Many Christians don’t feel they are competent to share their faith with a LDS missionary. They fear they will not know what to say, or worse, say something wrong.
Others think they have to become experts in Mormonism before getting into a serious discussion with LDS missionaries. Therefore, they don’t even consider doing it, because they aren’t such experts.
Still others wonder if it will do any good. They assume the missionaries are set in their beliefs and won’t believe anything different.
And then, if we are honest with ourselves, often we just don’t want to do this because our lives are busy enough already. We don’t want to sacrifice some of our precious free time doing something which takes us so far out of our comfort zones.
There are many reasons why Christians have hesitated to share Jesus with LDS missionaries. Over the years, we have heard most of these reasons. To be honest, we haven’t just heard them; there were times when we too have thought them.
But we, along with many others, have experienced even better reasons to speak the truth in love to LDS missionaries. We encourage you to read the accounts of people who have done this. Here we briefly address some common fears and concerns.
I don’t know enough
This, in some form or other, is the most commonly expressed fear. It often stems from the thought stated above, that people think they must be experts in Mormonism to talk with Mormons. Our entire approach, however, is focused on witnessing Christ rather than debating Mormonism. We consciously stay away from debating things like Joseph Smith’s first vision or other aspects of LDS history. Neither do we talk about past LDS teachings. We do contrast current LDS teaching with the Bible. But even this, we do sparingly. And when it needs to be done, we are ready to walk you through every step of the way.
We have narrowed our focus even more. Although all biblical teaching is important, in witnessing situations, two are paramount: human sin and divine salvation. These are the two topics on which we want you to focus. As stated above, you don’t have to be an expert in Mormonism. Neither do you have to be a theologian knowing all the intricacies of biblical doctrine. All you need to do is talk about the reason why everyone needs a Savior, namely sin; and then how God filled the need completely by sending Jesus as our substitute to live and die for us. On this site, there are numerous articles giving a variety of ways of doing this (see tabs on top of page).
It doesn’t do any good
This is a close second in a list of reasons why many Christians haven’t tried witnessing to LDS missionaries. Many naturally assume that LDS missionaries are totally convinced Mormonism is true. After all, they are full-time missionaries!
Our experience, however, has taught us otherwise. In recent years, we have talked with hundreds of missionaries and returned missionaries. Many were totally committed to Mormonism. To our surprise, however, we found many who had doubts about Mormonism; or who became inactive in the LDS Church after returning from their missions; or who were intrigued by our message of free forgiveness through Christ. Even more encouraging, many told us how it was a Christian witnessing to them on their mission which first got them thinking.
Even more convincing than these experiences, however, are God’s sure promises about the awesome power of his word. His word always works his purposes. It never is without effect. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). God’s Word always accomplishes something: either it works on the listener or strengthens the faith of the person giving the witness. In fact, it is so powerful that it often works on both parties simultaneously.
What if they don’t convert?
People often express this concern when they think they did something wrong causing the missionaries not to convert. With such thoughts, they place unnecessary pressure on themselves. The Bible clearly distinguishes between our and the Holy Spirit’s responsibilities. Simply put: it is not our responsibility to convert! God has called Christians to be his messengers, his ambassadors. Our responsibility is to deliver the message faithfully and accurately.
It’s the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to convert people. He is the one who convicts people of their sin. Jesus reminded his disciples of this shortly before he was arrested. “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:7-8). The Holy Spirit does not just convict people of sin; he is also the one who creates saving faith in their hearts. “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).
It is essential to remain clear on these different responsibilities. We have successfully witnessed when we delivered the message clearly and accurately. “Mission success” is not determined by somebody converting. Peter, for example, praises Noah as a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) even though, as far as we know, no one was converted through Noah’s preaching.
Not only is it important to remember that it is the Holy Spirit who converts people, it is also essential to keep in mind that he usually uses a process to bring people to faith. The Bible frequently refers to this process as seeds growing. Think of Jesus’ parables centered on seeds. Or consider what Paul wrote: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Cor. 3:6). It often takes a while for the seeds of God’s Word to germinate in a person’s heart. More than one former LDS missionary has told us how something a Christian had told them years before got them thinking.
Don’t expect the missionaries to quit their missions and confess that Jesus has done it all for them. Don’t even expect them to tell you your words have had an effect on them. But be confident they did. Be confident because God’s Word is so powerful.
Is this for you?
Almost without exception, people who have followed our approach have experienced two things:
1) Success as they clearly communicated the main biblical messages of human sin and divine salvation. They weren’t frustrated because they had spent more time debating Mormonism rather than witnessing Christ. They weren’t frustrated thinking they had to convert people. Rather they rejoiced in planting more seeds of God’s Word.
2) Growth in their own faith. One of the best ways to grow in the faith is to share it. Nothing drives us back to the Bible more than when we share its message with others. Nothing makes us appreciate the totality of God’s gift of eternal life more than when we have to articulate it.
We also want to assure you that we will be there for you. We have many resources. We have people ready to help you with advice, encouragement, and prayer. In some very real ways, we will be with you when you open the door to the missionaries.