A Few Thoughts on Gospel Tracts

Gospel Tracts.
I like them. Some hate them. Many use them, while others avoid them.
I read once where Spurgeon said more had been won to Christ with gospel tracts than through any other tool. From John Wesley, who with Whitefield and others printed all sorts of evangelistic literature, to online evangelistic sites utilized today, gospel tracts have been used by many for good.
I have certainly led more people to faith in Christ with tracts than any other approach outside preaching the gospel from a pulpit. I am a big fan.
Now I am not a fan of tract bombs where you go into an area and engage very little with actual people, choosing to leave literature in the place of investment into lives. I tell my students to give tracts to actual people not to windshields of cars!
Let’s face it, there are also some really lousy tracts out there.  In my Evangelism Handbook I note these reminders about tracts (and note it is TRACT not TRACK like a railroad track):

1.         Never use a tract you haven’t read. (Some are weak theologically.)

2.         Brevity is desirable. There is a difference between a tract and a book.

3.         Use tracts that are attractive.

4.         Be enthusiastic about the contents.

5.         Be sure the tract sets forth the facts of the gospel.

6.         The tract should explain the process by which a person becomes a Christian.

My favorite now is The Story tract. Check it out online at www.viewthestory.com. I will be saying a lot more about this as the materials for training in a local church are available and I cannot wait to begin training more believers to share the greatness of God’s story of redemption with the lost and with each other!  I also wrote a little booklet for SEBTS called “Life’s Biggest Question.”

Tracts are a great tool when you genuinely do not have much time to share your faith like at a busy restaurant when you seek to talk to the server (and while you are leaving a great tip!).  They should never be the only way we share Christ, but they are effective in certain settings and are especially useful in teaching others how to share Christ.

The following story comes from an email sent by a student in my evangelism class just this semester. I get these all the time but asked permission to share this one to illustrate an effective use of a gospel tract.  Note both the explanation of the gospel and the demonstration of the gospel, both of which matter:

Dr. Reid:
When I started this semester in Evangelism I got 2 packets of your “Life’s Biggest Question” tract. I had two of them left in my purse this weekend as I headed home from the airport from taking my son, daughter-in-law and husband.
I saw a family stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire ( they were headed in the opposite direction as I was headed away from the airport on 540).
I saw children and a wife and a man trying to flag someone down to help them.
I got off at next exit, prompted by the Holy Spirit, and flipped back around and pulled over. It was a muslim family from Pakistan,
I saw luggage and knew they were trying to catch a flight….it was the mother headed to Pakistan, in an hour and half. I asked if I could take her to airport, and the father reluctantly agreed. He asked if the 14 year old son could go with his mother while they waited for the patrolman they had called to arrive. He asked me to just take them and the son could stay at the airport and he would come get him.
(the son was A VERY respectful and mature 14 year old young man).
I took the mom and the son and she kept thanking me….she was very difficult to understand (broken English, but the son ” MOE” understood and interpreted for her.) She hugged me at the terminal and thanked me over and over…I told her that it was because of JESUS that I had turned around and handed her your tract to read on the plane.
Then I headed back home and passed the dad still stranded with a patrolman there and I stopped again, knowing that he had no way to get the 14 year old from airport because the car had to be towed. I asked him if he would like me to go back and get his son, and he reluctantly but very thankfully said yes. I went back to airport and picked up “MOE”. I headed back with him to meet his dad and the tow truck had come and taken the man and the little girl with the tow truck. The patrolman waited for me to return with the little boy. In route I asked him a few spiritual questions.  I asked him if they read the Bible or the Koran…he said the Koran. He told me they had a prayer place in their home.
He had a bag that his mom had given him at the airport and he put it on the seat next to him.When I pulled over the patrolman told me he would take Moe to his dad where they had towed the car to repair the tire. Moe got out and left the bag. Before he got out i gave him my cell because he said that they had no family here. He left the bag in the car. I got almost back to Wake Forest when the dad called and told me he was sorry his son had left the bag. I told him that was OK and that  I would bring it to them as they had no transportation.
They were waiting at the MCDonald’s across from the tire repair place. He asked me come in and eat with them but I told him I had to get home, but I wanted to tell him that he had VERY respectful children, and what a blessing it had been to meet them. He kept thanking me. I said it’s not me that Jesus had prompted my heart to pull over and handed him the last tract! He said I know–you are different, he said. He asked me if the children could call me. I said certainly!
So, there on the side of the road God ordained a divine appointment with a Muslim family to see Christ in love and now they are reading the tracts….please pray…I have the  opportunity to share more with them.
Thought you would love that story! God is so good…and the gospel such good news!
Yes, the gospel is good news. Good news worth sharing. Let’s be doing that.
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Alvin Reid
Alvin L. Reid (born 1959) serves as Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has been since 1995. He is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Alvin and his wife Michelle have two children: Joshua, a senior at The College at Southeastern, and Hannah, a senior at Wake Forest Rolesville High School. Recently he became more focused at ministry in his local church by being named Young Professionals Director at Richland Creek Community Church. Alvin holds the M.Div and the Ph.D with a major in evangelism from Southwestern Seminary, and the B.A. from Samford University. He has spoken at a variety of conferences in almost every state and continent, and in over 2000 churches, colleges, conferences and events across the United States.