Wednesday, 06 March 2013
I have come to believe that taking the initiative to “call on” Jehovah's Witnesses can be surprisingly fruitful. Whether it’s done by email, mail, phone, or in person, it creates a completely different dynamic than responding when they arrive at our doorsteps.
It is important to realize that the Witnesses have been taught that their preaching work is an incontrovertible proof that they have the truth. They are taught that no other groups go door to door in an organized fashion, and most members of “Christendom” -- false Christians, all who are not JWs -- don’t witness at all. In the light of these assumptions, imagine their surprise when a Christian shows up with the express purpose of witnessing to them. This in itself can plant a seed of doubt, even before much is said.
Another advantage to taking the initiative is that this way, the Witnesses will be the ones taken off guard. They are used to being the ones arriving unexpectedly, usually taking the householders unaware and often unprepared. When we go to the JWs, we can be much more prepared through study and prayer.
All of us have been called on by Jehovah's Witnesses numerous times, and we can use this as leverage when approaching them. If the Witness tries to reject a discussion, we can mention how many times his people have come to our door. “I always warmly welcome Witnesses at my door and invite them in. I’m more than happy to have a Bible discussion with them any time.” Usually they realize this is fair enough, and become more open.
Although a few will respond by getting nervous, annoyed, or even angry, many will respond favorably. Some will even commend us for our zeal and boldness in preaching. This is a very positive indiator, and can open the door to sharing about how most Christians view evangelism. We do witness, but not in a uniform manner. We evangelize as individuals, as we are led by the Holy Spirit, in accordance with our own spiritual gifts and personality. We can also mention how we share the Gospel simply for the love of Christ and others, and certainly don’t report our time on a slip that is sent to headquarters.
Occasionally, a Witness will see the humor and irony in the situation. One man exclaimed to me, "You're flipping the switch on us!" to which I replied, "Yes! That's it exactly!" We then laughed together over it, resulting in a lowering of his defenses and a productive discussion.
If you feel led to try this direct approach, here are a few suggestions:
1. Don’t hesitate to say “I’m here (or am writing, calling ,etc) to witness to you.” It may be counter-intuitive, but it is a key to this direct approach, and goes over quite well.
2. Pay no attention to how they appear to be responding. A Jehovah's Witness will almost never give any indication of any doubts they have regarding the Watchtower, or reveal any discontent with their experience or congregation.
3. Don’t get sidetracked. They will inevitably bring up their signature teachings as red herrings, whether it be Paradise Earth, the faithful slave, new light, etc. Firmly insist that you don’t see Paradise Earth or whatever it may be, in this Scripture. Ask them if it is a legitimate method of Bible interpretation to read these topics into any passage of Scripture, no matter how unrelated.
4. Don’t be drawn into a discussion of the Trinity at this point. If asked what church you go to, say you prefer to be known as a follower of the Lord Jesus, and appreciate and learn from various Christian traditions.
5. Do share your testimony and the joy of being a born-again Christian. Mention the peace you enjoy by trusting in what Christ has done, and not in your own works and performance.
6. Do learn from former Jehovah's Witnesses who have become Christians. They are a valuable resource in understanding the mindset of JWs and improving our methods of reaching them. They can be easily found online, and are usually eager to help Christians witness to the Witnesses!
Let’s gather some phone numbers, addresses, and emails, give it some prayer, and go out in service!
What has your experience been with the Jehovah's Witnesses? Do you speak to them when they approach your home or do you pretend you're not there? What are some other helpful ways we can begin to dialogue with members of the Jehovah's Witnesses to seek understanding and share God's love?