The Power of the Printed page
Even in a world fascinated by TV, DVD, and the Internet, there are powerful reasons for Christians to use tracts and booklets in spreading the gospel.
The printed page is exact in its message. Have you ever found yourself listening to a broadcast on the radio, when you say to yourself, "What did he say just now?" We have likely all had that experience. "Did he say it was going to rain tomorrow or did he say it wouldn't rain tomorrow?". It is easy to get the simplest material mixed up when we listen to those fast-talking announcers. To them time is money; every second counts and they are not about to go back over material simply to make sure that we understand everything. The printed page is much kinder and gentler with us--we have a second, third, and fourth chance to check out what is really being said. We can do that because it is printed out.
The printed page has a longer life than the other media. The electronic media do not live very long in the minds of those who see the images. It takes very little effort for a person to view images on the TV or DVD but it is also true that those images flee away from the mind as quickly as they were seen. This is not as likely when a person reads something that interests them. Far from fleeing from the consciousness, those words are read and reread to ascertain the meaning. How often we have heard people say that they have read certain messages again and again until they understand the words. Some people even speak of putting their fingers on a word when they realize that it is a message for them. It must be true because there is a worldwide explosion in the number of books being published. Big business recognizes this; they have bought up publishing companies and booksellers for millions and millions of dollars. They recognize the power of the printed page.
The printed page can be seen again. This point is closely related to the previous one but is just a bit different. Here we are thinking of those tracts and booklets that are stuffed into a pocket or a drawer to be taken out some time later to be read. We can imagine those who have been going through old books and papers while cleaning out an attic or a drawer. Here is an old booklet discoloured by the passage of time but the message is as powerful as the day it was written. ™Ye must be born again,∫ says the writer. Those few words bring back memories of a Sunday School class years ago. The Holy Spirit reminds the reader that years have passed and that God's time for salvation is NOW. How many will bow their heads in repentance of sin and turn to the Saviour for salvation? We will never know until that coming day.
The printed page comes in many languages. One of the greatest challenges for those engaged in evangelism today is providing the message in the language that the people can understand. Airplanes are criss-crossing the skies of the world every hour of every day; people are on the move. In the supermarket or on the bus, we can hear languages from every corner of the earth. How can we possibly pass on the gospel to people whose language we do not know? Well, the answer is simple; give them a tract or a text of scripture in their own language. The Bible has been translated in hundreds of languages; tracts and gospel booklets are available for distribution in hundreds of languages. People love to see printed material that they can read and understand. These materials are a wonderful resource for the soul winner.
The printed page is simple to use. Very few of us would make good radio broadcasters but almost anyone can pass on a gospel tract. I believe it was the late W.W.Fereday who pointed out that Christians used to carry leaflets ready for distribution for the unsaved they met in one pocket ready for distribution and those for believers in another pocket. This would be a great practice for us all and most are well able to do it.
The printed page can go where you or I cannot go. Some places on planet earth are very inaccessible because of government regulations which deny freedom to spread the gospel. This is not a problem to the printed page. We cannot be specific except to say that Christians are busy spreading good gospel literature in China. Some of this literature is being printed in China; some of it is being carried in and distributed to Christians who pass it on. Literature will have to be used in Muslim countries and in places like North Korea where authorities are antagonistic toward the gospel of the grace of God.
The printed page is cost-effective. Spreading the gospel takes financial resources so we must look for cost-effective ways of evangelizing. God's main way of evangelization is by the preaching of the gospel. Gifted evangelists stand before the people and announce, as heralds sent by God, that there is forgiveness for sinners who will come in repentance and faith. However, in addition to the preaching, and as an accessory to it, literature can be used effectively. A whole bag of tracts weighing 10 pounds would cost less than a meal in a good restaurant. Once the booklet is set up for printing, the printer hits the little green button and the machine begins to whirr like a top. The tracts come out the other end all ready for earnest Christians who will deliver them to the waiting world. The unit monetary cost is relatively low.
The printed page speaks clearly in a world of many voices. Some believers express concern about the effectiveness of the printed page in a world that competes for people's attention. These folks have decided that the days of tract distribution are finished because there are all kinds of flyers, leaflets, papers, and junk mail striving for our attention. We need to remember that these are not ordinary little leaflets; they are God's messages printed on paper and sent to the people. We should pray over them before we give them out. Some of the world's most vexing promoters of religious error use enormous amounts of printed material to spread their erroneous doctrines. Why should we be hanging back, reducing our output of good, godly literature at this crucial time in the world's history?
Are you interested in using the printed page to reach your district with the gospel?
Here are some suggestions: