I love Mormons. To be honest I don’t know if I’ve ever met a Mormon I didn’t like. Maybe it’s their focus on the family or their passion to live decent lives but, for whatever reason, most of them are likeable, down-to-earth people.
Just the other day we had a Mormon family over to our house for Halloween (long story.) As I conversed with the husband and realized that he had been on a two year mission the conversation went to theology. I used what I call The Triple A approach to evangelizing Mormons (Admire, Ask, Admit) before I got into any areas of theological difference. Maybe this approach will help you as you connect with your Mormon friends, neighbors and co-workers about the original (and only) testament of Jesus Christ.
1. Admire what you can about them and what they believe.
When Paul encountered the paganism of Athens and addressed the philosophers of that great city he started with a compliment, “I see you are a very religious people.” He even quotes from one of their pagan poets which made for a powerful seque to the subject of salvation.
What can you admire about Mormons? Their family priorities, their acceptance of the Bible, their recognition of sin, their belief that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, their beautiful temples, the passion of their missionaries and on and on.
Of course they believe in another testament of Jesus Christ (aka “The Book of Mormon”), a different Jesus (half brother of Satan) and a salvation by faith plus works approach, but compliment what you can about them personally and the Mormon religion. If you start attacking the differences between Mormonism and true Christianity right away all you will do is alienate them.
2. Ask them questions about Mormonism.
I find the Mormon religion super interesting and so I find myself asking Mormons questions about what they believe, the Temple, what it’s like to be on a two year mission, etc. Mormons love to talk about “the church” and so you should let them. I have found that the more that I ask genuine questions and listen deeply the more open they are when I turn the conversation toward the gospel of the New Testament.
Dr. Stephen Covey, himself a Mormon, said, “Seek first to understand then to be understood.” How true that is! When you try to understand a Mormon and sincerely ask questions to help you understand who they are, what they believe and why they believe what they believe, the relational walls begin to tumble and they are much more open to listen to you when you share what you believe.
3. Admit that you need Jesus more than anybody.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15
Share with your Mormon friends that you need Jesus more than anybody because you, like Paul, are the worst of sinners. Share with them that, if it wasn’t for the grace of God through Jesus Christ, you would be the pace car on the highway to hell.
When you admire, ask and admit you purposely “go low” so that they can get a message from on high. You admit your spiritual need and admire what you can about their creed. You lift them up, honor what you can about Mormonism and put yourself in a position that demonstrates your desperate need of Jesus Christ. It is from the ashes of this humbled position where God can break through Mormon pride and make them open to the grace of God themselves.
I’ll never forget meeting Jed on a plane. He was a Mormon whose dad was a significant national leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I admired, asked and admitted my desperate need of Jesus. The walls started to tumble and crumble. It was then I asked him if he believed in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. He said “Yes!” I then asked him if he had read the Bible as much as The Book of Mormon and he, repentantly, admitted that he had not.
He left the plane promising to read the book of John. I believe he did.
I don’t know if I’ll see Jed in heaven but I do know this, the walls were broken down on the plane that day. They were broken down, not because I attacked him, but because I admired, asked and admitted. I finish this post with the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 2:23-26,
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”