The first step is to show them basic civility. For example, greeting LDS missionaries at the door with a smile is a great first step in building a relationship with them. Offering them a glass of water on a hot day; taking five minutes at the door to get to know them. Such simple civilities go a long way. Even if you don’t set up an appointment to visit with them (a step we highly encourage – Please Open The Door), but instead give them a simple witness at the door, your graciousness almost guarantees they will more readily listen to you.
Witnessing to Family and Friends
The same applies with your Mormon neighbor, friend, co-worker, and family member. In such on-going relationships, you will have many opportunities to show them love and respect without compromising any biblical belief. But you must be alert to those opportunities and then take advantage of them. (For much more help in witnessing with friends and family, see our family & friends information.
Show Respect through Listening
No matter what the relationship, the most important way of showing them respect is to listen to them -carefully and attentively. Listening is often hard work. Most of us are not good listeners by nature. Too often, we assume we already know what they believe because we have studied Mormonism. Many Mormons, however, don’t know official LDS doctrine or convey it accurately. The only way you will be able to know what a specific person believes is by having them tell you. And understanding a person’s belief is key to bridge building.
Start with Questions
One of the best aids to listening is asking questions. This seems obvious but it is something people often overlook. When first building the relationship, ask simple questions about their history and activity in the church. This can seamlessly transition into questions about specific beliefs. They will often mention their belief themselves. If they don’t, ask them about what they believe about sin, salvation, and Jesus. Be sure to have them define and explain what they believe. Ask them to expand and explain. If you don’t ask a few probing questions, there’s a good chance you won’t fully understand their beliefs. At this stage, your main goal is to be able to accurately reflect back to them what they believe.
If the situation is conducive to it, even take written notes. When we suggest this, however, people often question if it will bother their Mormon friends. We have experienced the direct opposite. Most were surprised and honored. There are fewer things which show a person respect than to take notes of what they say. At the very least, you're show that you take them seriously.