Using fake money for your real God.

Someone named “Tico and Tina” posted this on Instagram and asked if it were doing more harm than good.

Fake Money Tract

I am willing to accept it as good if you can show me an example of where Christ did something similar.

When he met the woman at the well, did he hand her a bucket, watch her try to drink only to find it empty and then say, “Disappointed? You won’t be disappointed in the living water?” Did he not engage with her at all and instead just leave some fake drachmas by the well?

And when he healed someone, did he ever just pretend heal them and then say whatever was Aramaic for “Pysch! Disappointed your leg is still crippled? God’s love will never disappoint you.”

I don’t remember any of that ever happening but I’m no scholar. I’m just a handsome blogger, but maybe there’s more to life than just being really, really, really ridiculously good looking?

Let’s quit creating tracts that try to sucker punch people into Jesus.


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  1. Jon says

    Not quite the same, but I’m thinking the lame man healed at by Peter and John. He was expecting money from them, and didn’t get it. Instead he was healed, and felt great about it. However, just think of what that healing had done for him. It had taken away a reliable income and purpose, and meant that he had to change his life to learn how to fend for himself. Certainly a change for the better, but maybe not the instant “happily ever after” story we hear about and think about.

    • says

      You could argue that Peter and John gave that man something more valuable than money, and that this tract offers something “more valuable than money”…

      Except that Peter and John gave that man something that allowed him to MAKE more money, and which would raise his standing/reputation in that society (since it was assumed that disabilities were a sign that God was punishing you).

      So in this case it’s more like tipping your waitress with the title to a new car.

      • Helen Leckie says

        most of the time Jesus asked people what they wanted or whether they wanted to be healed. We don’t hear about the ones who said ‘no thanks, I just want money’…

  2. says

    I find it hard not to hate people who use these things. [insert smiley emoticon to take off the edge of the use of the word “hate.”] :)

    Seriously…it’s hard not to sometimes.

    [Insert “Just sayin’ and/or “Bless their hearts]

    • Matthew Hinton says

      Why? For some, like me, have a hard time talking with people or sharing my faith. I have PTSD so being around people makes me very uncomfortable. This is a non threatening way to say, I Care.

      • Liz says

        Then write a note to tell someone that you care. Making something look like money specifically to make them pick it up – only to say “Psych! I’m testifyin’!” – is manipulative. If I were on the receiving end of that, I’d roll my eyes, curse all Christians for being idiots, and chuck the paper in the trash where it belongs.

      • Paula says

        I agree with Liz. I’m sorry that your PTSD makes it difficult for you to communicate your true feelings. Please do not put undue pressure on your self to share your faith with your waitstaff. I was a waitress in high school and college. I would have been annoyed if even Mr. Billy Graham tried to evangelize me while I was working. The best way to show your waitstaff you care is to be generous and leave a nice note.

      • Beth says

        Just wanted to give a piece of advice from someone who is a waitress, there are many non threatening ways to reach out as a Christian. 1) leave a tip larger than 20% if you are financially able along with a smiley maybe saying God Bless. Those few words go a long way when left with a generous tip. 2) simply be very nice to your waitress and be very patient, letting them know that it’s ok if they don’t return to you within 5 seconds with something you ask for. 3) say something like ” I really appreciate your service, I’m thankful for you and the work you do in serving me so I can have a nice lunch out of the home. Bless you, etc.. Basically to a waitress, the kinder you are the better they feel, and more likely to say “hey maybe I should look into this Christian thing”… Don’t be rude, don’t be impatient, don’t use lengthy words to talk about God, like writing a bunch of bible verses or sayings about how they better get saved or they’ll go to hell. It doesn’t work to bring anyone to the faith. You’ll just push them away. :) hope that helps you out a little!

  3. says

    I dislike these almost as much as the ‘big spenders’ who leave Gospel tracts instead of a decent tip for a waitress or waiter. If you wanna leave a tract, fine–just wrap it in a few dollar bills.

    • says

      Nothing drives me more bonkers than when I hear people are handing these out, I get outright undignified when I hear they’ve left them as their tip for their server at a restaurant.

  4. says

    A buddy of mine worked at IHOP when we were in college, and a table of really difficult people left one of those as a tip (along with a whole extra dollar!). He said if he weren’t already a Christian, he’d want nothing to do with Jesus after that encounter.

    • Trish says

      When I was waiting tables in college I served a church youth group that took up my entire section for well over an hour…when they left, this was ALL they left for me! I was appalled that this was how they would witness to others…I still experience anger when I think about it!

  5. Erin says

    I love this because it’s truth but mostly because of the Zoolander reference. One of the many reasons I will continue to read what you write!

    • Emily says

      Totally agree. Unless you use them as a tool to sit with someone, LISTEN to them, and walk through as a Gospel explanation, it’s almost useless.

  6. Phillip says

    Saying these do more harm than good would suggest that they do good in the first place. These show a Jesus that is cheap, manipulative, absentee, and impersonal. After spending more time than I would like to admit in the service industry, I have yet to meet someone who has been elated when presented with a tract. To the person who wrote these tracts in the first place. I am prepared to accept your apology.

    • says

      “Saying these would do more harm than good would suggest they do good in the first place.”

      My thought exactly. “1 Weird Trick to Ruin Your Witness”

    • says

      I meant the “doing more harm than good?” thing as a rhetorical question… when I found this, I never dreamed people actually left these as tips. Apparently there are lots of versions of these. As indicated by a couple of comments, these have done some good – I’m just betting not as tips… the only way I could see these being effective is if they were left some random place for someone to find when their heart was ready for God to speak to them – he does speak in seemingly strange ways sometimes and this could be a personal word to the right person. I’m not sure I’ve ever run across a tract that I personally actually felt was well-written, though.

  7. Ryan says

    I did some tract evangelism a number of years ago with million dollar bill tracts. They were fun to use to go up to businessmen walking down the street and ask them if they had change for a million. It was a good way to break the ice. A means to a conversation.

    • says

      Kudos, because that’s the only way I could see these being actually useful- as a sort of joke and an opening to talk to someone. Well done.

      Now, I just wish the people who think it’s cute to leave them for a hard-working waitress would get a clue!

  8. Kari says

    When my husband was a waiter he would tell me about these types of things that would come in instead of tips. It’s pretty sad that the Sunday afternoon crowd was considered the worst tippers by far. He saw more waiters upset and angry over these than anything. They do much more harm than good and give Christians a bad name in my opinion.

  9. says

    As someone who worked in food service all through college. . . .


    Try being the known Christian amongst the staff after someone gets a tract like this instead of money they are counting on to pay their bills. Hard to spin that into a ‘God is Love’ moment. ;)

    And I agree with Bill Young. If you want them to actually consider what you have to say, show them kindness. Tip better than non-Christians. And if you leave a tract, wrap it in a large bill.

  10. Elliott says

    Maybe this is actually a Federal Reserve Juke. It’s all in how you look at it.
    I do have to agree with the restaurant references. My pastor has a much more engaging way to get their attention. When the server delivers the meal, he tells them we are going to pray and asks if they have anything they would like us to pray about.
    After the meal, they get a regular tip.
    At lunch after church yesterday, the server’s response was, “No, I’m good.” But when we left, his memory will be that the annoying Christians at table 106 tried to pray for him, and yet, they still fully valued his service when he declined.
    One Christian plants, another waters, and still another harvests.

  11. Drew says

    There are many people (I’m not one of them) who still believe in using tracts as an attempt to evangelize. While I agree that tracts could lead to frustration (especially the fake money), and aren’t effective ways to evangelize, there are plenty of genuine folks who enjoy leaving them or passing them out…
    How about leading others to authentic methods of building relationships to share their faith, rather than just using sarcastic humor to confront the issue?
    Truth is, at least where I’m from, most folks who leave tracts are older folks who’s hearts are right.
    I usually love the sarcastic, humorous prose in which you confront some of the idiocies in the Christian world today. However, this seems like a post and forum that could lead to us unintionally ‘shooting our own.’
    Just my thoughts. Thanks for your work!

      • Drew says

        He’s part of the church. So are you, if you are a believer. So, it is your job as a Christian. And, Jon has a big platform. I love him and the humor. We’ve used his resources at church. But, thought I’d add to the conversation that good people can be misguided and not ‘wrong’. Conversely, someone can be confronting something ineffective and sound judgmental and unloving. I’m afraid that this conversation can lead to many of us feeling we have a monopoly on what’s “cool” and (maybe) effective. That’s fine to express that, but solutions to lead good-hearted people to more effective ways of sharing the love of Christ could follow and be helpful. This more than just a church leaders job. You should display it.

    • says

      The question of whether people “enjoy handing them out” is not particularly relevant to the question of whether they annoy, disappoint, or anger people, and therefore represent inconsiderate behaviour.

      The guy who drives down the road with his car radio blaring at maximum volume may enjoy that too, but it’s also inconsiderate.

  12. L says

    I HATE tracts! I had a man hand me one once and I threw it back at him and shamed him in front of a crowd full of people. I asked how dare he presume to know the status of my relationship with the Lord! I continued to berate him for his callous turn and burn tract and told him he would do the Lords work slightly better if he took the money spent on those useless things and fed some homeless people with it instead. WWJD? Well it wouldn’t be stand on a street corner and judge random passersby and hand out useless trash!

    • says

      Do you think it would have been to publicly shame someone who had good intentions?

      I don’t care for tracts, but I know people who came to Christ because someone gave them one.

      • Drew says

        Thank you Melody. I do too.
        I’m a pastor. A nice man gave my three sons a Tract for kids at the grocery store, along with a dollar coin. It was the sweetest gesture and led to great conversations with my kids. This man hands them out all the time and has the best intentions and a kind heart.

    • says

      Wow. That’s…wow. He must have gotten you on a particularly bad day..

      They make me roll my eyes, but I don’t get mind-blowingly angry about them…unless they’re Chik Tracts. There’s something seriously wrong with the extreme “Turn or BURN” philosophy..

  13. Laura Danella says

    While I totally agree that tracks don’t work….relationships work. I have to say that in mine and my husband’s walk with Jesus, that exact track was used. Without giving you the long version… I had accepted Jesus but had not established a personal relationship & my husband was catholic and had also no personal relationship. Over a period of about 6 months during our struggle to conceive our first child we kept getting clues…signs….and whispers from God. A nun, a local evangelist, our “cult like” landscapers and finding this track…. God wanted personal relationships with us and it was clear he was going to keep on us until we found our way to him. So for us….it was part of a series of OK OK we’ll go to church…which led us to deeper relationships with Christ himself………..

    • H says

      My uncle wrote “The Four Spiritual laws.” Tracts work…big time …just not in every situation and every time. For decades , when everywhere someone looked, there wasn’t a solicitation, tracts were “the in thing.” And all effective salesman know, if ya can get the customer to accept something in their hand, and better yet put an agreement in writing (ie accepted The Lord), ya got one committed buyer. And that’s a beautiful thing in the Kingdom of God.

      #fortracts #notfalse$

  14. Crystal C says

    If that doesn’t stop people from giving these out, hopefully this will: I use to be a server and my co-workers knew I was a Christian. Whenever they would receive one of these or something similar they would give it to me.
    Also, I believe these things are so impersonal and (I’m about to juke here) we don’t serve that kind of Christ.

  15. Kiki says

    Hello Jon,

    Since so many people commented on the issue of Christians leaving tracts instead of tips, can you write something about it (or repost/update something you’ve already written)? Actually, could you address Christian tipping practices, period? Christian servers hear the heinous comments from their fellow servers after waiting on Christians. The arrogance, running servers around like slaves, pastors announcing who they are and acting like royalty, people actually inviting them to their church after being the most difficult guests, drinking water and tea while making belittling comments about why they don’t order alcoholic beverages, and THIS one tops your dreadful dollar bill Bible tracts: the Christian who writes, “If God only gets 10%, why should I give you 15%?” on the check and leaves a crummy tip. I’ve been told we are also the worst customers on Sundays at grocery stores, too.

    • says

      I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from my waitress friends too. I can’t help but wonder about the hearts of the people who do those things. Especially some that go well beyond just being snippy or cheap and right into verbal abuse and sexual harassment.

      I knew some guys who tried to make up for it by leaving gigantic tips whenever they ate out.

      I can’t leave gigantic tips, but I tip well and I just try to be nice. Especially on Sunday.

  16. GraftedByGrace says

    No one should not rely on a single (& antiquated) strategy of witnessing to people. What was once a popular tool doesn’t necessarily make it relevant or effective by today’s standards.

    We can discuss this more after I have my venti orange-mocha frappuccino!

  17. Briggs says

    I received one of these as a tip once. It was accompanied by a very small cash tip (like 5%). It was incredibly aggravating.

  18. Jeanne says

    I personally believe that only “fake” Christians leave these as tips. I believe it qualifies one as a “deceiver and a liar”, and they will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  19. Kaitlin says

    I’m a Christian and I’ve been extremely frustrated when receiving these as tips. I usually toss them before any of my coworkers see them, because it’s just a bad witness. Unless you want to leave an actual tip that’s at least that size or more. Even then, it seems like you’re trying to buy someone into the kingdom. Just strike up a conversation. If you want to bring written material, bring something with a little more depth, and make it credible by your actions before you even think about bringing it out. *steps off soap box* I’m done now…

  20. vix says

    This example dollar tract is downright friendly compared to the ones I’ve seen here in NZ, which are all about HELL always in capitals, and often rant on about adulterers and i think they are designed to blow around like trash so presumrably some person thinks they’ve lucked into “oh hey wow A hundred bucks!”

  21. says

    I love to hear people’s stories! This love means that I often ask people about their faith journey/testimony. In 42 years of living, I have NEVER had someone tell me that they came to Jesus after reading a tract or because someone screamed at them from a bench in a public place. NEVER!

    • Annie says

      True Kaci and I understand your point. But mYbe those people weren’t as hard headed or hard hearted as those whose only means to even remotely accept the gospel was through a tract! It wouldn’t have been effective with me and probably would have turned me off but I was super sensitive. If I did something wrong you only had to look at me and I’d repent!! Some people are not as tender-hearted and may need a different approach. That’s what I love about God. He knows exactly the approach each human being needs. Bless you!!

  22. Tiffany says

    I’ve heard of people who just happened upon a tract that someone else tossed away and are now doing great things for the gospel. So they can be effective.

    That said, using this particular tract as a replacement for a tip is a horrible witness. What happened to generosity?

    • Annie says

      Glad you are part of the family Mo! I accepted The Lord as my Savior at a young age (22). I am so glad I did but in the span of eternity death bed conversions are highly recommended and heartily accepted by the Father! Blessings!

  23. says

    I admire the fact that are thinking outside the box.

    Effective? Who knows…ya never know.

    God can even use the often stupid things that come out of our mouths, with respect to the gospel of His Son.

    • says

      very true, he does use our stupidity, so I’m sure that there have been some people helped by these, but judging from the response from all the waiters and waitresses I’d say it’s the exception. I was flabbergasted to find out that people actually left these as tips and NO real money… I had assumed when I found it that someone might leave it laying around in a random location or like in a book or something, NEVER as a tip!

  24. Annie says

    I can appreciate those comments where people say it’s trickery -kind of a bait and switch tactic which can be annoying. On the flip side it may be the one thing that gets people to think about eternity. If this was done under the leading of the Holy Spirit-that’s all that’s needed. Jesus spit on some dirt and rubbed it in a man’s eyes. Ewwwggghhhh! But was done because He said He only did what the Father told him to do. If the fake money thing, on the other hand was done out of fear or compulsion-only the person (people) doing it and The Lord know their own motivation. Jesus said to his disciples when they were talking about other people doing something in His Name who weren’t of their band: essentially–if they are for us they aren’t against us. (My paraphrase) Mark 9:38-41

    • says

      Yeah, I’m suuuuuure that a waiter who receives this in lieu of a tip will think “OMG I need to dedicate my life to Jesus” instead of “screw you people for leaving me this instead of a tip”.

  25. says

    “but maybe there’s more to life than just being really really really ridiculously good looking?”
    You need to learn humility from Jesus. I’m kidding…a little (insert ‘halo’ smiley here)

  26. Brenda says

    I agree that just leaving tracts (especially ones that look like dollar bills) or just handing them out doesn’t work. However, using them as a conversation starter does.

    I was having a very bad day one day a few years ago. My housemate had just kicked me out of her house. I was at walmart wondering what to do, and was sitting on the bench by the doors. An elderly gentleman came up and sat next to me. He said he noticed I looked kind of down and was wondering if he could pray for me. I told him (briefly) what was up. He asked if I knew Jesus. I said I did, but would appreciate his prayers. He prayed for me. Then (and only then), he reached into his suit pocket and pulled out a list of Bible verses of encouragement and handed them to me. I saw him leaf through several tracts before finding the one he gave me. It appears this man knows how to do tract evangelism:
    1) He talked with me FIRST to see what my need was.
    2) He prayed with me.
    3) He had tracts of several different varieties for many different purposes.

    It worked. I went home encouraged.

    • Helen Leckie says

      hey, that’s lovely. I have never heard of tracts being used in this way, and have always steered clear of them. It’s encouraging to know that they can have a place if used sensitively as you describe.

  27. Jeff says

    When I lived in the Cincinnati area in the late 90’s a kid ran into the street (on Glenway Ave. in the Western Hills area) thinking he was chasing a $100 bill, got hit by a car, and later died. The $100 bill ended-up being a bible tract.

  28. says

    Very glad to see this post. My son plays Christian music and he and his band are based out of Nashville. They have been signed to a record label and things are progressing for them however until they get to the point that they can all make a living at this, most of the band waits tables. My son, on several occasions has received one of these as his TIP. His only TIP. No they didn’t wrap it in a real twenty or even a real five they just laid that tract right on the table and thought they were doing a good thing. He told me that most of the waiters in his restaurant have certain names they use for the pastors who come in with their big Bibles and lay them on the table. Then they are loud and rude to the waiters and then they don’t tip. It is a horrible witness for our Lord. Ever since my son told me this my wife and I have really increased our own tipping. That’s the way believers should be if they want to leave a good impression on the waiter. Leave a tract, sure but wrap it in a large bill. That way the waiter may actually read it.

  29. Helen Leckie says

    We handed out real money as a stunt once – – it’s unbelieveably hard to give away. This has been tried all over the world, so it’s not just that my husband (the guy in the video) might look kind of scary if you don’t know him…The point was that people are looking for the catch, which is kind of why people hold back from accepting the promises of Jesus. Regretting now that we didn’t use it as an evangelism tool to talk to people in the street about the kingdom rather than just using it as an illustration to show the young adult group at church.


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