The other day, a guy handed me a tract through the window at Starbucks. His intro line went something like, “do you like riddles? here ya go!” and he pulled the tract from behind the sun visor on his beige sedan.
After he had driven away, I pulled it out of my apron pocket, and the girl working with me said “Oh, that’s not a riddle. It’s a Jesus thing.” She made a face like she had taken a sip of curdled milk when she said “Jesus thing.”
Literally within minutes, a lady came in, and struck up a conversation with the same girl while she made her drink. She gave about a 3 dollar tip, and casually mentioned that her and her friend would be praying in a few minutes, and asked if there was anything they could pray for her about. My coworker politely declined, but later after those women had met, prayed, cleaned up very well after themselves, and left, she said to me “That was really neat that she asked me how they could pray for me.”
That’s how you open the door to share your faith with a barista at Starbucks.
Both of those customers are regulars. We are going to see them again. In fact, today, the same girl was working with me when tract man came back through. When I mentioned that he didn’t follow up with me about the riddle, my coworker said “Oh, I don’t think he really cares. He just hands out those things to make himself feel better.” What penetrating insight from my non-believing coworker.
I’m not as harsh on the guy as she is. I think his heart’s in the right place. He really wants people to trust Jesus, and it’s scary initiating conversation with strangers. So a tract about a riddle is what he uses. And with a simple tweak to his intro line, I think he might become more effective in using the tract.
If instead of “do you like riddles?” he went with “Hey, here’s a message that changed my life, condensed into an admittedly cheesy riddle. I’d love to get your feedback on it. I put my email at the bottom of it. I know I’ll see you tomorrow when I get my coffee, maybe we could briefly talk then. Have a great day!” and put the tract inside of a 5 dollar tip, he’d have gotten my coworker’s attention without the soured-milk face.
I’m not some anti-tract guy. (Though some of them do absolutely no good for a postmodern-or-later context. Telling somebody that they are a sinner without any sort of definition of terms is pretty useless, in my estimation.) But the medium is already impersonal enough, don’t make it sound completely trivial with your intro.
And maybe it’s time to retire the riddle tract. Riddles are by definition questions that require intelligence, insight or ingenuity to answer. The gospel is news that a child can hear and understand. So, it’s almost the opposite of the answer to a riddle–it requires no extra intelligence, insight,or ingenuity to learn that Jesus died in my place.
The good news is good enough all by itself. No need to gimmick it up. Here’s my question for you (reader): how did you come to Christ (if you have) and was a tract involved? Comment below.