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I have been asked to write my thoughts about the task of distributing.

Distributing is much more than just getting out a quota of books. However, if you are not in the Spirit, if you are not inspired when you go out distributing, then I can pretty much say that getting out some books is all it will be to you, and it will seem like a boring repetitive task you can't wait to finish for the day. We all know that an enthusiastic person will always get out more books than someone who has no enthusiasm for the job. But there is much more to the job than getting out a lot of books.

So, I am going to give some tips on how to be an inspired distributor and evangelist.

Start, by recognising that you are not merely there to get out books. The real aim of going out distributing is to meet new people, so that ultimately we may inspire them to become disciples.

Our theory (about living by faith in obedience to Jesus) may be perfect, but we humans are not. Yet we are asking people not to only trust in our theory, but also to literally put their lives in our hands by living with us seven days a week. That's a big ask. After all, why would someone want to come and live with us with all our faults!

We have to be such a good sample of that theory when they meet us, that they will be inspired to believe that our theory is true, and that we are genuine in our love for them as people. As Dave has written, many people will ignore a teacher with all the right theory, but will follow a pastor with wrong doctrine simply because they believe the pastor cares about them. (See Pastors and Teachers.)

As we all know it is difficult to start up conversations with strangers, but that is what we must do, and what we must inspire the strangers to do. Literature helps us to get started. The people we are trying to reach are usually more nervous than us about talking to a stranger. However, offering them a book gives them something to focus on while taking that first awkward step of talking to a stranger.

Once a person has stopped to look at the book, it will (at least in part) be your interpersonal skills and the Holy Spirit shining through you that will determine whether or not you win that soul for Jesus. In a real sense YOU are the Word made flesh to that person, and they are trying to make up their mind (though they don't say it) whether or not you are genuine about what you say you believe, or whether you are just a religious fanatic trying to sell them a book. You have a very short time in which to get across to them, the lost sheep, that you really are interested in them, and that they are not just so many customers.

Some people are genuinely busy, and they do not want to stop and talk to you. They will just take the book and run. If this happens, let them go on their way. But I try to pray about every person who stops, so that if the moment is right, I can develop the conversation further.

The easiest way to do this is to ask questions about the person. Don't expect the person to ask you questions; sometimes they are too shy or afraid to do so. When you ask questions about them, you are showing that you are personally interested in them.

It could be about their nationality, about their work, whether they are having a good week or not. None of these questions is directly spiritual, but they are important steps for people to go through before they are going to start opening up to you about their private thoughts. They need to feel that you are not going to threaten them emotionally if they do decide to open up. Some people are particularly wary of Bible bashers who do just that. So talking religion immediately is not always the best tack to take with someone.

Remember that Jesus has promised to give us the right words to say to meet peoples' needs. Some people have physical needs, and some people have spiritual needs. We have to address the need which is uppermost in the mind of the person at the time. Sometimes, once we have sought to help someone physically, they will be more ready to listen to our religious theory afterwards.

I have been impressed by something I have seen Paul do. Often he offers the book to someone, but they initially say no. So he puts the book away, and just asks a friendly question or two. Often, after a short friendly chat, the person then asks him for a book!

Why? Because they got over their initial stranger defensiveness and they saw Paul as a genuine person who showed interest in them. In return they showed interest in Paul by getting his book.

The book is what people read after they leave you, but all the while they are with you they are reading YOU, and while they are reading the book, they will be thinking about what you were like when they met you. If they had positive feelings about the encounter with you, and if they enjoy reading the book, they will be much more motivated to seek you out, meet you again, or write for another book.

As far as I am concerned, having a few positive conversations with people on the street makes my day. They don't have to be long conversations (Save those for evenings or lunch breaks), but conversations do make your distributing time more interesting, than if you are focusing solely on getting out books. Sure, you can rush through the day to maximize your lit tally, but I think that in the end you may become burnt out and disillusioned with your distributing. By changing your attitude and focus, you will look forward to going out and really winning souls each day.

We are out there to show God's love to people. But we can't love them unless we meet them first and somehow get involved with their lives.

If you are not inspired about distributing, then you will have to pray for the enthusiasm to become so, and to develop a real love for the lost sheep. Jesus promises to give you the power, i.e. the inspiration to be his witness, so that you can light up that street with your enthusiasm and your happiness and your love for the lost. People are attracted to such a light, like a moth to a flame. It's true that you will have to sift through hundreds of goats each day while you wait patiently for a sheep to come along. Don't be discouraged when that happens. Just remember that you have to plow before you can plant, and plant before you can reap.

Each day there are will be a few people who appreciate your faithfulness in putting up with all that rejection, just so that you could eventually meet them. You never know what time of the day that sheep will come by, so watch and pray, and be ready. That's your job as an evangelist.

Enjoy Fishing!

(See also Tracts.)

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