Open-air preaching and the observant congregant

Coordination and Cooperation for the Gospel

Introduction

Two days ago, several from our congregation went out to Grapevine, TX to proclaim and present the gospel in advance of an exploratory worship service for a potential church plant in the Bedford area. Why do this?

We did it because the purpose of evangelism is to make men, women, and children worshipers of the true God through the work of reconciliation that Jesus Christ has wrought. The activity of a church plant as an outpost for worship and the evangelism of its community are vitally connected. As the Scripture says:

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light

1 Peter 2:9

With faith in that truth of God’s Word, many from our congregation drove out to the area in the prayerful hope that some might be translated from darkness into Christ’s marvelous light that they would show forth the praises of God.

The way our evangelism team is setup is that I perform the open-air preaching as the minister, while others in the congregation hand out tracts and speak to those passing by about the hope of eternal life and the free forgiveness of sins in Jesus. Others take down prayer requests, pray with souls, and hand out Bibles to those who ask. This time around, one woman even walked around the town center with a poster of Scripture on it. In this way, every member who goes with us finds that they have a role to play. As the apostle says in 1 Corinthians 12 – every part of the body of Christ is gifted in their own way.

It struck me that US naval carrier groups are structured the same way. The centerpiece of the group is the aircraft carrier. But it is supported by many other classes of ships, submarines, and aircraft. Working together it is a formidable force, virtually impossible to resist (humanly speaking).

In the same way, when the preacher of the gospel sounds forth the gospel trumpet as the rest of the body goes out to speak to others, to pray, and be public witnesses for the Lord, that becomes a formidable heavenly force. They even act as a barrier against hecklers and such for the preacher, allowing the Word to continue to go forth without interruption. After all, as Ecclesiastes 4 says – a threefold cord is not easily broken.

An observation

Here is how that worked out this past time we went out. As usual, when I preach out in the open, I find many will listen to the preaching, but from a distance. More and more, I notice this phenomenon. This time we even had several driving by who would roll down their windows to listen while they were stopped due to the traffic or drive by slowly. But across the street I noticed that several had been paying attention for 10-15 minutes at a time. But they did not approach me or the table that we had set out with literature.

However, one of the sisters from our congregation saw a young lady on the other side of the street. She saw that she was intently paying attention to the preaching and so she went out to meet her. This sister spoke to her about Christ and invited her to the evening exploratory worship service the next day. After getting her contact information, she kept in touch with her on the Lord’s Day, and praise God – she came to worship with us and was tremendously blessed. She hopes to grow closer to the ladies of our congregation and go to our regional prayer meeting.

This is how the body works together. Not everyone needing to be a preacher of the gospel, in fact, the preacher did not make the personal contact that the Lord used to draw this person to public worship. Though the preaching drew the woman’s heart, it was an “ordinary” young woman in our congregation that the Lord used as His hands to reach out to this young lady who was in anguish of soul and needed Him.

There were other interactions of the same level, even if it did not result in someone coming into the public worship service. But Bibles were given, tracts were handed out, and conversations about the Lord were had.

The encouragement would be that the body go out together whenever possible as that carrier group. Yes, ministers should go out by themselves when necessary as they have a commission from the Lord. But inculcate in your congregation the need to partner in the work of evangelism as the body of Christ works together.

What a tremendous picture it is of Christ storming the gates of Hell through His body. I am thankful for the elders and members who together, by the Holy Spirit’s work in them, came together to be a formidable force against the world, the flesh, and the devil. May this encourage your congregation to do similarly.

May Christ be lifted up before all men and be glorified for His work to save sinners.

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