More on Bible Waving Open Air Preachers


A few weeks ago I patiently explained how waving a Bible while preaching in the open air might not be a good idea: Bibles are a turn off to the average “sinner” in this post-modern, anti-Christian culture.

Here’s what I wrote (Read the whole article here.):

…I want to reach my crowd and there is something about a guy waving a Bible around that builds fences around sinners’ hearts and minds before they even hear what I’m saying. I prefer to lure them in with some humor, trivia, interesting statistics, then WHAMMO!, they hear the Law and Gospel. I don’t want to blow my cover that I’m a Christian until it’s too late—for them.

I posted this at The School of Biblical Evangelism website forum (run by the Way of the Master). Here are some of the comments I received from other evangelists, typos and all:

monkeyboynathan said: I don’t want to ‘lure’ anyone… I want the Holy Spirit to draw people to hear the preaching of the Gospel, not me and my craftiness…

Eric said: I’d have to agree with Monkeyboy here on this. I’ve never Open Aired yet, but I wouldn’t want to “lure” anyone either. Its one thing to grab folks attention, but its another to presume to be “street entertainment” vs. an OA preacher. I say let the people know what you’re talking about up front. It doesn’t have to be all “secret agent man”-like.

faversphil419: um you dont want to blow your cover. why are you hiding that your a christian?

Climbermo said: I think what he means is when people see some guy waving the Bible around and shouting (and they can’t hear him yet so they assume he is being angry and crazy and mean) they are less likely to come closer to actually hear what you are saying and perceive you as an actual fellow human being who has something valuable to say.

God’s girl said: I am in 100% agreement with Pastor Steve. Prior to my salvation if I would have seen some guy waving around a Bible. I would have crossed the street to get away as soon as possible. I used you think people who even carried a Bible where the type that had their lights on but no one was home so to speak. Not seeing a Bible and hearing someone actually speaking about God would have perked my interest. I don’t think that is being deceptive in any way, just using the common sense that God gave him. You go Pastor!

Willo: I disagree with Steve as well, I think every time someone stands up to open air preach, then you should have a bible in hand. As this shows those who you are talking to where your authority comes from. Realistically, you cannot build fences around sinners hearts to make them “more opposed” to hearing the gospel, as they already hate the gospel, and it is already a stench of death to them. So, preachers stand up and preach the Word of God, hold the Bible in hand, and proclaim the Word!

Jackie said: If I could use a modern fishing illustration…No fisherman worth his salt pole fishes with only a bare hook. You bait the hook, which actually HIDES the hook, with something the fish are interested in namely, food. Fish aren’t interested in, and won’t come near a bare hook. Similarly, men who are controlled and guided by their flesh, won’t come near a Bible waving preacher. Mainly because I think their conscience knows this book exposes their sin. Like Ray says: You don’t shine a flashlight in an unrepentant sinner’s eyes, but rather turn the dimmer switch up slowly. Ray and Steve’s ideas of drawing a crowd by doing trivia tests or intelligence tests are great ideas. Hey, Jesus even drew crowds by feeding people!

Jeremy said: I used to be in the same mindset as some of you here about showing off my big black bible…until, once, as I was walking to the spot to do some ministry, I invited some people to come and listen. They looked down at what was in my hand and said, “No-thanks…we’re not into that” pointing at my bible. Now, I carry a pocket bible and bring it out if I need it, after I’ve got their attention.Besides, I don’t recall Jesus carrying the scrolls with Him to open-air preach, if you want to get reeeeeal technical lol.

Jeff: If seems that whether you hold a Bible, or not, it really depends on the attitude. Just like not wearing sunglasses, I think it unwise to whip the Bible around, or something like that. So, I can see where, or when it could possibly be something that could push a crowd away, or offend someone. It’s the same thing with signs. I personally wouldn’t use signs, and jump around and shout out, “spiritual slogans.” However, I’ve seen some really good signs and people who use them in a decent way…


  1. I agree, there should be no need to lure people with any gimmicks. That’s what the seeker-sensitive churches do and I’m opposed to that greatly.

    There should be no shame to hold a bible when you OA as I am sure Spurgeon, Wesley and Whitefield probably did.

    The photo of David Wilkerson associates his actions, holding up his bible, is incorrect regarding this post.

    He had just been thrown out of a courtroom as a young preacher and he was asked by the newspaper photographers what he was carrying and he held up his bible.

    This is based on his book, The Cross and the Switchblade (1962).

    “As the court proceedings concluded, Wilkerson jumped to his feet and holding his Bible high asked the judge, Would you respect me as a minister and let me have an audience with you? Immediately, the guards grabbed him, searching him for weapons. The following day newspapers throughout the Northeast blazoned a picture of Wilkerson with an article depicting a wild-eyed, Bible-waving preacher thrown out of a courtroom. But his act of compassion opened a doorway to the gangs. They thought anyone thrown out of a courtroom on their behalf could be received without their usual display of suspicion. Making inrouds into the gangs, Wilkerson discovered appalling needs in this, his new arena of ministry.”

  2. “There should be no shame to hold a bible when you OA as I am sure Spurgeon, Wesley and Whitefield probably did”

    I’m sorry, I judge what I don’t know based on what I DO know, and I have no info. that Spurgeon, Wesley and Whitefield PROBABLY waved their Bibles, that’s presumptious.

    I WHOLE HEARTEDLY agree with you – I’m all for zeal for the lost, but I really want to put people in the best possible position to hear the Gospel – it’s a fine line we walk between not offending people and “Forcing” the Gospel on them, so to speak. I was really impressed watching “Righteous Richard” Chavarria OA at the DMV. He went on longer that I would, but he had such a perfect (IMHO) balance of gentleness with passion at the same time.

    99.999 % do too much waiting for the leading, not sharing, freindship evangelizing when the time is just right, but I have in rare cases seen people be offensive, and there’s just no reason for that. The only way someone should be offended is by the preaching of the 100% pure law and gospel. Like the rich man in the Bible who went away sad when Jesus said to sell all he had.

    Bible Thumping=Bad; Law&Gospel preaching in love =Good

  3. What position do you want to put people in, if they are already in the worst position with God? They won’t be in a good position until they have repented of their sins and have become born again.

    I agree with using the Law to the proud and grace to the humble too.

    I’m not sure how easy it would be to find out if Spurgeon, Wesley or Whitefield ever preached in the open air with their bible. Somehow, I have to believe that they did. After all, Spurgeon was the pastor of a church and I believe he had preached outside and may have pointed to the Book as his reference beginning, middle and ending to his sermons.

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