Written by Mark Cares
“I believe the same thing.” This is how many Mormons responded as we went door to door in Utah sharing God’s Word. Two questions immediately came to mind. How can they say this? And how do we respond?
The first question is a dangerous one because it can quickly cause us to talk about motives – something which is the Lord’s domain. As he told Samuel, humans look at the outward appearance but he looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Although it was tempting to think that some were being deliberately deceptive, we fought hard not to go there. Rather we emphasized the difficulty of clearly communicating when so many words are defined differently by Christians and Mormons.
It’s the second question, however, which we focused on. What would be an effective response? We talked about- and tried – a number of different responses. The one that worked the best was: “I’m so glad to hear this! Just so you know what I’m hearing when you say you believe as I do, I’m hearing that you don’t think you have to progress and improve to gain God’s favor because Jesus has done it all. That you don’t need to participate in any temple ordinances because you already know you will live in God’s presence forever. That the only scripture you need is the Bible.”
I think you get the picture. Other aspects of Mormonism could be mentioned. What we tried to do was to emphasize that by their saying they believed as we did meant they rejected many of the teachings of Mormonism. We were also careful not to speak sarcastically. We truly wanted them to know what believing as we do all entailed.
When we responded in this way, they quickly said this is not what they meant. This was the breakthrough we were hoping for. It was only after they admitted there were differences in our beliefs that we could have a meaningful conversation with them. And many times, meaningful conversations are exactly what happened.
I share all this to illustrate that sometimes it with a little thought and brainstorming, obstacles can often be turned into opportunities. So much so, that it got to the point that some of our missionaries hoped Mormons would respond in this way. They knew it might be the very thing triggering a good dialogue.
The next time you become stumped or frustrated when witnessing to somebody, step back and think of different ways you could respond or different passages or illustrations you could use. Better yet, regularly get together with a small group of people and brainstorm various scenarios. Not only can this be fun and stimulating; it can also be very productive.
It’s also well worth it. The more we can share God’s Word with non-Christians, the more opportunity the Holy Spirit has to work on them through the Word. And there is nothing more worthwhile than that.