Writing Your Own Story

Not for Nutters
Evangelistic leaflets (what used to be called ‘tracts’) have seriously fallen out of favour over the last thirty or forty years. For many Christians the very word ‘tract’ conjures up images of nutters on street corners shouting at passers-by or holding up boards which warn of Coming Doom! Those attracting attention by doing such things presumably also press little explanatory leaflets into the palm of any hapless shopper who shows the tiniest glimmer of interest. Later the tracts will be collected by street cleaners.

Well OK. But I am enthusiastic about tracts not because I fit that personality type. What I’m suggesting is a different type of tract – it’s a personal one. Something written by you. And the kind of encounter in which you would offer someone your own personal tract is not impersonal or forced but friendly.

Brief Encounters
I’m speaking about those brief moments where you meet someone – a complete stranger – and a few words might be exchanged, perhaps of thanks, and off you go into the rest of your day: you purchase something at a store; you pay for your meal at a restaurant; you speak with a teller at the bank.

I concede that these moments of friendly encounter don’t strike every follower of Christ as a potential opportunity to share the gospel. In fact an attempt to merely speak about your faith then and there would usually feel awkward.

We meet several of these strangers every day. They are usually serving us and yet don’t feel the need to serve them. Why?

An Opportunity for Light to Break in
A young woman in our church in Missouri asked Jo and I to pray for her. She was genuinely distraught. She told us that she works in MacDonald’s and that it was wearing her down. She felt that customers had no respect for her, they were rude and impatient. Added to that, they were hungry and irritable and if she made any mistakes they were utterly unforgiving. Customer after customer, hour after hour, day after day. It was soul-destroying. Obviously we prayed for her, but I thought to myself, what a difference Christians could make! Instead of moaning about how slowly they were being served they could serve the person with a smile and a simple word of encouragement. What a difference that might make to a discouraged person’s day. And then if they were able to add to that encouragement by giving the person their own story of how God’s grace has impacted their lives they certainly would be ‘making the most of every opportunity’ (Eph 5.16).

Personal Tracts
Lex’s Personal Tract

That’s what personal tracts are about. They’re not for your work colleagues or those who are already your friends. They’re for those chance encounters, where your willingness to serve might be the only moment of light breaking into someone’s darkness.

Check out this amusing 18 minute video to find out how you can write and produce your own.
And please feel free to leave a comment on your own adventures.

©2015 Lex Loizides

 

 

Wesley Attempts and Rejects ‘Charismatic’ Personal Evangelism

18th Century Map Showing the Main road out of London, 1742
18th Century Map Showing the Main roads out of London, 1742

Make the most of every opportunity
OK, OK, maybe I’m being a bit unfair to the Charismatics here but this is a fascinating little experiment that Wesley attempted for two days.

Fortunately for multiplied thousands he gave up the attempt, but, unnervingly, many Christians actually do their personal evangelism like this.

I’m not going to preface this with many scriptures. Just one:
Paul writes, ‘Pray that I may proclaim [the gospel] clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’ (Col 4:4-6 NIV)

Our goal should be to graciously seek to make the most of every opportunity to share our faith with others. Obviously the application of wisdom will help us determine what and how much we should share. If we are with folks we regularly see we are clearly not to exasperate them with constant mini-sermons, but if we are with folk briefly, say on a plane, or purchasing something at a check out, there may be a moment to bring encouragement or to leave a Personal Tract.

Wesley’s Experiment
‘For these two days, I had made an experiment which I had been so often and earnestly pressed to do: speaking to none concerning the things of God, unless my heart was free to it.

‘And what was the event?
Why, 1. That I spoke to none at all for fourscore miles together: no, not even to him that travelled with me in the [carriage], unless a few words at first setting out.

‘2. That I had no cross either to bear or to take up, and commonly in an hour or two fell fast asleep.

‘3. That I had much respect shown me wherever I came; everyone behaving to me, as to a civil, good-natured gentleman.

‘O how pleasing is all this to flesh and blood!’ (JW Journals, Vol 1, Baker edition, p.313)

Why pick on the Charismatics?
Well, the phrase ‘unless my heart was free to it’ is equivalent to ‘unless the Spirit prompts me’ nowadays, and you tend to hear Charismatics use that kind of language more often, and particularly with regard to evangelism.

But maybe I’m wrong. After all, those urging his change in behaviour may have been merely embarrassed by his boldness: ‘I had been so often and earnestly pressed to do’ this, he says.

In other words, John Wesley’s default position was that he was always on a mission, and every appropriate opportunity should be taken to help others understand the gospel and maybe come closer to Christ.

This was something he was ‘often and earnestly pressed’ to abandon in favour of more particular promptings. Maybe that’s not just a ‘charismatic’ weakness but affects most evangelicals who are either nervous of getting things wrong or who are fearful and would be helped by being filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:8).

Either way, we can be thankful that Wesley gave up the wretched experiment. May God give you and I grace to likewise give it up and ‘make the most of every opportunity.’

© 2009 Lex Loizides