Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your door with the objective of starting a process that will eventually lead you into becoming a Jehovah’s Witness yourself.
They are experienced enough to know that this won’t be accomplished in five minutes on your doorstep. They will have to build rapport with you and meet with you many times in order to persuade you that this is what God wants you to do.
They won’t be ad libbing. Just as salespeople are trained by their companies in how to persuade you to buy their product, so the Watchtower trains Jehovah’s Witnesses with methods for bringing you into their religion.
Understanding this Watchtower conversion process will help you witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses more effectively. I’ll talk more about that in future posts. For now, I just want to acquaint you with the Watchtower conversion method.
I am going to describe the process to you in terms of 10 steps.
That said, please understand that this is not a linear process. Since every person they meet is different, Witnesses understand that they have to be flexible. They may have to make adjustments or even backtrack, but these are the 10 basic things they are trying to accomplish.
Step 1: Break the ice and get you to listen to them briefly at the door
The Watchtower has a field guide entitled Reasoning from the Scriptures which contains 41 conversation starters. They have training meetings demonstrating these approaches to Witnesses.
It basically boils down to this: “Aren’t world conditions awful? There’s crime, violence, terrorism, wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, and famines. Do you think God intended the world to be like this? Don’t you long for something better for yourself and your children? We have come to your home today to bring you a hopeful message from the Bible for a better future.”
Step 2: Get you to take some literature
The Reasoning book also gives Jehovah’s Witnesses 46 ways to respond to potential conversation stoppers they may encounter: “I’m not interested,” “I have my own religion,” and the like. They practice these as well.
Their objective at the first encounter is to get past objections and get you to agree to take some free literature—usually a Watchtower or Awake! magazine, sometimes a special brochure.
If you want to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses, agree to take the literature.
Step 3: Return for a follow-up visit
If you take their literature at the first meeting, this gives the Witnesses an opening to come back for a follow-up visit. They may or may not ask your permission to do this, depending on your level of receptivity.
When they come back they will ask you what you thought of the literature. If you comment on it, they will discuss it with you. If you didn’t read the literature, they will try to engage you in conversation anyway.
Step 4: Build rapport and get you to agree to a “free home Bible study”
Whether you read their literature or not, Witnesses will try to build a relationship with you and offer you a free, no obligation “home Bible study” at a time convenient to you. They will promise to answer your questions about God and the Bible and show you the promises for the more hopeful future they talked about in the initial encounter.
Step 5: Establish the roles: They are the teachers; you are the student
Assuming you agree to further meetings, one of the first things Witnesses will do is establish their roles as teachers. Your role will be as a student. They will do this in a low key way. They will encourage you to ask questions. Of course, this establishes them as the ones with the answers.
This explains why questions work better than statements in getting through to Jehovah’s Witnesses. They won’t abide you trying to teach them anything directly, at least at first.
Step 6: Lead you lesson by lesson through a Watchtower study book
You will discover that the promised “free home Bible study” is really a study of a Watchtower book designed to teach you the organization’s interpretations of the Bible. Witnesses will present this matter-of-factly as a helpful way of exploring Bible topics subject-by-subject.
The study books are usually about 20 chapters long. The meetings last about one hour apiece. If you agree to keep going, the course of the study will take months, sometimes even years.
Witnesses are usually not in a hurry. They know this process takes time. They know they will have to overcome questions, reluctance, and objections. As long as they believe they are making progress, they will continue to meet with you.
There’s another motivation for Witnesses to keep meeting with you. They have to report their witnessing activities in writing to the elders once a month, and studies are “easy time.” They get to be in someone’s home rather than being out pounding the pavement. They get to spend time with a receptive person rather than risking a hostile reaction as they go from one door to another.
Often—not always—one of the two Witnesses who lead the study will be a trainee. This is how they learn the ropes.
Step 7: Invite you to come to meetings at their Kingdom Hall
At some point, Witnesses will invite you to come to one of their services as a Kingdom Hall. If you go, you will be “love bombed” there—welcomed by everyone as an honored guest.
Step 8: Persuade you that they have “the truth”
Through the lessons of the home study and the Watchtower lectures at the Kingdom Hall, you will be surrounded by Witnesses who all believe the Watchtower’s teachings. The goal is to make you feel at home and persuade you that Jehovah’s Witnesses are genuine Christians—in fact, the only genuine Christians in the world. If you express dissatisfaction with any aspect of your own religions background or training, Witnesses will agree with you and try to show you how they are different.
Step 9: Persuade you to come door-to-door with them as an “unbaptized publisher”
If you start attending meetings regularly and express agreement with Watchtower teachings, at some point you will be invited to go door-to-door with an experienced Jehovah’s Witness. You won’t be expected to say anything at first. You’ll just be observing how they do things. Once you are comfortable doing that, they will invite you to ring the doorbell and give the opening greeting, after which the experienced Witness will take over. Step-by-step they will get you to do more and more until you are presenting messages at homes just as if you were a Jehovah’s Witness.
Step 10: Convince you to become a baptized Jehovah’s Witness
Once you have been thoroughly educated in Watchtower doctrines and practices, they will encourage you to take the final step of baptism. This step is what makes you a Jehovah’s Witness. According to Watchtower teaching, taking this step and remaining faithful is the only way to escape God’s coming judgment on the world at Armageddon.
In future posts, I’ll talk about how your understanding of this process can be helpful in getting through to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In your encounters with Jehovah’s Witnesses, how far did they get in this process? Did you do something that caused them to break off meeting with you before you had a chance to share the gospel with them? What would you do differently next time?
Share your thoughts in the comments.