Soul winning! We ought to obey God rather than men! Street Preachers legality...

Soul winning! We ought to obey God rather than men! Street Preachers legality…

   “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” 1 Peter 2:13-14

There must be some way to reconcile the seemingly contradictory verses given above. And, yea, there is. When man’s laws cross God’s laws, God’s laws are higher. At the top of the chain of command is the Lord —just like you have a lower and higher court system in America.

Now, at the very start of this chapter, I want to lay out some guidelines for street preaching that will help keep you out of jail. This chapter is written with this intent. Any idiot can go to jail; any drunk can be belligerent and obnoxious enough to go to jail. The Lord did not call me to defend the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution; He called me to preach the gospel. However, I am a man and I am an American, and I do have some rights and liberties which I intend to exercise for the glory of my Saviour.

1. Stay away from private property. I know some have fought and bled for the right to preach in privately-owned malls, etc., but I am telling you how to preach and stay out of jail.

2. Do not use a public address system. There may be a very few exceptions to this, but make sure you know what you’re doing. If you preach correctly, there really is no need. Besides, no preacher before 1920 had this luxury.

3. Avoid preaching at night. Again, there may be exceptions, and I have violated this rule several times in order to accomplish a particular goal, but remember I am trying to tell you how to stay out of jail.

Now, if you observe these rules and preach in broad daylight, with no P.A. system, standing on public property, you have the lowest risk of going to jail — or even of having an encounter with the police.


We, as American citizens, have a Constitutional right of freedom of speech as well as freedom of practicing our religion. Anyone can obtain a copy of the Constitution from a local library, courthouse, bookstore, etc. The problem here is that municipalities sometimes have laws that either infringe upon or inhibit the exercise of this right. In these cases, your copy of the Constitution has very little effect on the officer of the law who is about to throw you in the slammer for one or more of the following:

a. disturbing the peace

b. loitering

c. disorderly conduct; or,

d. failure to maintain locomotion.

This last charge was made against a crippled, preacher-friend of mine who was preaching on the street.

City Ordinances

It is impossible for me to list all the local city ordinances for every town. Circumstances vary from town to town. Ordinances in one town may not apply to preaching in the next town.

My advice to novice street preachers, or pastors who have the time to check out their local laws, is to go to the police station and describe to them what you are about to do. Give them location, time of day, and a full description of activities. If they give you liberty, then write down the officers’ names, ranks, and serial numbers, and have that on you when you go to preach. Then, if you are stopped by an officer, kindly say that he may want to check with his superiors. At that time, supply him with a copy of their names, ranks, and badge numbers.

In the case of the police not giving you liberty, ask specifically what law you would violate. Then, if you can make some alteration to your activities which would bring you back within the limits of the law, take care of the matter. If the law seems, after consideration and prayer, to be unfair, obtain a copy of that law or ordinance and read it carefully. You may have to test the law by getting arrested and letting the judge decide. If it comes to this point, keep in mind that it is only a misdemeanor and is usually thrown out of court. Also, if you anticipate an encounter with police, be sure to have I.D. on you, and it is a good idea to have enough cash to bail yourself out.


Police encounters are eventually inevitable if you are going to have a public ministry. If you are going to preach in a certain town many times during a long period of time, then follow the instructions under the section entitled “City Ordinances.” Whenever you have the time to check out the local laws — do it. I preach in so many towns that such a task is impossible.

When we preach, we observe the first three rules, and limit our time in one place to thirty to forty minutes. Usually this is so perfectly timed, that we are packing up the accordion just as the police arrive to tell us we can’t do that. We delight in these guerrilla warfare tactics, realizing that the gospel went forth and the people were warned. Sometimes we will have a confrontation with the police. Again, the one not preaching tries to run interference, and the preaching continues as long as possible. If the police officer demands that you stop preaching, then you stop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *