Evangelism, Technique, Tracts

An Introduction to Gospel Tracts

I confess that my thoughts towards Gospel tracts have not always been… well, friendly. From the very beginning, I’d seen the little “salvation booklets” as being just a sword short of a Crusade: doing far more harm than good. My concern was that those who distributed them appeared to be more arrogant than loving, “I’ve only known you a few minutes, but I know that you have a problem and I have the answer!” In my mind, there was little difference between handing someone a Gospel tract and pitching an hand grenade at them.

Needless to say (though I shall say it anyway), I was more than a little surprised (and just a touch sickened) when a friend of mine confessed to using these very same devices to share the Gospel message with the sales clerks she encountered. When I questioned her about her tactics, she explained that she shops in at least three different places each day. If she hands out a tract to someone at each location, then there are three more people who have had the opportunity to hear about the free gift that God offers them.

Her testimony was sufficient to alleviate my concerns about motive, but I was still skeptical about using a tract in an actual encounter. Only a few days after our discussion, however, God revealed that another of my friends had also become engaged in these revolutionary activities. While sitting at a lunch table, my companion readily related the experiences which she had with her Grandmother’s tract distribution habit. After hearing the story of a young lady who had actually been excited about the tract left for her, I found myself forced to reconsider my views.

In Matthew, chapter 13, Jesus tells a parable about a farmer who went out to sow some seed.

“…and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (vs. 4-8)

Jesus goes on to explain how the different soil types are like the hearts of people who hear the gospel and, as it turns out, there is actually a good comparison here between tracts and the farmer’s seed. Just the fact that the living Word of God is contained within their pages is enough to make them useful in sharing the Good News, but there is an even further comparison to be made and one worth noting!

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to watch a farmer prepare his fields you know that he begins by amending the soil. Then he plows the good new material into the old soil which last year’s crop depleted of nutrients. Then he sows his seed. Historians tell us, however, that the farmer Jesus spoke about probably didn’t do things in this ‘enlightened’ modern order. In fact, it was a typical practice for a farmer first to spread his seed and then prepare the soil. Perhaps this explains why the farmer “wasted” so much seed by throwing it on bad ground… but notice that the Bible doesn’t condemn him for this practice. Instead, it commends him for faithfully scattering the seed! Likewise, our only job is to scatter the seed and let God handle the soil.

It may take you a while to feel comfortable using tracts, but don’t worry. Until I saw for myself just how open most people are to these little Gospel messengers, I used to shake so badly and run so quickly that the poor sales clerks thought I’d handed them a time bomb!

Next week, we’ll take a look at some effective ways of handing out tracts, but for now, you can share your own experiences and ideas right here, just by adding a comment to the box below! Or, if you prefer, you can “friend” AC Gheen on Facebook and join the conversation there!


17 thoughts on “An Introduction to Gospel Tracts

  1. Eric Ertle says:

    I believe tracts are very effective. They obviously don’t “convert” everybody who reads them, but they do plant the seed of the gospel if they properly present the gospel. For example, I have written a little tract entitle “GOOD NEWS”, and the opening statement says: THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT EVEN THOUGH WE ARE ALL SINNERS GOD HAS PROVIDED THE WAY FOR US TO BE FORGIVEN OF OUR SINS!
    From my study of the book of Acts, I find that FORGIVENESS of sins was one of the major themes presented when the early church preached the gospel. I believe that if all a person read in this tract was the opening statement, that would be enough for the Holy Spirit to use to bring about conviction of sin in the heart of the person reading it. When we think of tracts as SEEDS…. I believe we will understand that tracts are very effective. They force the person reading them to think about their spiritual condition at least for a moment. Let me also add… THEY’RE BETTER THAN NOTHING! If it were not for gospel tracts, some people would receive no witness at all. I believe the devil would love for Christians to stop using tracts.
    Now, of course, as in all that we do, we’re to be courteous and loving. When I give a person a tract that I cannot talk with at the time, I usually ask, “May I give you something to read on your free-time?” And they almost always take it. What they do with it after I leave, I don’t know. However, I have several photos of people actually reading tracts I have distributed in Peru and Honduras. I know that SOME people read them.

  2. Butch Dias says:

    I love sharing gospel tracts. when I worked on ships as an engineer, I would carry tracts and Bibles in different languages and share at each port. people were very receptive, It is a great tool

  3. I would have to say it depends on the tract and also on the demeanor of the tract giver. I’ve encountered some tract sharers who come across as high-pressured salesmen which is a real turnoff. Everyone shares the Gospel in their own way and what works for some might not work for others. I enjoyed your blog and I’ll be back!

    • I agree with you, Sandra. I personally am not comfortable giving out tracts to people I have never seen before. I prefer to make some attempt at a relationship however brief – perhaps that one encounter only – before I start talking about spiritual matters. Unless, that is, the Holy Spirit is definitely prompting me in a particular situation. I would rather gain a little trust and respect from a person then maybe invite them to a church event that would be appropriate for their age group or status as I give out information – perhaps just a church business card or brochure for the event. I’m not familiar with how tracts are written today, but I doubt that the way they were written a few decades ago would catch the attention of today’s society. They should be simple, colorful and to the point, not a 2 or 3 page discourse in text only. And I think we should not do it in an impersonal manner. We should do it in a loving and genuinely caring way so they feel we are not just recruiting church members but really are concerned about them as people.

    • Butch Dias says:

      In whatever you are doing there are good ways and bad ways of of doing things. People share out of love and sometime others share out of religious duty. I have some personal testimony tracts that I use. In Miami once I gave a tract to a security guard named Roberto at the hotel. I was working on building a relationship with him. I saw him one night in the parking lot and he looked bored. . So I asked him to look at at it and let me know in the am what he thought. It was a basic tract with pictures. It said “What did Jesus do for you and it had a picture of Jesus on the cross and had a prayer. The next morning Roberto glowed and ran to my friend Jerry & I. He said God spoke to him. We asked what was up. We found that Roberto could not read, so he looked at the picture and figured it was Jesus. He looked at the words and started to read. then he realized he couldn’t read and then he read it again. Then he memorized the tract. He went home to his wife and explained that he have his heart to Jesus. When she saw the tract, she said Roberto you can’t read. She and her mom praised God because it was a miracle and an answer to their prayers. I was taught by Street Reach Ministries to share tracts effectively. Jerry Davis was my mentor and one of the greatest evangelists I know.

  4. I agree with Sandra. Though I have nothing against giving out tracts, I feel more comfortable making an attempt to start a relationship with people however brief it may be – perhaps only that one encounter – and then invite them to a church event that would be appropriate for the particular person. I had a neighbor once who saw it as her duty to turn every conversation however random into a discourse on salvation. I’m also not comfortable with that because it was often quite obvious what she was doing and could be seen as offensive. I don’t like people sticking something in my face when I have never seen that person before. If they start a conversation on a normal basis then move naturally, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, into spiritual matters, that’s different. I have not actually seen many tracts for decades so don’t know how they are being written today, but I doubt that the way they used to be written would catch the eye of anyone in this day. They should be simple, colorful and engaging, not merely a 2 or 3-page discourse in text only. But I do definitely see a place for their use if given out in a spirit of love and legitimate caring for the person receiving the tract.

  5. Butch Dias says:

    Tracts are just another soul winning tool. I have led hundreds upon hundreds to the Lord with tracts. i have used them in countries all over the world in different languages. We used them once in the former Soviet Union when it first opened up. People cherished them and held them after we prayed with them. It was awesome. I had one we used in the middle of a crack ghetto. It was a kids coloring tract. The kids were so proud of what they colored. We first time I received a tract in military school I ripped it up, because I got seriously convicted. I hated it. I got saved 10 years later and I still remember the guy who gave it to me. He said Jesus loves you and handed it to me. I found him 34 years later on facebook. He lives in Nigeria. I e-mailed him and said I was sorry. The seed he sowed finally grew.

  6. Butch Dias says:

    Many waiters and waitresses have come to the Lord with tracts. I leave one with an excellent tip and many times when I come back they remembered me and told me the story on how God touched them. Once we asked the waitress to pray for our food and she did, They asked if we could pray for her and we prayed, while we were eating she came back and told us that someone gave her a $50.00 tip. She then was interested in us sharing the gospel with her and she received the Lord that morning.

    • Butch, your statement “I leave one with an excellent tip” is key here. I have known people to leave such a paltry tip it was almost an insult and it would probably have been better not to leave one at all. It could be seen as an oversight perhaps. If that type of person left a tract, it wouldn’t leave a very good impression. But if we show respect to the waitress and create a relationship, albeit a very short one, we at the same time create credibility and a tract may make a good impression.

      • Butch Dias says:

        You are so right. I have seen people leave a meager tip or no tip at all. that would be an insult and a bad example of being a Christian. I try do do all with excellence. I share with all my heart.

      • This brings up an important question: what if you receive terrible service? I’ve heard Christians argue both sides of the point, i.e., that if you receive bad service and don’t leave a tip, it’s still appropriate to leave a tract so long as the Spirit is leading you to do so and that you should never leave a tract if you don’t leave a tip. I’ve also heard it argued that leaving a tip is simply a show of kindness and ought to be done regardless of the degree of service rendered – after all, we gave nothing to God and He gave us everything!

      • Butch Dias says:

        I think you definitely need to be led by the Spirit. Once the service was really bad and explained that it was bad in a loving way and she broke down and told us what was happening in her life and we prayed and we blessed her with a tip. We were led to do this. I would recommed to pray and see what the Spriit says.

  7. Good solution, Butch. It is human nature to not want to tip if we don’t get even basic service from the waitress. I know in mathematics a double negative makes a positive, but somehow in life two wrongs never make a right. By refusing to tip for bad service we accomplish nothing, but by giving a good tip anyway the waitress may just be convicted about her poor service and change her ways, especially if you leave an appropriate tract.

    • Butch Dias says:

      Thank you so much. What we do it has to be led by the Spirit at all times. Too many souls are on the line. I try to critique my self each time I share. I’m tough on my self and I just want my heart to be right at all times. It is hard, because I’m far from perfect. I have to pray for boldness. i use to be very shy and had a tough time witnessing.

  8. Pingback: Tracting Philosophy « acgheen

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  10. Butch Dias says:

    The Evangelist
    Dedicated To Jerry Davis
    © Butch Dias 07/14/2012
    One day at church I heard him preach,
    He said, “You must go to reach.
    A hurting world at any cost,
    Because today they are lost.”
    His message so touching, making me weep,
    I knew I had something I couldn’t keep.
    My testimony inside me I had to tell,
    Proclaiming Jesus saved us from hell.
    Teaching me to share a Bible tract,
    He said, “God gives tools so we don’t lack.”
    Witness guide kits and T-shirts I did buy,
    To give people an answer, who questioned why.
    Taking me to the streets, Jerry did show,
    How through him, God’s love did flow.
    Going to prisons, hospitals, and refugee camps,
    Like a lighthouse, he was a lamp.
    That day his light set my heart on fire,
    Singing “Miracle Worker” took me higher.
    In my heart he planted a seed,
    Because he knew I had a need.
    Thank you Jerry for touching me,
    Opening my eyes so I can see.
    Hurting people that are bound,
    Being lost and now are found.

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