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December 17, 2012

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What do I say when Mormon missionaries appear at my door?

by Dave Malnes

The unsuspecting  knock on the door reveals two young men who are nicely dressed and have a warm smile on their faces. Upon seeing the name tag on their chest, you immediately recognize them as Mormon missionaries. Instead of being annoyed or intimidated by their presence, I ask you to consider another option. This can be a golden opportunity to plant the seed of God’s Word in their hearts.

In sharing God’s Word with Mormons throughout Idaho and Utah, there have been many times where former LDS missionaries have shared how impactful it was when Christians treated them respectfully and shared the Bible with them. In fact, many ex-Mormons have typically pointed to an incident where a Christian simply gave them their time and lovingly shared God’s Word. That exchange stuck with them and served as a key point in bringing them to the Christian faith. This even occurred when they were serving on an LDS mission. Finally, there are a surprising number of returning Mormon missionaries who become inactive in the LDS Church when they return home.

When that knock occurs on your door, I would recommend the four R’s of sharing God’s Word with Mormon missionaries:

1. Remember their circumstances.

Most missionaries are young men between the ages of 18 and 20. Many became missionaries because that is what is expected of them and not out of missionary zeal. They are basically mandated by the church to become a missionary. Typically, these young men only receive three weeks of training before being placed on a mission field. So, their depth of understanding may be limited and many are not well-versed in the Bible or even Mormonism.

Despite their confident demeanor, many are stressed-out and lonely. While serving on their two-year mission, these young men are not allowed to go home and have limited contact with their family. In addition, their missionary companions regularly change and they adhere to a strictly controlled daily schedule. These factors combine to make some lonely and very stressed-out. Other will remain invigorated because they sincerely feel they are immersed in doing the Lord’s will.

2.  Reflect Christian love

Mormon missionaries are accustomed to people being rude to them. What they are not used to are people who are kind and friendly. I have walked in their shoes while going door to door in Provo, Utah. I quickly came to appreciate being politely received at the door. I was grateful for even small gestures like the offer of a glass of cold water on a hot summer day. Show the same kindness to them. Be polite. Don’t brush them off by saying that you are not interested. If you have the time, offer them a glass of water. Let your love for all people and your joy in the Lord shine brightly. It will make a big and lasting impact on them.

3. Rely on the power of God’s Word

Concentrate on sharing God’s powerful Word with them! Don’t send them away by saying that you aren’t interested because you have your own church. Rather share about Christ to them. Since Mormonism stresses perfection and worthiness it is good to utilize those terms in your conversation. Mormons are impressed and intrigued when we speak joyfully and confidently about our own perfection and worthiness in Christ. They can’t have that confidence because they believe that their worthiness and perfection depends on doing all they can do – with the result that they can never be sure if they have done enough.

Refrain from getting into discussions about Mormon doctrine or history. Don’t focus on winning the argument; focus on winning the soul. The only way you can do that is by sticking to the message of our perfection in Christ. Even getting into discussions on other biblical doctrines is usually counter-productive. Make the Apostle Paul’s motto your own: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)

4. Respect the process

You are not responsible for converting Mormons. That is the business of the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility is to testify to and reflect Christ’s love. Many ex-Mormons relate how a Christian’s love and simple gospel witness started having an effect on them years after they first heard it. This illustrates the fact that God often uses a process for bringing people to the faith. The Bible uses the imagery of a growing seed to describe this process. “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)

One way to respect the process is by inviting them inside your house. These are nice young men so enjoy the conversation and the golden opportunity to share God’s Word. Invite them to come back. We have found that when we treat them kindly, they are often eager to return and continue the conversation. You can do this with honesty by saying that you have no interest in converting to Mormonism, but because of the publicity the LDS Church receives, you want to hear about it from an official representative. They will often respond positively. Their coming back will give you more opportunities to share the gospel with them.

An Example of How to Share God’s Word with Mormon Missionaries:

“I can tell that you are very sincere about your faith and desire to gain eternal life. I want to testify to you that I am 100% confident that I will be living eternally with Heavenly Father. The reason I know that is because Heavenly Father has revealed to me that he already considers me perfect because Jesus was perfect for me. As Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” It’s a done deed.

“Heavenly Father further reveals that only through Jesus’ perfection can anybody be in his presence. Jesus is the only way that anybody can be perfect right now. And being perfect right now is what God commands! You probably already know Matthew 5:48. It says, “Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Note that he said “be”, not “become”. God commands us to be perfect right now. The good news is Heavenly Father gives us that perfection as a gift through faith in Jesus, not because of anything we do.

“The Bible further says that God will send to outer darkness anyone who is striving to be perfect based, in any part, on their own worthiness. He will do that because trying to add anything to Jesus’ perfection ruins what Jesus has already done for us. Only those who stand before God trusting only in Jesus’ perfection for them will live eternally with Heavenly Father. I pray that you will also come to this knowledge and experience the great joy I have.  In fact, because I care about you, I will be praying for you in the weeks ahead that you will read the Bible as a child would read it and through that have God reveal this important truth to you.”

The next time Mormon missionaries appear at your door, be joyful at the opportunity the Lord has given you to plant the seed of God’s Word.

For more information on sharing Christ with a Mormon, I encourage you to check out a Bible study I wrote entitled, “Preparing for the Adventure.”  You can download the teacher’s guide for free by clicking here.

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