Our Approach: Relational, not Confrontational
It’s important not only to share God’s truth with LDS missionaries, but to also show them Christian love. When the missionaries experience kindness and concern, they are much more prone to listen. This is especially true because many Christians treat them shabbily. Therefore, in the beginning, they are often understandably wary.
It takes time to prove we are genuinely concerned for them. Usually this can’t be achieved in a single visit. Our goal is to build a relationship with them over a number of visits. As we treat them kindly, showing interest in them as persons, respectfully listening to them, they become much more comfortable and become even eager to hear what we have to say.
We often describe our approach as building bridges not barriers. It is based on the following five pillars.
#1: See Mormons as victims, not enemies.
Think of the difference this makes as you meet with the missionaries. If you see them as the enemy, your goal is to defend yourself and defeat them. If you see them as victims, your goal is to help them. And the more you talk with them, the more you will see how victimized they are by Mormonism.
#2: Treat Mormons with genuine love and respect.
One of the best ways to show respect to someone is to listen to them. There’s another reason to listen; namely, to learn what they believe. Don’t assume the missionaries agree with or even know all the basic LDS teachings. Even if you have a good knowledge of Mormonism, you don’t know what these specific missionaries know and believe. The only way to know this is by asking questions and listening carefully to their answers. The better we know their individual beliefs, the more pointedly we can witness to them.
#3: Focus on Mormon stress points.
Christians regularly talk to the missionaries about the things which bother Christians about Mormonism. Things like their view of God or the fact they have additional scriptures. These are topics, however, which don’t bother Mormons. In addition, since Christians like to discuss them with missionaries, most will have set responses to them.
We have found it to be much more effective to focus on issues like worthiness, perfection, and forgiveness. These are things many Mormons, including many Mormon missionaries, struggle with. These are also topics many Christians don’t discuss with them so many missionaries don’t have set responses to them.
#4: Speak the Mormon language.
Christians and Mormon missionaries frequently talk past each other. This is because Mormons use many of the same words Christians use but they define them differently. It’s essential to carefully define words. Ask them for their definitions. Because of this confusion, we have also found it useful to avoid certain terms. For example, instead of talking about going to heaven, we prefer talking about living eternally with Heavenly Father.
#5: Witness Christ rather than debate Mormonism.
The gospel is an awesome power. It is the only thing powerful enough to bring anybody to faith (Romans 1:16). The more we use it, the more God’s power is brought to bear on the missionaries. We first talk about the terrible situation sin has put us in and, after that, God’s awesome solution in Christ. Instead of focusing on what is wrong about Mormonism, we highlight the positives of being loved by God. The more the missionaries see God’s tremendous love for them, the more attracted they will be to the biblical gospel.
We have a video course, Build Bridges Not Barriers, explaining these pillars in depth. If you haven’t yet taken it, we strongly urge you to do so.
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