My friends and I were headed to the parking lot after an enjoyable day at the park when suddenly a woman emerged from her car and made a beeline toward us. Before I knew it, The Great Controversy was being pushed wordlessly into my face.
“No thanks,” I said as I gently pushed the book back toward the stranger. “I already have this book.”
She turned to my non-Christian friend and repeated her push-the-book-in-your-face method.
“I have the book too,” he said.
My heart sank as I realized my example had prevented him from receiving a potentially life-changing gift.
I’ve repeatedly replayed that scene in my mind throughout the years, wondering what could have led to a more positive outcome. The thing I keep coming back to is conversation. If the woman had shown interest in us, chances are that one or both of us would have walked away with a book.
But therein lies the problem that this column is intended to address. Not everyone has the gift of gab. Whether it’s because we’re introverts, shy, or socially awkward, many of us become terrified when we think of verbally witnessing to strangers.
Sharing literature makes sense for introverts. We can let the books do the talking. But how can we get books into hands without socially awkward confrontations?
Here are a few ideas:
Drop-off points—The organization Little Free Library is popular right now. Anybody can take or leave a book at any of its 90,000 locations. Leaving one or, at the most, two books in a Little Free Library is a wonderful way to share literature with people looking for something to read.
Geocaches are another place where people trade items. Some geocaches are large enough to leave tracts in. Again, leave only a few. Literature dumps don’t make good impressions.
Holidays—For Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions you can wrap a book in bright paper, include a personal note, and leave the book on a neighbor’s front porch or a coworker’s
At Halloween you can give children’s literature along with candy to trick-or-treaters. Kids love receiving a bonus treat when they come to your door!
Amazing tips—You can leave a tract along with your tip when eating out or in your hotel room. If you’re going to do this, be sure to leave a good—or even great—tip. Showing this kindness will make the recipient more likely to be interested in what you share.
It’s in the mail—Sending books through the postal system is a nice way to share literature without putting anyone on the spot.
One of my favorite ideas is to go through the obituaries and send an appropriate book with a thoughtful note to surviving family members.
For more ideas on how to share literature, check out the book Spread the Word,* available at your Adventist Book Center or Amazon.com. With a little creativity, even introverts can help scatter our literature “like the leaves of autumn.”
* General Conference Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department, Spread the Word (Silver Spring, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2018).
Lori Futcher is an editor for the new Alive in Jesus Sabbath School curriculum that will be released in the next few years.