I work for a missionary organization, and sharing the Gospel is literally in my job description. But it’s hard! I am not shy about my faith, but it can be difficult to know the time or place or means to share it. Since I was hired, I have prayed for God to give me opportunities to share my faith outside of the office and, boy, has he shown up.
One night in March, I was minding my own business, chatting with a friend on Facebook, when my doorbell rang. I was the only one home, and my legs were asleep, but I figured it was important so I shook my legs out and nearly fell down the stairs in my haste to answer the door. It turned out I had an unexpected divine appointment:
When the Mormons came into my life, I (a supposed professional) got the chance to learn a lot about active evangelism. And I got to practise a bit of my own. If you decide you want to carry on a conversation with these missionaries at your doorstep, invite them in and follow these tips!
1. Be respectful. Among the Mormon missionaries’ chief virtues is politeness (seriously, every last one of them), which is part of why they win so many people over — some of us more argumentative Christians have a lot to learn from them. We’re not going to convince anyone of anything by being obnoxious, mean, or accusatory. Make your home a safe place for dialogue (and offer them drinks that have no caffeine).
2. Be relevant. Don’t waste your time on subjects like polygamy or racism. The missionaries you’re talking to probably feel just as perturbed by those past issues as you do. Some good questions I asked them were what they know about the Holy Spirit and his role in our lives, what they believed about Jesus’ death on the cross, and how they reconciled his words about not trusting false prophets with the story of their first prophet, Joseph Smith.
3. No name-calling. If you ask Mormons whether they are Christians, they will almost certainly reply that they are. While most of their beliefs are based on post-biblical “revelations” to their first prophet Joseph Smith, and extra-scriptural books like the Book of Mormon, accusing them of being heretical or members of a cult is unhelpful. Instead of telling them they’re not Christians, ask them to explain what being a Christian means to them.
4. Be engaging. Ask them questions, and offer to answer questions they may have about your faith. The first time I invited the missionaries into my home, I listened to them. I made sure to ask questions when I didn’t understand and to point out things we had in common as well as differences in our faiths so that we could both see where the other was coming from.
5. Do your research. If you’re a Christian and have made the choice to invite the missionaries into your home, then you have the responsibility of being a missionary yourself. The missionaries left me with a copy of the Book of Mormon and asked me to read a portion of it before our next meeting. So I did—actually, I read more than they asked me to. When they came back for our second meeting, I had even more questions for them and started to challenge them more. Mormons really know their stuff, so the more you know your Bible and the more you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, the better able you will be to challenge their beliefs and share the true Gospel with your guests. And the better you know what they believe, the more clearly you’ll be able to communicate with them. While on their mission, Mormon missionaries are not allowed to consume any media that is not produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or read anything but their Scriptures, so you will probably be their only means of discovering what the truth of the Bible and of Christianity is while they serve their mission. No pressure! The Holy Spirit is with you!
6. Love, love, love! Treating those of other faiths with love doesn’t mean accepting what they believe as true. It’s good to challenge in the name of truth, but remember to speak the truth in love. For people of faith, their religion is usually the closest thing to their hearts, and we must be gentle with hearts. Earning trust is the most important step in evangelism.
No matter who you’re engaging with, it’s so important to be a sensitive and challenging evangelist. By following through with these tips and trusting the Holy Spirit to guide you, you can be sure that God will use you to plant seeds!