If you have anything to say to me, you will have to come to me. If I want to hear what you have to say, I will have to come to you. I don’t think either of us is likely to make the first move.
Those three sentences triggered a defining moment in Joe Barnett’s ministry. The letter was addressed to him as minister of the Broadway church in Lubbock, Texas. It was a courteous letter, complimenting the church on property and programs, but it was also a wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee letter. It seemed to be hinting that the writer was reachable, but was clearly saying that she was not reachable by present methods—decidedly rejecting an invitation to come to church.
Jesus said to his first-century disciples, “Go!” His modern-day disciples built buildings and said, “Come!”
As a result of that letter, a “Go” ministry was born—Pathway Evangelism. We would go where she was, rather than asking her to come where we were. The method would be print; the delivery system would be mail.
Advantages of Print
- It goes where we can’t: across the street; across the nation; around the world.
- It puts readers in control. They read where they want to, when they want to, at the pace they want to, as many times as they want to.
- It has a long life. A movie has a few weeks to find its audience. A television show flits by in an hour. But a written message can last for generations.
Pathway has produced and distributed over 12 million print pieces, written by Joe Barnett. Thousands more have been distributed by churches and individuals, and hundreds of thousands more around the world by those who have translated the messages into their own languages.
Unplanned Places, Unknown People
Pathway messages show up in places we’ve never sent them and in the hands of people we’ve never known.
We have heard from people who found one of our messages in the magazine pocket on an airplane, in a restaurant booth, in a surgical waiting room, on a downtown Chicago sidewalk, in the belongings of a deceased loved one—and many other places.
This morning I baptized another inmate—that makes 200 in the past 18 months. I mainly use Pathway material in my teaching, because I became a Christian as a result of Pathway messages that were sent to me when I was incarcerated.
My world was coming unraveled—marriage, job, health, everything—when I received a copy of one of your messages. It hasn’t changed my circumstances, but it has given me hope for the future. I treasure it, and read it every morning. I just wanted you to know that you have been holding my hand through a very difficult time.
I had decided to kill myself. Your little paper caused me to change my mind. I just wanted to say thank you.
My twelve-year-old daughter gave me a copy of your message that someone gave her at school. I wouldn’t have given it a second look a year earlier, but it spoke to a crisis my wife and I were facing. We both committed our lives to Jesus last Sunday.
My sister went through drug and alcohol rehab. She has since gone back to the center and used your articles to teach others about God. Your non-judgmental tone causes them to be accepted when other materials are rejected.
Staying relevant demands adapting to changing patterns. Being true to our original determination to go where the people are, rather than demanding that they come to where we are, has drawn us to electronic media—the internet and social media—where large numbers of people get their information today.
The move into electronic media makes it possible to broaden our readership at significantly less cost than is possible with traditional mailings.
Pathway Evangelism, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supported by donations that are tax deductible as allowed by law.
Joe Barnett’s services are donated. He receives no salary from Pathway.