I’ve already written in Tract Evangelism I about little, lurid, hellfire-and-brimstone tracts, so hot they warmed the hip pockets of the worn Levi’s that carried them.
But they weren’t the only tracts we used.
There were the teaching tracts. The Roman Road. Lay Evangelism School. The WIN program. How to Have a Full and Meaningful Life. These are a few of the names of canned evangelism training we went through back in the Seventies. They were all different, with different publishers and different vendors, but very much the same. All conceptual, all substitutionary atonement, all taken from Paul’s Epistle to the Christians in Rome, and from the Gospel According to John.
John 3:16. The verse we all learned, that we learned was most important.
Most famous of all the evangelistic teaching tracts was the Four Spiritual Laws. Laws- immutable, heavy, everlasting, more immoveable than granite. Who can argue with The Law? Feel free to look it up. In essence, the theology is that we’re sinners, God hates sin, someone has to die for the sins of all the people, and God hands over Jesus to die for us. Believe it, believe in it, and be saved.
We studied the Laws, we practiced the lines, we role-played, we carried around stacks of Four Spiritual Laws tracts, and handed them out as we could. But as hard as I tried, I never got it. I left all that behind a long time ago. Thanks be to God.
But what’s left with me from those days is that people need help getting their heads and hearts around the transcendental experience of Grace. Help corralling the big themes of the Bible. Help mentally, spiritually, emotionally organizing the stories of Jesus that move us to Mission. Help shaping powerful, personal, ineffable experiences into their own stories, hanging them on a framework shared in common with others.
So The Way of Mission- Grace, Mission, Hope and Choice- is both small enough and big enough to help. But it isn’t capital-L Law. It’s a way of life, not a set of rules. Use them if they help, but don’t freak out if they don’t resonate with you. Read for yourself, pray by yourself and with others, argue if you like. I’m not totally convinced either. Just follow Jesus on The Way.