It’s a busy weekday morning and you are rushing here and there picking up breakfast dishes and helping the toddler get dressed. You’ve gotten your husband off to work, the baby down for a nap, and you are ready to tackle a few projects. An unexpected knock sounds at the door, and the dog starts barking. Your first reaction is to scoop up the toddler, hold your finger to your lips, and tip-toe quietly to the door for a peek through the peep hole. Outside you see a well-dressed couple with a variety of pamphlets in hand. It’s the Jehovah’s Witnesses. What do you do?
A similar situation occurred recently at my house and a brief conversation at the door led to four in-home studies with a couple of ladies over a period of weeks. For the sake of transparency, I have not always opened my door. I am not an expert in personal Bible studies. Prior to these studies, I knew very little about the beliefs of the Witnesses. I am certain I did not say all the right things or go to the best passages. I did, however, grow immensely from this experience, and I’d like to share with you some of the things that I’ve learned. My goal is to encourage all of us to seek out opportunities to have more spiritual conversations with non-Christians all throughout our day, and especially when those opportunities knock at the door.
Do it for you. Do it for the love of lost souls? Absolutely! Do it because we’re commanded (Matthew 18:19-20)? Of course! However, I think we grab hold of that biblical “statistic’’ of the broad way with many and the narrow way with few more often than we realize (Matthew 7:13-14). We let excuses creep in as to why this person would not be willing to listen or to change certain aspects of their life. Before you know it, we’ve stopped doing our job as seed sowers and waterers (cf. Matthew 13, I Corinthians 3:1-6). Yes, the people at the door are there to convert you, but shame on us for making assumptions that limit the spread of the gospel. We never know who will be receptive. Keeping in mind the good a study will do us personally might help keep those excuses at bay. So, go ahead and have that conversation. One thing is certain: you will grow and benefit from it.
Be firm. One of the first guidelines for Bible studies is to establish common ground. This can be difficult when you encounter beliefs so contrary to scriptures. The Jehovah’s Witnesses hold beliefs that deny the existence of Hell (despite Matthew 25 and Revelation 20), deny the deity of Christ (despite John 1), deny the hope of Heaven (despite John 14:1-4), and deny physical bodies their souls (despite Matthew 10:28). When we come to a crossroad in a discussion and we bring up a verse that contradicts their teachings, it’s okay to kindly demand an answer. It is easy to skirt the issue by giving vague answers like, “That’s just a figurative passage,” or “That’s a mistranslation in your version of the Bible.” Ultimately, we can go to the Bible with our beliefs, or we can go to the Bible for our beliefs. Firmly ask for proof of their teaching, or demand agreement with a true Biblical principle if the study is to continue.
Know when to quit. We are given the ability and authority to righteously judge others based on their words and actions (John 7:24). Along with that authority is the duty to move on to more fertile ground so as not to cast our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). Knowing when to walk away from a conversation or end a study comes with prayerful wisdom and experience. The decision can’t be made, however, if we’re not first willing to talk to the person.
Remember little eyes are watching. When we’re home with our children and the doorbell rings, there is excitement in the air. What a wonderful opportunity to stop what we’re doing, if at all possible, and show our children our willingness to give priority to spiritual things when “door-knockers” come. The alternative may be the challenge of answering our children as to why we’re pretending to not be home. That thought alone helps motivate me to go to the door and open it, rather than to run and hide.
Kathryn and her husband Andy live in San Marcos, TX and worship with the University church of Christ where Andy has served as the Associate/Youth Minister for 6 years. She stays at home with their 2 daughters and enjoys teaching Bible classes to children and ladies.