Sunday, August 19, 2007

County Fair Evangelism

The Lord put it on my brother’s heart to have another County Fair outreach this year, and last week was the week…

A lot of planning and preparation goes into the Fair Outreach. The main concept was to give out free, ice-cold, soda and water, along with gospel tracts (Isaiah 55:1). Last year, in order to draw traffic, I had also made a lot of balloon animals and hats – which we found to be incredibly effective! This year I "trained" a number of others in making some of the basic balloon animals and hats (it’s amazingly easy to do the balloon twisting, and there isn’t a tremendous need for lots of variety in the shapes). Animals are hardest to do, but many of the children simply want bright, big, colorful hats - and those are simple!

Our booth location was in a different space this year, which was a mixed blessing. We estimate that we had about half the traffic that we had last year when we were directly across from the Carnival. But, we felt we were able to have as many, if not more, conversations with people in sharing the gospel. We ended up giving away between two and three thousand gospel tracts. I estimate that we made almost two thousand balloons throughout the week. And we definitely gave away a lot of water and soda! In fact, simply transporting the heavy coolers full of water and soda is one of the biggest challenges for the week (and one of the hottest jobs!).

The Fair started on a Tuesday, which was the first day of the summer that we were issued a Heat Advisory in our region. Of course, the Heat Advisory continued through the end of the Fair. Each night, as we drove to the Fairgrounds, the temperature was close to 100 degree’s, and the heat index was between 105 and 110. And, standing in the sunshine usually adds another 20 or so degree’s to the heat index. Since we usually started at the booth an hour or hour and a half before sunset – we didn’t have to worry about getting cold!.

I spent time before the Fair researching tracts. For those that are curious what we used, here are some of them:

Ronald Reagan Million Dollar Bills – we found these million dollar bills this year that we really like. They feature President Ronald Reagan on the front and have a more detailed gospel message on the back (more detailed than the million dollar bill). Another booth at the fair was handing out LivingWater’s million dollar bills (and we had some of those, too), so it was nice to have something different. We also had some of the Billion Dollar Bills on hand for those that “already had the million.” Sometimes, with a child, I would ask if they wanted a million or a billion, and every time I asked, they were always sharp enough to choose the billion.

What If? - We had a different tract “focus” for each night of the fair- and the “What If?” tract was one of them. We always tried to give out the main tract of the night along with one of the more detailed tracts (see the next two tracts).

Some of the tracts we ordered from

Are You Good Enough to Go to Heaven - This is a VERY detailed, text-heavy tract. But it does a good job of presenting the gospel. I tried to give out one of these to almost any adult that came by for a soda, and a lot of the youths as well. Sometimes I would give out a million dollar bill along with this tract.

Are You A Good Person? Comic - This is another one that we gave out to many people. It is good for adults, but also ideal for teenagers. If I didn’t give out the text-based one (above) to someone, I always tried to make sure I gave them this one. There were even times during the week that we would offer this tract to a teenager who had already received it earlier in the week, and we would then have the opportunity to discuss the tract with them and see what they thought of it.

Hey Kids - I gave out a lot of these to children after making them a balloon. As I handed it to the child I would make sure it was OK with the child’s parents, and none of the parents ever said "no". A number of parents were even glad when I shared it was a gospel tract which talked about the 10 commandments and heaven and hell. This is an excellent (probably the best I’ve found yet) presentation of the gospel to children. So many children grow up false beliefs about salvation and believe they are saved despite having never repented and without having been born again. This tract helps plant seeds by encouraging children to memorize the ten commandments.

Everything Man has Learned about Women - There are many teen aged “couples” at the Fair. Interestingly enough, this year I also witnessed two verbal fights between boyfriends/girlfriends. We ordered a number of these little booklet tracts to have on hand through the week. (for those that don’t know what the tract is: it is a small 24-page booklet that is blank, and has the gospel message in small print inside the back cover) I ended up giving more of these to fellow's that were in their upper teen’s or early twenty’s (whether or not they had a girlfriend with them). Everyone enjoyed them and it opened the door for a number of conversations.

IQ Triangle Cards - When making balloons for children (whether it was an animal or a hat), we would always talk with them. With teenagers, it was always the gospel. With younger children, it varied. Sometimes it was just about the Fair and school (which was starting the next week) – and then we would give them some children’s tracts afterwards. I gave a lot of these tracts out to teenagers after asking about school starting the next week, and then saying the card was a little bit of an early reading test. We had a lot of fun with these… I would always share that I had missed it until I read the back, and I shared that the gospel message was on the back.

Because we had so many tracts we again wore "work apron belts". We bought them from Home Depot last year for about $1/each. A number of people, last year, wondered if Home Depot sponsored the booth. This year, we covered the Home Depot logo up. In trying to match up the most appropriate tract to each person that we met during the week, I would usually have 10 to 15 different types of tracts in my apron at one time (usually two or three copies of each one) and would have to step to the back of the booth to grab a few more quite often.

We had a number of very interesting interactions throughout the week. I’ll try to share some of those next…


BiblicalFirst said...

Thank you for sharing. I've been discussing the use of tracts in evangelism with a friend and your testimony here was helpful. I think my conclusion from our conversations is that regardless of the type of evangelism, we must guard against giving false assurance of salvation. That is important weather we are using tracts, witnessing face to face, or sharing the gospel publicly. I heard an evangelist (R. C.?) who said he was leery of giving people a sinners prayer, because they might think that if they said or read a prayer they would get fire insurance.

Of course, talking about what we shouldn't do is easy. What really matters is the action we take.

I have a few of these tracts, but I'm particularly interested in a few more of them.

Thanks again.
In Christ: Nate

BiblicalFirst said...

One minor problem I've run into is how to carry tracts with me. Since the main time I am in public is in connection with my construction work or my real estate investment business, tracts don't last well in my pants pockets. The tall tracts also don't stay in my shirt pocket when I bend over. Thus I have found the small booklet tract, "Something to think about" by Comfort, good because it is small, and yet has length. I've tried putting tracts in a pint bag to protect them from sweat while I work but that makes them awkward to get at. Of course I have my laptop bag if I'm traveling and the glove compartment in the truck. Those are also not good all the time. I guess a little more creative thinking is all that is needed.
May God prepare the way before you.