Podcast: Street Preaching

Boldness in evangelism is typically not second nature.  We are fearful, afraid of what people might think.  Even the apostle Paul needed the prayers of the saints in this regard.  Read again what he says to the Ephesians,

“[And pray] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Eph 6:19-20)

Listen in to our conversation with Gary Van Keppel, a man who has been given much grace to proclaim the gospel along the streets and sidewalks of Broad Ripple, a place in Indianapolis known for its nightlife.  He is what one might call a street preacher.  With both a winsome spirit and grace-filled boldness, Gary takes to the streets nearly every Friday night in order to tell people about Christ’s love.

It is a topic everyone should consider, as it may be the case that our hearts need freshly charged with evangelistic zeal.



  1. Brennan McCafferty March 22, 2014 at 3:46 am #

    I was really encouraged by this podcast…thanks for the upload. It’s definitely good to see street preaching in action by ordinary Christians. It reminded me of a recent sermon by Steve Lawson at the National Ligonier Ministries Conference on George Whitefield, which was very eye-opening & convicting for me. Talk about a man of God with evangelistic zeal! I pray God would raise up more men like Whitefield.

    • Barry York March 23, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

      Glad it was an encouragement, Brennan, and Amen!

  2. Joseph June 12, 2015 at 10:55 am #

    As I have been growing in my walk with the Lord I’ve been sensing the call and developing a strong interest in open air evangelism. I’ve been following a lot of street preachers on youtube such as Tony Miano, Jesse Morrell, TeamJesusPreachers, and CryToGod, to name a few. Some might say it’s very confrontational but if you actually listen to the preaching and see the scripture, it is certainly a most biblical form of heralding the good news. Even Isaiah 58:1 says to “declare to my people their sins” and not to hold back, but to “lift up your voice like a trumpet.” I want to thank you guys for this interview and pray that the Lord would prepare me and send me to do this. May I ask, does Gary have any online content of his preaching? I am very encouraged when I listen to other preachers on youtube–recommendations are most welcome! God bless 🙂

    • Gary Van Keppel June 18, 2015 at 1:37 am #

      Dear Joseph,

      I am glad to hear you are taking an interest in open air evangelism. I do not have any audio or video of my preaching. I can tell you my own style is to preach extemporaneously from various evangelistic Scripture verses I keep on my cell phone. Other times I simply read chapters of Scripture relying on the Holy Spirit to convict hearts. I always try and keep to the tenor of Scripture, pointing passersby to the love of Christ and His warnings regarding eternal judgment. The cross is an offense, so there is no need to add to the offense. Some friends I co-labor with like to prepare a sermon and stick to that. That is perfectly fine. As long as the gospel is being articulated well, He is glorified. If you are ever in the Indianapolis area, you are welcome to come along. If you wanted to chat over the phone, I would welcome that too. Just let me know and we can exchange information. May He richly bless your ministry to the lost. —Gary

      P.S. There was a fella who, completely unplanned, interviewed me on the spot one evening and posted it to You Tube. You might find it helpful in some way. You can search within You Tube “Broad Ripple Evangelist” or maybe try this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOuQReraO78. As you can tell from the interview, the personal interactions that result from the preaching are a big blessing. It is what we want to see. I love to see God bring things together that we cannot.

      • Joseph June 18, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

        Hi Gary,

        Thanks for your kind reply and for sharing your wisdom and the interview. I would love to talk to you and get more encouragement, especially since I am setting my mind to starting my first open air session this Saturday morning, Lord willing and hopefully do this every weekend on a regular basis. I’ve been a part of a few open air evangelism events before, but not on my own–usually with other brothers. I know what the Lord is calling me to do and I want to keep it Scriptural and let God’s word speak out of my mouth. For this reason I had memorized numerous scriptures and continue to do so. I know what to do and I know the power of the Gospel doesn’t rest in my ability. Still the only two questions I have that are bothering me right now are: 1) What if I have a moment where I don’t know what to say next or I lose my train of thought; and 2) what if someone asks me a question or heckles me and I don’t know the appropriate way or right answer to respond? I know what I need to do…I just need to do it!

        Thanks again,

        • Gary Van Keppel June 18, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

          We will be praying for you as you go out and witness! If at all possible, it is good to have someone go out with you. Jesus sent them out in pairs. This provides accountability, a fellow witness, protection, and fellowship. As to #1, we all have times where we get tongue tied or a bit nervous. Just press through it and the Holy Spirit will strengthen you. There are times for me where it just flows, other times it is a bit choppy or I am tired. The first couple of years I had butterfly’s before going out. Since then, not as much. There has never been a perfect street preacher except Jesus. Some of the best street evangelists I have seen are otherwise kind of shy. Go figure! For #2, again follow the Spirit. I cannot tell you how to do this except you need to be able to change gears. The Triune God will help you recognize what to do in any given circumstance applying Scripture to the situation. I am sometimes firm with hecklers, sometimes I feel led to ignore them and just keep preaching, other times I stop and am very kind to them. Generally, a gentle answer turns away wrath you know. If you find yourself getting into your flesh due to an obnoxious person, just repent and keep moving forward. Don’t let the enemy distract you. It can get challenging out there and we too are sinners saved by grace. Yet just know that God ordains every appointment and you will be blessed. There is no better feeling than being used by the Holy Spirit to impact lives in obedience to God. You will run into Christians who will encourage you for your boldness, there will be hecklers as discussed, but also people who disagree, yet you will have a good discussion with them planting seeds with some follow-up opportunities. In time, you will also run into Christians called to street preach and will want to ask you questions or go along with you to get started. Some of my best friends who are evangelists I met while out on the street. We were brought together by very interesting circumstances indeed. God will not waste any of it. Some will be hardened, some saved, some called to co-labor, and you will grow in your sanctification and Christian love! Hope this helps some. I will be praying for you. Just trust Him. Trust Him. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.

  3. Gary Van Keppel June 18, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    Joseph, I should have said this earlier. I am kind of flying blind as to your particular circumstances and throwing out principles right and left. Nonetheless, make sure your pastor/elders know what you are doing. We want to be sent and we want to be accountable. I am assuming you are in a healthy, well-balanced church that is supportive of lay street preaching. Find some prayer warriors there who will pray for you, maybe even go out with you. Treat this as a project or a mission. I have concerns about lone ranger evangelists. We need His church; we are the body of Christ. Maybe you have done all this. I just want to say this just in case. ~Gary

    • Joseph June 19, 2015 at 9:30 am #

      Gary, your words help me more than you know. I have done open air evangelism a few times to include heralding, tract passing, scripture reading, and 1-on-1s, all in the company of other laborers. Going out this weekend was my intention to get started on my own ministry within my community since I’m not always able to go to Washington, DC and join this group in my spare time. Since I have the desire to be active in heralding the Gospel but not the opportunity of time to go out of town to do it, I wanted to start locally. Your points have given me pause, and so I think it would be wise for me to first talk to my pastor (he already knows I desire to do this) and leaders, and put this ministry together within the counsel of my church body and not go out as a “lone ranger”. Thank you for your guidance! I will certainly be in touch with you by email as I might want to brush a few things by you for counsel, since I do not know many evangelists. It is my desire for the Lord to employ me soon–I sense an urgency to reach the lost with His gospel! ~Joey

  4. Gary Van Keppel June 18, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    Joseph, use this email to contact me with additional questions/comments: breadthirst@gmail.com. If you want to chat on the phone, I can provide that over email. In Jesus, Gary

    • Gary Van Keppel June 19, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

      So very glad to hear this Joseph! I will be praying for support from your church and look forward to hearing back from you. Overjoyed you are burdened for souls and desiring to do this. ~Gary

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