How to Draw a Crowd Open Air Preaching Without Money Trivia, Magic Tricks, and other Bait and Switch Tactics – Shock and Awe Preaching!


By Jesse Morrell


SHOCK & AWE PREACHING is the bold confrontation and rebuke of sin in the public arena. It is an intentionally controversial form of preaching designed to capture attention and provoke discussion and debate. It is when an open air preacher talks about topics and issues he knows his crowd will have an opposing opinion about so that those issues, as they relate to the Bible, can be addressed. Our target audience is those who disagree with us and we want to reason with them about those biblical issues to which they object. Shock and Awe preaching is an open air preaching tool to help with creating a dialog, drawing a crowd, and keeping their attention.

Ray Comfort said, “Open air preaching is nothing like preaching within a church building. Neither is it like personal witnessing. If you listened to me share the Gospel with one or two people, you would probably notice an obvious gentleness in my tone.However, if you listen to me preach in the open air, it might sometimes seem a little contentious and provocative. If I preached the same way I speak in a church or one-on-one, I will never hold a crowd. It is important in both cases that I am motivated by love, but if I don’t keep the preaching “on the edge,” I will lose my hearers in minutes (if not seconds). Whitefield Gold, compiled by Ray Comfort, p. 8-9.

John Wesley said, “In the streets a man must from beginning to end be intense, and for that very reason he must be condensed and concentrated in his thought and utterances.” Whitefield Gold, compiled by Ray Comfort, p. 8-9.

Ray Comfort said, “This ‘intense’ preaching may be misunderstood by those who don’t know why it’s there. The problem is that when we read the Gospels, we don’t see the passion involved in discourses. When Jesus spoke, there were those in the crowd that wanted to kill Him. They hated Him. People no doubt called out, accusing Him of blasphemy or asking Him questions. Without question, the atmosphere would have been electric. That’s the atmosphere that holds a crowd’s attention. To become passive in the name of love and gentleness will pull the plug out and the electricity will immediately leave. If you do this, be ready to be accused of preaching without love. The accusations almost always come from those brethren who have never preached in the open air.” Whitefield Gold, compiled by Ray Comfort, p. 8-9.

R. A. Torrey said about open air preaching, “Don’t be soft. One of these nice, namby-pamby sentimental sort of fellows in the open air meeting the crowd cannot and will not stand. The temptation to throw a brick or a rotten apple at him is perfectly irresistible, and one can hardly blame the crowd.” Whitefield Gold, compiled by Ray Comfort, p. 9.

Ray Comfort said, “Never fear hecklers. I pray for hecklers. I pray earnestly that God will give us good heckler… Someone who is angry, nasty, horrible, will get a crowd of 20 and bring it up to a crowd of 200 within 30 seconds if he’s handled correctly. And what I mean by that is that I may this afternoon seem very rude to you with how I handle hecklers. It’s deliberate. I don’t want an apathetic heckler. I want him to be angry. Because an apathetic nice heckler will not draw a crowd. An angry one will. Now there is a fine dividing line between getting a heckler angry and getting him to a point where he punches you. A very fine line, but you will find it.” Excellence in Evangelism, How to Open Air Preach.

Charles Spurgeon said, “WE fear that our two pictures of last month greatly shocked a few of our good reader’s whose souls are tender towards the established Church of our day; but we do not in any degree apologize to them because the shock, like that of a cold bath early in the morning, will do them good, and strengthen their constitutions. We can assure them that they cannot be one-half’ so much shocked by our ridicule of error as we are by the error itself’. We do not make the evil, we only expose it; and if we use words and symbols which strike and stick, and’ even offend, we believe that they are necessary, and ought to be used far more frequently. We are not going to handle the abominations of the present American establishment with kid gloves; and if we judge sarcasm and ridicule to be deserved, we shall give the Lord’s enemies their full quota of scorn.” The Sword and the Trowel Vol. II, Rough Words for Great Evils.

Holy Hubert Lindsey said, “My harsh words to many of these students and those who use Telegraph Avenue as a hangout are said in love, hoping the verbal scolding will someway penetrate their Satanic-controlled minds.” Bless Your Dirty Heart 

Jed Smock said, “Debate and dialogue are two of the many tactics we use to gain and hold the crowd’s attention. We don’t have a captive audience like professors or most preachers. As the prophets of old, we have an urgent message to deliver to a group of rebellious, uninterested students.” Who Will Rise Up

John Wesley “Before I can preach love, mercy and grace, I must preach sin, Law and judgment.”

John Wesley “If the gospel is preached well sinners should be angry or convicted of sin righteousness and judgement to come. If they are not then I don’t think they are to be an evangelist.”

“We need some hell-fire preaching on repentance.” Leonard Ravenhill

Jesse Morrell said, “A preacher who preaches the truth uncompromisingly will be asked, ‘Does your preaching always have to be so pointy? Does it always have to be so sharp?’ And of coarse the answer is no. He can blunt his message if he’d like and become just as dull as the average preacher.” The Evidence Bible, Compiled by Ray Comfort

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