Ordering Take Out Evangelism
We have been fed a lie about the Jehovah’s Witnesses that knock at our doors. Society tells us that they are weird, scary or mean. They should be avoided at all costs says most of the world. From stand up comics to TV shows, they are the butt of many jokes about how bad it is to talk with them. Christians run in fear when they see Jehovah’s Witnesses coming up their walk. “They are just so strange or dangerous,” we think, “We must keep them away”. This is clearly how the culture and many Christians see the Jehovah’s Witnesses but should this be our view? This is part one of a two-part series on dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Part One, here, attempts to answer the question of what to do when they come to our door? Part Two will lay out some starting points for engagement with them if we choose to do so.
What Would Jesus Do?
What do we think Jesus would do if He was at home in Nazareth and He saw Jehovah’s Witnesses coming up His driveway? Would Jesus quickly pull the drapes and ignore the bell? I don’t think so. How do we think Jesus views these poor souls trapped in a false religion? They are like sheep who have lost their way. They are in need of the real Shepherd, Jesus to bring them into the real fold.
Should we put in the effort and offer to show them the real Way, Truth, and Life? It may require some planning, research, and preparation, but I say “Yes, of course, we should!” God has brought lost people to our doors asking to talk about Jesus. We should tell them about the real Jesus and give them a chance for escape.
God’s Mercy Offered through their Legalism
A simple change in outlook on Jehovah’s Witnesses can alter how we respond greatly. It starts with the straightforward question: Who brought them to our door?
Think about it. All things means all things, right? God is working in everything, even in bringing members of a false cult to our doors to talk about Jesus. Christianity is a religion of evangelism. Our Lord and Savior tells us to seek out the lost and speak to them about Him. It is not a suggestion, in fact, it is a direct order. Many of us pray for openings to share the Gospel at work, at school, and in life. “Lord, please let me learn to share the Gospel better and give me opportunities” we pray. This is great and what we should be doing.
But then two people come to our doorsteps asking to speak to us about Jesus and what do we do? Do we slam the door? Do we pretend that we are not home because they don’t believe in the real Jesus?
At heart, are the Jehovah’s Witnesses any different from our neighbor who is an agnostic? The neighbor may be friendlier and be able to talk about the weather, but they are just as lost. The neighbor is simply not as willing to talk about Jesus. Is there any greater clearer opening than a person knocking on our door and asking “Can I talk with you about Jesus?”
I think of it as take-out evangelism. It is like calling the local delivery place and having them deliver food directly to your doorstep, except it is God delivering lost souls. What a blessing from God Himself, right?
Take Out with a Warning
Yes, theirs is a clearly heretical faith that denigrates Jesus. They have a very twisted view of Scripture and are set in their ways. This is very clear and should not be taken lightly. They are well trained in argument and can talk you in circles. Their faith is also awful in its life sucking legalism. But we have the answer to eternal life and the power of the Holy Spirit. Who can stand against that?
Their faith also demands that they constantly go door to door asking to talk about Jesus. Is that God’s mercy on them or what? They are required to show up on our doorsteps and be open to talking about the Gospel of Jesus. God in His wonderful mercy putting them in the position to see the Light and escape their bondage, and bondage it certainly is.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are Prisoners
If we understand more about just how bad they have it, it can compel mercy and love from us. The structure of the Watchtower Society and its hierarchy is not like most Christian churches. It is a completely different world filled with abuse and control over its members. It is a cult in the worst sense of the word. It is comparable to a large multi-level marketing scam. It is a manipulative pyramid scheme with the threat of an angry god to enforce its rules. While this does not excuse the conscious choice of the members to follow the false teaching, it can give us pity and a desire to help towards them as they make their way towards our homes.
A Large Money Making Machine
At the top of the organization is the Watchtower Society, located in NY. They produce all of the materials for the lower level organizations including the local Kingdom Halls. Have we noticed that it is always written materials with them? No TV or media for them, just written handouts. There is a reason for this. Each Witness is required to report regularly about how much witnessing they do, how many tracts they place, and how much materials they give out. If there are not enough tracts given out by one Witness, pressure is brought to bear by their supervisor to get their numbers up and spend more time evangelizing. They are disappointing God and falling under the sway of Satan. Work, work, work and more work is the demand. The individuals trapped in this system are worked relentlessly by their superiors in the supposed name of Jesus with the dual threats of disfellowshipping and God’s anger against them being aroused.
The Threat of Disfellowshipping
Disfellowshipping is the equivalent of shunning. The person is cut off from the Witness community. This might not seem like a big deal to a Christian, but remember this is a hyper-controlling cult. If they have been involved for any length of time, the Witnesses whole family and only friends are all Witnesses too. Their business often relies upon the Witnesses. Their whole life is centered around the local Kingdom Hall. When they are disfellowshipped, all that is ripped away from them. They lose their family, friends, and social interactions. The very structure of their lives is removed.
If you have ever met a former Jehovah’s Witness who has not yet found the real Jesus, they often have a certain lostness to them. Even when they know the truth about the Watchtower Society, the unmooring from the certainty of the prison walls leaves them feeling like they are somewhat adrift in life. This high cost of leaving the organization is what makes many Witnesses who see the hypocrisy and lies of the organization stay where they are despite the truth. The social and familial bonds are just too strong to break. They are in prison but too beaten down and too afraid to walk through the open door and get out. The cost of freedom seems too high to walkway.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in eternal security. They believe that salvation is only possible through a combination of faith, good works and obedience. This again may not seem like it is unreasonable. But with cultic organizations, close attention must be paid to the meanings of the words they use. It sheds light on what they are actually saying versus what it sounds like they are saying.
Notably, with the Witnesses, faith can only be had through faith in God’s Organization, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Good works can only be done by those in the Jehovah’s Witnesses and obedience is only through the organization. The Jehovah’s Witnesses organization also determines who is doing good works and who is being obedient. At their whim, through disfellowshipping ,they believe they can exclude people from salvation simply by kicking them out of the organization. Do we see the gigantic pressure exerted against these poor people?
The individual Witnesses eternal destiny is not safe in the hands of Jesus who will never let them go. It is able to be shut off at the slightest displeasure from their superiors in the organization. Fail to place enough tracts last month? You are at risk of losing your salvation. Tempted to report sexual abuse in your Kingdom Hall? You are at risk of being kicked out of the organization and losing your salvation. The organization takes over the role of their god to force them to bow to their will.
What a terrible burden and threat to be working under, right? They are slaves to the ones they believe are saving them and it doesn’t get better when we understand why.
Follow the Money | The Watchtower Society
What is the motivation behind all of this manipulation? Why would anyone go to such great lengths?
If you follow the multi-level marketing comparison, the answer is at least partially money. Well, money, power, and control, but the financial aspect is quite shocking. We probably all have seen the pamphlets and texts handed out by the Witnesses. Have we thought about the sheer amount of money involved in providing those materials? They have to cost money, right?
Who do we think prints the materials and gets paid for them? If we guessed the Watchtower Society, we guessed correctly. They are the sole provider of legitimate materials in the entire world. It is a religious monopoly.
Who do we think pays the Watchtower Society for each and every pamphlet, tract and publication they are required to hand out to be in good standing with God? If we guessed the Watchtower Society, we are not getting how exploitive that organization really is.
It is the individual Witnesses who pay the Watchtower for each of the publications they are pressured to give away. Talk about a conflict of interest! The Watchtower makes more money by leaning on the members to give away more stuff that they are buying from the Watchtower. The devotion of the individual fills the coffers of the organization. It doesn’t matter how much blood, sweat, and tears it takes, the Watchtower must be fed! If they make a convert while out witnessing, great, another source of an endless stream of income for the Watchtower Society. But it’s not really the point. The Watchtower is getting paid because the individuals still give away the publications. The individual Witnesses will give them away to the most determined adversary to meet their quota to stay in good standing with the Kingdom Hall.
If we have spent any amount of time talking with the Witnesses, it probably was surprising how apathetic some can be. It is like they don’t actually care if we are listening as they thrust a tract into our hands. They often seem to really don’t care how we respond. This is the fruit of the financial aspect, the quota system that keeps the Watchtower Society solvent. Some witnesses simply don’t care if we listen to them as long as they meet their quota for placing materials. It keeps them out of trouble, in the organization and therefore saved. Some even go further and simply buy the materials and keep them. They are so desperate to not get disfellowshipped, they keep up the charade for years spending thousands of dollars in the process. It is a tremendously sad picture of fear, false religion and greed a work with thousands of individuals in bondage all over the world to it.
Jesus proclaimed Himself that He has come to set the captives free. He is the Great Physician who came for the sick, the lame and the lost. He saved people like Mary Magdalene who was possessed by 7 demons or the unnamed man in Gad who was possessed by thousands named Legion. He came for Paul who was killing Christians and members of the Sanhedrin like Joseph and Nicodemus. Jesus gave up everything, even His blood, and last breath so that ugly, nasty and lost sinners like you and I could be set free. He then commands us to go and offer the same love, mercy, and grace to the rest of the prisoners. The more lost they are, the more they need to hear the Gospel. When we understand the burdens they are under and the eternity they face, this answer to the title question seems easy.
Jesus commands us to preach the real Gospel, even to those of false religions. Elijah took on hundreds of the prophets of Baal without fear because he knew God was with Him. We can rest in that same assurance.
Harmless as Doves, Wise as Serpents
This is not to say that talking with Jehovah’s Witnesses is easy. I will post my guide for talking with them shortly to give a head start. I love talking with them personally, but they are heavily indoctrinated and highly resistant. It takes some effort, discernment, and clarity on our own faith to reach out to them. They are typically some of the harder folks to deal with in the world of evangelism. They are very well trained in certain areas and that can be off-putting. If we go in expecting immediate results, we may be disappointed. Seed planting is usually my goal with the hope that someone else comes along and waters that seed.
We should have our own spiritual house in order before setting out. They are false believers trying to lead people astray so we need to have our own faith wrestled out before taking on theirs. This does not mean we need to be perfect or have a masters in divinity. Rather, just to make sure that we understand our own faith and know who Jesus is as our master. We cannot be shaken by the vain imaginations of men when we are firmly in Jesus. A simple litmus test can keep us on the right track: Do we believe that Jesus is actually the Archangel Michael? If we don’t, then we are no danger from their deceptive as this is one of their main points. Jesus is not God and not eternal according to them. If you disagree, then no matter how confusing they are, you and they will never agree.
If we do share the real Jesus with the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to our doorstep, there is no guarantee that they will agree with us. There is no certainty that they will not turn away and stay in their life of bondage. But much like those who rejected Jesus in His time, this will be despite our best efforts. We give them an opportunity to save themselves, what they do next is up to them. It is like we saw them floundering in the ocean struggling to stay afloat and threw a lifeline that was well within their grasp. We cannot prevent them from choosing to reject it and drowning. What we can do is bask in the love of Jesus that pours out for us and for them from the Holy Spirit as we try and save them. It is tremendously rewarding knowing that we tried.
So next time you see a duo of Jehovah’s Witnesses walking towards your door, try to really look at them. They are not butt of jokes or scary. They are people just like you or I. They are just in the grips of a terrible destructive system leading them like sheep to the slaughter. They are drowning, no matter how much they protest otherwise.
Will you throw them a lifeline?
For further reading on Jehovah’s Witnesses, Ron Rhodes has a good little 10 page publication – What You Need to Know as well as a longer work Reasoning from the Scripture with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Walter Martin’s classic Kingdom of the Cults is also always helpful.