[ Author: Sally Peterson ]
If you have ever tried to reach a Jehovah’s Witness, then you are aware of how difficult this can be. You may have already tried countless times only to wind up in a tangled web of emotions which ended rather abruptly in a heated argument and accomplished nothing. There is an art to learning how to reach someone by carefully using questions to get them to stop and think. Knowing which questions to ask is the secret. Simply telling them the Watchtower is wrong and giving all the reasons why is not likely to be successful. You may have already discovered this does not work well.
Taking things causually
If you are an Ex-Jehovah’s Witness they will already view you as a hateful ‘apostate’ and will not be open to talking to you. This is where asking a question and walking away works well. It avoids an argument and it doesn’t give the Jehovah’s Witness the opportunity to get defensive and fight back. It also plants an idea that hopefully gets them to research the answer. The goal is to get them to research the Watchtower, which is a vital step on the road leading them out of the organization.
You may have already realized that not all Jehovah’s Witnesses are alike and what profoundly affects one member may be brushed aside as inconsequential by another. Since you know your friend or family member better than a stranger would, you’re probably in the best position to know what might work best to reach them.
If, on the other hand, you have never been a Jehovah’s Witness and want to reach them, don’t think it’s impossible! It’s not necessary to study Apologetics or read the Bible cover to cover in order to have a discussion with them and plant a seed. In many cases it was the use of a simple question that planted a seed which later grew, and subsequently caused the Jehovah’s Witness to start questioning and ultimately leave. You do not have to be familiar with all their teachings in order to effectively reach them. If you learn just one good argument, you can effectively use it and effectively reach them. I have used the mediator issue from 1 Timothy 2:5 successfully many times.
Getting armed with information
Talking to Christian apologists will help you, as they can share what has worked for them. Reading articles such as this one, will also assist you in learning how to reach them. What many people don’t realize is the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses are largely lies which don’t make sense and often contradict one another. Don’t believe me? Try making sense of 607 B.C.E., 2,520 years, and 1914! I call it the crazy math of the cult! Why would anyone want to learn that? It makes no sense, and it’s all nonsense anyway!
There are many topics that can be chosen however there are several that are almost guaranteed to fail. The Watchtower has carefully indoctrinated Jehovah’s Witnesses to automatically reject the Trinity, hell, celebration of holidays, and translations other than their own New World Translation. I would never recommend starting a conversation on any of these topics as I’ve never seen or heard of them being successful. Personally, I find choosing a simple Bible verse and asking the Jehovah’s Witness if they agree with it, most effective. I set up the question first by asking, “What would you do, if you found out the Watchtower disagrees with the Bible? Who would you believe? God or the Watchtower?” You can find a list of ten verses the Watchtower Organization disagrees with here.
Making statements about what they believe is like building a wall. We want to build bridges, therefore it’s best to ask questions that encourages them to continue the conversation. Try to avoid asking a question they can quickly answer with “No, that isn’t true” or “That’s a lie”. Your chances for success are much higher if you ‘set the strange’ so that they cannot change their minds. When people fail to do this, they are often left with “We just have to agree to disagree” or “That happened a long time ago, it’s not important”. I’ve seen fantastic questions fall flat and fail because the person rushed in without properly setting up the question first.
Learning the set up
When asking a Jehovah’s Witness why they disagree with these verses, it is crucial to set it up first, by asking some key questions. If this is not done, the end result will typically be:
- We are not here to argue. (Translation: argument is over, we are leaving)
- You just don’t understand the Watchtower teaching on this. (Give me time to look up what the Watchtower says on this since you are ignorant of our beliefs)
- We will just have to agree to disagree. (Translation: argument is over, change the subject)
Some think we can use the same argument with every Jehovah’s Witness we encounter but just as we are all in different places in our lives our Jehovah’s Witness friends are not all alike either. While a good argument may work with many Jehovah’s Witnesses, it certainly will not work for all of them. For example, the approach you might try with a Jehovah’s Witness elder may not be the same approach you’d use with a woman who had been recently raped by someone in her congregation. We want to come alongside our friend, find out where they are, and approach accordingly.
Some Jehovah’s Witnesses view the Watchtower more as a social club especially if they have been raised in it. Their parents and siblings all go to the Kingdom Hall on a Sunday, much as we Christians go to Church. They have a mid-week meeting just as many Churches also have. They may set aside one day a week to either go door to door evangelizing or stand at a corner near a literature cart but aside from this, from all outward appearances, it may seem largely similar. This is especially true with teenagers, who largely don’t care what’s being taught, and are forced to go along with the watchtower teachings while residing with mom and dad, thus a deep theological discussion with a teen would likely fall on deaf ears.
A former Jehovah’s Witness and Ministerial Servant started his investigation after being asked this simple question by his bible study, “How about that Candace Conti? Nice to see where all your hard-earned money is going.” Embarrassed that he wasn’t familiar with the case, he quickly headed home and started his research. It didn’t take long for him to wake-up and leave the Watchtower.
A pebble in the shoe
Another former Jehovah’s Witness recently told me how she woke up. She was going door-to-door handing out invitations to the Memorial. She knocked on the door of an Evangelical Christian. She spoke briefly about the celebration of the Lord’s death, and the Christian asked her, “Shouldn’t we be thankful for the Lord’s death every day?” Such a simple question!
If you are a Christian unfamiliar with the beliefs of a Jehovah’s Witness and are caught off guard when they come knocking at your door, try sharing your testimony. It’s powerful and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have a testimony to share. Or you may try sharing the Gospel message found at 1 Cor. 15:1-4, using this along with Gal. 1:6-8 is very powerful indeed! In all the years I was a door-knocking Jehovah’s Witness never once did I hear the Gospel message. And all the Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses I have asked, all say the same, so I can safely say, chances are, the Jehovah’s Witness at your door, in all likelihood has never heard the Gospel.
If it’s your family member who is a Jehovah’s Witness, and you are a former member, be patient, be kind, wait for the perfect opportunity. If the opportunity presents itself, you may open with, “You know I never understood why,” and ask them to explain. As you know they love to “help” by answering questions!
I’ve been using Philippians 2:10 lately and find that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t seem to have an answer for this verse. In fact, recently my friend and I went up to a literature cart in Los Angeles to ask them this question. “Do you obey Philippians 2:10?” After asking several times, “What do you mean by that?” My friend dropped to his knees right there on the pavement to demonstrate!! Finally, the Jehovah’s Witness looked at me defiantly and said “Yes, we bow the knee to Jesus.” So, Jehovah’s Witnesses lie when cornered! But your family member can’t do that with you, after all, you know better! So why not give it a try?