Yesterday, we did our last open air evangelism session for the year in Solihull. It was a tough day – cold, windy, not many “stoppers” – but we survived.
It has been an interesting experience. Those of you who know me, will know that I have always had difficulty with the concept of open-air preaching. I have seen bad examples of ranters heckling passers-by. I didn’t want to be one of those and I certainly didn’t want to be known as one.
However, we have reached a point in Solihull Presby Church where we need to be more active in local mission. This is difficult as we are a scattered church. I have always wanted us to do the “missional” thing – personal relationships, Christian community living etc, sharing the gospel naturally and personally. However, there are simply not enough of us locally to do this.
And what about all those thousands of people who never hear anything of the gospel? It seems to me that God raises up preachers not just conversationalists.
At the beginning of the year I was praying about this, asking what we should do about it. Then Geoff Cox appeared on the scene. Geoff works for Open Air Mission, was moving into the area and wanted to do some open-air evangelism in Solihull.
We started in February, meeting a couple of times a month, and I think I did my first preach in March (Geoff does most of it). As the weather got better into the Summer, more people began to stop and listen. As we have moved into winter, the numbers have dropped off again. No surprises there. We have had our share of hecklers balanced by a number of useful discussions with people from various backgrounds.
It’s an ongoing experiment. We’ll press on next year. Pray for us.
PS Steve McCoy has a useful set of links to open air preaching resources here.