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Hard truth spoken in love

"Presently, the open-air preaching subculture is a mess. As a loose-knit organization and as a growing organism, it's a spiritual train wreck. It functions unbiblically outside the authority of the local church and is led by self-appointed (or appointed by popular demand) quasi-leaders with absolutely no ecclesiastical authority over the people in the loose-knit subculture. I should know. I've been one of those "leaders." - Tony Miano, Founder and Director of Cross Encounters Ministries""And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. - Acts 17: 10-12 (AKJV)"

I recently came across a blog post by Tony Miano, a well-known street preacher in California, which presents some hard truth that will offend some and lead others to do some serious heart, head and Bible searching. My prayer is that those who read this post will be mostly comprised of the latter group.  And if you find yourself bristling at Mr. Miano's message, then may the good Lord give you the grace to be as the Bereans, to search your Bible and see if what he has said is so.

Mr. Miano titled his message "A Call to Return to the Church: An Open Letter to the Open-Air Preaching Subculture." The title of this open letter says much as to what I have been concerned about regarding my experience with those in pro-life street ministry. It really is a subculture in which many participants have little or no involvement in their local church, and as a result the atmosphere at the abortion mill on the pro-life side is often a chaotic theological free-for-all. Oftentimes the "ministry" leaders are women who apparently are under no type of headship or authority. And sadly, if a man does happen to lead the ministry efforts, he is often not under the guidance of an ordained pastor or elders.  As a result, the Gospel message is lost in the confusion and the ministry or it's leader becomes an idol - compromise then abounds and the work/activity itself becomes the main focus; families suffer and as Mr. Miano points out in his letter, there has been an "unintended undermining of the authority of the local church."

Mr. Miano goes on to write these hard truths:
While I would never assert the following about every person who sees themselves as a member of the open-air preaching subculture, the following statements are true about too many people in the subculture.

The open-air preaching subculture is awash with men and women who are engaged in hypocritical, prideful, arrogant, haughty behavior. Some within the subculture insist they love the lost when their rhetoric on social media platforms expresses an open disdain, even hatred, for brothers and sisters in Christ. Members of the subculture are quick to deem others heretics or unsaved while showing themselves to be utterly unteachable and unwilling to receive the gentlest of correction, failing to understand the spirit with which such correction is given.

The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community in which some people sinfully idolize evangelism, especially open-air preaching and open-air preachers. There is a growing “groupie” mentality within the subculture toward those who are seen as leaders. There are married and unmarried women paying an inordinate amount of time to married men in the subculture.

The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community in which some people commit adultery against God and against the family, with evangelism being the mistress. Some men and women are neglecting their marriages and their families in order to self-medicate an obsessive compulsion, even an addiction to evangelism. God has not called a single married man to love evangelism as Christ loves the Church. He has called every married man to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. Furthermore, God has called every married woman to submit to her husband, not to her evangelism team leader.

The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community that in which some people hypocritically operate with the same pragmatism of "seeker" church models they openly revile. They put too much stock in the size of the crowd, the size of the event, the amount of opposition faced, and negative interaction with law enforcement when determining how effective or fruitful their time on the streets is.

The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community where there is competition among some to see who can have the best and biggest conferences when almost every conference is saying/teaching the same things. Many of these conferences are being held in "rented" church space instead of being approved and overseen by the local church.

The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community that includes people who coddle and, dare I say, are fearful of boisterous Christian women who talk like men—women who seem drunk with pride and maybe even feminism unaware—women who talk to their Christian brothers as if they are ready to ask them to "step outside," all because their Christian brothers dare to assert that God's preordained and creative order specifies different roles for men and women in His service. Some Christian women act this way because their Christian brothers have, for far too long, encouraged them to act like men—inadvertently encouraging them to sacrifice their beautiful, God-given femininity in the process.

The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community, which includes some people who claim to be biblical complementarians, that is, until they step outside the doors of the church. They then turn egalitarian to protect the status quo and to avoid admitting to mistakes made regarding the involvement of Christian women in open-air preaching.

The open-air preaching subculture is an unbiblical community that includes some people who have a dangerously deteriorating view of Scripture and the Church—a community, which left unchecked, will create more apostates as a result. This unbiblical community has already created too many apostates.


While reading the 'Open Letter' to those in Open Air Ministry, I could not help but join Tony in his feelings of a broken heart. I, too, have friends who are street preachers and they have always had my Christian love, prayers, respect and support. Hopefully they will read Tony Miano's letter and seek the Lord to see if they are in need of repentance or readjustment in any of the areas he has written about.

May the good LORD bless you and keep you all in His Sovereign grip as you seek to bring honor and glory to His Wonderful Name.

With Christian Love,

Angela Wittman


Additional resources:

Should She Preach? by Tony Miano

Open the Book: Herald Society Part 2 by Tony Miano -

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  1. I appreciate Tony Miano's humble boldness in stirring the open air community to be more Biblical

  2. I agree and if you listen to the audio posted at Sermon Audio (link is posted at the end of this article) you'll hear his sincerity and passion when speaking about Open-Air Preaching to the Herald Society.

  3. Thank you, Angela, for sharing your thoughts and for the supportive nature of your post. I am grateful.

  4. Words cannot express how thankful I am for your faithful witness to our Lord. My prayers are with you and your loved ones.

  5. There is truth in what you say but we need to put our own house in order first,as the Holy Ghost tells us that the women are to keep silent in the churches. 1 Corinthians 14:34 "for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law." ( Greek present infinitive passive).

  6. I agree. We need to build up our churches and follow God's commands. I belong to a historic church that was apostate for 50 years and separated from a liberal denomination in 2005. As you can imagine, there is still much work to be done. :)

  7. Hey Angela!
    I hope you and your family are doing well and I appreciate your visits to Cry and Howl. (forgive my crassness there)
    I read through some of Mr. Miano's letter (I'm not trying to be a wise guy here) and I honestly cannot tell what his "beef" is. Is it that he doesn't agree with women preaching or the fact these people don't belong to any kind of church structure? The points are made well, but I found them to be far too general to arrive at a pointed conclusion. I'll check back for your response as I'm very interested in where he was/is going with this.

  8. I think his disagreement is mainly with women preaching. My understanding is he was part of the "problem" at one time as he helped train women for open air preaching, but after seeing the fruit of his efforts he had a change of heart. He then began researching biblical roles for men and women and began to realize that while women have a role in ministering to the lost, it isn't the same as a man's role. Also, my impression is that Mr. Miano has become more aware of the need for Christians to be under the headship/leadership of a local church when evangelizing. Of course, this isn't always possible as good churches are often hard to find, especially in rural areas, but all evangelists (male or female) need accountability.
    Anyway, this is my take on his letter and hopefully I'm not too far off. :)

  9. I don't think you're far off at all Angela. I agree to a certain extent that biblically the women's role in the church is somewhat limited. However, I think (and I hope I don't sound like a liberal) we need to take into consideration the differing cultures. The culture of the Middle East where the scriptures were I think influenced and the culture of America. Let's not forget women like Aimee Semple McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman who were extraordinary Christians. I think that it's difficult for single men to be pastors. I know where he's coming from about women being in subjection to their husbands and the headship of the church. Please don't take me wrong in that I'm fully aware that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and that God honors His Word above His name. Yet I don't think it's wise of us to attempt to put God "in a box", so to speak. I believe the Church is there for guidance, structure, etc. At the same time I believe anyone who preaches and teaches God's Word in truth and in spirit ... well ... maybe we should listen to them. Male or female. This may sound off the wall, we cannot forget how Balaam was basically was saved by his "ass" ... which saw the Lord when Balaam couldn't. In other words, sometimes the Word of the Lord can come from anyone.
    I was originally witnessed to by a young lady who I never met in 1972. We were talking on the phone. I don't even remember how the conversation came about. But the experience of that witness and the moving of the spirit overwhelmed me ... well, I shouldn't bore you with this personal stuff ... but that one event started my search to find the truth which shortly there after I was born again.
    I'll let you get busy dear lady and thank you for your time and patience with me.

  10. Praise the Lord for using a young lady to witness to you... I've been known to be a bit outspoken, so I agree God uses women to share the Gospel and bring His people to Himself; I don't think Tony Miano disagrees with this either, but only with the methods used. Frankly, I have stood in front of abortion mills and preached, but only because there was no man available... :) However, the good Lord was gracious and kept me from bodily harm as it can be more dangerous for women to confront sinners than it is for a man.


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