I'm not one to use them. I don't think they are very popular these days either. They can be seen as intrusive and impersonal. The trend leans toward friendship evangelism in which you start up conversations with someone in the middle of a social activity that may or may not necessarily Christian focused.
For once, I would like to look at the positive side to the gospel tract, because I have recently seen firsthand some of the benefits and would like to give them a chance.
First of all, picture yourself walking a downtown street, where someone hands you a coupon for a free hotdog. At first you think, "Hmm.. I'm not so into hot dogs myself, but hey! Free!"
Of course, then you double and triple- examine the coupon just to be sure that there aren't any strings attached, right? I mean, you don't want to go to the hotdog stand, and find out it's "free" because you have to buy like, 10 hotdogs and a medium coke just to get it.
Assured of the transaction that will take place.. that is, you give 'em the piece of paper, they give you FOOD.. you make your way to the hotdog stand.
Recently, I was challenged by a story of a man named Mr. Jenner, a survivor of one of the great World Wars. Having felt like he'd been through hell, and through the preaching of some of his fellow soldiers, he converted, and committed himself to sharing the gospel to as many as possible. He wanted to make sure that nobody would have to experience the true hell. The story goes that he shared gospel tracts with at least 10 people a day for the rest of his life.
You can research the man on George St in Ausralia, and you find that Mr. Jenner had also invited a lot of people to his house, especially soldiers, so they could have a good meal, and converse a bit more about Jesus. He made sure his wife sent a postcard to the soldier's parents, since back then it wasn't that easy to know where your kid was serving.
Some say that over 100,000 people converted through the faithful day-to-day gospel-tract-sharing of that "old man on George Street."
Fascinating. And it gives me pause, because another essential part of the story is that Mr. Jenner had never experienced the moment itself, the one in which someone said, "Yes, I now believe in this!" But whenever someone shared their testimony, they would give him credit as being there for the start of the softening of their hearts.
I decided to start carrying a few tracts with me just in case. I still would prefer talking about it. But what if I don't have time? What if this is all I can give in the moment? In the city center, I became even more aware of how many people are passing out advertisements for the local Tarot Card readers, or the classes on Metaphysics, where you can find "true happiness". So the enemy can pass them out, but we cower at the thought?
To be honest, so far, I have only given them to my girls in the institute, and it has opened up several conversations recently. We've gotten a lot deeper these weeks, and I am all the more encouraged to give them out to someone else. Some stranger.
Certainly I can't expect the reaction to always be positive. Even Mr. Jenner talked about the bouts of rejection he encountered. Like the coupon, not everyone likes hotdogs.
But they do like free. So maybe we should give the tracts another shot. See what happens.
love and chau!