Is Christ or Apologetics your Focus in Open-Air Preaching?

For a long time in open-air preaching I used a lot of apologetics in order to build a crowd and keep a crowd where I’d answer question on things like proof of the Bible, creation, evolution.

Now, I did start with what’s called a presuppositional approach, believing that each person really knows God is true, and I was just really playing with them so to speak to build a crowd and to keep a crowd and maybe answer some genuine questions, but I’ve since found that those things are not profitable. I actually heard a sermon by Curt Daniel on defending the faith, and in there he pointed out that the biblical approach to apologetics is simply saying, like Jesus did, “have you never read?” “Have you never read?” Basically saying, “the Bible says this…” “The Bible says this…” And what you find is when you simply declare what Jesus said and what the Bible says, then people will eventually stop asking such stupid questions on many occasions. You see, many will send you up, or try to send you up all these rabbit trails talking about creation, evolution, manuscripts. When you think about it, you know, the Bible is the sword of the Spirit. But so often, someone will say, “Oh, it’s no good quoting the Bible to me. I don’t believe the Bible.” So the Christian will then put the sword of the Word of God back in its sheath and then try to prove the Bible for the next hour. And that’s ridiculous. I mean, we serve the King of the universe. Could you imagine in a much lesser court, the judge – an earthly court – and someone coming before the judge and the judge saying, “how do you plead?” And then the person saying, “Well, I don’t believe in judges. I don’t believe in law.” Could you imagine there the judge saying, “Oh, hang on a minute, we best stop the proceedings and prove that law and order and judges exist before we go any further.” No, of course, that is ridiculous. But that is like the Christian approach of trying to prove the Bible before we witness to someone. You know, it’s the foolishness of preaching that God uses. The Gospel is the power of God to salvation, not our clever arguments. And I’ll tell you this, for a long time open-air preaching, we preached to large crowds, and we never saw any real converts. In fact, from the first day we went out and used what I call the zero apologetics approach, although it’s really a more biblical apologetics approach where we don’t do this man-centered fashion, we just simply declare what the Bible says. This is what God says. I’m here to declare what God says. We started to see people converted.

You know, one after another, not merely in the open air, but they’d come to the church from it and then they’d be converted. We started to see these conversions when we simply declared the Word of God. And the other thing is though the crowds are just as big. It still draws as many people. You see, the name of Christ is the central point. That should be the focus of our preaching. And people will still come to debate and listen about the person of Jesus Christ anyway. But if your ground there, if your footing is on Scripture, then it’s much better, because you’re declaring as God as the authority, rather than our silly little arguments. And there’s always a temptation, because having a background in apologetics, I know some good answers to people when they bring in questions about creation, evolution, or Bible manuscripts and things like that, proof of the existence of God. But you see, for me to answer those things is a false assumption that that person is really listening and really does not have a depraved mind. You see, the unbeliever present doesn’t normally bother that his view contradicts himself left, right, and center. He’s not really bothered. He’s just looking for something to argue against and to get into the way of the Gospel, so every time someone asks me a question, I will simply tell them what the Bible says, even if it sounds foolish. You see, I’m not here to declare my own opinions. I’m here to declare the Word of God, what He says. And people can see this because it’s like, rather than speaking to a man, they’re speaking to this big, infinite God and I think this really does hold a weight on people when you do this.