Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tipping with a Tract

Sometimes, I hate being known as a Christian. It's not that I'm ashamed of Christ; I'm just ashamed of some of His followers. We do some pretty stupid things in the name of Christ, and the world is laughing (not with us but at us). Ranking up there as one of the dumber Christian activities is tipping with a tract. This is where Christians leave a cheesy gospel tract along with (or God forbid - in the place of) their tip at a restaurant.

There are several "tipping" tracts that Christians can choose from, but this is one of the more popular ones. It starts off by saying...

Thanks! I wanted to leave this with you to thank you for the good service you gave me. Since we might not meet again will you take a minute to read this? I bought these little cards to help me tell others about the wonderful new life that is possible in Jesus...

Seriously, how many waiters or waitresses have stopped dead in their tracks while busing their tables in order to drop to their knees and give their hearts and lives to Jesus right there in the restaurant because of these tracts? I would venture to say none. One tract-receiving waitress had this to say about Christians who tip with a tract:

As a waitress for many years, I always hated working the Sunday lunch crowd. Not just because I didn't want to miss church, but because Sunday church customers were the worst. Nothing like cranky folks who left no tip, a sucky tip, or a tract with either no tip or a sucky tip.

I remember one rude family in particular. I did everything I could to make sure the large party was happy, but the patriarch left a dollar and a tract (a specially designed one that was just for servers about the 'best tip' ever). I followed them to the door and handed the tract back to them, saying they could save it and use it on someone else, as I was simply waiting tables that morning to help pay for seminary, since I'd been on the mission field for the past two years and had not been able to save much.

I have waited tables with a lot of non Christians. I remember one gal who said that she wondered why Jesus was such a big deal if no one would talk about him, just leave a little piece of paper in old language (King James) that no one could understand.

I agree. If Jesus is as important to us as we say He is - and as important as our tracts say He is - then shouldn't we work hard at building relationships, getting to know people, and loving them (like He would) rather than throwing a corny tract their way and running off?

Jesus is not a product to be sold nor is He an item to be advertised on a cheesy tract left on a messy restaurant table (or worse: in a dirty bathroom stall). Leaving a tract and running off does far more to hurt the cause of Christ than it does to help.

Sniper-like, hit-and-run tract-leaving Christians do more to harm and confuse non-believers than they do to help. It would be best if they'd just mind their own business and keep their tracts at home - or better yet, burn them.


Marv Plementosh - One Million Tracts said...

Instead of leaving just a tract or not much of a tip... I NEVER leave just the tip. I always try to share the Gospel with the server, but sometimes their work schedule does not allow that to happen. That is where are good, well written tract left with a GENEROUS tip (Christians take note tips for us should start at 20%! For good or bad service!). And as far to say that a server has never come to Christ through a tract is to assume a lot. I have been thanked on numerous occasions for the tracts I have left with my tip at places I frequent.

Remember there is always a right way to do something and a wrong way... Tracts can work if used effectively when we can't speak...

Marv Plementosh

Chris Tegard said...

Well, I don’t think you could be more wrong about using tracts. I think using tracts in the right situation is a good reminder. I would say that there is very little chance in this country that anyone has not heard about Jesus but it never hurts to remind someone in a respectful way. I used to travel a lot doing ministry with the Christian Motorcyclists Association and often ate in restaurants that I would probably not have a chance to eat at again. I saw many different servers and was often asked about the ministry because I was wearing the CMA colors (large back patch) on my vest or coat. Many of these servers wanted more information but did not have time to have a real conversation, much less develop a relationship while I ate a meal. In a case like this, I would leave a tract along with a generous tip. The tracts were simple but had a toll free phone number where the person could call and talk with a live person. We would plant the seeds by setting a good, Christian example while at the restaurant and provide an invitation for the server to call someone when they had a chance. I think you would be surprised at some of the calls that were received. Also, if the server was already a Christian, they almost always said so and we knew we shared common ground. I find that Christians tend to gravitate to one another. Just so you’ll know, many people were saved as a result of this ministry based on the phone calls that were received. I will agree on one point, I have used tracts in many other places but never in a restroom. If you are interested in other ways we have used tracts effectively, just ask about our water ministry. Climbing off my soapbox.

Chris Tegard

Darcy said...

Mike, I agree with you. Christians do dumb things - so bad that I am embarrassed for them because they don't have the sense to be embarrassed for themselves by their silly or even bad behavior.

Tracts have always made me uncomfortable. They never swayed me as a non-believer. They were hokey, poorly written and seemed to make silly plays for peoples attention. After I became a Christian, I disliked them even more.

As far as tipping goes...I beg to differ. If it is bad or even terrible service your tip should reflect that. Good or great service should reflect that. Period. Giving a good tip for lousy service is like rewarding a child having a tantrum with candy.

Matthew Valdiviez said...

Seems to me that the dirty bathroom stall might just be the one place where a tract could be of some use.

JamesHerzel said...

Pastor Mike:
My comment is on your last paragraph in this blog: "Sniper-like, hit-and-run tract-leaving Christians do more to harm and confuse non-believers than they do to help. It would be best if they'd just mind their own business and keep their tracts at home - or better yet, burn them." This tells me that you don't believe tracts in general is a valid ministry, and that you don't use them yourself. No pastor, who is to equip the saints for service, should hold such a view! Please see my articles at
Thank you for allowing me to comment. In Christ, James Herzel (Glendale, NY)

Jan said...

I don't believe a tract should ever be given without a good tip accompanying. With that said. The Word will never return void. A seed planted is one that will be harvested at some point. Maybe in the restaurant, maybe not. But it will accomplish what it was meant to. Some people haven't gotten to a point where they feel comfortable sharing with a stranger. "religion" is a taboo subject for most unbelievers. We are all at different stages. I think it is good for anyone to step out in faith and share Jesus on any level. I think God will bless their efforts and their 'humaness' won't hinder the spread. It's what He does. When we allow him to use even our shortcomings. We're all growing, from glory unto glory.

unix rab said...

This goes along with my 25% tip:

Server Name (hand written)
Thank you for being our server today. It was a pleasure being served by you. It takes a special person to be able to wait hand and foot on total strangers and cater to their every whim. Sometimes no matter how hard you try to please some individuals, even the best server can’t satisfy all their demands. Sometimes you have a bad day where nothing goes right and wonder if you will have a job at the end of your shift
Tipping used to be offered as an incentive to promote good service. The food service industry has taken FULL advantage of this unique situation. In order for you to make a decent wage, you give the best possible service so as to hopefully receive a profitable tip. While there are general guidelines as to proper tipping etiquette there are no guarantees that a tip will be given! Worse! There is also no way of judging which customers will give a good tip or who will stiff you!
In our spiritual lives, most people feel as though they are a servant to a mysterious God or force. They think that if they work hard enough and provide good enough service to this God that He will weigh the good they’ve done with the bad they’ve done and tip them accordingly with Heaven if they were good enough.
Contrary to popular belief, no matter how good the service you give in life, it can’t gain you entrance into Heaven. If anyone could earn Heaven, the Jesus would not have had to die on the cross! You can only enter heaven if you are perfect. Fortunately, God Himself, through Jesus, was able to fulfill the “perfection requirement” that Heaven demands. Jesus prepaid your total sin bill, tip included. All you have to do is choose whether you will serve Him and be adopted into God’s family, or reject His gift and roll the dice.
Jesus is the ultimate customer. At one time He became a servant here on Earth. The Bible tells us of when Jesus washed his disciples feet, cooked their food, was a wine steward and catered to parties of up to 5000 people and much much more!
Jesus knows your day to day life. He knows you so well that in the “restaurant of life” He calls out for you by name to serve him! He wants to sit at your table. It is you who must choose to serve Him. The reward for serving Jesus is that you are guaranteed eternal life in Heaven. Serving God provides and absolute certainty of life after death. No doubts. No worries.
To serve Him is easy: first, you must acknowledge that He is God and that He came to save you from sin. You must also recognize that you are indeed a sinner – and ask that he forgive you of your sins (things you’ve done wrong). Jesus can hear you wherever you are – even in your heart – simply talk to him (pray) with faith that he hears you and ask Him to save you and fill your heart with his Holy Spirit.
If you accept this invitation – the Bible guarantees you r salvation into Heaven. If you reject this tip today – at least consider the things spoken of in this little note and search your heart with the help of the Bible. Ask God to show you what is true. If you have a Bible – start reading towards the back in a book/chapter called “The Gospel of John” You’ll find the page number in the index at the front. If you have questions…Email! :-)
[ here] It’s the most important decision you will ever make in your life. I’ll try to remember if you’ve served our family before and only give you this note once. Unless you ask for one again! If we can pray for you in any way, - let us know.


Jessica Golden said...

There are these new tracts out there that people will leave a server that actually look like a $10 bill. But you open it up and it begins with some cheesy phrase like "some things are more important than money"...

I may not be a christian, (I am a Pagan), but I remember from when I was a christian that there were more than one bible verse that addresses not to cheat your neighbor of their wages in God's name.