Important “dos” and “don’ts” for engaging a Mormon or someone who has become interested in Mormonism
Five Key Things to Do
(1) Do recognize the spiritual nature of the battle. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6) – the person we are dealing with is our neighbor, not our enemy. Praying for those who are being wooed by the Mormons will both help them and help you to keep a proper perspective and be led by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 18:1-8; Rom. 12:12). Don't just pray by yourself; find a couple of Christian friends who are serious about prayer and their relationship to Christ and ask them to pray with you for your loved one. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
(2) Do treat people caught in the web of spiritual deception with respect and compassion. Treat them the way you would like to be treated. Get to know them on a personal level. Take the apostle Paul’s counsel to Timothy as a guiding Scriptural basis for your ministry approach: “And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim. 2:24-25)
(3) Do ask lots of questions – and truly listen to the answers. Here are some examples of questions that can open the conversation and help you know better who you are talking to and how you can best enter into their lives.
- What caused you to be interested in Mormonism?
- What things have you been taught by the Mormons that appeal to you or resonate with you as truth?
- What do you like about Mormons or the Mormon religion?
- Do you have any concerns about the Mormon faith or areas you are not totally comfortable with?
- How important would it be for a person to thoroughly investigate a religion that claims it is the only true church before joining?
- Were you aware that Muslims, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses all claim to be the one and only true religion or church?
- Is there anything, that were you to discover it was true, would cause you to seriously doubt the Mormon Church?
- Is there anything, that were you to discover it was true, would cause you to seriously doubt that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God?
(4) Do make a sincere effort to understand Mormonism. If you don’t have an accurate understanding of Mormonism, then you give the person you care about a reason to not take your concern about Mormonism seriously. We recommend the following resources to understand not only Mormon history and beliefs, but also their culture and way of thinking.
- Mormon Belief Continuum: Helping Mormons Making the Spiritual Journey Home. Video of live training session on reaching Mormons given by Joel B Groat in Ephraim, Utah.
- Mormon Belief: The Doctrine of the LDS Church(online article)
- Is Mormonism Christian? (online article)
- The Myth of Mormon Families Forever – Video of live Seminar presentation at MidWestern Theological Seminary
- Contradictions Between the Book of Mormon and the Bible (online article)
- Translation or Divination? (online article)
- The Lost Book of Abraham (DVD)
- The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon (DVD)
- DNA vs. The Book of Mormon (DVD)
- “Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons” by Mark J. Cares (book)
- God's Word: Final, Infallible & Forever (book)
- “Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Mormons” by Ron Rhodes & Marian Bodine (book)
- “By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri” by Charles Larson (book)
(5) Do try to stay focused on having an in-depth discussion on only one topic at a time. If you skip from one topic to another, you are not as likely to communicate effectively and may end up producing more heat than light.
4 Key Things NOT to Do
(1) Do not mock or ridicule Mormons or Mormon beliefs or use information that does; nor take the most scandalous of Mormon beliefs to attack the person’s confidence in Mormonism. Two reasons:
- First, Mormons (and those studying with them) are fellow image bearers of God and the fact they are part of a false and misleading religious system does not diminish our responsibility to treat them with love and respect. When we speak of them or their religion in a demeaning fashion it only alienates them and reduces our credibility and effectiveness.
- Second, Mormons tell their potential converts to expect “persecution” and that their friends and family members will immediately start attacking them and the LDS Church. Mormons precondition those who are investigating or studying with them to see any critique or attack as “proof” of the Mormon way and message being the truth. They will quote Jesus’ words in John 15:20, “…if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours,” and tell their investigator to expect those closest to them to react strongly and call Mormonism a cult and raise all sorts of concerns and make wild accusations – but all that is just evidence the Mormon Church is true. So a full frontal attack on Mormons or Mormonism actually plays right into their proselytizing strategy.
(2) Do not allow the person to misquote or misinterpret the Bible without calling attention to it. If they quote a Bible verse to support a Mormon teaching, open a Bible and ask them to read the verse and its immediate context aloud and explain to you how it supports their belief. If the passage does not support the Mormon teaching, then ask them to reread the passage slowly and carefully. Hopefully, they will discover for themselves that the passage does not support Mormon teachings.
(3) Do not get into an argument or let the conversation turn into a debate. We want to win their hearts as well as convince their minds. When the conversation starts generating more heat than light nobody listens and nobody wins; at that point it is probably an indicator our flesh and pride are now driving the encounter rather than compassion and concern. Better to back off, back down and start asking questions rather than making assertions.
(4) Do not assume the person is drawn to Mormonism merely because of its teachings or doctrine. Many times the initial attraction to Mormonism is emotional or social. The person has been befriended or has entered into a romantic relationship with a Mormon and at the end of the day they are less concerned about facts than they are about keeping a relationship that is meeting social and emotional needs. Or a person may have recently lost a loved one or had a marriage fail and the Mormon message of families being forever is an idea that meets a deeply felt emotional or social need. When this is the case, the person cares little about Mormon doctrine, so attempting to dissuade them by focusing on the heretical / non-biblical parts of Mormonism is generally ineffective. Better to know and listen to their heart (use the questions from #3 above) and start engaging with the person on the issues that are truly affecting and attracting them.