Notes for Preachers: Open-air Preaching
How much energy and time we have wasted in preaching the Gospel to those who do not need it, and to empty benches, while the multitudes for whom God intends it, and for whom we are the trustees of it, hear it not! We need moral courage, revived zeal, a new and enlarged conception of 1 Timothy 2:3-6; and a closer communion with “God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Then we shall say we must carry the Gospel out to those to whom it is sent. Buildings and halls into which the sinners will not come are a curse to us if we are so bound to them and by them that our energies are spent uselessly in them. The Son of man is come to SEEK and to save that which is lost.” And if we are to have any part in saving them we also must SEEK them, and for this we must go where they are to be found.
“The people won’t come in,” is a common saying, but why should we expect them to do so? Our commission is to “GO,” and to “GO OUT” and more, to “GO OUT QUICKLY.”
We have met that high-flown and falsely-called spirituality which says that the day for aggressive Gospel work is passed. Those who talk thus do not read their Bibles rightly, or believe them, or they would see that right on to the end, and consonant with the revived hope of the Lord’s return, there must be a revival of the Gospel appeal. How blessed it is! With what music the appeal rings forth, “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
It is not for us to say when and how our brethren should carry this message to the thirsty whosoevers, but we know no better time than from 6:00 to 8:00 on a Sunday evening. At this time will be found in the crowded residential parts of the towns and villages thousands who never enter a building to hear the Word, and who would not even go to the market-place to hear it. Tired and disappointed women whose lives are a drudgery, and who have no hope for the future. We have seen them at this hour sit at their open doors or windows listening eagerly to the rest-giving message of the Saviour’s care for them. And we feel sure that more can be reached in an hour in this way, than in a year by the ordinary method of indoor preaching.
Our absent Lord has entrusted us with the silver pound of the Gospel; it is our business to put it into circulation, to put it out to the best rate of interest, remembering that the day is coming when He will return to see how much each has gained by trading.
Here are a few extracts from the “Journal of John Wesley”:—
“I preached at 8 p.m. at an open place. Many were there who never did and never would come to the room. Oh, what a victory would Satan gain, if he could put an end to field-preaching! But that I trust he never will—at least not till my head is laid low”
“I preached near the hospital to twice the people we should have had at the house. What marvel the devil does not like field-preaching! Neither do I! I like a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But where is my zeal if I do not trample all those under foot in order to save one more soul?”
“The want of field-preaching has been the cause of deadness here. I do not find any great increase in the work of God without it.”
Scripture Truth, 1920