Out and about Preaching in the Open Air

Preaching in the Open Air

Unusual, curious, out of date? But every weekday at over 300 locations throughout the UK, you’ll find the Plymouth Brethren with their Bibles talking to passers-by and distributing gospel leaflets.

Why do they do it? And even quite young people not embarrassed to tell people what they believe!

Firstly, they are not ashamed of their beliefs. If you really believe in something, why keep it to yourself?

Secondly, they have genuine goodwill towards the community. They know from the Bible that God wants “all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2 verse 4) and they’d like to share with others what they enjoy themselves.

Thirdly, they have evidence that the preaching of the gospel has a beneficial effect on society. In one place where the preaching had temporarily lapsed a policeman said to the Brethren: “I’m glad to see you back, the crime rate has gone right up since you stopped!”

Interestingly Peter’s first gospel preaching in Acts was in the open air, like many since including John Wesley, George Whitfield and others, so the practice is nothing new or peculiar to the Brethren.

If anyone has had experience, positive or negative, of hearing a street preaching by the Brethren we’re interested to hear from you.

34 thoughts on “Out and about Preaching in the Open Air”

  1. jm says:

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Aussie Boomsticks says:

    I have been reading this website since I heard about the RRT in the NSW bushfires and stumbled across this blog. I work for Brethren and asked my boss recently about joining the church – I was told that ” We don’t recruit but if you Love the Lord Jesus Christ and have a genuine desire to follow Him – taking up the Cross there is most definitely a place for you” – I thought that was fair.

  3. CHUCKY says:

    John Peters
    January 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    ….. “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Jesus came to save sinners not the righteous….True; but then Jesus blood cleanese us from all sin – He can cleanes the vilest, that what the Gold is!!

    As an intelligent person like yourself would know, Gold is refined by fire – the dross is seperated and what you have left is the pure metal!

    Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all lawlessness, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. (Titus 2v14)

  4. Finchmeister says:

    I know an elderly lady who gives out hundreds of tracts to almost anyone she comes into contact with (even gave one to a man who was burgling her house, but that’s another story!) and recently she went to the hospital to see a heart consultant. As she walked into the room, the doctor instantly recognised her and said “I remember you! Three years ago, you gave me this gospel tract, and here it is” and he reached in his diary and pulled it out and showed her- he said “I’ve read that MANY times since!”

    So, keep up the good work and remember what the bible says “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” Ecc. 11 v 1

    1. Algy says:

      Could you tell us the burglar story too please?

  5. street preaching says:

    Where we preach in the city centre there is a shop opposite with young staff members who mill around inside helping thier customers day in day out. Once when one of us was preaching, a member of staff from the shop came to the entrance and told the guy preaching that she knew Jesus, and that the staff appreiciate our preaching every day; only sometimes we are not loud enough for them to hear in the shop! This particular girl had changed her shift around so she could be on security duties at the door during our daily preaching time!!

  6. Audrey Leflaive says:

    I once been to Peckham in London, i stayed with my uncle steve. You guys do preaching and things in the peckham? i think i might go and listen next time i’m over.

    1. CL says:

      Hello Audrey

      We have done some research for you and have found that the open air preaching held nearest to Peckham is probably Forest Hill, there is one there Mon-Fri at 12 Noon. Just up the road from the station outside the old Bingo Hall by the Bus stop.

      I’m sure they’d be glad to see you and have a chat if you like.

  7. T2 says:

    Different responses:
    I gave a tract to someone today and they said “What is this?” I said “It tells you about your Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” He handed it straight back and swore, and said “Keep the jolly thing then”. Why is it people reject it when nothing else can make them happy? I guess the world that rejected Christ when He was here can only decline.
    But as an encouragement a man came up to me shortly after and said “I don’t wish to be greedy but can I have 2 of those?”
    Amazing isn’t it!
    (Can someone tell me how to put the yellow smiley faces on? It always freezes when I try 🙂 )

    1. T2 says:

      Oops don’t worry… looks like I’ve done it

  8. T says:

    I am a young Brethren (24) and where we work we try to have someone preach at a set time every day!! we get a mix of responses, it’s interesting. Some people resent the message and even get angry and start swearing. Others acknowledge it and encourage you!!
    One thing I always like to think is that although some reject it and swear and carry on – they have still heard the message about Jesus and it could come back to them on the death bed!!!!
    God in his grace would accept any slight turning to him and save them in their last minutes.

    1. Anony-mouse says:

      Heard an interesting story the other day….. there was a couple that couldn’t have been more against the PBCC – swore at them all the time, complained about them etc… Then their house burnt down and the PBCC RRT (Rapid Response Team), who were at the scene of the fire, gave them food and love, and someone else took them in for a day or so and looked after them well……. now they couldn’t be more full of praise about the PBCC!
      It’s wonderful what the Lord can do in turning these sort of people around, isn’t it! Just like Paul in the New Testament – he was the biggest enemy of the followers of Jesus (Acts 8 v 3 “But Saul ravaged the assembly, entering into the
      houses one after another, and dragging off both men and women
      delivered them up to prison.”) and was completely turned around on the Damascus Road (Acts 9, 22 and 26) to become the Lord’s greatest servant

  9. Andrew says:

    Hello John,
    As a member of the PBCC, who was not born into the fellowship, I have asked myself these questions. I found all the answers in the scriptures, and often in the very scriptures are used to raise the questions.
    Jesus states, ‘I have not been send save to the lost sheep of Israels house’
    If you investigate the Lord’s dealings with the Gentiles and Half-Jews in Scripture, you will note a definate separation – though He shows mercy so beautifully.
    In Matthew, the record states, …many tax-gatherers and sinners came and lay at table with Jesus… (they came to Him – remember these are the lost of Israel).
    Jesus says,”They that are strong have not need of a physician, but those that are ill.” These come to Jesus for salvation and find it. They are saved sinners, like every believer. Is it to be supposed that Jesus was calling those who challenged him ‘strong’?, elsewhere he warns of the pharisees as hypocrites. This is so beautifully and effectually told out in the 7th of Luke, where Simon begs Jesus to eat with him. It is the repentant sinner who recieves the blessed words, “Thy sins are forgiven.”.
    In the scriptual record, Jesus worked almost exclusively with the lost sheep of Israel, and mixed with repentant ones. In the Mark 7 scripture, the reader would be forgiven for being surprised that the Lord attended the meal at Simon’s house, however, he also was of the house of Israel.
    In Christianity, “… there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ [is] everything, and in all. Thence we have the ‘great house’ spoken of in 2 Timothy, and the challenge given there to those who would seek to ‘be a vessel to honour, sanctified, serviceable to the Master, prepared for every good work.’
    In answer to the good question by Anonymous, someone tried to tell me once that you had to be born into the PBCC, this was rather funny to me, as both myself, my wife and my children came into fellowship in 2000. So , sure… if you are interested, ask someone at your street preaching.

  10. Lee says:

    Public Benefit……….Three of us were presenting the Christian gospel on the footpath outside the entrance to the market place one Thursday evening when a middle aged woman came over to us and thanked us for what we were doing.
    This woman had a sister who had a serious cancer condition and heard the gospel being preached at this very spot a few months earlier. She told us her sister was affected by the word spoken and came to know the Lord Jesus as her Saviour. She found peace in her soul and within a short time she died from the cancer. She went out of this world in peace into the eternal presence of her Saviour.
    Her sister encouraged us to keep up the good work spreading the gospel to others.

    1. Isobel says:

      Hello Lee,
      Wow I have goosebumps. It must be a great feeling knowing you have helped bring someone to Jesus at the end of their life on earth. There are no doubt many others have come to know Him through these Open Air Preachings. Keep up the good work!

    2. adjudant says:

      It is a wonderful feeling. I was preaching a little while back and a chap from the Pacific Islands came and took a tract from me. Just two days ago i was preaching and he suddenly appeared. He had been hiding behind the bus shelter trying to pluck up the courage to talk to us. He told me that noone understands him like Jesus, and the tract i had given him confirmed it!

  11. Sarah says:

    I was walking through the town centre the other day and heard people preaching the gospel. To hear that Jesus can cure all of your needs in the middle of a hard day is a real encouragement, I think that if the brethren are preaching in town centres then good for them, it is something that most peopole want to hear (although some do not realise it!)

  12. Trev says:

    Keep up the preaching, it doesn’t matter who does, and where its done, as long as its done – this world needs the Word of God more than ever at the moment. The Apostle Paul says “in season and out of season”, so dont give it up during the winter – you’ll still reach some needy soul with a word of refreshment and salvation.

    1. Toph says:


      Thanks for your encouraging comments – I personally was preaching at a busy street corner a few weeks ago when a middle aged woman made a point of going out of her way to approach myself and the others with me. Her very words were, “It is a wonderful work your are doing, keep it up because there are a lot of people out here who could use it”. And then only about 1 week later, I offered a gospel tract to a somewhat scruffy looking individual who shook her head no, put her hand on her heart and said, “It’s OK, I’ve already got Jesus in here”! Wonderful to get these encouraging responses and know that there are so many genuine believers 🙂

  13. John NZ says:

    Can people interested in “teachings” and witness of Plymouth Brethren Church Members attend meetings…or a gospel? to hear the Lords Word preached….
    Do you have music at church services? and are you filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit…?
    My dealings with Brethren Business people have been excellent…they are honest and reputable across the board and you can rely on them to “get the job done”!

    1. Admin says:

      Hello John, yes persons are welcome to attend one of our gospel preachings.
      Our music is provided by a God given instrument, the human voice! Every age group loves to sing the hymns.
      We believe the Holy Spirit indwells every believer who obeys Him. “And we are [his] witnesses of these things, and the Holy Spirit also, which God has given to those that obey him” Acts 5:32

  14. Tom says:

    Interesting to see the picture outside Westminster around Olympic time I guess from the Steward’s bib:
    1 – I was told the Brethren still preach outside the Houses of Parliament every day around midday; is this true, and if so where abouts does it take place?
    2 – I spent nearly every day of the Olympics giving out tracts and met 20-30 other Christian groups doing the same but I didn’t bump into anyone from your group, I wondered if they did any outreach especially for the Olympics?

    1. Jim says:

      1. We preach at one o’clock every day just off Parliament Square on Parliament Street. (Parliament Street becomes Whitehall as you go towards Trafalgar Square). It’s on the northern side of the road between 2 red telephone boxes.
      2. As far as I’m aware we didn’t specifically target the Olympics, we did keep up our normal program of Street Gospel Preachings. Thanks for the steer, we’ll keep this in mind for similar events in the future. Well done for what you did!

    2. Garth says:

      Just noticed your comment Tom, you may want to have a look at: http://www.theplymouthbrethren.org.uk/category/our-life/fellowship/

  15. Joel says:

    I regularly preach on the street close to where I work. I generally try to use short portions of scripture to emphasise that the glad tidings are available to all men and seek to point persons to Christ.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Great. But can people join your group, or is that closed and exclusive too?

    2. Joel says:

      We are always glad of support in spreading the Glad Tidings! 🙂

    3. Tim says:

      Sure Anonymous, although the primary motivation of the Brethren’s street preaching is to lead persons to find the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour; persons that are wanting to find a vibrant Christian Fellowship that is seeking to follow the teachings of the Bible are welcome to talk with Brethren about joining. Everyone that is a member of the Bethren has either joined or had an ancestor that has joined.
      Scripture teaches us that living the Christian lifestyle comes at a ” cost”. Refer Luke 14 v 28, however this is more than recompensed by the joy that Christian fellowship affords AND the eternal reward. Refer Luke 18 v 30.

    4. James says:

      Well done Joel – considering the number of Gospel Tracts we give out it’s fair to say that people as a rule welcome the ‘Open Air Preaching’..
      It’s true to say now and again we get some people who don’t like it, but that’s life isn’t it!

    5. Rob says:

      After 9/11 in New York we found that many more people took tracts. Then people forgot.
      Then came Huricane Sandy and people are once more willing to listen to the gospel message.
      Wonderful to be able to preach about “A help in distresses very readily found”.

    6. Andrub says:

      Its funny how the adverse weather or circumstances make the spread of the gospel seem easier. My best experiences are people who are in the depth of pressure and they reach out hinking you cannot help and find that if they have faith they can have peace in their soul as i have found in troublesome circumstances and situations. This is the proof of what Rob quotes – and to finish: his compassions are new every morning and they fail not.

    7. Michael says:

      One has observed these people are as good as Gold. The way you must qualify to belong shows how they shine. If gold was mixed with other metals it wouldnt be gold. Keep your quality up.

    8. John Peters says:

      Interesting comment from Michael, but doesn’t the Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Jesus came to save sinners not the righteous. He certainly had no issues mixing with other people ( ‘other metals’) and was concerned with other people.

    9. Anonymous says:

      Hello John Peters,
      As you say, all men have sinned. Also, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. That’s why we preach: everyone has a claim on the precious work of Christ, and everyone has a right to know about it.
      The Lord Jesus was not as we are, though: “in Him sin was not ” . Only He could heal the leper (see Mark ch.1 v 40 – 41). He shed His own blood to save us from sin and from hell.
      We have a responsibility to be true to His work . His work for us and in us is the gold, and we’ve got no right to go and try mixing it with something else – but we’ve every right and reason to tell everyone and anyone about Him and what He can do for them.

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