Some people are loaded with content knowledge about the beliefs of Mormonism but lack the ability to communicate the truth in an effective manner. They enjoy sharing in a way that is harsh and condescending. This is one of the main reasons many Christians aren’t effective in sharing with Mormons. They spend their time trying to show the LDS position is absurd and not worthy of belief. They offend the people they are trying to help. The Mormon missionaries move on to greener pastures or to your next door neighbor.
I believe the main problem is many Christians lack love for the people who disagree with them. Without the motivation of love, sharing with gentleness and respect is not important. This applies to sharing with people of any worldview, such as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, atheists, Muslims, and so on. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:2 “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” Paul says great knowledge without love is useless. Love needs to be our motivation to share and should guide our conversations.
The exact content I share with Mormons depends on the situation. If it is a one chance opportunity, I will get to the point more aggressively. At times I ask questions concerning our differences concerning the Godhead or try to show how archeology is not a friend of the book of Mormon. Lately, I have been asking questions about grace and works. This always gives me an opportunity to share the Biblical gospel.
This slightly more aggressive approach is the most loving thing to do according to the situation; I have one shot so get to the point in love. I avoid mocking the other position. And I try to end all statements with a question, so I give the Mormon an opportunity to give an intelligent response. Even if I am turning up the heat quickly, my approach is still expressing love.
The other method I use, with missionaries at my door or a neighbor or a relative, is to develop a friendship relationship and try to go long term. These individuals come to my door because they love me and want to share what they think is the truth. I am actually open to what they have to say because if they have the truth then I need to change. This is the intellectually honest thing to do. We need to go with the truth wherever it leads. On the other hand, if I have the truth then I want them to change. In fact I often tell them I will go where the truth leads, are you willing to do the same? The majority say yes. Now we can have an honest and open discussion. I truly listen to what they have to say and I am respectful because I am guided by love. Over the years I have noticed the missionaries are well trained to show gentleness and respect in regards to my beliefs, even though they strongly disagree. This is what makes these exchanges so much fun. We are respecters of persons and can disagree in the most loving way possible.
As you continue to read my stories of true encounters with missionaries at my door, I hope to model what I have written above. As you will notice, I also like to bring along another follower of Christ to take part in the discussion. It allows me to train this person in how to share with love. Plus with missionaries it makes the discussion two on two.
Week 2: At the agreed upon time, two Mormon missionaries came to my door. The regular partner had returned and I met him for the first time. We sat down in the front room and they asked me why I was interested in talking with them. I told them I have strong beliefs but I didn’t have all knowledge; only God possessed all knowledge. Therefore, I needed to be open to truth. I said if they could convince me I was wrong I’d be willing to change my beliefs. I asked them if they held a similar view about truth. They sort of nodded their heads in agreement. We were now ready to begin.
I asked them, why they come to my door. They went into detail about how the spirit of God had spoken to their hearts and since they know the truth, they want to share it. After they finished I said I don’t doubt the intensity of their experience but that others have similar testimonies. I have heard Oprah expound about how the spirit of god speaks to her heart and how other new agers say the same thing. How is yours different from their testimonies? They said they knew in their hearts it was from God and the Holy Spirit confirms the message. I again challenged them and said this is exactly what others say. I asked them do you believe in Satan. They said yes. If we both believe in Satan, couldn’t he fool us into thinking our feelings are from God? They said yes and again I asked them, how could we know the difference?
They then spoke about how the spirit of God has confirmed in their hearts that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and how he had received the Book of Mormon. I then said we now have something other than feelings to measure the truth of their belief system. They agreed that if Joseph Smith was a false prophet then their beliefs would be false. However, they are certain they have the truth based on the messages they have received from the Holy Spirit, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon was true.
We only talked for 30 minutes and we arranged to meet a week later. I told them I’d like to hear more about why they became a Mormon. They said they’d love to share their stories. I also mentioned a friend of mine, Dylan would probably join us. I said he loves to talk on spiritual issues and would enjoy these meetings. They didn’t seem to mind. We set a date for our next meeting.