Question of the Week: Is handing out gospel tracts real evangelism?
In order to understand the difference between real evangelism and something insufficient to accomplish its purposes, we first need to clarify what that word means. If handing out tracts would fit that definition, then the answer to the question would be yes. If the answer is no, then the appropriate follow-up question is what would be an appropriate alternative to handing out tracts in order to accomplish actual evangelism.
Evangelism is a term that utilizes a very broad greek word. “Euangellion” means good news. An Euangelist, or Evangelist, is someone who shares good news. In the days before news was as accessible as sunlight, there were specific people sent out to share information to nearby cities in order to give everyone an understanding of the goings on around the Greek and Roman Empire. When the authors of the New Testament like Peter and Paul used this term, they were using a common title in order to emphasize that they were doing the same thing.
But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:5 (NKJV)
Now that the term “Evangelist” is understood, the question remains. Is passing out tracts a legitimate form of evangelism? With an understanding of the job description, an evangelist that hands out written information is accomplishing that purpose just as effectively as if they were sharing it by word of mouth. They have good news and they are proactively taking the time to share that information tangibly with others. The only challenge to this method is if it’s the most effective form of evangelism. This is going to vary based on the individual doing the evangelism and the person being evangelized. Some people may throw out any written material about God on principal, but this is hardly a mark against written information. Their problem is with God. If they heard everything in that tract by word of mouth, a heart that would throw it away in written form would be just as willing to dismiss it if they heard it in their ears. The key element to effective evangelism isn’t in the recipient. It’s the participant. Scripture does not place the burden of responsibility on those sharing the gospel with results. No one has ever led someone to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the sole responsibility of the Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
John 16:7-14 (NKJV)
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)
Notice that in both scenarios, Jesus clarifies to His disciples that the Spirit will be the one to lead them into all truth. The only responsibility He places on their shoulders is the command to go and make disciples. Disciples are those who have chosen for themselves to follow. Teaching and setting a positive example through discipleship is our job once the Spirit has led them into all truth.
Evangelism, like success, is 90% participation. The inspiration that produces decisions for Christ is entirely out of our hands. It isn’t determined by our methods or the means by which we engage in sharing the good news with people. If you have taken the time to proactively give someone the information, the Spirit can take the rest from there. The salvation of mankind is too important a task to be left entirely in our hands. We just need to take the time to do it. Whether it’s through speaking, writing, or simply being caught acting like Jesus. You’re accomplishing far more for the Kingdom of Heaven then critiquing the methods of those choosing to obey our Lord.
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
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