Tracts as tips

I have a cousin who tips with tracts.

I remember the first time I ever saw someone do this. We were at lunch with my cousin, a wonderful Christian lady who does this one thing that drives me crazy. At the end of the meal, she picked up the check (that's not the part that drives me crazy) and said a polite "Thank you so much" to our waitress (not it either). Then she left a tract.

A tract is a booklet or pamphlet that contains some sort of gospel presentation. According to wikipedia (my source for all official information), five billion tracts were distributed in the year 2000 alone. Some people read them, some people follow Jesus after reading them, most people throw them away.

I understand the logic behind leaving a tract as an after-meal tip. Didn't Jesus say something like "What does it profit a server if he gains the whole 20% but loses his soul?" I mean, if someone read the leave-behind tract and, in the process, connected with Jesus and with his community, that would be invaluable. I'd trade the $7.62 I had coming to me in exchange for eternal life. Good deal.

And I know that that's the way my cousin sees it.

But I wonder how the servers see it. In fact, I wonder how the wider world views our tract bombardments.

Do they think we're afraid of them?
Do they think we don't care enough to talk to them?
Do they think we have to do this to be right with God?
Do they think our core beliefs are summed up in a pamphlet?
Do they think we're arrogant?
Do they think we're argumentative?
Do they think we're stupid? or shallow? or sincere?

If our only means of evangelism was tract bombardment, what might someone guess as to why we evangelize?

I would probably start by assuming that evangelism is some sort of Christian duty. They do it because they have to, not because they want to. That would explain why they don't invest a lot of time or energy into it and why they don't seem to care whether it works or not. I mean, no one sticks around to see if a tract bombardment "worked."

Second, I would assume that Christians evangelize (remember, they're only using tracts) because they think that the reason I'm not a Christian has something to do with the gospel not ever having been presented to me in the form of an acrostic. They think that I will totally rearrange my life and adjust my long-held worldview if I could just hear that the Bible says I should be a Christian. Why do they evangelize: because they think that I'm hung up on information. If only they knew I was searching for meaning, not data.

Lastly, I might assume that they thought that this whole Jesus thing was important. Maybe not important enough for them to take time to talk to me about it, but important enough to invest a little bit of their money and to do it even if they are setting themselves up to be mocked. Is there anyone who doesn't realize that the wider world thinks Christians who are leaving tracts behind are fools?

I admire folks who are willing to be seen as fools for Christ, who don't cave in to the whims of our society, who will call the Emperor nekked if he's nekked. But I just can't see tract bombardment flowing out of the bigger gospel story.

If we want to do what Jesus is doing, if we want to be with him, if we think that coming and seeing Jesus is the best thing in the world, we won't leave tracts as tips.

We'll do something different.


  1. wendy hunter7:49 PM

    How about leaving a tract with a $5- tip for a 3.50 meal???
    Appreciated the challenge you have presented here. Will rethink the whole business.

  2. Yeah, Wendy...I could see that as being a significant improvement, especially from the perspective of the wait staff. But if that's the main avenue of evangelism, something off.

    My friend, John Byczek always asks wait staff if he can pray for them when he prays for the meal...that's a little closer, more relational, right?