words should be preached extremely slowly with as low a pitch as possible. Simulate artillery shells being lobbed at a target three hundred yards away, as you aim your words down the street.
The ideal situation is to find a location that is to some degree elevated above the people you are preaching to. If the situation is such that you must preach extremely close to the hearers, be sure to project your voice at a forty-five degree angle and not directly into the crowd.
Music is an extremely valuable asset on the street. Assuming it is the right kind and is done in the right manner, music builds an instant rapport and sets the hearers up for the message.
An instrument of almost any kind can be used. Some are better than others. Guitars do not project well and have some bad associations. Trumpets are difficuit to sing to, but are attention getters. Abrass band would be great, but not many of us have ready access to them. The best instrument that I have found is an accordion. Everyone has a good remembrance associated with an accordion, and it projects well and is good to sing with. Get as many people singing as you can. Several songs are in order before the preaching commences. Old familiar songs, such as "Power in the Blood," "Saved, Saved," "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder," and other songs that project well are the best. You'll notice people as they subconsciously mouth the words to those familiar songs which they learned in Sunday School twenty years ago even if they have never been back to church since.
Every street meeting should begin and end with prayer. Pray, thanking the Lord for the following:
the privilege to preach His word
the power of the Holy Spirit
the rapport with the people
the strength you received
the protection He provided
the witness that was given
the souls that were saved
Next chapter: Results of Street Preaching