Every so often when strolling through downtown Burbank or the mall in Glendale, I receive a tract from some unknown person trying to spread the Gospel. Most tracts grab the reader’s attention quickly, tell the truth, and offer the person forgiveness from his sins through Jesus Christ. I speculate most Christians view this as “evangelism” (or aka cold evangelism). When seeking to win people to Christ and not just arguments, cold evangelism is one way to evangelize. God calls every Christian to evangelize. Our primary field is those we interact with habitually — family, friends, coworkers, frequently visited places (more here).
However there is something missing with almost every tract and “cold evangelism” presentations: the heart of the Great Commission! What?!?! How can presenting a tract miss the heart of the great commission? YOU’RE CRAZY!
Please consider the typical scenario. I just encountered you. I received a Gospel presentation and a tract. I do not respond to you. I go home, I think about it, and I dwell on what you said. I read your tract and then open a dusty Bible. The Spirit opens my eyes and I get saved. GREAT!!!! Now what?
What do I do? Where do I go? Who do I tell? I need direction.
Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you . . .”
The main point of this verse is “make disciples.” Every other action (go, baptize, and teach) serves to explain the main idea of “making disciples.” Therefore they describe how we make disciples. Jesus emphasizes “make disciples.” Tract evangelism seems to emphasize the “go.” Making disciples requires on going, detailed, training between saved people. Who is going to help develop me? Who is going to disciple me? Where am I going to see and imitate the faith to grow more like Jesus Christ? Where am I going to practice the one another’s and grow? Who am I going to ask difficult questions?
What did you leave on the tract to provide direction? Did you leave a church address? Telephone number? Are you trusting the person will have immediate discernment to recognize a biblically based church and immediately get plugged in? Are we possibly sending them to the mega-seeker-sensitive-market-driven-our-god-is-hip-but-doesn’t-really-want-devotion church?
Yes God is sovereign and He will complete what He begins in every believer (Phil 1:6). But we desire to serve the person as much as possible. Is adding a church address or providing a telephone number really that difficult? Making disciples requires, not only telling the good news, but training a person for a lifetime of worship and good works. Disciples need relationships with believers, knowledge, leadership, time, attention, and patience. Who will provide this? Who has God commissioned to make disciples and equip every believer for the work of ministry for the building up of the body in Christ? The church.
Therefore the missing theology in tract evangelism is the church. Before grabbing your million dollars and walking out the front door, consider the required next step. How will you direct a person back to a good church? Will you add the churches’ address, email, and contact information? How will you make sure the Great Commission is truly about “making disciples”?
PS. Remember, when leaving a tract at a restaurant, make sure you tip equal to or greater than 20% . . . yes, even if the service is bad — show grace and love.