by Donald A.G. Burling
On Saturday the 3rd December – the day after my 90th birthday – I have promised to give a talk to the local branch of the Association of Christian Writers, about writing Gospel tracts. Not that I can claim to be much of an expert; Only one of my tracts, as far as I can remember, was ever taken up by a publisher. The rest were home-made, which is not difficult in these days of cheap photocopying.
Besides general purpose tracts to be given away in the street or left in various places, there are special purpose papers that contain a Gospel message, such as invitations to meetings. Some tracts are written for particular occasions such as Christmas. When I was a volunteer driver I made some leaflets to keep in my car, to give to my passengers. I also produced some two-line slips to be left in trains, with words such as “Sin now, pay later. Who’s afraid of Hell?”
Most published tracts have colourful front covers, though I am not sure how much difference it makes to their effectiveness. There are also cartoon tracts such as those by Chick; these are more expensive but are more likely to be read.
These days we are flooded with junk mail, trying to sell us things we do not want. Most of these will go unread straight into the bin, though it is wise to look at them first in case something important has been mixed up with them. If we do not want our tracts to go the same way we must make the cover and title such as will catch people’s attention.
Can such scraps of paper make the difference between heaven and hell for someone? Yes they can – if the person is ready to receive it. That depends on the work of God, for only He can draw people to Christ. But He has delegated to us the responsibility of informing them of their need to receive and respond to the message of the Gospel.
Evangelism is important for at least three reasons. We have our Lord’s commission to make disciples of all nations. Surely we do not want people around us to suffer the serious consequences of failing to repent. Thirdly, the lack of interest in spreading the Gospel is one of the factors in the decline in church attendance and membership over the last century. If we want to buck this trend, we must make some effort to get people in.
Tract distribution is the easiest form of evangelism. If you intend to take it up, choose your tracts carefully and make sure you have read them.
My wife and I once tried dropping tracts in the letterboxes of all the houses around where we lived in Harrow. Out of more than ten thousand tracts I remember only three responses , but that does not mean that all the others were wasted.
Where can you get a supply of tracts? An Internet search “buy Gospel tracts” will give you contact details of several suppliers; I suggest you write to one or more of them and ask for samples. And of course, don’t forget to pray.