Gospel Tracts a Thing of the Past?

Ben Simpson notes that the use of Gospel Tracts are almost outdated:

Over the past few years I’ve travelled to a handful of major U.S. cities, and during each visit, I manage to come across people handing out gospel tracts.  I’ve seen these people everywhere.  When there aren’t people to hand them out, sometimes I’ve found tracts lying in airport bathrooms.  My wife and I went on a trip about a year and a half ago where every time we had a layover I picked up a tract somewhere.  Everywhere I went these printed materials were ready to meet me.  Maybe I needed to repent and ask Jesus into my heart.  Yet, blessed assurance…


This week I was reading a book entitled Holy Conversation: Talking About God in Everyday Life by Richard Peace.  In his 3rd chapter, “Really Good News,” he asks this question:

I do wonder if tracts are not a thing of the past?  You don’t see tractlike materials used in any other areas of life these days.

I thought this was a good question for the blog world, considering this may be one of the most prevalent forums in our culture today in which people can express their beliefs on faith, politics, religion, and public life to a diverse and broad audience.  The blog world just might be the contemporary tract, though the format and the means of engagement are quite different.

Well, what do you think?


Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

6 thoughts on “Gospel Tracts a Thing of the Past?

  1. I hadn’t noticed but since you mention it, the last couple of trips I’ve taken, I’ve not seen tracts. The only unsolicited biblical verses I’ve gotten lately were left by door to door JW.

    I always wondered to what extent people respond to tracts? I assumed they made the “circular file” more than were actually read, but I read them from time to time and a timely reminder was welcome indeed.

    I had forgotten all about once ubiquitous Gospel tracts.


  2. I see plenty of tracts handed out, mostly by Baptist and small Pentecostal churches. The Baptists try and get you to read part of their tract out loud, and if you do they say, you will go to Heaven. It is what you have said Polycarp is Easy Beliefism. Last year I read out the tract three times in two weeks, but I knew just parroting a bunch of words will not get you into Heaven.

  3. I put lots of tracks out in the Media Center – I try to get different themed ones – not just the Four Spiritual Laws.

    AND they get taken by the fist full which is why I keep putting them out.

    I will admit to never having looked in most of them – just knowing that they were filling a need to someone somewhere.

    I’ve never understood the sinner’s prayer yet I’ve seen it sooooo many times. I always wonder what happened to Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!

  4. I’d just like to pass on another way to help spread the gospel and it’s simply this:-

    Include a link to an online gospel tract (e.g. http://www.freecartoontract.com/animation) as part of your email signature.

    An email signature is a piece of customizable HTML or text that most email applications will allow you to add to all your outgoing emails. For example, it commonly contains name and contact details – but it could also (of course) contain a link to a gospel tract.

    For example, it might say something like, “p.s. you might like this gospel cartoon …” or “p.s. have you seen this?”.

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