Sharing God's Word with Mormon Missionaries: A pastor's perspective
I was just putting dinner on the table when the doorbell rang. Sunday evenings are not the usual time for salespeople. The nametags and nice dresses gave them away. They were female Mormon missionaries. Immediately my heart started racing. After explaining we were about to eat dinner, we agreed on a better time to meet later in the week. The following Saturday my wife and I were ready to greet the missionaries at our door.
Opening the door is the first step, but it feels like the scariest. That is why the Please Open the Door initiative from Truth in Love Ministry is very helpful. They begin by offering reminders from God’s Word that you don’t have to be afraid. Opening the door and showing love by providing water and snacks are easy steps to take to begin speaking the truth in love. Fear and worry largely come from not knowing what they will say or ask. But most Mormon missionaries follow pretty much the same script, so Truth in Love Ministry has built their plan based on their script. Their plan allows for knowing when to inject the topics of faith, salvation, the law, and the gospel into the conversation. This helps produce confidence in knowing how to share God's Word with Mormons.
My wife and I shared God’s Word of truth with the two sister missionaries. First, we listened closely. Mormons change the definition of Christian words so they tend to look like they are agreeing with us. Part of the Truth in Love Ministry approach is to get past this apparent agreement and concentrate on letting them explain what they mean by certain words. We then took the opportunity to explain what the Bible teaches and why the two understandings are different. This is challenging, but very important.
The same Mormon sister missionaries continued to come to our house for four weeks and we kept opening the door. The conversations were pleasant and respectful. Both my wife and I grew to care for them very much. We saw their need even if they didn’t. After listening the first few weeks, as suggested by the Truth in Love approach, we started taking a bit more control of the conversations. We began to share Bible passages that said God demanded perfection and that we couldn’t achieve that alone. We told them that because of Christ we were already perfect in God’s eyes. We shared how this was all free, that God paid the price by sending Jesus to the cross. We silently prayed that the Word would crash through their work-righteous thinking. Maybe later questions or doubts would rise regarding the crushing burden of work-righteousness in Mormonism.
Eventually our meetings came to an end. God brought these two sisters to our door. They needed to hear God’s demands for perfection. They also needed to hear how we could say we were already perfect in Christ.
The Mormon sisters were not baptized in our kitchen, but I wouldn’t say the visits were a failure. In fact, quite the opposite. We showed love and shared God’s truth. I can do nothing to make the message of God’s Word work. Not slick talk, perfect examples, or great reasoning. What I could do was bring the Word of God to their hearts. I could use the Truth in Love Ministry approach to find places to speak God’s law and gospel, while being respectful of their beliefs. Knowing God's promises for all Christians who share God's Word, plus receiving encouragement and instruction from Truth in Love Ministry, I could open the door.
By Rev. Craig Born
Pastor, Gethsemane Lutheran Church (WELS), Oklahoma City, OK