Over the last few weeks, we’ve given you “An Introduction to Gospel Tracts”, acquainted you with “Tracting Philosophy”, and helped to “Light the Fire” with some great ideas for tract distribution. This week, we’ll be getting a little more technical. We’ll look at where to get your tracts and how to ensure that you’re selecting the best ones for your audience.
If you’re not entirely sold on tracting yet and are just interested in dipping your toe in the water, the first place to go for Gospel Tracts is your own church. Many congregations have display units in their foyers. This is an especially good method for acquiring tracts if you don’t have a lot of money to invest or a lot of people with whom you’d like to share. Most church mission boards are responsible for selecting the tracts in the display, so you can be reasonably assured that the topics featured and the manner in which they are addressed will be appropriate to your local area.
If you’re taking tracts “straight from the rack”, you may not have a choice regarding whether they’re marked with your Church’s name and your pastor’s contact information. Don’t worry; People are often more responsive if they know that you’re a member of a well-known local congregation than if you remain unidentified. It’s also a lot easier to get new believers involved in the Christian community if you provide them with a starting point. Including the Church’s phone number or e-mail can also open doors for sharing more details of the Good News with those who have read the tract, but aren’t certain that they’re ready to darken the door of a sanctuary just yet.
If you’re Church’s tracts don’t have any contact information on them, that’s fine too. You can check with your pastor and see if the church would mind if you penciled it in, but keep in mind that there are also some advantages to handing out unmarked tracts. A tract without any contact information will often look much less like “recruitment” material than one which prominently bears the name of your chosen congregation. This can be a valuable asset, especially in locations where strife within the local Body of Christ is evident. Remember that the goal of tracting is to share the Good News that God loves us and sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins, not to convert people to our denomination!
The second way to get your tracts is to order them yourself. The following companies produce a nice selection of tracts, evangelistic booklets, and tip cards – all at reasonable prices. You can purchase sample selections from any of them and I highly recommend this method, since it will provide you with a variety of tracts to look at and consider.
The American Tract Society
P. O. Box 462008
Garland, TX 75046
Gospel Tract Distributors
P. O. Box 1790
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86405-1790
The Tract League
2627 Elmridge Dr. N. W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49544
Tel: (616) 453-7695, Fax: (616) 453-2460
Fellowship Tract League
If you don’t have much money and don’t mind passing out something that doesn’t have a glossy, magazine-like cover (and despite what magazine producers will tell you, this doesn’t always make a difference), you might try Grace & Truth at the address below. They produce a wide variety of tracts, all of which are free for the asking.
Grace & Truth
210 Chestnut Street
Danville, IL 61832
A search of the internet will also turn up a number of smaller companies which produce these paper missionaries, so take the time to do some surfing.
If you want more than just a simple two to five page pamphlet, you can get copies of the Gospel of John from the International Bible Society. They offer a large range of these inexpensive booklets in just about every current translation and with an assortment of targeted covers. You can contact them at:
International Bible Society
1820 Jet Stream Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80921-3696
Tel: 1-800-524-1588, Fax: (719) 867-2870
Once you’ve collected an assortment of sample tracts, you will need to decide which ones you want to distribute. This will vary from one believer to the next, so here are some tips for determining which tracts are right for you:
First, always read before you buy. You want to make certain that you know what you’re handing people and that it’s Biblically accurate. Your understanding of the material will also play a part if the gift of a tract leads to a discussion of its contents. Make sure that you’re personally comfortable both with the message and with the manner in which it’s presented and are ready to follow through with some personal dialogue.
Second, not every tract works for every community. Cultural adaptation of the Gospel (same message, different package) has played a role in world missions for decades and an understanding of it’s undergirding principles can make or break your endeavor. Targeting your literature to its recipient is a bit of an art, but one worth learning. Here are a few questions for you to consider:
1. Which religion(s) are predominant in my community? If I passed out tracts targeted to a Jewish audience, the people in my town really wouldn’t care – most of them aren’t Jewish. But if I grab an handful that “Bear my Testimony” to an LDS audience, I’ll have a multitude of opportunities to share. Knowing the religious orientation of your city or suburb can have an immense impact upon the effectiveness of Gospel tract evangelism.
2. What are the predominant languages in my community? The World is becoming more and more of a melting pot and very few places are limited to a single language. You may not need boxes of foreign language tracts, but keeping a few handy can always be helpful. (Most tract companies produce the same tracts in multiple language, allowing you to maintain familiarity with the message, even if you are otherwise unable to communicate with its recipient!) People are generally more interested in reading materials that are easy for them to read and which acknowledge that they are valuable for who they are the way they are.
3. Does the cover convey a message that is important to the recipient? A movie-themed tract may work great at a premier, but nowhere else. Chances are, you’ll find yourself passing out one type of tract to sales clerks at the mall and another to the folks who work at your local sporting goods store. Take stock of the places you visit and the types of people you encounter, then select the tracts which will best appeal to them. This type of effort shows a personal interest in an individual and might eventually lead to an opportunity to present Christ first hand.
Also, remember to keep your tracts in an easy-to-find location. I keep fishing tracts in my fishing vest and motorcycle tracts in the pocket of my leathers. There’s a wallet full of them in my purse and I keep them in the hidden pocket of my duster and my glove box as well. Copies of the Gospel of John fill a pocket in my gig bag. (For those of you where are not musicians, that’s the back-pack that I carry my guitar in.) The more places you keep them, the less likely you are to discover that you can’t find one when you need it. Even a desk drawer at work may serve as a great hide-away! Keep them in a caddy by your front door, so you see them and remember to give one to the UPS man the next time he rings the bell! Make sure you can see them and you won’t forget to use them.
Next week, we’ll wrap up our series on Gospel Tracts with some discussion about common tracting difficulties. Meanwhile, feel free to post your experiences, questions, and ideas in the “Comments” box below!