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 Lessons Learned Preaching Open-Air With Jed Smock

Preaching with Jed Smock
Lessons Learned

Hundreds upon hundreds of students were walking around on the streets, sidewalks, and college campus when we had arrived on the scene. It was a prime time and location to preach the gospel. This was the beginning of an afternoon in which the longest open-air preaching meeting I have yet to been in would take place because we were teaming up with a Veteran: Jed Smock.

For those of you who don't know, Jed Smock is a full-time open-air preacher. For 30 years he has preached 5 days a week, 5 hours a day! He is probably the closest person you will find to the old fashion Wesley style preachers.

It was a Tuesday and Jeff, Krista, and I went to Austin to team up with Jed Smock and another fulltime missionary Brother Ken.

While we were waiting near the Student Union Building I got a phone call from Jed. He said he had some signs and scripture banners we could use and was going to be pulling over in front to give them to us. I was excited. I had only preached twice on a college campus and both resulted in a threat of arrest. I couldn't wait to see a full blown college campus open-air.

Jed gave us the banners and signs and went to find a parking space. The campus rule was that we couldn't preach in the middle of campus but had to be behind a certain line near the road. The area was still a good one though so we went and Jed started us off.

The world gets the attention of the masses with one thing: SEX! So what did Brother Jed do? He started preaching about sex. Preaching against the immediate and obvious sins of the campus, he was overly animated and strong in his judgments and statements. This of coarse is a great thing for open-air preaching! Crowds of students were coming and going but it looked as if nobody would stop. After a little while Jed got a heckler, he wouldn't let go!

I learned a few principals watching Brother Jed draw a crowd.

1) Use the shock and awe battle plan. In the beginning preach with bold statements and actions that will get the immediate attention of others.

2) Preach until you get a heckler even if it takes a long time. It took Brother Jed maybe even 15 minutes of preaching without a crowd before he got a heckler. But once he got one he wouldn't let him go.

3) Use your heckler until you get a crowd. People today will normally not stand and listen to your 30 minute in the open-air. But if you get into a discussion or debate people will come and watch and most likely join in. If a heckler doesn't even ask questions but just screams and yells, start stirring them up and asking questions. Let the crowd know that you want to answer questions; this will provoke them to try to stump you.

So once Brother Jed got a heckler he used him to get a crowd. Once he got the crowd he calmed down on the severe, sharp, and stirring statements and starting to simply answer the peoples questions. He switched over and only raised his voice or became very animated once and awhile to try to draw a larger crowd. But mostly he intelligently and biblically answered the people’s questions and objections.

I try to turn every answer into a message of repentance. For example:

"The bible is full of mistakes!"
"Actually it's not because of this or that. Therefore because the bible is true then God commands you to repent and turn to Him today."

Try to turn every single answer into a message of repentance. Use intellect to answer their mental objection, but continue to press the heart with conviction and for an immediate conversion.

Jed preached from 12:00-3:30pm. He had a consistent crowd the entire time. Brother Ken then spoke to the crowd and answered their questions and objections until roughly 4:00pm. Although I had come to learn, I was dying to preach!! The excitement was killing me. Since I didn't know either of them that well I wondered if they would trust me with the crowd. Ken did! He handed the crowd over to me and I preached roughly 20 minutes.

When speaking I tried to speak with clarity, passion, and urgency. If you’re not clear they won't understand. If you’re not passionate they won't see that you believe. If you’re not pleading with urgency how can they take you seriously?

I tried to simply speak to the crowd to save my voice but every so often I also yelled bold statements to get the attention of others. "GOD LOVES SEX. But the only good sex is the holy kind which is only within the boundaries of marriage. If you’re having sex outside of marriage it's called wickedness and you need to repent today."

It is good to not always be on the defense while preaching but we must switch over to the offense. For example, hecklers are great at keeping you busy answering questions and defending the faith that you never actually talk to them about their own souls and sins. Turn the tables around. Learn to control the direction of the conversations and questions so that you are not always defending the faith, but you can hunt down and attack the sins that are in their lives. “Are you a good person” series of questions demonstrates that perfectly.

I would have preached longer but I actually was struggling to answer some of the questions they were asking because they were just so foolish and stupid I didn’t know what to say. Some questions were just vulgar. I realized later that if someone asks a stupid question to try to be funny simply say "That's a stupid question and I refuse to answer that. Does anyone have a serious or intelligent question to ask?"

So Brother Jed came over and wrapped it up so that we could all fellowship over dinner. In the open-air he may be a lion, but in person he is a lamb. He was very loving, compassionate, gentle, meek, humble, and caring. Over dinner I asked questions about certain scriptures and doctrines. It was great fellowship because his beliefs and mine are very much the same and it seems to be hard to find that kind of fellowship today.

He warned about those who start to preach open-air, but then stop when persecution comes or when they become more well known or accepted in church pulpits. So I encourage all of you who preach open-air to check yourself and see why you do it. What if preaching the gospel cost you your job? What if it cost you your family? What if it cost you your freedom? What if it cost you your life? Do you value souls and value the shed blood of God enough to preach the gospel no matter what? May we all allow God to search out our hearts even now.

Ps. looking back and reviewing the lessons and principals I saw really has helped me put things more permanently in my mind. I recommend that those of you that go out and preach do the same thing and those of you that lead teams on the street, always be sure to debrief your group by asking questions regarding what they learned. This is very important to becoming a better witness.

Pictures of this day are available at my website for those of you who are interested.

 2005/2/14 5:07

Joined: 2003/9/16
Posts: 474

 Re: Lessons Learned Preaching Open-Air With Jed Smock

Wow, amazing stuff brother Jesse,

I remember Brother Jed from my college days (20+ years ago) when he and his wife were just starting off. Brother Jed went with us to the Baptist Student Union Center. I wonder if you would see that happen these days?

I think that the people who are offended the most are those in the church but are in sin and they don't want to be convicted and really don't want to repent. I can have Jesus and my sin too. It's a very common problem in the church in America these days.

Ed Pugh

 2005/2/14 14:27Profile

Joined: 2004/7/4
Posts: 1014
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

 Re: Lessons Learned Preaching Open-Air With Jed Smock

Dude you are the man, keep it up!

Multiplied blessings

Zeke Oosthuis

 2005/2/14 15:54Profile


Jesus is the God Man!! He is wonderful and awesome and amazing!!

I am glad you guys took the time to read my post. Did anything stick out to you? Is there point which you thought was good?

 2005/2/14 17:21

Joined: 2003/9/16
Posts: 474


Yes, Jesus is.

I'm not much on a set "program." It's up to the Holy Spirit to tell you what to say and how to do it. I would only rely on the Spirit because we can make something of the Spirit and then quickly turn it into a work of the flesh.

I'm not saying you're doing that at all, I would rather doubt it but I don't know one way or the other. I'm learning is that all I have to say is what He tells me to say. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jesus never compromised with sin and you haven't done that, which is great and something the Lord wants from all of us. As to the details, if that's what the Holy Spirit tells you to say, then by all means do it, if not then don't do it.

Ed Pugh

 2005/2/14 17:33Profile


AMEN! I completely agree! We must not get into a set routine or pattern because we need to leave room for God to move!

John 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

I wanted to learn and observe principals that can be used while preaching. There shouldn't be any set order of things, although there should always be order rather then having a random mess.

 2005/2/14 17:46

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