Question: "Is handing out gospel tracts a good evangelism method?"
Answer: Any method that results in people hearing/reading and understanding the biblical gospel is a good evangelism method. Gospel tracts are small booklets that present the gospel, usually based on a specific theme. The theme may be a holiday, a timely issue, a movie or TV show, a book series, a musician, etc. – there are gospel tracts on virtually every topic imaginable. The goal of a gospel tract is to get the gospel of salvation of Jesus Christ into peoples’ hands in an interesting and easy-to-read format. While the precise origin of gospel tracts is uncertain, there are records of them as early as the 13th century A.D. Gospel tracts were popularized during the Protestant Reformation, and the invention of the printing press made mass-production of tracts much easier and faster. The most well-known gospel tract is likely “The Four Spiritual Laws” written by Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ.
Gospel tracts can be a very effective method of evangelism. Again, if the biblical gospel is presented in a clear and understandable manner, God will use it (Isaiah 55:11). Any time God’s Word goes forth, it is powerful and effective (Hebrews 4:12). People who are not otherwise effective communicators can overcome such a weakness by use of a gospel tract. Gospel tracts are an excellent choice when you simply do not have time to stop and witness to someone. Gospel tracts can be left in strategic locations for people to pick up later and read.
There are perhaps two primary weaknesses/issues with gospel tracts. First, there are several prominent gospel tract publishers who produce tracts in which the gospel is not as clear as it should be. Some of the pseudo-Christian cults are well known for having tract ministries. Before you consider handing out a gospel tract, read it closely and do some research on its publisher. Make sure that the gospel is clearly presented. If the tract endorses a website or other source of information, ensure that the message presented there is biblical.
Second, some people rely entirely on gospel tracts and purposefully avoid directly sharing the gospel with others. Giving someone a gospel tract is easier than personally sharing the gospel. While there are definitely many situations where giving a gospel tract is entirely appropriate, there are other situations where only a personal gospel presentation will suffice. We are all to be ready, willing, and able to share the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15). Gospel tracts can be an important and valuable aspect of sharing the gospel, but it should not be the sole means of our outreach.