Why Preach Open-air?

By Stuart Scott

When Jeremiah received God’s word, he was commanded to stand in the gate of the temple and proclaim the Word of the Lord. Like Jeremiah, we have been given the task of proclaiming God’s Word to every creature: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Open-air preaching is the standard method God has always employed throughout Scripture to reach the common people. As Spurgeon has said, “Open-air preaching is as old as preaching itself.” From Noah, a preacher of righteousness, to the King of kings, Jesus Christ Himself, open-air preaching is God’s normal method of getting the word out.

The word for proclaim in Hebrew is the word qara’, and it means to call, cry, or utter a loud sound, to proclaim aloud or summon. The Greek word used in the NT for the word preach, as in Mark 16:15, is the word kērussō, which means “to officiate as a herald, to publish, proclaim openly.” It is always with the sense of formality, gravity, and an authority that must be listened to and obeyed.

From these descriptions, it is obvious that the preaching spoken of in Scripture is not one-to-one witnessing, but the open proclamation of the gospel. Jesus said, “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops” (Matt. 10:27), and Prov. 1:20,21 says, “Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words.” Here are a few additional verses to consider about preaching the gospel: Jonah 3:2; Matt. 4:17; 10:7; 11:1; Mark 1:4,38; 3:14; Luke 4:18,19; 9:60; Acts 5:42; 10:42; 16:10; 17:3; Rom. 10:15; 15:20; 1 Cor. 1:17; 9:16; Eph. 3:8; Col. 1:28; 2 Tim. 4:2; Rev. 14:6.

I have never known greater joy in nearness to Christ than when standing in the public square, proclaiming the things of God with a loud voice in the open air.

“How would the common people have become indoctrinated with the Gospel had it not been for those far-wandering evangelists… and those daring innovators who found a pulpit on every heap of stones, and an audience chamber in every open space near the abodes of men?” Charles Spurgeon

“There is no higher calling than to follow in the footsteps of the Savior and preach in the open air.” Ray Comfort

Jeremiah 7:2 “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord!’ ”

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