The open-air preaching community--like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social media platforms--is a pseudo-community at best. While some open-air preachers are influential over others, no open-air preacher, unless he is the pastor/elder of a church, has any biblical authority over other open-air preachers--and then, the pastor/elder open-air preacher's authority only extends to members of his own flock.
The open-air preaching community has morphed into an unbliblical sub-culture within the Body of Christ. None of our Academies, Societies, Ministries, and Organizations have a shred of biblical authority over the lives of other Christians. Yet we act as though they do. We assert the Church (under the headship of Jesus Christ) is our ultimate authority; yet, at the same time, we assert authority over the lives of others through our organizations or our individual popularity within the sub-culture.
I say, let's all go home.
Let's continue to work together, serve together, preach together, support each other, encourage one another, and hold each other accountable. But let's do so as any brother in Christ would do for another brother in Christ--exerting no more authority than that which is found when iron sharpens iron.
Let's go home. Let's go home to the only organization God has given us through which we can accomplish everything we want to accomplish by preaching the gospel in the open-air.
Let's go home before we make an even bigger mess within the Body of Christ than we already have.
Facebook is not our home. Twitter is not our home. Para-church ministries are not our homes. While I think para-church ministries will continue to have a God-honoring purpose (mission societies, etc), let's go home.
The Church is our home. The Bride of Christ, whether they preach in the open-air or not, is our forever family.
Let's continue to preach. Let's continue to fellowship with one another. Let's continue to serve together. But if we are going to travel to far-away places to preach the gospel, then let's attach ourselves to local churches in those areas. Let's stop going to different cities without the support of local churches in those cities.
Now granted, I got burned badly by a church in Wimbledon, but I still firmly believe the most biblically-consistent model for open-air preacher travel is to be sponsored not only by my own church, but to be sponsored by a church in the area to which I will travel. My upcoming trips to Calgary (Alberta, CAN), Portland (OR), Greenville (SC), and St. Louis (MO) all follow this model. And from here on out, I will only book open-air preaching trips that are sponsored by a host church.
To my friends in what has been dubbed as the open-air preaching community, it's time to go home--time to really go home--time to go home to the Church.
How this will look, when this will happen, how this will happen: I do not know.
But it's time to go home.