This morning I took part in an open air witness in nearby Bradford on Avon. Thursday is market day in the town. A number of local FIEC and Grace Baptist Churches have been working together to spread the good news of Jesus in West Wiltshire under the banner of the Good News Partnership. Today we were joined by my friend Jim Henry of the Open Air Mission (pictured in action above). Jim gave a couple of talks while the rest of us handed out evangelistic literature and engaged passers by in conversation. I had a long chat with a lapsed Roman Catholic.
Open air preaching has a long and noble tradition. Many of the Old Testament prophets proclaimed the word of the Lord outdoors. Jesus preached wherever he could find a hearing; in town centres, by the sea and on mountain sides. The apostles heralded the gospel in public places. George Whitefield, Howell Harris and the Wesley brothers were open air preachers. Today it is widely assumed that Christianity is a private matter that has no place in the public square. Open air preaching challenges that view and brings people face to face with the claims of the gospel in town and city centres. By and large people outside Christian circles aren't coming to church to hear the gospel, so we need to go to them. How will they hear without a preacher?