Monday, August 29, 2005

The treasure of street preaching

Chris Erdman has written at Odyssey about the value of street preaching. It's certainly the pattern of preachers in the Bible:
. . .the Word, while it did find itself from time to time inside religious buildings, was most at home out beyond them. And this kind of street preaching (the only kind of preaching most of these preachers ever knew) was always offered in service to forming a people who with their bodies made known the Word in the midst of daily life.
What about in contemporary Western culture?
In our day, street preaching has become a caricature. Images of doomsday prophets on street corners, tract toting evangelists working feverishly and not too differently from ticket scalpers at the entrance to a stadium, and sweaty, shrill, wild-eyed harbingers of God-knows-what fill our minds when we think of street preaching. And if most of us preachers ever think on such things, we quickly dismiss this kind of preaching as an aberration, something beneath our skills, or at the very least something a long way from our interests.

The caricature humiliates the Word because the street is its natural habitat and street preaching cannot be . . . relegated to the fringe of the church’s life or to the most bizarre of its witnesses. The Word lives amid all the ordinariness of daily life. The fact that so much preaching and Bible study is done inside the safe confines of church buildings is a testimony to the aberration preaching has become and the degree to which the Word is humiliated in our day. Street preaching must be reclaimed from this caricature, but that doesn’t mean that preaching on the street will ever be fashionable in American or anywhere else.
Amen. Well, guys, who's ready to start proclaiming on the street?


Blogger B.C. said...

This is really good. I love writing that prods one to rethink their cultural assumptions.

Culture, of course, is an amalgam of those "givens" in a society that are so taken for granted that they're simply assumed (and accepted). Erdman lifts this time- honored (but nearly defunct) practice out of the dust bin and casts a new light on it. The gospel absolutely belongs on the street and it is a severe loss that this territory has been surrendered by the church to the enemy.

Fear is the obvious culprit: fearing damage to one's reputation; fearing derision from the crowd, etc. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ..." Ouch!

Generally speaking, the culture is tolerant of the gospel as long as it stays in its enclaves. Most of us know from experience (or at least by intuition) that when the church moves out of the pews and into the secular marketplace--anger and hostility are there waiting. There's an obvious reason this is the case. Sorry to say it, but this is a really clear indictment of contemporary American Christianity. I am not immune from the charge.

With your permission, I'd like to place a link to your blog on my site. God speed, amigo.

1:12 PM, August 30, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for joining the discussion, and doing so in a substantial way. I'd be honored to be linked from N With Both Feet, and I'm adding a link to your site at Transforming Sermons this morning. Peace.

6:31 AM, September 01, 2005  

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