Archive for March 29th, 2015


For part one, please see: Charles Spurgeon’s Thoughts on Open-Air Preaching: “A Sketch of its History”

In our last post, we covered a brief sketch on open-air preaching’s history from Spurgeon’s analysis.  In this second post, we will gleaning off from Spurgeon’s analysis on open-air preaching  from more of a logistic’s end.  Here in this section, Spurgeon not only gives reasons, but explains how to best wisely conduct open-air preaching so it may be profitable.

  • “I fear that in some of our less enlightened country churches there are conservative individuals who almost believe that to preach anywhere except in the chapel would be a shocking innovation, a sure token of heretical tendencies, and a mark of zeal without knowledge” (Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, “Open Air Preaching–Remarks Thereon, “76).
  • “No sort of defence is needed for preaching out of doors; but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meeting-house.  A defence is required rather for services within buildings than for worship outside of them.  Apologies are certainly wanted for architects who pile up brick and stone into the skies when there is so much need for preaching rooms among poor sinners down below. Defence is greatly needed for forests of stone pillars, which prevent the preacher’s being seen and his voice from being heard; for high-pitched Gothic roofs in which all sound is lost, and men are killed by being compelled to shout till they burst their bloodvessels; and also for the wilful creation of echoes by exposing hard, sound-refracting surfaces to satisfy the demands of art, to the total overlooking of the comfort of both audience and speaker”  (77).
  • “The great benefit of open-air preaching is that we get so many new comers to hear the gospel who otherwise would never hear it” (78).
  • “Go ye into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in,’–albeit it constitutes part of a parable, is worthy to be taken very literally, and in so doing its meaning will be best carried out.  We ought actually to go into the streets and lanes and highways, for there are lurkers in the hedges, tramps on the highway, street-walkers, and lane-haunters, whom we shall never reach unless we pursue them into their own domains” (78).
  • “Such people hate the very sight of our churches and meeting houses, but will stand in a crowd to hear what is said, and are often most impressed when they affect the greatest contempt” (79).
  • “I am quite sure, too, that if we could persuade our friends in the country to come out to a good many times in the year and hold a service in a meadow, or in a shady grove, or on the hill side, or in a garden, or on a common, it would be all the better for the usual hearers” (80).
  • “London never notices the ceaseless grind of the traffic; so do many members of our congregations become insensible to the most earnest addresses, and accept them  as a matter of course.  Then preaching and the rest of it get to be so usual that they might as well not be at all.  Hence a change of place might be useful, it might prevent monotony, shake up indifference, suggest thought, and in a thousand ways promote attention, and give new hope of doing good” (81).
  • “I am glad to see tents used in London, for the very worst place is better than none, and because they can easily be moved from place to place, and are not very expensive; but still, if I had my choice between having nothing at all and having a tent, I should prefer the open air by far” (81).
  • “If you are going to preach in the open air in the country, you will perhaps have your choice of a spot wherein to preach; if not, of course you must have what you can get, and you must in faith accept it as the very best” (82).
  • “It is well to preach before your regular services on a spot near your place of worship, so as to march the crowd right into the building before they know what they are about” (82).
  • “Amphitheaters and hillsides are always favourite spots with preachers in the fields, and their advantages will be at once evident to you” (83).
  • “Do not try to preach against the wind, for it is an idle attempt” (85).
  • “One of the earliest things that a minister should do when he leaves College and settles in a country town or village is to begin open air speaking” (86).
  • “In London, or any other large town, it is a great thing to find a vacant spot where you can obtain a right to hold services at your pleasure” (86).
  • “Get the people to listen outside that they may by-and-by worship inside.  You want no pulpit, a chair will do, or by the kerb of the road.  The less formality the better, and if you begin by merely talking to the two or three around you and make no pretence of sermonizing you will do well.  More good may be done by personal talk to one than by a rhetorical address to fifty” (87).
  • “I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother’s being locked up by the police, for it does him good, and it does the people good also” (88).
  • “I am persuaded that the more of open air preaching there is in London the better” (88).
  • “In the street, a man must keep himself alive, and use many illustrations and anecdotes, and sprinkle a quaint remark here and there” (89).
  • “Short sentences of words and short passages of thought are needed for out of doors” (89).
  • “In the streets a man must from beginning to end be intense, and for that very reason he must be condensed and concentrated in his thought and utterance” (90).
  • “Shams and shows will have no mercy from a street gathering.  But have something to say, look them in the face, say what you mean, put it plainly, bodly, earnestly, courteously, and they will hear you” (90).
  • “The best street preaching is not that which is done at the top of your voice, for it must be impossible to lay the proper emphasis upon telling passages when all along you are shouting with all your might” (92).
  • “One constant rule is to be always courteous and good tempered, for if you become cross or angry it is all over with you.  Another rule is to keep to your subject, and never be drawn into side issues.  Preach Christ or nothing: don’t dispute or discuss except with your eye on the cross” (93).

Here is what you will need according to Charles Spurgeon for the QUALIFICATIONS FOR OPEN-AIR PREACHERS:

  • A good voice.
  • Naturalness of manner.
  • Self-possession.
  • A good knowledge of Scripture and of common things.
  • Ability to adapt himself to any congregation.
  • Good illustrative powers.
  • Zeal, prudence, and common sense.
  • A large, loving heart.
  • Sincere belief in all he says.
  • Entire dependence on the Holy Spirit for success.
  • A close walk with God by prayer.
  • A consistent walk before men by a holy life.


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