Sunday, November 4, 2012

WWPP--Where Would Paul Preach?

If the Apostle Paul were here today, where would he preach?

When reading Luke's account of Paul's travels and ministry, you don't have to be a scholar to notice a general pattern in his activity. Upon entering a city, Paul and his companions would almost always go to the local synagogue and sometimes to other public forums and preach about the events and implications of the life, death, and resurrection of the Jewish Messiah. He usually made some friends and was almost always ran out of the city at some point.

What I've noticed before when reading through these accounts is that he seemed to always go places where he was generally welcome. The synagogue, especially for someone with Paul's credentials as a Jew, would have been an environment open to him, as this is taken from granted throughout the text (e.g. Acts 13.15; ESV). Once things turned hostile he simply moved on if he were free to do so (e.g. Acts 13.51). It was similar with Gentiles. For example, the Hall Tyrannus in Ephesus (Acts 19.9) was likely a sort of civic center where people gathered for open public discourse. These types of places were Paul's entry point for the gospel in a city. From this activity sprang the humble faith communities devoted to Jesus.

So all of this really makes me wonder: where would Paul go to proclaim the gospel in today's context? Should we also be going to those sorts of places--or are we free to sort of wing-it when it comes to how and where we preach?

Would we expect to see Paul:
  •  In a pulpit on Sunday morning? 
  • A busy corner downtown on a Friday night? 
  • Hiking door-to-door? 
  • Shouting at people outside of the local Planned Parenthood?
  • Broadcasting sermons from apostlepaul.tv?
Where is today's synagogue? Where is our Mars Hill or hall of Tyrannus? Where would we go today to peacefully preach to people who are not already in the proverbial choir yet are open to dialogue?  Does the question even matter--or is our post-modern, post-Christendom context so different from the first century as to be completely irrelevant? What are the significant differences between Paul's context and ours?

Thanks for reading and please share any insight on my questions or add your own questions if you have them.