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Preaching by Street Light

A Leadership cartoon a while back depicts a preacher showing a friend the pulpit of his magnificent cathedral. He gestures grandly at the organ pipes and stained glass and massive arches and says, "I love the home-field advantage."

In the years since that cartoon, fewer and fewer preachers are finding much of a home-field advantage, in church or anywhere else.

These days, preachers can't assume loyal listeners. Preachers have to earn a hearing every time they speak. They have to compete with countless other media voices for the attention and allegiance of their hearers.

Stained-glass sermons have largely given way to street-level preaching. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Recently I've been working on a book about Billy Graham, the most listened to preacher in history—more than 80 million have heard him in person, hundreds of millions more via TV, satellite, radio, and film.

Billy learned his preaching at street level. In the 1930s, his early sermons were in jails and on the street ...

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