• Overcoming Your Fears - You are wise to be concerned, because if you embark unprepared into discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is a danger of getting indoctrinated and becoming a Jehovah’s Witness yourself. But the solution to that isn’t to hide behind the curtains and pretend you aren’t at home. The solution is to get prepared.
  • The Role of Prayer - When it comes to witnessing—including getting through to Jehovah’s Witnesses—we need to prepare as if everything depended on us and pray as if everything depended on God.
  • Please Provide Feedback As We Go - As we go through this series on witnessing techniques for getting through to Jehovah’s Witnesses, I’d like to get your feedback. Please share your thoughts with us. I don’t expect anyone to answer all of these questions. I’m just asking them to trigger your thought processes. Share as much or as little as you wish.
  • Choosing the Issues to Discuss - I ended the first post in this series by asking you to consider how much you care about getting through to Jehovah’s Witnesses and how much time you are willing to invest preparing. I asked you to make this a matter of prayer. After doing an honest self-evaluation, some of you may have concluded that you only have time to prepare thoroughly on one particular issue. If so, that’s fine. I’m glad you’re willing to do that much because doing something is better than doing nothing. Most Jehovah’s Witnesses never receive a Christian witness from anyone. There are a lot of possible topics you could choose, and the challenge you have is which issue to select. Others of you—particularly those who have loved ones in the Watchtower—will be motivated to prepare to discuss as many topics as it takes to get through to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in your life. Your challenge is how to “eat the elephant”—that is, where to start and where to go from there.
  • Planting Seeds and Stones - "Seed planting” or “stone in the shoe” objectives are points you intend to make that you hope will stick with the Witnesses if nothing else does. Even if they don’t make an immediate impact, your hope is that they will bear fruit over time (“seed planting”) or keep bothering the Witnesses (“stone in the shoe”) long after they have stopped meeting with you.
  • Objectives Big and Small - You can see that these objectives vary considerably in their scope. The Jesus Isn’t Michael Approach has a narrow focus, and could be covered in one session with a Jehovah’s Witness. It also could be narrowed further into “seed planting” or “stone in the shoe” objectives I discussed in my last post.
  • What is NOT YOUR OBJECTIVE - In my book, Getting Through to Jehovah’s Witnesses: Approaching Bible Discussions in Unexpected Ways , I identify a number of “Watchtower Signature Issues.” These are issues Jehovah’s Witnesses often bring up in order to try to convince us that the Watchtower religion is the only genuine Christian faith, plus a couple of topics that they will never bring up but that might be a fruitful area for you to discuss at an appropriate time. It is especially important with these types of topics to pay attention to what is NOT YOUR OBJECTIVE in the discussion.
  • Listen - If we are going to get through to Jehovah’s Witnesses, we need to listen so we can find out what is important to them. Let me illustrate my point by telling you about a bad experience I had one day when I went shopping for a new car.
  • Should You Give Your Personal Testimony? - When I first became a Christian, mentors told me that one of the best ways to share the gospel is to give your personal testimony of what Jesus has done for you. Is that method effective in getting through to Jehovah’s Witnesses? Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who have become Christians disagree on this, so I’ll give you the pros and cons.
  • How to Avoid Getting Derailed - One time as I was about to embark on a series of meetings with two Jehovah’s Witnesses (or so I thought), instead of getting out his materials the lead Witness stared at me and asked point blank: "What is your purpose in meeting with us?" The tone seemed to me to be accusatory, sort of like my father sitting me down and saying, “Son, don’t you think there is something you ought to tell me?” I quickly realized that the “wrong” answer might derail the whole process. They might tell me there was really no point in going further and head for the door.
  • Think Like a Jehovah’s Witness - In order to get through to Jehovah’s Witnesses, we need to learn to think like a Jehovah’s Witness thinks. I don’t mean we need to agree with them. I mean we need to understand them. We need to know what they believe and why. We need to understand what will put them at ease and what will arouse opposition. We need to understand how our words might be misconstrued so we can avoid those pitfalls.
  • How Witnesses Hope Your Meetings Will Go - When Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your door, they won’t be adlibbing. They have been well-trained in what to say in order to try to set up a series of meetings with you. These will be meetings where they will be in charge and hope to systematically teach you Watchtower doctrine until you are ready to become a Jehovah’s Witness yourself. Today, I’m going to walk you through that process so you’ll know what they will do and why.
  • Let Jehovah’s Witnesses Be the Teachers - Jehovah’s Witnesses must be the teachers, and you must be the student. That’s the only way to get them to continue to have ongoing spiritual discussions with you. You will actually be teaching them things, of course, but indirectly (as a questioning student) rather than directly (as a teacher). Evidence Ministries President Keith Walker calls this “ Student Role Teaching .” Here’s why Jehovah’s Witnesses insist on being the teachers.
  • Student Role Teaching - Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t allowed to question Watchtower teachings—but you are! After all, you aren’t expected to understand what Witnesses understand already. If you let them be the teachers and you accept the role of being one of their students, you will be allowed to ask questions they would never dare to ask. In fact, you can raise questions they would never even think to ask. But you have to be careful how you do it.
  • Staying on Topic - When you are making headway with Witnesses on a particular matter, often they will try to change the subject. We all do this to some extent, but it’s a special challenge when you are trying to get through to Jehovah’s Witnesses. So how do you stay on topic and avoid getting sidetracked? With Student Role Teaching, you control the situation by the questions you ask.
  • Do the Unexpected - Why should you do the unexpected when discussing Bible doctrine with Jehovah’s Witnesses? Because if you don’t, they will just recite their Watchtower talking points and you won’t get through to them.
  • Take the Wind Out of Their Sails - In last week’s post, I recommended that you get Jehovah’s Witnesses out of their prepared Watchtower presentations by approaching Bible topics in ways they won’t expect. One way to do that is to take the wind out of their sails by bringing up some of their standard arguments before they do and agreeing with the amount of truth that’s contained in them. Then move past that to share your main points with them.
  • Turning the Tables - Many times you can use a combination of witnessing techniques. Here’s an example of how you can combine taking the wind out of their sails with Student Role Teaching to turn the tables when discussing the biblical relationship of faith and works.
  • Emulate Columbo - In order to avoid triggering the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ persecution mindset when you challenge Watchtower dogma by voicing questions they would never dare or even think to ask, I recommend that you emulate Columbo’s non-threatening manner.
  • Pin Them Down - Good investigators know that before you confront a witness with an inconsistency, you first have to pin them down to their basic story. Otherwise, they just wriggle off the hook. A similar principle applies in getting through to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  • Ask Follow-Up Questions to Bring Out the Meaning of Bible Passages - I used to think that having Jehovah’s Witnesses read aloud a passage of Scripture would be enough to get through to them. I’d wait for them to concede the point the Scripture was making. Instead, they would often give me a blank stare. They read the words, but the words didn’t sink in. They didn’t get the point. What do you do if that happens? Ask follow-up questions to bring out the meaning of the passage. Let me give you an example.
  • Using Statements Followed by Questions - When I recommend Student Role Teaching, you may be asking, “Are you saying I should never tell Jehovah’s Witnesses what I believe and why?” No, sometimes you have to do that in order to get your point across. But if you aren’t careful, you will come across as trying to take over their “rightful” role as teachers. You’ll arouse opposition, and the Witnesses may decide to stop meeting with you. That’s bad—you want to get through to them, not to drive them away. So what can you do? Follow your statements immediately with questions asking the Witnesses for their input. There are a number of phrases that I’ve found helpful in doing this.
  • Clarify Terminology - The Watchtower uses Bible words and phrases but often attaches very different meanings to them. In talking with Jehovah’s Witnesses, therefore, it is critical that you get them to define the terms they are using. Likewise, define the terms you are using. If you suspect that you have conflicting definitions of words or phrases, explain your understanding of the terms and ask them to explain theirs. Make clear which definition is being used at various points in the conversation. That way, you will avoid the pitfall of appearing to communicate when in reality you are miscommunicating. Don’t take anything for granted.
  • Use Language Witnesses Will Understand - As you listen to Jehovah’s Witnesses talk, you will find them using Watchtower lingo—phrases like “the ransom sacrifice” and “Jehovah’s arrangement for salvation.” After you get them to define their terms, it often helps to use the Watchtower expressions yourself, so long as you aren’t agreeing to doctrinal error by doing so.
  • Clarify Differing Positions - As a part of Student Role Teaching, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to clear up misconceptions about what it is that you believe. Don’t assume that Jehovah’s Witnesses already understand your beliefs. In fact, often they misunderstand what you believe because they are relying on the Watchtower instead of checking things out for themselves. The only way to know is to ask them. Then you can clear up misconceptions before continuing your discussions. Here are two examples.
  • Challenging Watchtower Assumptions - Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t allowed to question the Watchtower’s doctrines and assumptions. Because of this, we have to do it for them. As we do so, we have to walk a fine line so as not to come across as antagonistic. The best way to do this is as students who are seeking to understand the details of Watchtower teachings. Here are two examples of how to do this.
  • Discussing Long Bible Passages - In order to get through to Jehovah’s Witnesses on some points, it’s necessary to discuss some fairly long Bible passages with them. This is particularly so when we need to show Witnesses the full context of some of their favorite proof texts. The problem is that trying to discuss dozens of verses in one group doesn’t work. As I said in a previous post, “If the passage is a long one, review it with them in smaller, more manageable segments rather than getting lost trying to analyze a lengthy passage all at once.” In my experience, to be manageable, the segments should contain no more than 3 or 4 verses each. This is best explained with an example.
  • Dealing with the Watchtower’s New World Translation - Although Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t object to you using your favorite version of the Bible, the only one they really trust is the Watchtower’s New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT). Despite the fact that Witnesses consider the Watchtower version to be the most accurate translation of the Hebrew and Greek texts, many times the verses have been rewritten to support Watchtower doctrines. As Christians who are trying to get through to Jehovah’s Witnesses, we need to know how to deal with this reality. In my opinion, there are four strategies you can use to do this successfully.
  • Using the Kingdom Interlinear Translation - The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures is a Watchtower book that’s available free on its website. Essentially, it’s the Wescott-Hort interlinear New Testament with the Greek words on the bottom line and the English equivalents above it. Even if you don’t know Greek, you can sometimes use this resource to give Jehovah’s Witnesses reason to question the Watchtower’s rendering of important texts in its New World Translation. Here are some examples of how this can be done.
  • The Effective Use of Silence - Several times, I have had to learn lessons about witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses the hard way. The effective use of silence is one of them.
  • Be Creative - Sometimes when you are trying to explain biblical Christianity to Jehovah’s Witnesses, it helps to be creative. Here are a couple examples from my own experience.
  • Letting Go - In dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses, there are three areas in which you will eventually have to let go: (1) Discussing a specific passage of scripture, (2) Focusing on a specific topic, (3) Meeting with the Witnesses altogether.
  • Taking the Initiative - By far, the most usual situation in which Christians encounter Jehovah’s Witnesses is the familiar one where they come to our homes as part of their door-to-door witnessing. In other words, they are the ones taking the initiative... In the next several posts I want to expand your horizons to suggest ways in which you can take the initiative in connecting with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  • Connecting with Active Jehovah’s Witnesses You Know - Several years ago, a Christian friend of mine worked in a factory where many of his co-workers were Jehovah’s Witnesses. He said that during the lunch break they all sat together in the cafeteria and never bothered to try to witness to him. He wasn’t upset by that—just curious as to why. What struck me was that my friend never considered initiating a Bible discussion with any of them. Do you have any family members, friends, co-workers, or neighbors who are Jehovah’s Witnesses? There’s no reason why you can’t take the initiative in talking to them about God, the Bible, and salvation.
  • Encountering Jehovah’s Witnesses at Carts - According to Watchtower statistics, more than 165,000 literature carts have been supplied to congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world. [1] Their literature is available to passersby free of charge. This method of outreach is used mainly in high foot traffic metropolitan areas. The carts are usually staffed by two Jehovah’s Witnesses working in shifts throughout the day. They don’t usually initiate conversations with passersby, and most of the time no one talks with them. Even if the Witnesses don’t say anything to try to draw people to the carts, they will respond to comments and questions. If you want to expand your witnessing opportunities, take the initiative by stopping at the cart and talking with them.
  • Going to a Kingdom Hall - One way to take the initiative in connecting with Jehovah’s Witnesses is to attend one or more meetings at their nearest Kingdom Hall (that’s the Watchtower version of a church building). I would recommend this only if you have developed some experience and proficiency at witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you are interested in trying this, let me offer you several suggestions.
  • Internet Outreach - A fruitful area for expanding your witnessing opportunities to Jehovah’s Witnesses is internet outreach. Social media such as Facebook have online discussion groups involving Witnesses and ex-Witnesses. In addition, there are now support groups online for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and for current Jehovah’s Witnesses who suspect something is wrong with the Watchtower and are looking for answers. These are good places to learn about how Jehovah’s Witnesses think and feel and read about people’s struggles within the Watchtower organization.
  • Helping Jehovah’s Witness Children - Special considerations apply when we are dealing with Jehovah’s Witness children. By “children,” I mean anyone who is still a minor and under the authority of their parents.
  • Helping Inactive Jehovah’s Witnesses - Reaching out to people with a Watchtower background whom you already know can expand your witnessing opportunities in another way. If you wait for Jehovah’s Witnesses to knock on your door, the only ones you will encounter are the ones who are active in the field service ministry. But some Witnesses are relatively inactive, attending meetings sporadically and rarely, if ever, going door-to-door. If you are going to help them, you’ll need to try to find out why they are inactive rather than making assumptions that may be completely wrong.
  • Helping People Who Are Studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses - Keep your eyes and ears open. You may already know people who are not baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses but who are studying with them. Perhaps they are members of your family or personal friends. Or maybe you have a friend who is deeply concerned because a loved one has gotten involved in a Watchtower book study. What can you do to help?