Updated: Jun 1
When Jehovah Witnesses come to my door there are two things that I always do. And these two things help me to accomplish my ever present goal.
Perhaps that sounds odd to you, that I have a goal when meeting a person, but hear me out because I think this makes a boat load of sense, and in the case of JWs, all the difference.
Very often when I meet people my goal is to listen or to bite my tongue or to speak the truth in love or any number of things. Having a goal helps me to grow in virtue and helps others to re-evaluate how they perceive Christians.
So when JWs come to my door my goal is to evangelize them. I am a Christian, that is my mandate.
Please notice, it is Not to make them get off my porch; it is NOT to make them feel like they are bad or stupid or lost. It is not even to win the argument that could easily erupt. My goal is to help them get one step closer to the Church and the salvation that comes through communion with Her. And that means that I have to do things a little differently than you often hear about when talking with Jehovah Witnesses.
So here we go. This is what I do when JWs come to my door.
Step 1 - Welcome them.
Trust me, they are not used to this. They are not used to people wanting to speak to them. They are not used to people taking the time to welcome them. They are told that at best they are going to be politely ignored or at worst they are going to be verbally thrown from the doors that they knock on. And you know what? They take this to be a fulfillment of Matthew 10:14.
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
So you see, by NOT welcoming them you are actually helping them to dig their heels in, and you are confirming what they are often hearing at their weekly meetings. They are the wheat while we are the chaff. And the only way past this is, yes, to genuinely welcome them.
WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE?
Well when I was most recently visited by two JWs I smiled, I laughed, I wasn’t shocked when they said who they were. I stood with them even though they knew I must have other things to do. I affirmed what I could, that is, the truth in their statements or views about life, and I simply looked inquisitive when they said something that I know as a Christian is definitely not true.
I also praised their community for what I could, such as their zeal, courage to go door to door, willingness to study the Scriptures weekly and the deep bonds they clearly have between members. I said all of this because it is true, and because they so little encounter good will towards them from outside of their community.
In short, by the end of ten minutes, my visitors were very glad that they knocked on my door, because no matter what happened next, they knew that I was glad to see them. Which brings me to step 2. Need help evangelizing? Get the book that gives you a forty day plan to reach those at your work or in your family! Click on the book to purchase it now and get $5 off.
Step 2 - Ask only one very simple question.
You might be surprised to learn that Jehovah Witnesses spend A LOT of time studying the Bible; not all of it of course, because that is difficult for anyone to do, but they study themes or topics that are incredibly important to their community.
What do they spend the most time on? The divinity of Jesus. That’s right. They spend boat loads of time learning how to express and defend their teaching that Jesus is NOT God. Yes, you read that right. To the JWs, Jesus is the Son of God but not God. He is a highly elevated human being, something of an angel perhaps but not the Holy One of Israel.
For those historically minded Christians reading this, you will recognize this as just another version of Arianism, a heresy dealt with early on in the Church. However, the difference today is that the debate is not being brought to the bishops, theologians in their own right, but to your door. Through relational ministry, their hope is to win over one person at a time, even if that means standing out in the cold and being yelled at by strangers.
Make no mistake about it, they want to discuss Jesus’ non-divinity with you. This is where they are most confident, where they can quote the most Bible passages, and arguably where they as a community have had the most success when converting Christians.
So we should probably stay away from this topic right?
Not at all. The issue of Jesus' divinity is precisely what we are going to ask about.
THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE FOR ME THE OTHER DAY
After establishing mutual concern and respect, essentially helping my guests to feel welcome, it was only a matter of time before they were offering me pamphlets and other resources for me to read or share with my family. It was then that I scrunched up my expression somewhat and said apologetically, “I wish I could but I can’t.”
Them: Why not?
Me: Because I have heard that your community doesn’t teach that Jesus is God.
Them: (Shocked no doubt that I have jumped twenty conversations to get to the one thing they really want to discuss) Well we don’t teach that because the Bible doesn’t teach that. It teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, not God.
Me: (Looking confused) Well, see that’s what I don’t understand. Inside my house is my son. He is not me but he is what I am. I am Patrick and he is Gabriel. But you see, I am a human being, so logically, he is what I am. He too is a human being. So my question for you is, what is the Father that Jesus always talks about?
For my visitors there was a collision of emotions in the brief moment that followed.
At first they were smiling wide because the answer is simple: The Father is God Almighty, who they like to call Jehovah.
But then the trap must have occurred to them because their faces turned to confusion and you can imagine why. If a son is whatever his father is, well then...it was obvious that they were about to deny their most cherished teaching, the one that their community says is simple and plain as day, taught everywhere in the Bible and yet ignored or forgotten or suppressed by the rest of us.
So they hesitated, and when the pause seemed to drag on just that bit too long my visitors decided (as many visiting JWs have in the past) that claiming ignorance was the best option available to them in the moment.
Them: We don't understand the question.
Me: Oh no problem, well let me try again. I am a human being, so there is virtually no part of you, not even an ounce of you that would be open to the possibility that my son is a cat [of course, they had to laugh as I said this].
So before I even open the Bible, I have to admit that I am deeply confused about your community’s teaching, because I can assure you, without ever reading anything, I expect my neighbour who is currently pregnant to give birth to a human being and not a camel [again we had to laugh]. So I want to know what the Father is, because it seems obvious to me that if you think the Father is God then you must think that the Son is also; but you're not saying that.
Them:Well that’s not what ‘Son of God’ means in the Bible.
Me:Okay, [laughing] now I am even more confused. And I’m not sure why you don’t want to tell me what the Father is.
Them:The Father is God Almighty, Jehovah.
Me: Okay so the Son must be...
Them: [Interrupting] No he is not! He is not God. If we look at the passage...
Me: [Interrupting] But I don't want to look at a passage. I want you to explain how my son could be an iguana and you would think that makes sense. [We all broke into laughter again at the thought, breaking the tension somewhat].
Them: Well you believe that Jesus is a man right? By your logic, doesn't that mean that Jehovah must be a man?
Me: No, of course not. We all know that we get our nature from our parents and not the other way around. Jesus did have a human mother after all.
At this both my visitors paused to consider what I was saying, if only to figure out the best response.
Me: I have to tell you, one of the things I love about your community is that you are confident about what you teach and believe, but on this question I never get a straight answer. For some reason, your community insists on denying what seems to me to be the most obvious thing in the world. Jesus, the Son of God is what his Father is, and He was killed for letting that truth be known.
Either way, if you want to evangelize people, and I believe you do, then you need to solve this problem, because it is a simple question that people will have no matter where you are. [At this point the two of them started to nod thoughtfully]
Anyway, I have taken up enough of your time, I should get back to being dad to my cats. [We all kind of chuckled together at this]. Thank you again for everything you do. Honestly, it is inspiring.
After saying our good byes (which were actually quite pleasant and sincere), I had one last thing to say as the pair walked off.
Me: Oh yeah, now I remember. I am sure you have read it, but check out Hebrews 1:3. I think it expresses what I am trying to say much better than my poor cat and iguana examples.
Them: We will thank you!
[One of them wrote it down quickly on her notepad]
All: Thanks again. Bye!
Now, I don’t know if I will see them again, but I do know that I did my part. I took the necessary steps to evangelize them. I welcomed them and then I asked them a very simple question that anyone can ask even if they have never studied the Bible.
And the question poses a real problem for them.
If the Father is God then the Son is God. That is what basic human experience would expect.
And when they look up Hebrews 1:3 what are they going to find?
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…” (quotations mine).
Translation; whatever the Father is, the Son is also.
Wow, looks like the Bible also confirms Jesus’ divinity, who knew? ;)
So there you have it!
One little seed planted and a conversation that will stick with your JW visitors, if only because you were one of the very few that enjoyed their visit.
Have a great day!