I was going to write about this earlier, but then Jon Acuff wrote about it, and I didn’t want to copy him. Then I figured, imitation is the best form of flattery, right? Besides, my story is a bit different.
A few houses into our candy run we had established a pattern. They would run to the door, and I would watch from the sidewalk. They would run back, and I would remind them to say thank you.
At this one house, the bowl was left out on the front porch. (Yeah, it’s that kind of neighborhood.) And the kids suddenly got very excited and began yelling about $20. After they calmed down they showed me a crisp $20 bill in each bag. For just about half a second I was amazed by the generosity of the treat-givers. Then I remembered that sometimes people make tracts that look like money.
My kids were very disappointed.
Now, I’m not against tracts. I wrote one (never published) when I was younger. It’s not even all money tracts. We have a $trillion tract at work, I forget who gave it to us. But no one would ever mistake it for real money.
But who though that making tracts that look like actual money was a good idea? Are they that desperate to get someone to touch it? Sure you grab them on the front end, but do you really want to start the most important conversation ever with disappointment?
I have never heard of one person who gave their life to Jesus because they grabbed a fake $20.[Update: I have now heard of 1 person. She found her’s on the floor of a grocery store. Not a Trick or Treat bucket, or left as a tip, etc… So, 1 person in 45 years. She is the exception to the rule.]
But I have heard a lot of stories (both firsthand and second hand) about people who have been turned off by people who leave fake money as a way to witness. The worst are from waitresses who work Sundays. They serve on a huge group of Christians after church, and go to gather their tip to see two or three $20 bills along with a couple of singles. They snatch the money up to realize that instead of a $43 tip, they got a $3 tip and two tracts they will never read. Instead they will talk badly about these Christians who didn’t even care enough to leave 15% with their religious propaganda. If you must leave a religious tract (of any kind) at a restaurant, please make sure you leave it alongside a generous tip.
I’m glad my kids know about Jesus already, because if this had been their first exposure to Christianity it would have started with disappointment, not hope or love.
I will never understand the use of money tracts. If you want to use money to gain an audience for the Gospel, at least use real money! Hand someone a $20 and ask them to listen to you for five minutes. That will be much more effective than the eternal disappointment of fake money tracts.