Last week some Mormon missionaries showed up at my door. I was unavailable at that moment, so we set up an appointment for them to come back next week. I’m looking forward to the conversation, but I don’t anticipate much impact...in that single conversation. After years of dialoguing with Mormons, I’ve learned to take it slow. Indeed, ex-Mormons will tell you that a patient approach is the best one.
Think about the Mormons you know. Most of them probably grew up in the LDS Church. Their parents are Mormons. Their family members are Mormons. Most of their close friends are Mormon. The LDS church plays a preeminent role in their life, touching every area. With this in mind, is it realistic to expect Mormons to abandon their faith after one or two conversations? Probably not. That’s an unrealistic goal.
Because of our love for LDS friends and family members, our final vision for their lives is that they come to know the true Jesus. But that’s not the goal of every individual conversation.
Recently, a friend shared that some Mormon missionaries had come knocking and she invited them into her home for conversation. After a second follow-up visit, she decided to cut things off. “Look, you guys aren’t going to change your views and I’m not going to change mine. So it’s pointless to continue meeting.” After just two conversations, what did she expect? Is it reasonable to think these young men would abandon not only their Mormon views, but their entire Mormon community as a result of two conversations?
If the goal of every conversation is conversion, you’ll find yourself frustrated and ready to move on. So don’t try to “close the deal” in every conversation. Instead, here’s a more realistic goal: put a stone in their shoe. What’s your reaction when you get a stone in your shoe? It bothers you. You can’t stop thinking about it until you take the shoe off and deal with the annoyance. The ultimate goal is to see our LDS friends come to Christ, but the goal of any individual conversation is to put a stone in their shoe. Give them one good thing to think about. And this approach isn’t just for Mormons, rather it’s a good general strategy with any unbeliever you talk with.
Understand that this approach takes time. Ask yourself if you’re willing to be patient. It may take years walking with your LDS or skeptical friends before you see them come to Christ. For some ex-Mormons, it takes Christians leaving stone after stone, year after year, before they’re ready to walk away from Mormonism. Hopefully, your perseverance means you’ll still be around, ready to walk them into God’s Kingdom when the time comes.