QUESTIONS TO ASK MORMON MISSIONARIES –- A Step-by-Step Guide for Christians Witnessing to Mormons at the Door
WHO ARE MORMON MISSIONARIES?
Mormon missionaries are representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church). While Mormons claim to be “Christians,” their denial of key Christian beliefs such as God the Father being a Spirit, not an exalted man, the Son being an eternal and uncreated God, not Lucifer’s spirit-brother, man’s goal being to worship God, not become a “god” himself, and eternal hell for unbelievers who reject Christ with no second chance after death has caused many Christians to denounce this group as a heretical movement. 1. In addition to the King James Version of the Bible, Mormons regard as “Scripture” three other books produced by Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. These books are: The Book of Mormon (a translation of gold plates that allegedly contained the record of ancient inhabitants of America), The Doctrine and Covenants (a transcription of prophecies and revelations that Joseph Smith claimed to have received from God), and The Pearl of Great Price (a translation of an ancient Egyptian ‘Book of Breathings’ papyrus that Smith claimed contained the writings of the biblical patriarch Abraham).
Although every person is expected to serve the Church through various church “callings,” there are two types of missionaries within the Mormon Church: Proselytizing missionaries and Church Service missionaries. Most missionaries are proselytizing missionaries and they are usually single young men or women between the ages of 19 to 24. Typically, Mormon missionaries visit urban neighborhoods on bicycles and rural areas in cars. Men dress in black and white suits and are called “Elders,” while the women wear various colored skirt and dress outfits and are called “Sisters.” Many come from LDS homes, and are financially supported by their personal savings and gifts from friends and family members.
When a young LDS person commits to serve a “mission” for the Mormon Church, he or she is sent away from home to serve outside their home state in the U.S. or in a foreign country. During the first few weeks of training at an LDS “Missionary Training Center,” the young person studies the basic “missionary lessons” that are used to proselytize prospective converts into the Church. For those who are called to foreign countries, they are also taught the language and cultural skills of the country to which they are being sent. Each proselytizing missionary commits to serve a two-year mission for the Church and is assigned a “companion” partner of the same gender to serve together, two-by-two, at all times. For the first two to three months of a new missionary’s assignment, he or she is assigned a “trainer” for on the job support. Periodically, missionaries are transferred to other areas within their mission and teamed with new companions for new experiences.
Most Mormon missionaries are dedicated young people who know only what the Mormon Church has allowed them to know of its history and beliefs. Information is highly controlled in the mission. Missionaries are only allowed to call home once a year and correspond by mail or email once a week. At no time are missionaries allowed to be away from their “companions,” and they run a tight daily schedule from 6:30 AM to 10:30PM consisting of exercise, study, prayer, journaling, door-to-door proselytizing, meeting with prospective converts, and community service. During the mission, young missionaries learn for the first time how to teach and defend the deep doctrines of the Church, and they learn creative ways to cloak deep Mormon doctrines to prevent prospective converts from being turned away from some of the strange teachings of Mormonism.
HOW TO WITNESS TO LDS MISSIONARIES AT THE DOOR:
Mormon missionaries are constantly under stress to perform to the expectations of their leaders. If you are prepared and sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, you can be used in a powerful way to bring the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to light in their hearts. We suggest three ways you can respond with love and truth to the missionaries who knock on your door:
1. IF YOU DON’T HAVE TIME TO TALK…
If you don’t have time to talk, you can hand Mormon Missionaries copies of our business card tracts. Because Mormons are warned against reading “anti-Mormon” literature, these small tracts are perfect for planting seeds of truth in a way that is less threatening than a full-size, three-fold tract or pamphlet. Due to the size of these cards and the photos that look like Mormon images, the questions and Scriptures on the cards can be read before the missionary knows what he is reading. Even if he discards the card after reading it, the seeds of truth from God’s Word have already been planted in his mind. On the backside of the cards, we list the evangelistic www.4mormon.org website that is easy to remember and provides a source for more research once the missionary leaves his mission. These cards are great to place in your purse or wallet to have on hand when they visit your home or when you see them out in public. You can view and print the cards free from our website at the following link, or order pre-printed copies:
How to present the card tracts to Mormon Missionaries:
When you encounter Mormon missionaries with a goal of giving them our tracts, we suggest that you hand one missionary the card entitled, “Is the Mormon Jesus the same Jesus of the Bible?” along with two or three different cards and hand the second missionary the card called, “Is Jesus a Separate God from the Father?” along with a different set of two or three cards that are not the same ones that you gave to the first missionary. This way, when they see that each received different cards, curiosity will encourage them to read all of the cards and more seeds will be planted that way. Be prepared for the following sample dialogue that may occur when you hand them the cards:
If the Mormon asks you if your cards are “anti-Mormon,” he is trying to follow the LDS Church’s advice not to read anything that is critical of Mormon beliefs. When you respond by saying that the cards are “faith-promoting messages from the Scriptures,” you are letting him know that these cards do not “bash” his faith in Jesus Christ or the Scriptures and you are identifying with his desire to be a faithful witness for the Lord Jesus.
2. IF YOU DON’T HAVE TIME TO LEARN HOW TO DEFEND YOUR BELIEFS…
If you desire to share your faith one-on-one with Mormon missionaries, but you do not have time to prepare for an in-depth discussion on the differences between Mormon and Christian beliefs, you may try inviting them in to watch a film that you have on Mormonism. If presented tactfully, you may be successful in getting them to commit to an hour of video time and another hour afterward to discuss your concerns about the film. Since they may be hesitant to watch the video because they will see it as an “anti-Mormon” film, you will need to tactfully explain why you need their “help” in correcting any “errors” or “lies” that you believe about Mormonism from the film. For advice on how to present a film to Mormon missionaries, see the following article:
3. IF YOU WANT TO DIALOGUE EFFECTIVELY…
The best way to present the Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ to Mormon missionaries is to invite them into your home for a friendly conversation on the differences between Biblical Christianity and Mormonism. If you want to dialogue effectively, you will want to ask them difficult questions that will challenge their beliefs in a gentle and loving way as they present their ideas to you. Since it is not uncommon for Mormon missionaries to fail to show for a meeting after being challenged on their beliefs at a prior meeting, it is important that you obtain their names and phone numbers at your FIRST meeting, so that you can call them if they fail to show for any subsequent appointment.
How to start a meaningful conversation with Mormon missionaries:
To be effective in witnessing, you must first recognize that they are not interested in debating or arguing with you about your beliefs. Since, they believe that conventional Christians do not have the fullness of the Gospel nor the “authority” to act in the name of God, they believe that you have nothing to offer them. They are trained to avoid people who know a lot about Mormonism and who attempt to get them to leave the Mormon Church. So, if you come across as too knowledgeable, they will immediately reject anything you have to say and mark their records so that you will not receive any more visits. Since arguing about beliefs is rarely profitable, we suggest that you ask questions to get them to think about the irrationality of their beliefs instead of telling them what you believe and arguing with a number of Scriptures that they are wrong. Your goal is to help them come to their own conclusions that Mormonism is wrong through the questions you are asking.
Do not assume that every Mormon you meet believes the same doctrines of Mormonism. In fact, many of the strange doctrines of the LDS Church (like blood atonement, Jesus having many wives, Jesus being produced through a procreative act between God the Father and Mary, etc.) have been de-emphasized in recent years. It is possible to meet a young Mormon missionary who has never heard of these doctrines or the fact that they have been taught by prominent LDS leaders in the past. So, do not tell Mormons what they believe. Rather, preface any discussion about the differences between Christianity and Mormonism with a question like:
What to say if Mormon missionaries question your motives for talking to them:
When Mormon missionaries sense that you are strong in your Christian faith and that you are not going to convert to their beliefs, they may object to continuing their conversation with you by questioning your motives for talking to them. They may say something like this:
To answer this objection, we suggest that you reply with something like the following:
By answering in this way, you have put the LDS missionary in a tough position. If he answers “no” to your question about learning from each other, he has just admitted that he doesn’t want to learn more truth. If he answers “yes” to your question, he has to then agree to allow you to share your position on your beliefs as well.
QUESTIONS TO ASK MORMON MISSIONARIES:
The Mormon Church realizes that many of the deep doctrines of Mormonism (such as the belief that men can become gods) are strange to most non-Mormons and Christians alike. The Church knows that if these doctrines were revealed right away to prospective converts, especially those who come from a Christian background, they would immediately be rejected. Thus, they train their missionaries with the principle of “milk before meat.” This principle warns missionaries not to discuss deep doctrines with you until you have accepted the basic doctrines of the LDS Church. To prevent Mormon missionaries from revealing doctrines too soon, the Church produced a systematic training manual called, Preach My Gospel. In chapter 3 of this guide, it details the essential doctrines that LDS missionaries are expected to teach to prospective converts. They may change the order of these doctrines to fit the needs of each individual, but if you agree to meet with them, you can be sure that at least one of the following topics will be discussed.
To prepare you to become an effective witness to them, we have briefly summarized each missionary lesson below and provided you with a series of questions that you can ask to plant seeds of truth as you engage in meaningful dialogue during the lessons. After the suggested questions, we have also provided additional links to relevant website articles for you to study and learn more about each topic.
Each time that you meet, we suggest that you only ask one or two of the series of questions we suggest, because you don’t want to make them feel like you are debating your beliefs with them. If you ask them only one or two series of questions that they are not able to answer, these questions will stay in the back of their minds for the Holy Spirit to use at the right time. However, if you barrage them with a LOT of questions, they will immediately shut down their thinking capacities and write you off in their minds as an anti-Mormon who is opposed to their beliefs and not really interested in the truth.
Remember that your goal is to win the person, not the argument. Don’t expect them to change their beliefs and accept yours right away. They are representatives for their Church, so even if they want to change their beliefs, they can’t without leaving their mission assignment and the LDS Church altogether. Your goal is just to plant seeds. If they understand the point you made (whether they agree with you or not), you have accomplished your goal. When you ask them some of the tough questions we are suggesting below, they may not be able to answer you right away, but you must allow let them save face. Don’t pressure them into a corner by forcing them to say that you are right. Remember they can’t do so as long as they are representing their Church. So, if they can’t answer your question, just humbly acknowledge their struggle and let the issue rest. The same is true for your response if they ask you a tough question that you can’t answer right away. Just say: “That’s a good question. I never thought of it that way before. I would like to do some research on this subject this week and the next time we get together, can we talk about this?” They will almost never say, “No” to your request. By giving each other the opportunity to save face in this way, you will be able to keep the discussion from turning into a debate.
One word of caution as you engage in dialogue with LDS missionaries: Stay on the topic that the missionaries want to discuss with you. Do not change subjects or try to divert them so that they can’t make their points with you. For example, if they’re talking about the “apostasy” and “restoration,” do not bring up Joseph Smith’s 34 wives and expect them to discuss the subject of Mormon polygamy with you. Changing topics from what the missionaries want to discuss with you is the quickest way to convince them that you are not really interested in listening to them. If you expect LDS missionaries to listen to you without interruption, then you must give them the decency and respect to hear them out as well.
LESSON 1: THE MESSAGE OF THE RESTORATION OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST:
LESSON 2: THE PLAN OF SALVATION:
LESSON 3: THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST:
LESSON 4: THE COMMANDMENTS AND LESSON 5: LAWS AND ORDINANCES
These last two lessons in the LDS training manual go into detail on the various “Laws” and “Commandments” of the LDS Gospel. These include: Prayer, Study of the Scriptures, Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy (Sunday rest), Baptism and Confirmation, Following the Prophet (The LDS Prophet will never lead you astray), Keeping the 10 Commandments, Living the Law of Chastity (moral purity), Obeying the Word of Wisdom (LDS prohibition on drinking tea and coffee), Keeping the Law of Tithing (Giving 10% to the LDS Church), Observing the Law of the Fast (Fasting two meals on the first Sunday of each month), Priesthood and Auxiliaries (LDS positions of authority), Missionary Work, Eternal Marriage, Temples and Family History (Performing Baptism for the Dead and various other unique LDS temple practices), and Service (Church “callings” or duties). Since these topics, although interesting to analyze, do not lead to effective discussions on the essential doctrines of the true Biblical Gospel, we will not provide any questions for you to ask Mormon missionaries on these topics. However, if you get this far into the missionary lessons after asking many of the questions detailed above, you can be certain that you have planted many seeds of truth that will not return void.
For more information on Mormonism vs. Christianity and additional questions to ask Mormons see:
1. For documentation on the Mormon beliefs listed see: WHO ARE MORMONS? – Their History, Beliefs and Practices and Mormon Doctrine Exposed.
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