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Open Air Preaching “On-Hold”

March 18th, 2014 | Posted by Steve Sanchez in Open Air | Texas Tales!

I was thinking about what my life used to be like before I moved to Texas to plant a church and thought about how much my priorities have changed since arriving in Dripping Springs on September 29, 2013. One of my favorite things to do was preach in the open air regularly.

It has been six months since I have done so.

The first time I ever preached “on-the-box” in the open air was with Ray Comfort in Huntington Beach.

preach rayThe last time I preached “on the box”  in the open-air was with Ray Comfort in Newport Beach. In fact, it was a Golden Box, made as a going-away present.

gold boxDo I still think preaching in the open air is valid when sharing the Gospel? Of course.

I still agree with my mentor, Charles Spurgeon:

No sort of defense 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.

My life and responsibilities have changed.

It’s one thing to be the Pastor of Evangelism in L.A. at a large church in a metropolitan area with a population of thirteen million, quite another to be the pastor of a Texas church plant in a town of less than 2,000. (There are 40,000 in the surrounding countryside, though).

But I still share my faith. Nearly everyday. Now I do it primarily with Gospel tracts and personal conversations, accompanied by an invitation to Hope Chapel Hill Country.

Still, a great opportunity presented itself just recently.

I was enjoying my 55th birthday celebration with my family as we visited San Antonio a few days ago. We stopped at the Alamo and saw hundreds of people in line. I looked around, blinked, and imagined that I was back on Hollywood Blvd., preaching to the hundreds milling about Grauman’s Chinese Theater, looking at the celebrity hand prints. Oh, how I enjoyed preaching there. The area surrounding the Alamo looks almost exactly like Hollywood Blvd.! (See my interview with The Joker on Hollywood Blvd., below.)

I thought about how I used to preach at the American Idol Finals, the NBA Finals, the Academy Awards, USC football games, the Lakers Victory Parade, Doo-Dah Parade, Tournament of Roses Parade and the Long Beach Veterans Day Parade (below).

I looked at my wife and kids and asked if they would mind, as a special birthday present, if I preached to that line. They said it was okay.

I planned on doing it a little later.

After a thoroughly enjoyable day touring the town on a double-decker bus, we dismounted the steps.

bus tourI then remembered the Alamo, but it was too late: The crowds were gone.

Oh no! What do I do now?

Next time, I thought to myself, next time.

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3 Responses

  • Jon Speed says:

    Hey Steve, thanks for this article. I live in a much more urban environment so I’ve kept at street preaching as part of our regular outreach. In fact, when I first moved here I was probably street preaching three to five times per week. I’ve scaled it back recently to about once a week, at the abortion mill.

    My scale back has to do with a couple of things: first, the weather. It’s been a rough winter and it is only just now showing some signs of spring. Second, my schedule. I’m working 15-20 hours per week and I don’t have as much time.

    Although I have seen some fruit from street preaching that has resulted in people coming to church (we have two regular attendees and one who is about to become a member, and have had another guy who visited a couple of weeks ago who I met in front of Planned Parenthood who even brought a guy with him), I am considering following your lead on this. Mainly because our church consists of people from our immediate neighborhood in the city and reaching this older neighborhood that is transitioning to young families means putting in face time with them. I plan on spending more time at community events, hanging out at the community hot spots (diners, lacrosse field, coffee shops, etc.), etc. Along the way, I will evangelize at these places.

    Along those lines, I would encourage you to consider door-to-door as an outreach. We’ve done it here and have had remarkably good results. We have a couple we met through door to door that is finishing church membership now. The approach is well received here, and when I lived in Texas, found that it was well received in a rural setting there.

    I’m also trying to find ways to utilize our people by involving them in outreach. Our holiday outreaches have been effective: we’ve had a couple of people show up after our Thanksgiving basket outreach. We do an annual Christmas caroling\gift distribution at a local shopping center which I’ve also helped coordinate in Texas. This spring\summer we’re going to move some of our worship services to local parks so we can worship outside, preach outside, and engage people that way.

    One venue I think I need to continue to open-air preach in is the college campuses. I hope to get that rolling next week now that the snow is finally melting.

    Anyway, I’m hoping to give you some ideas and anyone else who might be a church planter who’s reading this. And some encouragement.

  • I am in the same predicament. I moved closer to my home area and it is small. I still hand out and leave tracts too. Love you brother.

  • Melody B says:

    I watched the video interview with the Joker.

    I agree somewhat with the Joker. Inappropriate place. Bad manners. I know, I know….You’ll say if the building was on fire wouldn’t one yell to alert the inhabitants…. I’ve heard that one before too.

    I thought the Joker was very brave for sticking with you and being filmed and recorded and speaking out. You were armed with a microphone and amplifier…you would have the last word and could say your whole spiel….even while he was walking away. You have video editing and could pipe music into the video to change the scene. He stood up for what he thought was an injustice to the tourists and fellow actors.

    I think sometimes when we are being “reviled for Christ” instead we are being scolded for bad manners. But it poofs up our sense of self worth if we think it is sacrifice for Jesus.

    I would invite the Joker to my home.



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