I can vividly recall a slew of sermons from my childhood in which the preacher (many of them) would say something like, “Many today do not care about the Lord. They would rather go to the Lake on Sunday mornings, than assembly with the Saints to remember the Death of Christ on the Cross.”
Although I didn’t think much of it at the time, I now realize how wrongheaded these statements were. Jesus Himself would be at the Lake! But he’d also be preaching…from a boat.
I think there is a misconception that Jesus and the apostles were “street preachers.” Yet, nowhere in the New Testament do I find Jesus (or even Paul) just start preaching in the street. In fact, as a matter of prophecy, Isaiah 42:2 says “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.”
Just read the Gospels and the book of Acts if you don’t believe me.
Typically the preaching is done in the Synagogue, or in the Temple, in front of the Temple, in one of the porticoes of the Temple, by a River or Lake, or from a boat on the Lake. Or it is done in personal contexts. Or somehow it is announced that it will be done in a particular place and time, and people go there to hear it. John the Baptist preached in the wilderness of Judea. Surely, somehow he announced that he was going to be out there—otherwise, how is it that the Synoptics say “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan…”? How did they know he was out there? How did people find their way to the sermon on the mount, or to the sermon in the wilderness when Jesus fed the 5000 afterwards? None of this was “street preaching” in the screechy yelling at people as they walk out of a store way. Yes, Paul is featured preaching in something called “the marketplace” but the marketplace here was a place of public meeting, more like the food court of a shopping mall than the street. It would be more productive, I would imagine, to talk to a group of people in the food court at the shopping mall than to screetch in the street.
And back in the first century, and earlier, the “street” was just the outside world, not the sidewalk at your local shopping strip. People walked everywhere they went. Preaching to people on the street was more like preaching to people on the beach. It wasn’t the sort of nuisance it is today where you are getting in the faces of people in a hurry to handle their personal business in the slight and thin-stretched free-time they have between slave-times at work.
More effective than both “street preaching” and regular inside church, I would imagine, would be boat-church, or lake-church. So, now that I’m thinking about it, does anyone know of any churches where you sit on the shore of the lake while the preacher preaches from a boat? Or where you follow him out in your own boats and listen to him preach from a boat? No wonder Jesus was so effective!! Its such a cool idea.
And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine….
(The “sea” being referenced is Lake Gennesaret. Compare with Luke 5.)
The people become some interested in Jesus’ sermon, that when he leaves by boat, they take to boats themselves to follow him.
And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto [the disciples], ‘Let us pass over unto the other side.’ And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
Can you imagine, going to hear Jesus preach by the Lake, and he’s preaching out in his boat. When he finishes, he begins to sail to the other side, and you hop in your kayak and follow him! Now that would be some happening church.
[Before posting this, I searched on google for “boat preaching” and “lake preaching” and such, finding nothing. After posting, I searched Kayak-church, and found that there is actually a website called “Kayak Church.” I know nothing about it.]