Tomorrow evening Tom Schmidt, Oliver Bujdei, and I will be hitting the streets of St. Charles to begin preaching in the "open air." While we know what we are going to do, we really don't know what we are doing. We are comfortable sharing the gospel with others, and preaching in church, but this is something new to us. And the reason we are doing it is not because we want to do it as much as we believe we have to do it. We have been reading and listening to others who have done it. We have been praying and planning. So, what's the plan?
In the evening as people are hanging out downtown enjoying frozen yogurt, coming back from dinner, heading to the bar, or just taking in the summer night, we will be hanging out as well. Tom and Oliver are great musicians and will play a song. We have recently seen this draw people in and break the ice. After a song, while people are near by, one of us will stand up and give a brief, tightly crafted, message. By brief we are aiming at under 5 minutes. By tightly crafted we mean these are well-prepared messages. After the message we will invite people to talk. In addition to the three preachers/musicians there will be a few others there from the church hanging out. We hope to engage in conversation, further point people to Jesus, and invite them to our church (Pastor Brian created some great invitation cards).
We hope to do this for a few hours. Hanging out, playing music, preaching, talking.
Here are some of our (largely untested) thoughts as we head into tomorrow night.
We want to send out strong preachers to do this work. Oliver and Tom are gifted preachers who not only preach for Redeemer, but many other local churches.
We want to preach short messages. We go 40-45 minutes on Sunday, but engaging a transient audience unprepared for a message and unaccustomed to preaching requires us to make our point clearly and concisely. Spurgeon said when preaching "out of doors verbosity is not admired, you must say something and have done with it."
We want to be sensitive to the crowd and feedback. While we have prepared messages, we will attempt to be ready to engage people, questions, interruptions, etc. and adapt our messages on the fly.
We want to be follow the Spirit's leading. I like a plan, but the Lord will direct us, and we want to be ready if he should move us to go long, or do something different, etc.
We want to saturate this in prayer. We have been praying for this as a church, individually and corporately, and have many others praying with and for us. We will, of course be praying before and throughout out time in the city as well.
Tom, Oliver and Tim Smith will actually be playing a 2 hour set of original music downtown as a part of the city's STC Live summer program before we get started. We appreciate your prayers as we head into a big evening.