Open-air preaching

Jesse Morrell open-air preaching at an Open Air Outreach event in Alabama in 2009
Evangelist Ray Comfort open-air preaching at a Great News Network evangelism boot camp in 2004
Street preacher in Los Angeles, California, 1972

Open-air preaching, street preaching, or public preaching is the act of publicly proselytizing a religious message to crowds of people in open places. It is an ancient method of communicating a religious or social message and has been used by many cultures and religious traditions, but today it is usually associated with Evangelical Protestant Christianity.

Early Methodist preachers John Wesley and George Whitefield preached in the open air, which allowed them to attract crowds larger than most buildings could accommodate.[1][2]

Motives for open-air preaching include to glorify God and to fulfill the command to preach and make God's Word known.[3][3]

Some who believe street preaching is Biblical include examples such as Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount that of the prophet Jonah, who reluctantly obeys the command of God to go to the city of Nineveh and preach "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!".[4] Others listed include Paul's speech to the Athenians in Acts 17. However, others believe from scripture that Jesus was not technically a street preacher nor could possibly be one, "He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets." [5]

The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry lists the "many examples of street preaching in the Bible" as including Noah, Solomon, Ezra, Jeremiah, Jonah, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, Peter, Paul, Phillip and Apollos.[6]

Martin Luther wrote that "Unauthorized men preaching on the street corners are a sure sign of the devil",[7][8] believing that only those who were officially ordained could preach to people. This the same charge clergy from the Church of England were leveling at the Wesleys in their own time.

Some notable modern street preachers are Jesse Morell, Jed Smock, Ruben Israel, Ross Maroney, Seth Dixon and Caleb Pegues

The ministry "Open Air Outreach" lists legal rights of open air preaching, like "We have the right to exercise our religion and speak in all quintessential public forums," "We have a “guaranteed access” to streets, parks, and other ‘traditional public forum” and mere inconvenience to the government will not outweigh our free speech interests," and "Our freedom of speech may not be prohibited merely because it offends some listeners" [9]

See also



  1. JOHN WESLEY.; G. Holden Pike's History of the Great Methodist and His Associates, New York Times
  2. The first Great Awakening, Tony Cauchi, Jamaica Gleaner
  3. 1 2 "The Motive for Open-Air Preaching". Retrieved September 2, 2016., American Gospel Missions Inc
  4. Jonah 3:4 KJV
  5. Matthew 12:19 KJV
  6. Tony Miano/Matt Slick, "Are There Examples of Street Preaching in the Bible?" Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
  7. Luther, Martin. "Von den Schleichern und Winkelpredigern, 1532". God's Word. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  8. Martin, Luther. "C.F.W. Walther's Original Der Lutheraner Volumes One through Three (1844-'47)". Google Books. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  9. Jesse Morrell, "Legal Rights of Street Preachers" Open Air Outreach
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