Lately I have heard some talk from fellow Christians that troubles me. I have heard disparaging comments about the effectiveness of handing out gospel tracts, or as we in Jews for Jesus call it, broadsiding. I cannot claim special knowledge about what is behind this talk, but I have a few ideas. Sometimes there maybe a misunderstanding of what we are trying to accomplish in handing out our literature. Broadsiding is not a substitute for one-to-one sharing among friends or in small Bible studies. It is not necessarily the best way” to evangelize, but I believe in broadsiding. Two biblical images well represent the effectiveness of broadsiding.
The first image is found in Proverbs, where Solomon speaks of the way of God as the way of wisdom. He personifies wisdom or God’s way as a woman. In chapter one we see the woman evangelizing. She is not in a worship service or a small Bible study, nor talking quietly to a friend or acquaintance. “Wisdom crieth (outside); she uttereth her voice in the streets; She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates; in the city she uttereth her words,…” (Proverbs 1:20-21). This passage speaks to the effectiveness of street witnessing in general, but certainly applies to broadsiding.
Two aspects of this approach are worth noticing. One is visibility. The places where wisdom seeks to make her message heard are those most visible to all. The noisy streets may not be the most dignified place for lady wisdom to preach, but that is where she will find those who most need to hear her message. The second aspect is confrontation. Wisdom shouts, she lifts her voice and she cries out. “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? And the (scoffers) delight in their (scoffing), and fools hate knowledge?” (Proverbs 1:22)
This combination of visibility and confrontation is part of what we seek to accomplish when we broadside. We reach out to those who are hiding from God in the swirling humanity of our big cities. We are not confronting those who are eager to listen but the millions who delight in scoffing. This is our mandate.
The second biblical image is that of the sower Jesus described in the Gospels. The sower could be anyone who seeks to proclaim God’s message. The seed is the Word of God, the gospel. As the sower sows his seed, he spreads it among the various kinds of ground, yet only one kind, the good soil, bears lasting fruit. Perhaps today some would caution the sower to be more careful in his selection of soil. They would say, “Don’t throw any of that seed by the path or among those thorns. It’s just a waste of time. Don’t you see? It will just get trampled under foot.”
I would reply that the sower’s effectiveness does not depend on how much of his seed bears fruit. He is effective just by virtue of his sowing. This is how Jews for Jesus views broadsiding. We are sowing seed. Some of it will be trampled under foot and some will find good soil. Our effectiveness is in the sowing. We make ourselves easily available so that we can interact with people. We also make ourselves vulnerable, which proves how serious we are about our convictions.
We could document the effectiveness of broadsiding with numerous stories, but if you read this newsletter, you have already read and will continue to read many more stories of how God has used this method of evangelism.
There may be another reason for the negative comments concerning broadsiding. The story is told of a woman who came to Dwight L. Moody complaining, “Mr. Moody, I don’t like your method of evangelism.” Moody responded, “What, may I ask, Madam, is your method of evangelism?” “I don’t have a method,” she snorted. “Well, Madam,” Moody replied, “I like my method of evangelism far better than your no method.” It may just be that those who are most critical of broadsiding are the ones least qualified to comment. Let God be the judge of that. Nevertheless it is important for Christians to understand the value of broadsiding. It may not be for everyone to do, but for us in Jews for Jesus, it is an important part of our work.
Right now especially, during campaign time in the major cities of the United States, we need Christians to stand with us and to uphold us in prayer as we go out on the noisy streets to sow the precious seed of the gospel. We wouldn’t mind if they even lent a hand, if they felt led.