Keep on the Write Tract!
by Mrs. Ginny Nutz
Have you given your child a writing assignment to describe a memorable moment, narrate a story, explain a process, or use persuasion? These are all profitable forms of writing to help teach sharper communication skills to your child. How about asking your child to create a tool that makes a powerful personal statement about a life-changing decision—his personal salvation testimony tract? This is a great writing project, especially for teens. A three-paragraph plan will give enough information without overwhelming the reader who is a first contact. (Some may want to write a second, more thorough, tract to give to the contact that is seriously searching for answers and therefore willing to read more.)
Before your child begins writing his own testimony, he needs to grab the reader’s attention. A powerful statement or stimulating question will serve as a title and lead into the testimony: "Have a minute?" "What is the most important thing in your life?" "Thanks for your service. Here’s a tip. . ." (designed to enclose a cash tip). The goal is to find some interesting launching point. My husband, who loves skiing, once wrote a tract to use just during a ski trip. He titled it "Life’s a Mogul Field."
After the title comes the first part of the testimony. When the apostle Paul gave his testimony, he began by revealing more than just fact or circumstances of his earlier life. He explained his attitude and relationship to God before his conversion, "who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious" (I Tim. 1:13) "and was zealous toward God" (Acts 22: 3, 4). It is important to understand where the writer is coming from, yet without any distracting facts. Have your young person write of his struggles about God, Christ, and the Bible before his salvation decision. For example, I might say, "I believed the Bible was true, but it didn’t mean much to me personally." One needs to reveal his spiritual background without distracting the reader with many details that do not explain salvation. The writer who includes unrelated specifics of his life—his fondest memory of early childhood, a family trip, and his friends at church—detracts from the focus of the testimony.
The Main Message
Again, Paul’s explanation of his decision is a valuable example. He describes his experience on the road to Damascus: "And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" (Acts 22:7). Your child may have been in a hospital, at a youth retreat, or faced with some troubling tragedy, but the events, circumstances, and place are secondary. The miracle of God’s salvation can become especially clear when the young person explains that what happened in his or her heart is exactly what God can do in everyone’s heart. Why did the child want to be saved? What brought the conviction to believe in Christ? "I knew I was a guilty sinner in God’s sight because . . ." Paul said, "But I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (I Tim. 1:13).
At this point, a few appropriate verses woven into the explanation help the reader see the scriptural truth of salvation. "I realized that in God’s sight I was a sinner just as Romans 3:23 says, ‘For all have sinned and some short of the glory of God.’" Two to four verses are enough. This section of the tract may be one well-developed paragraph or two or three shorter ones. Either way, it should give a complete picture of what salvation is, including the idea that we are sinners needing God’s forgiveness, that Christ died for our sins, and that believing on Him brings eternal life and salvation from sins. The central mission is to present the truth clearly with a personal view. The child needs to be careful not to turn it into a dissertation that will turn off the average reader.
The closing paragraph will be brief. Its main purposes are to praise God for what He has done in the writer’s own life after salvation and to challenge the reader to make some decision. The main focus should be on the readers and what they should think about, decide, and do. Use a couple of key verses to help make the point. Effective endings begin with appealing choices for the reader: "Please take time to consider your own relationship to God." "How do you think God sees you?" The Bible says . . ." If the tract has a clear theme—mogul fields, a trial in life, a comparison to an everyday idea—the conclusion should also clearly tie into that theme.
You may want to provide some way to follow up with further help or counsel, but for personal safety measures, I advise not giving any personal name or phone number to respond to. The best idea is to refer to the reader to your own local church address and phone for further questions. (Many churches have a stamp that can be added at the end after you have printed the tracts.)
The Finishing Touch
The first step in putting the tract into final form is choosing the size and shape. I like a simple five- or six-inch square that folds in half, making a one-page, pocket-sized tract. Help your student to select a font that is readable and to use boldface, underlining, and italics sparingly. Clip art always adds interest. The staff members at most copy businesses are willing to help with reducing the print and aligning the pages so that they fall in the right order on both sides of the paper. The finished tract—copied on good quality cardstock with a catchy title on the front—will be an effective personal tool for giving out the gospel. Once your child has completed the project, the rest of the family may want to develop their own tracts too!
For further writing ideas, Mrs. Nutz recommends The Write Book, published by BJU Press.