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Want to Open-Air Preach? Use a Talent to Draw a Crowd

The Word on the Street

We are living in a unique day. I remember looking back at some of the television programs I used to enjoy as a teenager, like The Beverly Hillbillies and Get Smart. I originally thought they were funny, but nowadays I find them embarrassingly corny. They hardly cause me to even smile. But those programs haven’t changed; I have. I have become far more particular because (like most people today) I have been bombarded with entertainment for years, and if we don’t see a car chase and a shootout within a few minutes, we are bored.

At the time of great open-air preachers, people weren’t bombarded with entertainment, and so someone speaking in the open air attracted their eyes and ears. However, nowadays, someone speaking in public about religion doesn’t attract a crowd as it once did. In fact, you and I would be hard pressed to get a handful of people to listen to the gospel. I know, because I have tried every means possible to pull in a crowd of listeners. Therefore we have to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. A serpent gets its heart’s desire subtly. Our desire is for sinners to gather under the sound of the gospel.

“It’s not enough for me to stand on a street corner, reading from the Bible and speaking to whoever passes by. I want people to listen and understand the gospel.”

It’s not enough for me to stand on a street corner, reading from the Bible and speaking to whoever passes by. I want people to listen and understand the gospel. Some speakers don’t mind not having listeners. I want the lost to hear and turn around to avoid the damnation of Hell. So I have experimented over the years to find what works and what doesn’t work… and for the last twenty-five years I have found something that works wonderfully, which I will share in the following pages.

One way to attract “fish” is to use any type of entertainment, such as playing a guitar and singing. If it would help me pull in a crowd, I would sing, if I could. If I could dance or juggle or smash wood with my fist, I would use that skill for the glory of God. If you have a talent of any sort, give serious consideration to using it to reach the lost. Some Christians have a great talent but set it aside, thinking that it was just part of their old, sinful life. Then resurrect it for the sake of the unsaved. If you can do sleight-of-hand (magic tricks), do it. Rekindle the skill.

“If you have a talent of any sort, give serious consideration to using it to reach the lost.”

However, make sure that any entertainment is used to attract people to the message, rather than distract them from it. If it continues while you’re witnessing, people won’t be listening to your words. So once you have their attention, stop the entertainment, but keep it handy, and do something else for your listeners when you have finished speaking to leave them with a positive note.

Another suggestion to draw and hold a crowd is to search the Internet for pictures of celebrities who have died. Print a large copy of each and staple them at the top left corner. Go through them one at a time, asking the crowd who they are and why they are famous (their most notable movie, etc.). Then ask what they all have in common.

As people call out their answers, watch for someone who is confident and loud. Ask for his name as you ask why the celebrity was famous, etc. Be sure you deliberately log his name into your memory. Call on him a couple of times and ask him for the identity of the next celebrity. In doing so you are building a relationship so that you can come back to him (or a couple of other people you have befriended) and ask, “Bill, tell me—what are your thoughts on what happens after someone dies? Is there a Heaven? Is the person reincarnated? Do you think there is a Hell?” Then take him through the Commandments. (For how to do this, see “Are You a Good Person?”)

The Word on the Street
1. Why This Controversial Open-Air Preaching Tactic Is Actually Biblical
2. Want to Open-Air Preach? Use a Talent to Draw a Crowd
3. Without Repentance, Sinners Will Perish
4. How Should Open-Air Preachers Handle Hecklers?

Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort is the Founder and CEO of Living Waters, a bestselling author, and has written more than 100 books, including, The Evidence Study Bible. He cohosts the award-winning television program Way of the Master, which airs in 190 countries.

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