Much as I would like to think that every witnessing relationship with a Jehovah’s Witness will result in their coming to saving faith in Christ, I’m a realist.
Most of the time, witnessing efforts end with an impasse, so let’s talk about how to handle that situation.
Should you be the one to call a halt to further meetings? In general, I recommend that you make every effort to keep the dialogue going. If the door is to be closed, let it be from their end, not yours.
I would make three exceptions to this general rule, however:
1. If you find yourself becoming a passive student and getting sucked into the Watchtower
2. If the Witnesses subject you to sustained verbal abuse or mockery because of your beliefs. This shouldn’t happen, but sometimes it does.
3. If the Holy Spirit makes it clear to you that your efforts are futile.
If any of that takes place, simply thank the Witnesses for their time and tell them that you think it best to call off any further meetings.
How can you tell if the Witnesses themselves are about to stop meeting with you? This usually happens in one of four ways:
1. They bring in one of their elders to meet with you, especially if they do so without any prior notice
2. They either keep their materials in their book bags or start putting their materials away well in advance of your usual ending time
3. They start to make “endgame” remarks, such as trying to place unexpected pressure on you (not just an offer) to attend a meeting at their Kingdom Hall, to start going door-to-door with them as an “unbaptized publisher,” or to make a decision to take the necessary steps to qualify for baptism as a Jehovah’s Witness
4. They unexpectedly try to provoke you to anger so as to give themselves a justifiable reason for terminating their involvement with you
If you sense that they are about to pull the plug on further meetings, you may feel tempted to make a last-ditch effort by injecting into the conversation an important but controversial subject you’ve been holding back from getting into—the deity of Christ, the Trinity, hell, Watchtower false prophecies, Watchtower doctrinal flip-flops, Watchtower scandals, or the like.
Unless you are convinced the Holy Spirit is leading you to do this, don’t. Most likely it won’t keep them coming back but will only reinforce the Witnesses’ persecution mindset and undo any progress you may have made with them. (Your progress may be the real reason they are terminating the meetings.)
Instead, show them Christian love. Make clear that you have enjoyed meeting with them and that you are sorry they don’t want to continue. I recommend that you ask them to read aloud one final Scripture—the words of Jesus’ command and promise in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Then conclude by saying something like this: “That’s what I hope for you. I firmly believe that coming to Jesus—not to my church or to your organization—is Jehovah God’s real arrangement for our salvation. Thank you for coming, and please know that you are welcome back any time.”
Don’t feel that you have failed because they didn’t come to saving faith in Christ. Instead, thank God for the opportunity you had to share with them and continue to pray for their salvation. One Christian plants, another waters, but it is God who gives the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Remember that success isn’t necessarily getting the results you desire. Success is being available to God, allowing him to witness through you by faith, and leaving the results to him.
Have you ever had Jehovah’s Witnesses call off further meetings with you? Did you see it coming? Did you handle the moment well? What, if anything, would you do differently next time?
Share your thoughts in the comments.