In the context of religious dialogue, soundbite witnessing means sharing or defending one’s faith through the use of short, memorable statements, questions, or quotations.
Let’s look at some of the positives of soundbite witnessing.
1. Jesus often used soundbites.
Here are some examples:
Statement: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)
Question: “Why do you call me `Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)
Quotation: “Again it is written, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'” (Matthew 4:7)
2. Soundbites are concise.
Each of the quotations above consists of fewer than 20 words, but they get Jesus’ points across very effectively.
3. Soundbites are simple.
Have you ever made half a dozen points on a topic when talking with Jehovah’s Witnesses only to have them latch onto the weakest one and ignore the other five?
Using one good soundbite instead avoids that problem.
You can always say more later.
4. Soundbites get people’s attention.
Because they are concise, soundbites act like headlines or news bulletins.
A well-phrased soundbite is virtually impossible to ignore.
Please re-read Jesus’ statements that I quoted above. Think about how they would have grabbed your attention if you were hearing them for the first time.
5. Soundbites are hard to refute.
Jehovah’s Witness often proclaim their doctrines using soundbite quotations such as, “Ecclesiastes 9:5 says the dead are conscious of nothing at all.”
If we try to reply using detailed reasoning with many examples, we often get tongue-tied. They stated their position succinctly. If we find our responses going on and on, we get frustrated by how convoluted our reasoning must sound.
The more words we use to try to explain our position, the more deeply Jehovah’s Witnesses become convinced that the Watchtower is right.
6. Soundbites can shatter strongholds.
The Ecclesiastes 9:5 quotation is a stronghold for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In every discussion I have had with them about what happens after death, they have come back to that soundbite. They repeat it over and over until it becomes a mantra that stops any contrary thoughts.
It is very difficult to get past that barrier.
One way to break down that stronghold is to come up with a counter-soundbite of our own such as this: “The next part of that verse says that the dead have no more reward. Is Jehovah really the one who is telling us those things?”
That type of soundbite response can act like a battering ram that breaks through the stronghold and requires the Witnesses to examine their beliefs instead of simply parroting them.
7. Soundbites can provoke deep thought.
Just because a soundbite is simple doesn’t mean it’s simplistic.
In Matthew 5:8, Jesus stated, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
That’s a short, simple, soundbite declaration, but if we try to fathom the depths of its meaning, it can lead us to engage in serious self-examination.
8. Soundbites are easy for us to remember.
One benefit of using soundbites is that you don’t have to memorize a large number of points or quotations.
You can always elaborate on your soundbite later if need be, and you can always come back to your soundbite to maintain your focus on the key points you are trying to get across.
9. Soundbites are nearly impossible for the other party to forget.
This is the other side of the coin.
The Watchtower would love to have Jehovah’s Witnesses brush off or forget much of what we tell them, but a good soundbite nags away at the hearer long after the conversation is over.
For example, if a Jehovah’s Witness tells you that we shouldn’t pray to Jesus, a good soundbite reply might be: “How can Jesus be your mediator if you’re forbidden to talk with him?”
One time I asked that question of an ex-Jehovah’s Witness who was still struggling with teachings the Watchtower had instilled in him. He told me later, “I thought about that question again and again, and I finally realized I didn’t have a good answer for it.”
Trying to come to grips with that soundbite helped him make a major breakthrough.
Shortly thereafter, he placed saving faith in Jesus.
Soundbites aren’t always that effective, but sometimes they are.
Have you found yourself sometimes getting lost in your own explanations? Might it help to come up with some soundbites to sharpen your presentation?
Share your thoughts in the comments.