Contend Earnestly: Evangelism for Today: Tract Bombing?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Evangelism for Today: Tract Bombing?

Here is yet another popular method used today in evangelism, which is tract bombing. What happens is that you choose a place to go, hand out a bunch of tracts to people, put them on park benches, next to a toilet, in condemn dispensers or in the hands of unsuspecting passer-byers. Boom...tract bombing at its best. Like most forms of evangelism, tracts have their positive and negative effects. I have used them in the past and still have some sitting in the corner of my office awaiting their next victim.

The question has to be, What place do tracts have in evangelism? Do they have a place? Are they outdated? Let's take a quick look at some positive aspects of tracts and then also some negative aspects.

Positive Aspects

The positive aspect of a tract, if it is well done, is that it presents the gospel in a compact format. In the age of visual and audio learning and entertainment, reading is lame and laborious for most. So, when trying to convey in written form what the Scriptures say about sin, Christ and salvation, it is very difficult to persuade someone to read a leather bound 1000 page book written 2000 years ago. We call it the word of God and it means much to us, but to the person making their way to Starbucks, trying to overpay for .25 cent coffee, all while drinking themselves to hell, the Bible doesn't look all that enjoyable to read.

So, a well done tract can get done in a few pages what would take a lot of reading and studying and page turning for a normal Bible study. Now, I am not saying that using the Bible is wrong or laborious, but it can seem that way for the person who doesn't know Jesus.

Tracts can also be a very good way to leave someone something to read after a good discussion on the Gospel. It can really enhance the discussion that you had with them and also can open up further discussion for later conversations. Again, this is all dependant on the tract, because there are terrible tracts out there that will only serve as comedic relief.

Negative Aspects

The negative aspects of tracts are usually how they are dispersed by the person. If we are speaking of only those tracts that are done well and present the gospel clearly, then we can move on to why "good" tracts still have negative aspects. The reason that they have these negative aspects are because of how people use them. Tracts should not be used to hand out like porn in Vegas. If you have ever been to Vegas the immigrant workers slap little porn flyers on their legs and hand the flyer to "innocent" men who don't know any better. This is almost how I have seen some people with tracts. They are just annoying people on the corner trying to sell Jesus to anyone who has a hand to take the tract.

Most people are just annoyed with this fact and end up throwing the tract away or using it as kindling later. Some will say, "well some might read it and be saved!" If that is the case, then why not just throw them away and hope that the garbage man pulls one out and reads it instead of the porn magazine that he found laying beside it? We don't evangelize for the mere fact that someone "might" turn and be saved. We have to ask ourselves, "what is the most effective way for me to share the gospel with someone?" If handing out tracts on the street corner or placing one next to the toilet in a public bathroom was the best way, then why don't major corporations figure this out and do the same? Instead the only people who do this are those businesses where the guy wears the sandwich sign showing they are going out of business. Handing out tracts on the corner is a sign of us giving up. Of Jesus going out of business. Of us being so desperate that we have no friends or those close to us to share the gospel with. Because our churches are not filled with sinners looking for Christ, we have to go and sell our "crap" on the street corner.
I think handing out tracts like this is degrading and should be stopped.

Another reason that tracts can be negative is that if someone uses it for their voice, instead of them actually using their voice. Instead of telling someone about Jesus, some will just give people that they know tracts. Tracts should be used for additional resources, not for a primary one. God said you are to be a witness for him, not a stupid tract. Imagine if a key witness got up and testified and instead of speaking, handed out to the jury a little booklet that wasn't written by them. Sound stupid? Don't make me say it. If this doesn't work in a normal court room, why should we think it should work for the most important news and testimony that one is to share? Tracts should be ancillary, not primary.

Tracts can be used in a way that glorifies God. But we shouldn't hand them out like we are handing out coupons for Burger King. Before you buy a tract, think about how you are going to use them and for who you are going to use them for. Let me give you a little advice as well. If they have a picture of the flames of hell on the front, go ahead and start your fire with them. Probably not a good start to tell someone about the Gospel and then hand them a tract that says, "You are going to hell, have a nice day!"

Do I hate tracts? No, but I believe most use them contrary to how we should be using them. We shouldn't order tracts and then hand them out to get our list checked off by the end of the day. Order them to aid you in your presentation of the gospel. Also, the longer they stay in the corner of your room should be an indictment on how often you aren't speaking about Jesus to others.

Do tracts work? Yes, but someone can also use a pencil to kill someone. The idea is to use the tool that will aid you in the best possible way for the realization of your goal. Tracts are not the best answer in the quest of turning people from death to are.


Unknown said...


fisherwoman said...

Remove the porn when possible (like on the ground) and hand them a tract.
Put the tract over the porn dispenser where they will see it first.
I tract the garbage men already.

Major corporations want your money. Jesus wants your heart. His humility should be our example. What does this author think of Jesus hanging on a tree -where GOD displayed HIm publicly? The student is not above the teacher. We are told to hold out the word of Life. Jesus told us to go into the highways and byways and compel them to come in.

Is this man ashamed of the Gospel, which is the POWER OF GOD to salvation?

He said, "Tracts are not the best answer in the quest of turning people from death to life…you are." I can't turn them from death to life. The Gospel can.

If the Gospel is expounded on a tract, it is the power of God to salvation.

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