Army Jargon

Open Air

It’s a staple community scene—the ringed circle of dutiful uniformed people, flag, brass, drum, children, man, and dog.

It evokes nostalgia, respect, and bemusement.

In the beginning, of course, it was fierce, militant, heroic. Not for the faint of heart, with heckling, beatings, and even martyrdom.  It was also a legal fight—the right to proclaim faith on the public highway. A landmark right secured.

The biblical precedent is pedigree—Ezra in the square, Jonah on the streets, Jesus on the mountainside, and Paul on Mars Hill. 

Church history is no less emboldened with booming George Whitfield in the fields and unflagging John Wesley atop his father’s tombstone. William Booth credits open–air campaigns as key to the start of The Salvation Army—as it literally was, outside the notorious Blind Beggar pub.

What of today, with our tightening zoning regulations, seeming public indifference and negative street preacher caricatures?  What contemporary outdoor evangelism strategies can we utilize for our generation? 

Street theater, dance, sound system savvy, prayer stations, big bands, and more, all await deployment in this whole world mobilizing. The pier at Old Orchard Beach, the Christmas carol sing in downtown Sydney, and the Regent Hall Band commandeering London still throb with the adrenaline of fresh air.

Karl Barth said that “when a church stops evangelizing it begins to smell of the ‘sacred,’ to play the priest, and mumble.”

Do you have an open–air voice?

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