Evangelism Resources 101: The Gospel Tract

I was considering calling this post “equip the chickens!” after a comment from a conversation I had with a church planter some time ago. We were discussing ways of growing an Old School Presbyterian church plant and I mentioned that while having a good website and being in the phonebook were both important, that the primary means of growth was going to be via word of mouth as members of the church evangelized the lost and invited the unchurched. This provoked a rather disheartened sigh from the other pastor and the comment, “I’m afraid that most our people are too chicken to do any personal evangelism” to which I responded, “well how have you equipped and encouraged your chickens for battle?” He laughed but confessed he hadn’t done anything along those lines and didn’t really even know where to start. I had two suggestions for him, first beginning a simple program of evangelism training and second, producing a gospel tract with a gospel presentation, and information about the church. I’ll discuss methods of going about training your congregation to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have… with gentleness and respect” in a follow-on posting, but for now I wanted to discuss how to go about preparing a simple tract. I’ll be using as an example one we are currently handing out:

tractfront1.jpgtractback.jpg

The tract itself is a fold-over with an infinity symbol on the front and a map to the church on the back. When folded it is the size of a business card and fits easily within a wallet. On the inside of the tract is a simple gospel presentation, which uses the infinity symbol to discuss the importance of eternity, namely that whether or not they are saved during the incredibly brief period of their lives will determine whether they spend eternity in heaven or hell. It then gives the church logo, times, and contact info. The tract utilizes both law and gospel and calls upon the sinner to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

These tracts are small and simple to hand-out, the average church member requires no training whatsoever to use them (to illustrate that point, my five year old son gave away three yesterday). They are also relatively inexpensive, especially compared to far less targeted general advertising methods like the newspaper, these cost us $150 per 1000.

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About Andrew Webb

Andrew James Webb, Pastor Providence PCA, Fayetteville NC. Born: July 29, 1969 Rochford, Essex England Education: MA Modern History, St. Andrews University, Fife, Scotland, 1991 M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary, Glenside, PA, 2001 Personal Details: Husband of Joy Webb, Father of Margaret (6), Victor (5), Graham (3) and Isabel (10 Mos.) Secular Work History: Upon graduation from University, I returned to the United States and worked for two Madison Ave Advertising Firms in copy writing and advertising space sales. After moving to Northern Virginia, I went into computing. I worked as a Systems Administrator in Washington D.C. for both the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) (a legal publishing firm,) and the International Republican Institute. Experience: Licensed by Potomac Presbytery, May 1997 and Philadelphia Presbytery in 1999. From 1998 to 2001 I did a three year apprentice/internship under Dr. Mark Herzer while working with the Christ Covenant church plant in Hatboro, PA. Ordained as an RE at Christ Covenant PCA in 2000 and as a TE by Central Carolina in 2001 when I was called to be the Organizing Pastor for Providence PCA Mission, Cross Creek PCA's church plant in Fayetteville, NC (home to Ft. Bragg and Pope Airforce Base). In 2005 when the Providence PCA Particularized I was blessed to be called by the congregation to be their Pastor. Presbytery Committees: Assistance and Membership (Philadelphia), Candidates (Central Carolina), Nominations (Central Carolina) GA Committees: Bills and Overtures, Covenant Theological Seminary Other: I have had a number of my essays on theological topics published including What is the Reformed Doctrine of Divorce? and Five Reasons Not To Go See The Passion of the Christ Why I Don't Have an English Accent: I don't have an English accent because my parents moved to New Jersey when I was six!
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7 Responses to Evangelism Resources 101: The Gospel Tract

  1. J.W.M. says:

    Andy,

    The subject of tracts is something which interests me, as I seek to learn the best ways to evangelize & reach out. I realize that at times they work, but at the same time I wonder… are tracts really appropriate? They seem almost like a buy-in to an advertiser-consumer model.

    If a saving relationship to Christ is as intimate and important as Scripture & faithful churches teach, isn’t it treating it a little cheaply to paste it on a tract – like some spiritual lingerie ad?

    Again, I see the benefits, too.. so my question is a serious one. You seem to see tracts as useful, and have a lot more experience in ministry than I (soon to be seminary student). What do you think? Are tracts really the best we can do? If so, how much information should we put on them?

  2. Andrew Webb says:

    Jeremiah,

    Yes I am a strong believer in the use of tracts, they have a long history of use amongst the Reformed dating back all the way to the 16th century. They were used both to address doctrinal matters and simply to spread the gospel, and were frequently used by missionaries, especially in places with no history of Christianity and where Bible translations were scarce.

    Tracts have always varied in size from one page to a few chapters, and the size generally depended upon how much one could afford to print and what the intended audience could be expected to read. The quantity of the content is less important than the quality, clarity and in the case of the unbelieving simplicityof the contents.

    Here are a few examples of the use of simple gospel tracts by OSP pastor R.M. McCheyne in the early 19th century as he was evangelizing in Dundee and abroad:

    “There were about twelve fishermen’s huts on the island, made of reeds, with a vine growing before the door, and a fig tree in their garden. We gave tracts and books in French to all our fellow passengers, and to the inhabitants, and tried to hallow the Sabbath.”

    “Tonight we have been at a large meeting about the tracts which are distributed monthly to every house in town—a very sweet society.”

    “Do you do what you can for your neighbors? Can you pass your neighbors for years together, and see them on the broad way, without warning them? Do you make a full use of tracts, giving suitable ones to those that need them? Do you persuade Sabbath–breakers to go to the house of God? Do you do anything in Sabbath schools? Could you not tell little children the way to be saved? Do you do what you can for the world? The field is the world.”

    Brother, we live in a land that is increasingly biblically illiterate with a population that is progressively becoming more unchurched. I can almost guarantee if you simply set up your church plant somewhere and expect people to just “show up” you will find yourself alone Sunday after Sunday. How do people even know where you are, what you are, and when you meet? Only our enemy has a vested interest in our keeping our religion to ourselves. Our calling has ever been to go out into the highways and byways and compel the lost to come in. Solid, simple gospel tracts always have been an excellent way to do that. Also don’t sell the sovereign power of even a small portion of the gospel short. I have spoken to a man who was converted through reading the barely legible words of an old tract a street merchant had used to wrap peanuts!

  3. J.W.M. says:

    Andy,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I will talk to my pastor and stew on designing something for our own church. We have always been promoters of “literature” evangelism (I’ve even got a small book being published for this purpose), but have never – to my knowledge – used tracts. But the idea is intriguing!

  4. J.W.M. says:

    Andy,

    I’ve been experimenting a bit today with laying out a tract for use locally in our church. If you get a sec, take a look and let me know what you think:

  5. Andrew Webb says:

    Hi Jeremiah,

    Sorry about the delay, I’ve been spending too much time over at Greenbaggins, probably to no avail.

    Anyway, on a more profitable note, I like the tract. The content is good. My only caution would be to go for maximum ease of reading, so make sure the organization doesn’t confuse anyone. Incidentally, a good way to test them out is to give some to unbelieving friends and acquaintances , tell them you are trying to design something that tells people about the gospel and your church, and ask them to give you feedback on what they think. Obviously any “tone down the gospel message” stuff can be immediately discounted, but often you can get some good pointers on what’s confusing or could be laid out better, or what’s missing. Plus its an only mildly cheesy way of putting the gospel in front of someone who needs to hear it…

    May God bless your efforts in the highways and byways.

  6. Reformatus says:

    Do you print those yourself? If you use a service to print them, could you tell where?

  7. Andrew Webb says:

    No, we used a service we no longer use as the guy selling them went explicitly Pelagian and spends much of his time attacking Calvinism online. But I have to tell you, your average local print shop can work up something very similar and then farm out the actual print run.

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