Jehovah's Witnesses are known for their door-to-door evangelism, pamphlets, and kind demeanor. You might have encountered them on your front porch on a Saturday morning or seen them with their literature carts on street corners. When you encounter Jehovah's Witnesses, it is important to be equipped to share the gospel with them. I have gathered a few tools for engagement for this particular context from my time studying with them. These tools, which I will share with you now, help defend your faith and point to the supremacy of Jesus Christ through a conversational context that allows you to build relationships with your Jehovah's Witness neighbors.
1. Openness To Learn
At the beginning of a conversation with a Jehovah's Witness, establish common ground. All relationships develop a foundation based on shared interests between people. Christians and Jehovah's Witnesses do have a shared value: their love for studying the word of God. Witnesses have a curiosity for discovering the truth, and most often, they joined the religion because the organization gave them answers to biblical questions, which other churches ignored. We need to reflect their same curiosity for truth first. We can demonstrate an openness to learn by stating our love for the Bible and our desire to study it. Establishing this foundation will build mutual respect and partnership. Our discussion with them will come from a humble place of wanting to understand God's truth rather than a place of boasting in our knowledge.
2. The Good News
The next stage of the conversation is reading their literature. We might feel a pull to speak first or even share evangelism material of our own. However, when engaging in apologetics, which is making a defense of the Christian faith, we often want to assess the other's position before disclosing our own. Take this time to ask questions from the literature and evaluate the Jehovah's Witness worldview. The most common pamphlets they use teach about "the good news." Their materials define the good news as the hope of everlasting life and happiness on earth. They address suffering, death, and disease of the world and present God's desire to give us a restored future.
From a biblical perspective, we can affirm the promise of eternal life free of suffering and hardship (Revelation 21:4). We can also affirm that God desires to restore His good world and wants us to enjoy the beauty of His creation, as this was His original design from this beginning (Revelation 21:1, Genesis 1:28). But, we should identify that their good news is missing an essential element: life forever with God. From Genesis to Revelation, we see clearly in redemptive history that God desires to dwell with His people. Adam and Eve were in an intimate relationship with God in the Garden of Eden. Within a pillar of cloud and fire, God journeyed with the Israelites through the wilderness. The Spirit of God rested within the temple at the center of the city, Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit dwells within the hearts of believers today. And, in eternity, God will bring down His holy city, the new Jerusalem, and He will abide with us forever in the restored heavens and earth (Revelation 21:2).
Before verse four which declares the end of suffering, Revelation 21:3 states, "Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God's dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God" (CSB). Jehovah's Witnesses miss the fact that suffering, death, and disease will end because the life-giving presence of God will be fully with us. Their worldview places God distant in the heavens, nowhere near His people. They believe God has given the gift of everlasting life, not an everlasting relationship with Him. Under this belief, they expose their love for earthly enjoyment is greater than their love for the Creator of all.
3. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
After discussing their worldview, we will want to compare their good news to Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, the Bible defines the good news as the saving work of Jesus Christ. Verses three and four state, "For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day..." (CSB). The Eternal Son of God took on flesh and dwelled among us. He was Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). God was not distant; He came near. He lived a perfect life, paid the price for our sin, erased our guilt, and clothed us in His righteousness. Because of His obedience, He conquered suffering and death, and He rose from the grave. Jesus received what Jehovah's Witnesses seek, but He alone is deserving of this eternal paradise. However, in His love and grace, Jesus brings us–rebellious sinners–into His reward. Through faith in Him, we are made new and receive what our souls need most: a restored relationship with God. We can look forward to spending eternity with Jesus, who will reign in the new Jerusalem as King over the earth.
4. Meet Again
After pointing to the true good news we have in Jesus Christ, our Jehovah's Witness neighbors might want to engage more. But, we should avoid turning our conversations into drawn-out debates. We should conclude with a request to meet again. However, the next time does not need to be a bible study. Instead, it can be another topic of conversation to get to know our new friends. We can meet them at a coffee shop, go out for lunch, or, if comfortable, invite them to our homes to exchange childhood stories, life journeys, and walks with the Lord. Though we always want to proclaim the truth of the gospel, we cannot change hearts. We must seek the Holy Spirit who gives us hearts of flesh to wonder at the glory of Jesus. We ultimately want to care for our Jehovah's Witness neighbors and trust that the Holy Spirit will lead them to Christ.