This is part five of a series. The previous articles may be read here: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
As I have stated previously, my ideas and views in these articles are with regards to Gospel tracts on the foreign mission field, not tracts in the United States. Also, I want to make a clear distinction between Gospel tracts and church invitations. I think that church invitations and Gospel tracts designed for use in the United States would typically require a very different approach in design, layout, style, and content than the ideas I am putting forth here.
Now that we have considered the validity of tracts, the content of tracts, and the importance of cultural relevance, let us move on to the next question: Is a straightforward approach better, or is it better to ease into the message?
My opinion is that there is a time and a place for both styles of tracts. I like to use straightforward tracts for people who already have some interest in Jesus Christ. There are times when a person is literally asking for information about Christianity or asking good questions about Jesus and it seems a waste of time to give them a tract that beats around the bush. For this purpose, a few years ago I wrote a tract called "Five Questions About Jesus". This would be a perfect example of a straightforward tract. It just tells you right on the front cover what it is about, and interestingly enough, this tract is one of the tracts that people like to use the most.
On the other hand, many (perhaps even most) of the people with whom we come in contact are not yet interested in Christ. They need a tract which will engage them by way of some question, statement, or topic which grabs their attention and compels them to read further. I call those kind of tracts “back door" tracts. The purpose of this type of tract is the same as any other tract – to get inside of a person’s heart and mind with the truth of God’s Word. But since they often don’t throw open the front door of their mind with enthusiastic interest, we have to go through the “back door” instead.
By the way, God is the originator of the “back door” tract. You probably already knew this, but the book of Esther doesn’t mention the word “God” even one time in 10 chapters. Yet God’s sovereignty, wisdom, providence, grace, and power are seen all throughout. This shows us that it is possible to get a point across with a subtle approach.
How do you know which kind of tract to use? Here are four very simple thoughts to keep in mind.