Open Air Evangelism
Preparing and Practising
We spend time working on drama and sketches we might use in the open air. Also preparing short talks and testimonies is important. Practising with PA systems and how to use a microphone system is vital!
- You may need a permit for amplification and/or a permit for street performance for a "Cultural Event" or "Street Entertainment".
- Ground rule - men talk only to other men and women to other women unless pair with a member of opposite sex. The aim is to share the Gospel and YWAM does not practice Flirty Fishing!
- Choose your spot (space for a crowd - good passage of people, natural amphitheatre etc.)
- Setup equipment (note sound equipment can be very helpful - battery equipment also.) Be careful not to have your sound levels too high - very loud levels tend to push a crowd back.
- CD or MP3 - if you use music make sure it is queued and you can move to the next track you need in under a second between sketches.
- Ensure you won't run out of power - batteries need charging and/or purchasing
- Preparing the Ground: a terrible phase for an important step. Through prayer and worship a YWAM team seeks to welcome God to the area to have a moment of "open heaven". This tends to build up over a series of days if you repeatedly pray and it can be interesting to see how passers-by can stop and explain how they can feel something different about that area and what a YWAM team is doing. To do this we often huddle together guitarist in the centre praising and worshipping. It is often good to have someone ready to talk to interested passers-by who are intrigued by this behaviour.
- When you feel that you have a breakthrough then you are ready to begin.
- This is also a good point to listen to God to see if he has any pictures of people or names or anything to say to the people who will come/he will bring.
Conducting the Open Air
- Goal is to talk to people and leave them positive for their next encounter with Christians.
- Thus it is important that we don't shout at them, condemn them or insult them.
- Brief the team if not already briefed.
- Pair people up. This is our practice - pairing male and female in order to talk to either sex. This is also important for training and passing on experience. Often one person talks and one person prays and listens
- Start with a crowd puller - a simple sketch or drama or happening that draws interest
- It can help to have an MC who can pull the crowd and introduce the sketches etc.
- Have a series of sketches with brief explanations if wanted. If the crowd disappears you might want to drop the explanations - you will need to be faster and slicker.
- Ensure there are now pauses between sketches and items or your crowd will seep away
- Brief testimonies are good. Interviews can help more nervous people to share. Try to keep jargon to a minimum. Surprisingly foreign people go down well even with broken English - people take extra interest and time to listen.
- A brief and too the point talk (2-3) minutes can go down very well. Warmth, avoidance of religious language, relevance and honesty are all key. This is the hardest part and often the crowd disappears.
- You want you team to have distributed themselves by now in the crowd and be starting to talk to the people there. A simple question "Have you enjoyed what is going on?" or "Did you follow what is going on?" can open very long conversations.
- Always let people go if they are ready to leave. However, you may well have long conversations. Whilst the conversations are happening the other team members my have finished and talk to new people. Otherwise encourage team members to come back together, to pray for the people still talking and not to drift off to the shops for some food and drink!
- Playing some nice music quietly before the next programme is good to do.
- Repeat with a differing programme as many times as you like!
- Have a proper pause for food or refreshment. It can get very hot in the summer so make sure everyone has a cap, water and sun cream!
- Take ongoing conversations into cafés or make a date for another meeting
- Pack up, collect any litter and head back
- Debrief - good to find out what was happening
- Learn lessons for next time - often you will need to practice hard and be very quick to move from item to item.