The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Open air or Confrontational preaching

What do other people think of that preaching method? It seems like the biggest complaints are about their method is their heavy focus on judgment, without anything about salvation. Plus, many find their demeanor to be offensive. But I do wonder why open air preachers have to be so negative. But I wonder if there is a more positive way to evangelize.

My guess is they’re meeting a need… their own. _

My first response is to define "Open air or Confrontational preaching’. Are you referring to TV and radio evangelists? Well, if so, some I actually like - even if I disagree with them. They have a nice persona and are good at public speaking. Some I really love and watch each week. An example is Joe Osteen. And for the record, I also watch programs sometimes on the Catholic channel EWTN. So I guess I’m confused what you mean by "Open air or Confrontational preaching’. Can you site an example or two?

I’m fairly certain he means street preaching - the people you see with a microphone, a t-shirt with a slogan and/or bible verse on it, generally preaching about judgement and how everyone will be going to hell for all eternity.

Well, it’s definitely not my cup of tea. But if they are in a free country (i.e. USA, Western Europe, etc.) and have the proper legal clearance and necessary permits, then I have no objections.

Depends what you mean by no objections. As long as it’s not abusive, then I have no objections legally due to the right of free speech. But I do have objections to it on the basis of effectiveness - whenever I’ve seen videos of this sort of thing, I tend to despair because you can see that far from it having a positive impact on people, it seems to go completely the other way. So even if it was effective for one person walking by, all you’ve done is disillusion the hundred other people that have gone past you.

Of course there’s another point that the people who tend to do this sort of thing often have views, expressed very ferociously, that I disagree with anyway.

We don’t really get this sort of thing in England though; I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a street preacher before. We tend to be a lot more reserved because Christianity isn’t particularly part of most people’s lives here so we know we can’t really shout it at them

I remember visiting some historical religious settlement, whose name and location elude me. It was somewhere in the US. One thing that stuck me was the group met every Sunday, to hear a five hour sermon. Well, I’m all for good sermons. But I would have to question the effectiveness of a five hour sermon. And I probably would be excommunicated from the group, for falling asleep in church. Speaking of which, when I visited London many years ago, there’s some public place where anyone can publicly talk about anything. And people gather to both hear and heckle the speakers. It’s called Speakers Corner

But I do wonder why open air preachers have to be so negative. But I wonder if there is a more positive way to evangelize.

Certainly they probably feel the need to shock people since their window of opportunity is fleeting. But this method of preaching is not found in the NT as far as i know, but neither is it forbidden.

I saw a discussion on the tentmaker messageboard about street preaching Universalism, which I dont know how well that would work out. I guess UR street preaching maybe controversial from many sides, considering that there is still a side of bad news, like sin and judgment, and how we cant go on living in a sinful manner. Even if the sin does not automatically merit endless torture, and there is still the promise of universal restoration. Plus, there is the possibility that many infernalists may get hostile. Since I have seen them get pretty hostile especially on Youtube, and other such blogs, just at the mere mention of the hope. Like a priest Robert Barron came out and mentioned the possibility that hell maybe empty, and he has gotten flack from many Catholic Fundamentalists, in particular, Michael Voris. So UR can definitely be confrontational. But as for whether confrontation is necessary, I find that we often times get too attached to certain methods, where the method becomes the focus, instead of the truth.

I know people get off on the whole street preaching thing, to the point that they can be pretty HTT (holier than thou) toward (so-called) :laughing: Christians who aren’t involved in street preaching. Part of the high is feeling persecuted; part shouting down at the crowd (who are usually ignoring them to the best of their ability), part feeling that at least THEY are doing God’s will, even if no one else is obedient. Most of them seem to enjoy raining hellfire and brimstone on the crowds. It’s a major component of the “high.” I haven’t ever done it myself, but we used to go to bars and “witness” to the folks there. Honestly, the biggest kick was getting kicked out. :unamused: Which didn’t happen all that frequently, since we were relatively well-behaved. Did I ever see much fruit from that? Nope. WAS there fruit? I doubt it. This simply is not a highly effective way to spread the good news of the gospel, even if it really is good news you’re trying to share.

Now I COULD see a street preacher denigrating the god of hellfire. (Wouldn’t be me; I haven’t got the pipes or the personality for it.) I think such a person would probably win the ire of any “real” street preachers who happened to be nearby. And as people already “know” what street preachers are going to be saying, it might take some time before anyone noticed a difference. But it would be cool. :wink: Not sure it would be a LOT more effective than helfire, but it would definitely be something different.

Partly it is from doctrinal understanding and partly it is from personality.

Preachers will frequently have a prophetic gifting and if you read up on this particular spiritual gift you will see it says that prophets are people with keener senses of right and wrong and that is why God spoke through them in ancient times and still does today.

They have to deliver the truth a lot of times through adversity and to people who may be callused in their hearts and don’t want to hear God’s message plus there can be spiritual bombardment that causes people to tune God out.

They have to be a little bit stronger than average because God uses prophets and preachers to deliver His repentance message and to deliver His counsel and judgments to rulers.

But I agree tone is important…the Gospel really is the message of reconciliation…It is just that people need to repent if they never did so.

Sometimes repentance follows baptism…There are people in this world who have been raised Christians who may still need to repent and turn from their wicked ways as God directs.

Essentially God uses prophets and preachers to turn individuals and sometimes He uses them to turn nations and that is no job for a moral wimp.

I sometimes feel angry about many of the Street preachers, and how they can have such a zeal for such a tribalistic view of a completely punitive and bullying God. I dont know if thats their theology, but I cannot help but seeing it in their demeanor. I cannot help see many of the more Conservative approaches to religion being so grounded on a kind of “power over” method, and treating it like the only effective way to be Christian. Yet on the liberal side, they seem to easily reject power, which I can understand if power is no more than use of might, coercion, fear and a smug sense of superiority. This reminds me of a line in Lord of the Rings “The might of Elrond is in Wisdom not weapons”. In a book by Richard Rohr “Hope against darkness”, he speaks of a whole different type of consciousness beyond the Ego, and how the popular way is only creating more tension.

Paul was a “street preacher, but if you look at Acts 17, in his message to the assembled philosophers of the nations on Mars Hill, he was, while very clear- both tactful and “not condescending” or condemning in his speech. It is not necessary or profitable to be either, imo, or to move outside of the Spirit of reconciliation”. Most such preaching(again, my opinion) is based in a misunderstanding of the nature of the gospel and its foundations- and I say this as one who walked the streets “confronting sinners” in my early years(35-40 years ago) until the Holy Spirit confronted me about it :slight_smile:

Well I am not sure about ‘street preachers’ :open_mouth:

But my wife and I were invited to play some music at a small church. We knew the pastor in passing and had never been to one of his services. but he was a very nice guy and on fire for the Lord so to speak.* Baptist.* :confused:

So we got there and there were a handful of folks there. We played our songs and sat down… Then this preacher went from normal speaking voice to yelling and hollering… His face was getting Red and he was pacing and kind of spitting. Screaming.

It scared the crap out of me :exclamation: and I was almost ready to grab my wife’s arm and get out of Dodge. Later she said the same thing. :blush:

I totally think he thought that is what he needed to do. Turned my wife and me off big time. Though we still try to love Him and his family, we’re not on the same page so to speak. :laughing:

I remember in Vegas, there was a street preacher who was not being confrontational. He was just talking about Jesus, and quoting scriptures, in particular john 3:16. There was a Catholic priest who gave a sermon out on the road, and it was all very Christ centered.

I find many of these Preachers are very Politically motivated, including Jesse Morrell, Ruben Israel, Micah Armstrong, Kerrigan Skelly and John Mcglone. I have watched some of their videos, and they are pretty far right, and only spewing the same propaganda. Now Im no leftist either, but Jesus was not right or left either, and only said “Render unto Casear what is Caesars”.

Although I haven’t been personally involved in street preaching, I think it unfair and unwise to assign negative motives to those who are involved in the practice. I think the majority of them are honest, sincere, and concerned.

I do not think all of them are bad. But there are preachers on Youtube who tape themselves using a bullhorn, and holding up hellfire signs and condemning lists of people. Then they put their videos up of being attacked, or other people who challenge them with names, like sodomite, or wicked. To be honest, many of their tactics remind me of the Westboro Baptist Church.

However I cannot speak for all preachers. Whether all of them fit in the Confrontational mold, I cannot say. Or if their preaching style is due to Hyper-Arminian theology. I believe many of the well known ones endorse a doctrine known as Sinless Perfectionism, with a claim that people have to be perfected and sinless in this life to go to heaven. Plus, there is a major denial of original sin or a fall of mankind. So they see all sin committed as a completely premeditated. However in the same vein, if these preachers are a victim of Hyper-Arminianism, I would have to say the Westboro Baptist Church are victims of Hyper-Calvinism. However, I agree that both Arminian and Calvinist theology severely unerestimate Grace