Basic Battle Training
Chapter 9: Practical Principals of Battle
In this chapter we will provide some practical information on how to go about this ministry. Specifically, we will demonstrate how to do it in our day and culture with its particular problems and opportunities.
Based on our experience, we will discuss the different types of street preaching, settings, audiences, security problems, laws, how to work with the local police, and things you need to know to be effective. Our first topic of concern will be:
As a public proclaimer of the Word you are called upon to preach not only the simple Gospel but also the Kingdom of God. With this in mind your subject matter will range across the Biblical gamut of wisdom and exhortation. As with Paul on Mars’ Hill, you will be called to challenge current thought: the mores and standards of our time. In line with the prophets of old your field will encompass the evils of the day and even your wayward brethren.
Each preaching situation has a different audience and thereby requires a difference in message as well as approach. On a street corner the preacher is addressing an audience that is constantly moving. As such, his “sermons" must be tailored by condensing the message to a few seconds or a minute or two. In contrast, a college lends itself to hours of dialogue with a stationary crowd discussing an endless number of subjects
Cults and false religion present a different audience with different challenges. Preaching outside a convention center full of these folks obviously requires research into their doctrines in order to properly minister to them. Further categories with their own special set of considerations are overtly evil events such as sodomite parades and porn conventions (yes they really have these). In addition there are special events, sporting events and a multitude of music concerts and the like.
In approaching each of these unique situations you will ask:
Who are they?
Why do they do what they do?
What are their arguments?
Do they have a specific agenda?
How should you respond?
Is the crowd potentially violent?
What, exactly, should they hear?
Many times close co-operation with local authorities is necessary. Over the years we have found them to be generally receptive to a reasoned approach within the context of our free speech laws. "Special event" people within the police department should be approached in a timely manner with details of your plans. Additionally, some "follow up" with said authorities is in order with thanks given for the help provided!
Picketing and the usage of signs and banners is another area of consideration. This involves an understanding of local laws, private vs. public property, dealing with the police, legal size of signs, requirements to keep moving, etc. Each of these situations needs to be evaluated and planned for by the street preacher as he plans his message and method of communication.
Our mandate is to preach the Kingdom of God, His Gospel, and Judgment to come: to accurately and clearly communicate God's mind and will. Though some may disagree, we do not believe our mission is the establishment of a "Christian Nation" or demand that we should bring the Kingdom of God to pass in our time. Our work is to focus on the accurate delivery of eternal Godly information...whatever the response (Ezekiel 2:5)
A Proper understanding of God’s Mind
It is very popular today to preach a "positive" message and to be to be as inoffensive as possible. In deference to this un-balanced, “politically correct” approach, we believe it is very important to understand what the Bible says about the character of God and accurately reflect that in your preaching.
While the Bible says great things about God’s love, it is still true that nowhere in Scripture can you find men proclaiming, “God loves you”. Much more prevalent is the message of “Repent or Perish”. In the book of Acts, which is the first example the Apostles evangelizing the world, the word love is not to be found. In contrast to this, the fear of God and consequence is mentioned 10 times!
Jesus felt no political incorrectness as he proclaimed that most of humanity would be bound hand and foot and thrown into a lake of fire (Matthew 7:13-14; 13:40-43, 49-50). Much of today’s approach lulls sinners to sleep rather than stirring them to repentance. Though both directions are valid Jude clearly states:
“Some come by love and some come by fear" (Jude 22),
“Of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire." (Jude 22, 23)
(See also: Ezek. 3:15-21; Col. 1:28; Eph. 5:11; Prov. 28:4)
The following are further examples of a harsh message directed by The Father:
"Because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God...the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you." (Deuteronomy 28:62-63)
“The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing; the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man." (Psalm 5:5-6)
"God is angry with the wicked every day." (Psalm 7:11)
"God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and reserveth wrath for his enemies." (Nahum 1:2)
"O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matthew 3:7
“Woe unto thee, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment, than for thee." (Matthew 11:21-24)
"O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?" (Acts 13:10)
"The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8)
This type of preaching is a far cry from today’s watered down, milk, and even effeminate message that fails to rebuke sinners and call for repentance. Today’s churches need to return to the spirit of the Prophets and God Himself, taking bold stands against sin wherever it is found and unashamedly proclaiming the whole council of God.
There are many details on how to preach in a public setting. In the area of amplification there are times you can use it and times you cannot. Most of the time, when preaching to a crowd that is close, your voice alone will do the job. On a college campus it is very common to get crowds of up to 100 or more who can all hear quite well without amplification. Power megaphones are handy in a number of situations, so you should have them ready as the circumstances demand.
Other things to understand are the various possible settings for outdoor preaching. Holliday events provide one such opportunity. These times present unusual formats, large crowds, as well as a built in message. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and even New Years Eve are all holidays that have their origin in God and His Son. These provide an obvious and ready opportunity to publicly proclaim their significance and tie them into the Gospel
With these things in mind here are some specific situations to consider:
A stationary preacher reaching a stationary crowd: This is very effective on a college, where you can walk on the campus at noon, go to the free speech platform, and begin preaching while curious students will gather, sit, listen and often argue/debate/ask questions for many hours.
A moving preacher reaching a moving crowd: The use of picketers, which requires them to keep moving back and forth in front of the crowd, is a consideration in this type of situation. Other places might be beaches, or any area that has a crowd spread over a large proximity.
Preaching from a moving vehicle: This comes in handy when reaching large spread out crowds.
Other creative methods: These have been used by some who will go "undercover" inside gatherings or cult or occult meetings, and stand up and preach until escorted out by security
Signs: These have many advantages. Carrying a sign with a Biblical message accomplishes several things: it immediately identifies to those passing by the speaker and where he stands. This eliminates confusion and often even receives news coverage. Millions can be reached by a message on the sign shown on TV or in a newspaper. Digital and cell phone cameras also are a constant multiplier of a carried sign. Often signs can be used in situations where police will not allow loud preaching, but the message still gets out via the sign. Signs are also an invaluable tool when targeting an audience, event, sin or context that requires you to deliver a clear specific message.
Laws: These need to be clearly understood as far as use of amplification, legal size of signs and poles, location of public vs. private property, etc.
Permits: These are usually not required to carry a sign or pass out literature. Most colleges require no permit but some require notification of your presence and intent that are easy to get. Private schools can be difficult and have widely varied policies. If you feel your legal rights of free speech are being violated it is best to have witnesses, videos, tape recordings, and good legal counsel to fight for your rights in court if police or security are overstepping their legal bounds.
Note: As a general rule we avoid these legal battles, choosing to rather go to another area where our freedom is allowed. There are multitudes of areas and people to preach to, and in addition legal fights are costly and quite time consuming to be involved in (Matthew 10:23; 5:25).
Security: Though it does not happen much, there are times when people may get violent with any who publicly oppose them. In this situation we may have some designated as "security" to passively protect the person who is preaching. In addition it is sometimes good to have an "undercover person" in the crowd to keep an eye and ear open for possible trouble. As stated before, we also try to work with the police and secure their cooperation, assuring them that we are not there to cause trouble but only to exercise our rights of free speech.
These then are some of the lessons we have learned by trial and error over our years of preaching on the streets. This information is again unavailable (as far as we know) in any Church, seminary, seminar, Christian bookstore, magazine article, or the like. As time goes forward, and conditions change, there will also be need for change in some of the issues we have cited. Utilizing what we have put forward in this chapter and remaining flexible to our changing world will ensure as much success as is Earthly possible and net you the most “free course” to proclaim His Word. (2 Thes. 3:1)
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