Sunday, 12 March 2017

Pause In Lent #2 - The Guy With The Leaflets

I'm sitting typing this on Saturday afternoon - Sunday we are both preaching morning and evening [Bob at UCF, me at 2 different chapels a few miles away] and the day will be busy. Outside my window I can see the lovely pink blossoms on the cherry tree. The bulbs in the garden are blooming - hyacinths, snowdrops, narcissus, daffodils - and the amazing camellia bush has glorious pink blooms [I take no credit for any of these] Spring is definitely here.
And I can see a young guy with a bag on his back walking up the little close opposite - he is going from house to house putting leaflets through the doors. He did our side of the road first, so we have information about a local company who will sort out patios, tarmac and driveways. In fact I have two leaflets, stuck together. Straight into the recycling with them!
I hope he is getting reasonable pay for doing it [maybe it's the family business and he is doing it, unpaid, to help his Dad] At least it is a lovely afternoon - no wind or rain. But generally, shoving things through letterboxes is a pretty thankless task. Depending on the area, you have to contend with stiff front gates, dogs snapping at your fingers, very stiff letterbox flaps requiring two hands, and inconvenient ones at ankle level, and much more besides. And when it is really cold, you can't wear gloves because they prevent you separating the leaflets properly. And doing it when you have a baby in a buggy is even more complicated.
I worked on the Christmas Post once, when a student - and I hated it. I got told off because I did all the odd side of the busy main road, crossed over and did the evens. "You should do half a dozen one side, and then half a dozen the other" said the man at the Sorting Office. People have rung in and complained that their post came later than usual" I explained that for my own safety, I preferred to cross the road just once at the end, rather than back and forth a dozen times, and that furthermore, I'd planned to do the evens then the odds tomorrow, and that  my method was both safer and faster [that was my mistake - he was afraid a more efficient method might result in redundancies for the regular postmen] But I did at least get paid for it. The family got good Christmas gifts that year!
I have delivered leaflets for church events countless times. To be honest, I haven't really enjoyed that either[see letterbox/dog/glove issues above!] But I was doing it not for financial reward, but for love. We had publicity about Christmas or Easter, and I wanted to invite members of my community along, to hear about God's love. 
Churches generally don't do 'leaflet drops' quite as much as they used to. People are reluctant to volunteer [too busy with other things], and there is the cost of the printing, and 95% of the stuff on the mat goes into the recycling bin unread [and many front doors have signs requesting No Leaflets, or Tradesmen] and statistics apparently show that the number of people who came to church because they had a card through the door is a tiny proportion of the recipients of said it doesn't seem a good use of church resources. 
Despite the chart above, even the DMA says the average positive response rate for leaflet drops is just 1%.

I am inclined to agree with the decision to cut back on this sort of publicity. But I find myself challenged by this thought - what am I going to do this Easter with respect to inviting other people to Church? Pushing 20 cards through the doors of neighbours, and scuttling anonymously back down the path, can't really be called 'evangelism' can it? If I believe Easter is not about hot cross buns and chocolate, but about the Son of God conquering death, how do I plan to communicate that to the people around me?


  1. I had a leaflet delivery yesterday, the hapless person took a long time to figure out the letterbox, standard with a wind guard inside, and eventually had one hand right through. I was helpless with silent laughter at the bottom of the stairs, cruel I know but it was a "Monty Python Moment".

  2. Good point, what are we going to do? I always feel guilty about putting the leaflets etc straight into the recycling because of the resources and I feel like I am wasting the time of small businesses who really need the trade and this is their only way of advertising but honestly, I don't really need the services they are offering at the moment.

  3. This last is one of my burning questions this Lent. I do think that invitations to events are part of a journey, but the key moments are still one-to-one. We all need to connect, properly, not just virtually.


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