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From "Street Preachers' Manual" © 1989 by Rev. Gerald Sutek
Reproduced by permission.
"And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious." Ezekiel 2:3-7
There can be little doubt to any serious student of the
Bible that we, even in the twentieth century, are under a
command to proclaim the gospel "publickly" and "from house
to house." When you consider that virtually every Bible preacher
from Noah to John was a Street preacher, and that more than 90
percent of all sermons preached in both Old and New Testaments were preached in a public forum, you wonder why
anyone would discourage public evangelism, and why preachers, pastors, and others do not attempt to employ this undoubtedly Biblical method of gospel evangelism.
The clear command of the public communication of the
Lord's message was given to Jeremiah (Jer. 11:6), to Ezekiel
(Ezek. 2:1-7; chapters 3 and 33), to Isaiah (Isa. 58), to Jonah,
to Noah, to Peter and the other disciples (Mark 16:15), to Paul
(Acts 9:15; 23:11), and finally passed to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:2)
as an example for the New Testament ministry. Add to this the
examples of Ezra (Ezra 10:9-11; Neh. 8:1-5), Stephen, and of
Jesus Himself, who was first and foremost a street preacher,
and you have received more than sufficient mandate from the
Lord to motivate any "God-called" preacher to "Cry aloud,
spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet" publicly.
The objection often arises that probably more people are
repulsed or turned off, rather than attracted to the gospel
through the medium of street preaching. The truth of this
objection must be evaluated along with the fact that history
states that every ministry that is true to the gospel of Jesus
Christ, has the same ratio of acceptance. Even in our computerized, visual, satellite-television era, the truth of the gospel is
still rejected by the masses and received by the few regardless of how you paint or clothe it.
America's current day is reflected in the conditions under
which Jeremiah was commanded to preach the message of
God's word. The nation was steeped in apostasy and false
national pride. They had long ago turned a deaf ear to any sound
which vibrated of the Lord's code of morality or His method of
salvation and purification. They could not, and did not, heed
the advice of the preacher even after they promised to do so
(Jer. 42:5-6). After hearing the clear answer to their request for
guidance from the Lord, they said to Jeremiah, "Thou speakest
falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into
Egypt to sojourn there" (Jer. 43:2). "As for the word that thou
hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not
hearken unto thee" (Jer. 44:16).
Noah had a similar problem, but was faithful to preach.
Jonah was unwilling at first. Although it appeared to be a futile
effort on the surface, his preaching bore much fruit.
Zechariah gave out the message of the Lord, but the reply
was: "But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear" (Zech.
In my judgment, Ezekiel wins the trophy of "Faithful
Public Proclaimer," for the Lord plainly told him that they
would not hear, that they would rebel, that they would hate him,
his message, and his God, and yet he stood in the gap and
shouted, "Thus saith the Lord GOD," and they knew there was
a prophet among them (Ezek. 2:4-5).
Should it cease to be done because few will respond?
Should we find some modern method and replace street preaching? Some dressier, more polished, or accepted procedure by
which to "preach the gospel to every creature"?
It has been my experience that street preaching balances
any minister or ministry. Paul was able to accomplish his
incredible feat of getting the gospel to every person living in
Ephesus (approximately 300,000 souls) within three years!
This was not through radio and television, nor through newspaper and bus ministries, nor through tapes and singles ministries
but "publickly" and from "house to house."
Public gospel evangelism has a profound effect upon
those churches and persons who do it. To put it in the words of
a well-known forty-year veteran of street preaching, "It will
give you the correct opinion of yourself."
Preachers and pastors who do not continually involve
themselves in street work are not only off balance, but they
become stuffy, political, egotistical, and fat (Deut. 32:15).
They actually feel as though the general population has come to
appreciate them, and God forbid they may have; but this
assumption comes from preaching only to folk who have voluntarily come to hear them. These preachers cannot get the correct
perspective of their ministry of preaching the gospel of Jesus
Christ. The LORD said, "If the world hate you, ye know that it
hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world
would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I
have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth
you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not
greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also
persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep
yours also" (John 15:18-20).
It does not matter if you pastor many thousands, or if you
are an evangelist in great demand, or even a foreign missionary
doing deputation: if you preach on the street and do personal
work publicly, you have a balanced ministry. If not, you cannot
help but be somewhat out of balance. I have pastored with and
without a public ministry, and I can testify to the truth of these
Not only has this ministry fallen on times of rare usage,
but most ministers and ministries have developed a general
distaste for those who are street preachers. In presenting this
work as a missionary effort in churches, I have had many
preachers come and tell me, with joyful remembrance, of a time
much in the past when they participated in a street meeting.
They seem to be proud that they used to do that. But, they
demonstrate the attitude that this type of ministry is of use only
at a certain point in a preacher's spiritual growth when zeal is
more prominent than wisdom. With great patronization, they
observe our ministry. If it worked for those in the Bible, as well
as for Savonarola, Luther, Calvin, Whitefield, Wesley, Booth,
Sunday, and J. Frank Norris, then maybe you need to seriously
consider the merits of street preaching and public gospel evangelism!
Read "Street Preachers' Manual"