I’m meeting up with a friend today, to discuss his PhD. Now, I know lots of friends who have one of those scary beasts, and they chose scary big subjects: Hebrew vowel pointing in Ezekiel; the influence of Philo on Hebrews; the debate between John Owen and Richard Baxter. Basically, stuff that makes you go, ‘Huh?’ Or, ‘That sounds really interesting. Can I read it when… it comes out in paperback?’
My friend has chosen the simplest topic I’ve ever heard about for a PhD: the influence of a little booklet called ‘Journey into Life’, by Norman Warren For Christians of my generation it’s an instant nostalgia hit: that little green booklet, with a road sign on the front cover, gave thousands of us the simplest possible route into how to become a Christian. I wrote something last week, and used one of its ideas again. And it’s still in print, revised and refreshed.
Drop dead simple.
First, this wasn’t the only booklet around. David Watson had one. Michael Green had several. So did John Stott – in fact, loads of people had them. And there are lots of them around today as well: Nicky Gumbel has a few, and Rico Tice has produced some very useful stuff. We still need different styles of booklets for different readers.
But second, I’m willing to bet that none of them has your name on the front cover – so why not? I’m not suggesting that you write the next Christian best seller, but think on this: if you give an evangelistic talk, the best booklet to give away would be one that you’d written yourself. And these days, self publishing is so easy, so simple, that if you’ve got access to a photocopier you’re good to go. And if you get more ambitious, there are loads of companies on the web who’d run off a few hundred for you, cheap as chips.
Third, I’m also willing to bet that at some point you’ve thought, ‘I’d love to give out a booklet on (whatever), but there isn’t one.’ I had that thought a couple of weeks ago, because I’d done an evangelistic talk and wanted to give something to people who had just become Christians. And I couldn’t find anything. All the stuff I could find was parked one step back. There was nothing on Assurance for a new believer. Back in the day, ‘Journey Into Life’ had a partner booklet called ‘The Way’, on how to pray, read your Bible, confess your sin, tell your friends about your new faith, all in short, easy to read sections. But that is out of print.
So, I set to, and produced something to fill the gap. Just me, my computer and our church copier, and last Sunday it sat quietly at the back of church, ready for people who wanted it. Is it perfect? Of course not. But it’s ours.
How about writing something to give away at funerals you take, or weddings? Something on your church’s approach to baptism, or the Lord’s Supper? Or, like I’ve tried to do.
No, you can’t see my booklet. That would be cheating. To quote the passive-aggressive fruit farmer, ‘Pick Your Own Strawberries.’