Presently, the open-air preaching subculture is a mess. As a loose-knit organization and as a growing organism, it’s a spiritual train wreck. It functions unbiblically outside the authority of the local church and is led by self-appointed (or appointed by popular demand) quasi-leaders with absolutely no ecclesiastical authority over the people in the loose-knit subculture. I should know. I’ve been one of those “leaders.” – Tony Miano, Founder and Director of Cross Encounters Ministries
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. – Acts 17: 10-12 (AKJV)
I recently came across a blog post by Tony Miano, a well-known street preacher in California, which presents some hard truth that will offend some and lead others to do some serious heart, head and Bible searching. My prayer is that those who read this post will be mostly comprised of the latter group. And if you find yourself bristling at Mr. Miano’s message, then may the good Lord give you the grace to be as the Bereans, to search your Bible and see if what he has said is so.
Mr. Miano titled his message “A Call to Return to the Church: An Open Letter to the Open-Air Preaching Subculture.” The title of this open letter says much as to what I have been concerned about regarding my experience with those in pro-life street ministry. It really is a subculture in which many participants have little or no involvement in their local church, and as a result the atmosphere at the abortion mill on the pro-life side is often a chaotic theological free-for-all. Oftentimes the “ministry” leaders are women who apparently are under no type of headship or authority. And sadly, if a man does happen to lead the ministry efforts, he is often not under the guidance of an ordained pastor or elders. As a result, the Gospel message is lost in the confusion and the ministry or it’s leader becomes an idol – compromise then abounds and the work/activity itself becomes the main focus; families suffer and as Mr. Miano points out in his letter, there has been an “unintended undermining of the authority of the local church.”
Mr. Miano goes on to write these hard truths:
While I would never assert the following about every person who sees themselves as a member of the open-air preaching subculture, the following statements are true about too many people in the subculture.
The open-air preaching subculture is awash with men and women who are engaged in hypocritical, prideful, arrogant, haughty behavior. Some within the subculture insist they love the lost when their rhetoric on social media platforms expresses an open disdain, even hatred, for brothers and sisters in Christ. Members of the subculture are quick to deem others heretics or unsaved while showing themselves to be utterly unteachable and unwilling to receive the gentlest of correction, failing to understand the spirit with which such correction is given.
The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community in which some people sinfully idolize evangelism, especially open-air preaching and open-air preachers. There is a growing “groupie” mentality within the subculture toward those who are seen as leaders. There are married and unmarried women paying an inordinate amount of time to married men in the subculture.
The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community in which some people commit adultery against God and against the family, with evangelism being the mistress. Some men and women are neglecting their marriages and their families in order to self-medicate an obsessive compulsion, even an addiction to evangelism. God has not called a single married man to love evangelism as Christ loves the Church. He has called every married man to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. Furthermore, God has called every married woman to submit to her husband, not to her evangelism team leader.
The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community that in which some people hypocritically operate with the same pragmatism of “seeker” church models they openly revile. They put too much stock in the size of the crowd, the size of the event, the amount of opposition faced, and negative interaction with law enforcement when determining how effective or fruitful their time on the streets is.
The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community where there is competition among some to see who can have the best and biggest conferences when almost every conference is saying/teaching the same things. Many of these conferences are being held in “rented” church space instead of being approved and overseen by the local church.
The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community that includes people who coddle and, dare I say, are fearful of boisterous Christian women who talk like men—women who seem drunk with pride and maybe even feminism unaware—women who talk to their Christian brothers as if they are ready to ask them to “step outside,” all because their Christian brothers dare to assert that God’s preordained and creative order specifies different roles for men and women in His service. Some Christian women act this way because their Christian brothers have, for far too long, encouraged them to act like men—inadvertently encouraging them to sacrifice their beautiful, God-given femininity in the process.
The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community, which includes some people who claim to be biblical complementarians, that is, until they step outside the doors of the church. They then turn egalitarian to protect the status quo and to avoid admitting to mistakes made regarding the involvement of Christian women in open-air preaching.
The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community that includes some people who have a dangerously deteriorating view of Scripture and the Church—a community, which left unchecked, will create more apostates as a result. This unbiblical community has already created too many apostates.
While reading the ‘Open Letter’ to those in Open Air Ministry, I could not help but join Tony in his feelings of a broken heart. I, too, have friends who are street preachers and they have always had my Christian love, prayers, respect and support. Hopefully they will read Tony Miano’s letter and seek the Lord to see if they are in need of repentance or readjustment in any of the areas he has written about.
May the good LORD bless you and keep you all in His Sovereign grip as you seek to bring honor and glory to His Wonderful Name.
With Christian Love,
Should She Preach? by Tony Miano