by Roscoe Barnes III
Marketing guru Joe Vitale says everybody should write a book. By so doing, he says, you create something that will touch lives and live beyond you. For similar reasons, I think every preacher should write a tract. When they do, they might discover some pleasant surprises. Powerful preaching reaches a new level when it is put into print. That's especially true when the heart of a message is placed in a tract.
Since the days of Martin Luther and John Wesley, the tract has proven to be a potent force in the dissemination of the gospel. Books, magazines, newsletters-all have their place. But none of them has the advantages of tracts. Books take longer to write, longer to compile, longer to edit and longer to publish. Compared to tracts, books also are much more expensive and harder to market. Furthermore, a simple tract is more appealing to readers than a thick tome. Here are three good reasons for turning sermons into tracts:
1. You can reach a wider audience. One good sermon in tract form can lead thousands of people to Christ. It can heal broken homes, inspire generations to serve Christ, revive churches, start a movement and have a lasting impact on people you will never see this side of heaven.
The late John R. Rice, founder of the Sword of the Lord newspaper, made excellent use of his sermons in print. In 1983, Curtis Hutson wrote that over 44 million copies of Rice's tract, "What Must I Do to Be Saved?" had been printed in 38 languages. In February of that year, more than 11,000 people had reported finding Christ as a result of that tract (which was actually a sermon in print).
2. You can work from any location. As the author of a tract, you can have a global outreach from the comfort of your home, your private study, or any place. All you have to do is make it available to the right people.
My friend Robert Flory has done just that. Over the years, he has distributed millions of tracts to many parts of the world. He does it by mail. Oh, he travels from time to time, but the bulk of his work is done from a small post office in Pennsylvania.
3. You can minister beyond the grave. History is replete with examples of sermons that have been passed on from generation to generation by means of tracts. Who can forget Jonathan Edwards and his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"? The sermon can still be found today, hundreds of years later, in pamphlet form.
In closing, I'd like to challenge you to think of your sermon as a light for a dark world. Then remember not to waste it.
Roscoe Barnes III is director of Tract Media Crusades. For sample tracts, write: R. Barnes, P.O. Box 780, Waynesboro, PA 17268;