Stage 3 - Treading lightlyOkay. You’ve broken the ice with some Jehovah’s Witnesses and you’ve built rapport with them.

Now you’re going to get into actual discussions with them about the Bible.

Here’s where you can go astray by coming on too strong and trying to proceed too fast. Some Christians try to confront them up front with contradictions in Watchtower literature or show them evidence of a Watchtower scandal. There may come a time when this will be effective, but if you start out in that fashion, you are only likely to drive them away.

Rather, your goals at this stage should be:

  1. To continue to build rapport with the Witnesses
  2. To keep them interested in studying with you
  3. To begin asking questions that require them to think
  4. To prepare the way for more in-depth doctrinal discussions by modeling proper context-based Bible study

Ask questions

At this stage, Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t abide you trying to teach them anything directly. They have come to your home firmly believing that they are “in the truth” and that you are in darkness. They have come to bring the truth to you.

In their minds, you have been deceived by Satan. You are part of a false religious system called Christendom. They think you have nothing of value to teach them.

Consequently, if you immediately dive into the Bible and openly try to prove they are wrong about some point, you aren’t going to get through to them. If you persist, they’ll decide you don’t have a humble enough attitude and they will call off any further meetings.

If you try to come across as a Bible expert or as an expert on Watchtower doctrines, literature, and history, you will drive them away.

Instead, let them be the teachers. When dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses, asking questions almost always works better than making declarations. This is especially true at this stage of your relationship.

I am not talking about “gotcha” questions or rhetorical questions. I’m talking about asking genuine questions about Bible teachings that they never would think to ask themselves, such as the meaning of a Bible passage examined phrase by phrase and clause by clause rather than in sound bites.

Focus on reading the Bible in context

Even though I advise you to tread lightly during this stage, I don’t want to give the impression that you should let the Witnesses steamroll you. You can still take steps as a “student” to keep your discussions focused on a Bible passage in context.

For example, Witnesses often hopscotch from one place in the Bible to another, making it seem like two unrelated passages are talking about the same thing. Don’t let them do that. Instead, politely say, “I’ll be glad to look at any passage you like, but first I want to make sure I understand this one.” Then examine the full context of what you are reading before moving elsewhere.

Similarly, when the discussion isn’t going the way the Witnesses want it to, they often try to switch topics on you. Don’t let that happen. Instead, politely tell them that you’ll be glad to discuss the other subject at another time but that you want to be able to study it out in advance. Meanwhile, you want to stick to the subject you’ve been discussing until you come to an adequate resolution.


Your turn:

Have you ever come on too fast or too strong to some Jehovah’s Witnesses? What happened? What would you do differently next time?

 Share your thoughts in the comments.


Coming next: Stage 4 of a Witnessing Relationship: Opening Up