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Gospel Tracts: History, How They Work, and Why We Need Them

Evangelism began during the time of the Old Testament when prophets like Isaiah and Elijah were called by God to be his mouthpieces to speak his message. These were usually warnings, encouraging the people to repent and turn their back from sin to prevent the destruction that would fall upon them.

From reading the Old Testament, we understand that since the beginning of time, God has always wanted to reach out to his people and save them.

In the New Testament, evangelism continued and intensified. We know that the Plan of Salvation was ultimately fulfilled when Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again after the third day. Through this, we now know for sure that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, the Messiah that hundreds of prophets during the Old Testament had anticipated.

Now, aside from repentance and punishment, evangelism today highlights Jesus Christ and the message of hope and salvation.

“Ready for Some Good News” Gospel Tract

 

A Brief History of Gospel Tracts:

A common method of evangelizing today is handing out gospel tracts. A gospel tract is simply a piece of paper that presents a message or the gospel. Now, would you believe that the first gospel tract was written by someone who was not a Christian?

It is believed that the inscription placed on Jesus’ cross, which read “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” which was written by Pilate. Some consider this as the first gospel tract because of its message and because it is written in three languages, Aramaic, Latin and Greek, many understood it and were provided with a description of Jesus’ identity as a King but not of this world.

People contend that this inscription served the purpose of a gospel tract because some who have read it might have put their faith in Jesus. For example, the thief crucified beside Jesus recognized who he is and asked him for mercy. At that same moment, he received salvation.

Strictly speaking though, the use of what we consider today as gospel tracts could have originated as early as the 13th century, predating the development of the printing press and were used as persuasive religious material. They became popular during the Protestant Reformation, the most popular of which is “The Four Spiritual Laws” written by Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ.

 

How do we use Gospel Tracts?

Today, there are many different kinds of Christian tracts and Bible tracts. You can see many forms of gospel tracts ranging from simple ones that present a text form of the message and creative ones like the popular $1-million dollar bill and origami tracts. I even saw some electronic Bible tract apps, which are also great to use. They are presented in many unique ways that grab a person’s attention. For example, written on the dollar bill is an immensely big amount of money, $1,000,000. The origami tract, because of its very nature, makes the opening and reading of the tract irresistible.

While different, all of these Christian tracts operate on the same principle: to show people that all of us are sinful in nature, introduce Jesus to them, and show them what Salvation truly means.

There are no clear-cut rules on how we are supposed to use gospel tracts, but this article simply sums up two instances when we are encouraged to give out Christian tracts: “when you do not have the opportunity to have a conversation” and “when you want to leave a person with some follow up material.”

The first instance applies to when we have a brief meeting with people such as with those in the service industry like waiters and cashiers, during long commutes in the bus or even during plane flights, or even during long queues. Generally, these are instances that don’t allow you to have a deep conversation with the person involved.

On the other hand, the second instance describes moments when we have already shared the Gospel to someone but need to leave them follow-up material that they can peruse after you go. Even better, they can use the Bible tract that you left to evangelize to another person.

 

Do Christians today still need to use Gospel Tracts?

While many believe that relationship evangelism works best, the truth is that it is imprudent to discount any form of evangelism or proselytizing as ineffective and totally dismiss them. We do not know the hearts of most people, and sometimes, a single tract is all it takes for them to believe in Jesus and accept him as their Lord and Savior.

On the other hand, it is prudent to not leave any stone unturned and considering using all forms of evangelism that result to people hearing and understanding the message of Salvation. Because it is not possible for all of us to sit down with every person we meet to share the message in an in-depth manner, it is our belief that God can use Christian and Bible tracts in order to make the message be read by more people.

Passing out gospel tracts or even just leaving them in strategic places is also a test of faith for us Christians. Sometimes, when we spend a lot of time sharing the Gospel to another person, it can become about us and our ability to persuade. This should not be the case because the Gospel is not about us.

But when we give out tracts, particularly in situations that we can’t control, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit moves in people’s hearts even without our help. God can and will use these tools to show the people who he really is and his plan for us. Thus, we believe that Christians today still need to use and distribute gospel tracts.

 

If you don’t know where to begin, here is a list of major gospel tract suppliers:

  1. Memory Cross
  2. Crossway
  3. One Million Tracts
  4. Evangelical Tract Distributors
  5. Gospel Tracts.org
  6. Fellowship Tract League
  7. Liberty Gospel Tracts – KJV tracts only
  8. Moments with the Book
  9. Chick

We’ve also included a few videos of people sharing their faith using Gospel tracts.

 

 

 

Memory Cross tracts attract attention through their very unique design.  The video below shows how each Memory Cross card folds.  They are available in Gospel tracts for children, youth and adults, as Bible memory cards and as Bible story cards.  Take a moment and visit our store and if you would like a free sample click this link.  You’ll only pay $3.00 for shipping and handling.

Comments?  Other resources that we missed?  Let us know.

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