Then I thought to myself, "Self, you know what this could mean."
To which myself replied, "Hmmm... it appears to be tract evangelism, though this seems to me more of a flier."
"Indeed. Unfortunately, I feel rather skeptical about this kind of technique."
"Well, with some of the ridiculous tracts out there, why wouldn't you? Especially when they are left as a tip in a restaurant! However, there is nothing unethical about leaving it here. As long as the content is OK, then you should leave it alone."
I replied, "That's good thinking self, though that would require an examination of said content. Hmmmm... "
These are the kinds of conversations I have with myself. We have a great deal of respect for one another. Upon the conclusion of these thoughts, I proceeded to pick up the flier.
The title in fact read:
The Ultimate Question
Eternal Life - Is It Real?
Eternal Life - Is It Real?
I was not shocked to find the flier to answer this in the affirmative. Indeed, I expect that few would be. I then proceeded to skim the flier for any mention of works, Hell, reprobate, salvation, committment, relationship, or any other key words that would tell me the theology behind the flyer. I quickly found "living by God's standard's" which worried me, but shortly there after I found "Do you know the 10 Commandments?" Ah, Ray Comfort, we meet again!
After skimming a bit more to confirm that this was the Ray Comfort method (which ended up including a colorful presentation of the 10 Commandments on the back in KJV) also known as the Way of the Master, I then gave the flier a C (just passing), returned it to its position, got into my car, and drove off.
I am indeed one of those Christians that believes that evangelism is a moral prerogative of the Christian faith. I believe this is quite evident in Scripture. However, I recognize that it is not always wise to evangelize simply for the sake of doing it. I believe doing the right thing the wrong way is always the wrong thing to do.
One thing that really annoys me sometimes is tract evangelism. Leaving a simple document for an unbeliever to find isn't really wrong mind you. It allows you reach people you never meet. This has some obvious benefits.
However, for many, it is merely laziness. It is a way of saying that you have evangelized without the messy business of meeting people, or being isolated at school. Evangelism without risk isn't really evangelism. It is especially bad if you give a tract to someone who you know! And the worst, is the tip technique mentioned above, which is also an excuse to be cheap. (Now leaving a tract with a 50% tip: that's evangelism!)
It is also not very effective. Most people will not notice the tract. Out of the few who do, most of them will ignore it, or even throw it out. Additionally, written text is less persuasive then spoken word. One reason is spoken word has far more nuance. Additionally, in a conversation, one has the ability to qualify a misunderstood statement.
Then there are the actual content. Some of the tracts that people actually think would be affective is absolutely astounding! There is one brand, which I won't mention here, that really annoys me since it often insults the person it is supposed to be reaching.
Evangelism isn't just about "getting the message out there" or something like that. It is about changing someone's life. It is about actually convincing them. The rhetorical incompetence that I find in most "evangelists" that I meet is staggering. This is because they are not concerned about changing someone's heart, but in acting out there inner desire to be important. It frustrates me.
OK, done ranting.