Systematic Tract Work
Plodding around the streets of any town or city can be a dispiriting affair. Whether you choose to knock on each door and try and speak to the occupants before offering them a gospel leaflet, or merely post it through the letterbox, the process is time consuming and energy sapping. However, the purpose of this article is to stimulate continued effort to reach lost souls with the only message of salvation.
If we are to be effective in this particular aspect of gospel outreach it is important that we plan the activity. Some different approaches include:
- Drawing a circle working out from the hall/building in which the assembly meets, to define an area to be covered;
- Within a village explore the distribution of tracts in neighbouring villages, or, in a town, covering estates that might not be covered by the approach in (1) above;
- Some specific event that occurs within the local community that draws people into the locality of the hall.
One of the advantages of online mapping sites is that an area that you plan to cover with tracts can be explored and the number of houses to be covered determined beforehand. In that way an accurate figure for how many tracts will be needed, as well as how long a particular area might take to cover can be determined. If those who are giving out literature work in pairs it is possible to cover between 200 and 300 houses in an hour, depending on the density of the housing and the methodology of distribution. When saints are already busy, it can be helpful if they know how long it will take to do what is asked!
If the work is being done in a relatively small community it can be helpful for those we are trying to reach to be able to identify with the distributor because it is a face they see on a reasonably regular basis, or because the distributor lives in that community.
Deciding what piece of literature to use for distribution is important. Looking through the items that we receive through our doors would indicate that considerable thought is given to their design and colourfulness. On that basis alone, it is vital that we seek to present the gospel message in a tract that attracts. It can be easy for our material to be discarded as just another piece of ‘junk mail’. Equally, combating the barriers that are now on the inside of letterboxes can mean that the tract ends up on the floor as a crumpled and torn mess, ripped apart by the flaps and brushes meant to exclude a draught! A tract that is reasonably robust is desirable.
As there are various forms of literature available, we should also give thought to what outcome we desire from the distribution of the tracts. Are we inviting people to a specific meeting or a series of meetings? Are we, perhaps, focussing upon children’s meetings, or a holiday Bible club? Are we pointing them to a website to listen to a message which they can download? Are we indicating that following the receipt of the tract someone may visit them to speak about eternal things? Are we inviting them to respond and request follow-up literature? As most people are no longer regular church-goers, inviting them to meetings may prove a fruitless exercise, unless it is a ‘one-off’ or something special. However, we must remember that our measure of ‘success’ is not how many people come to meetings as a consequence of the effort but how many have received the gospel in their homes!
For a regular tract work that covers a specific patch of a village, town, or city, it is easy to specify a day of the week or month, or a specific deadline by which each team must cover their area.
If the intention is to cover a village or estate not normally covered, some assemblies have found that organizing an ‘evangelism day’ can be a productive tool in accomplishing the task. When an assembly has become small, working with believers from other local assemblies can be a great encouragement. With the right planning and co-operation, those who may only be able to give an hour or two can get involved and benefit from the fellowship of a work in the gospel. Equally, it is a great impetus to the development of younger believers to get involved in this type of work.
Some assemblies have focused upon tract work associated with a major event in their community. For example, there are those who have opened up their hall and stood outside it with literature to reach those on the way to a match, whether football or rugby. Provided appropriate by-laws are observed, and wisdom is exercised as to the position of workers on the route into the stadium, such events have proved fruitful in terms of the number of people reached.
In every aspect of what has been described above, it is essential to leave the outcome of the work to God alone. He is sovereign and we may never see the fruits of the labours expended in His name. Let us not be ‘weary in well doing’, 2 Thess. 3. 13.