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March 18, 2013

6

The Four R’s in sharing God’s Word with Mormon missionaries

by Dave Malnes

When Mormon missionaries appear at your door consider it a golden opportunity to share the real gospel message. In talking with numerous former missionaries, Christians can have a tremendous impact when they remember the 4 R’s of sharing God’s Word with them. I truly believe that Mormon missionaries are reachable! The Holy Spirit can use you to plant the seed of God’s Word in their hearts. In fact, ex-Mormons who became Christian cite the simple witness of a Christian while they were on their missions as an important component of their coming to the true faith. Here are the 4 R’s:

#1  REMEMBER their circumstances

Most missionaries are young men between the ages of 19 and 21. Many became missionaries because that is what is expected of them from their family and church, not out of missionary zeal. Most importantly, they only receive three weeks of training before being placed on a mission field. That means that 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, they are not allowed to go home and have very limited contact with their family. In addition, their companions regularly change thus hindering them from becoming comfortable working together. Further, they adhere to a strictly controlled daily schedule. These factors combine to make some lonely and stressed. But some remain invigorated because they sincerely feel they are immersed in doing the Lord’s will.

It may be surprising to learn that a large number of LDS missionaries become inactive in the church after they return home. With this in mind, we feel safe in saying that a good percentage are already struggling with their faith when they come to your door. (This could often be the quieter of the two.) Now that the LDS Church has recently lowered the age of men and women who can serve as missionaries, they will be even younger at the door.

# 2  REFLECT Christian love

Mormon missionaries are accustomed to people being rude to them. What they are not used to is people being kind and friendly. We have walked in their shoes while going door to door in Provo and Orem, Utah. We quickly came to appreciate being politely received. We were grateful for even small gestures like the offer of a glass of cold water.

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We encourage you to 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 an impact on them.

#3  RELY on the power of God’s Word

Be sure that you share 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 witness Christ to them and what He has already done for us. Since Mormonism stresses perfection and worthiness it is good to utilize those terms when you witness.

I often use this phrase, “I’m already perfect in Christ, are you?” to define my Christian faith to a Mormon. Mormons are especially 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.

Beware of getting into discussions about Mormon doctrine or history. Don’t focus on winning the argument; focus on winning the soul. Do that by sticking to the message of our perfection in Christ. Even getting into discussions on other biblical doctrines is usually counter-productive at this time. Make 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 them. 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 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.

For more information, go to http://www.pleaseopenthedoor.com.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mormon
    Mar 18 2013

    As a Mormon, points 2, 3, and 4, are excellent. #1 is way off though.

    “Many became missionaries because that is what is expected of them…” I’d say this is a very small minority. When I was a brand new missionary in training, I was told “If your main reason for being here is expectations from others and not love of Jesus Christ, then you shouldn’t be here.” Similar things were said beforehand. Also, while missionaries may receive only three weeks of formal training before being a missionary, their training continues every day while they are missionaries. Rarely will two newbies be put together, so at least one of them will be well-trained. Many also completed four years of seminary beforehand.

    Loneliness is also the exception rather than the norm. For practical and safety reasons, pair of missionaries remain together virtually every minute of every day, whether they get along well or not. This means that it takes very little time before they are comfortable working together.

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    • Dave Malnes
      Mar 18 2013

      Thank you very much for the reply. I appreciate your comments. It is my desire to not only be accurate, but be respectful to my Mormon friends. I would agree that loneliness would probably not be the right word — perhaps more homesick than lonely. As I have gotten to know Mormon and its culture, and in talking with many Mormons, I come away with the impression that being a missionary is so prominent in the religion that deciding not to become a missionary is more difficult than becoming one. This is especially true in geographical areas where there is large populations of Mormons in the region. For instance, the culture of Mormonism is different in eastern Idaho than it would be in Indiana. So, in most cases, becoming a Mormon missionary is well-ingrained into the minds of LDS kids.

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      • Mormon
        Mar 18 2013

        Thanks for the response. I agree that missionary service is very prominent in the LDS church, but just as prominent are going for the right reasons. Additionally, while homesickness does occur for some missionaries, this is something that generally affects those mostly that are away from home for less than a few months, and after that, homesickness isn’t much of an issue. For most of my colleagues, there weren’t any symptoms of homesi

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      • Mormon
        Mar 18 2013

        cont.
        (not sure what happened)
        ckness after going through the missionary training center.

        Also, we loved it when people would testify of Christ!

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      • Dave Malnes
        Mar 19 2013

        Thanks again for replying back. I appreciate sharing your experiences in being an LDS missionary. Many Christians are very surprised when I tell them that a Mormon missionary has limited contact with family. For most young men, that would be a hardship, even though they would be reluctant to admit it. Most Mormon missionaries have told me it is difficult. And, I agree that practically every Mormon missionary would love it if they heard a testimony of Christ. What they don’t like is when I lovingly point out God’s Word in its context — and how it contrasts to what their understanding of what the Bible teaches.

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