How Do Pastors Respond to Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Being a Jehovah’s Witness is an education that few will ever have. You really get to know the religious atmosphere of an area when you’re forced to move past the small talk and bring up the topic of God with your neighbors. Even now as I drive past neighborhoods, I can recall certain people and conversations at particular houses. I can tell you who grew up Baptist, Catholic, or Lutheran. Who identifies themselves as Christian but believes in reincarnation or can’t find the book of Genesis in a Bible. I remember the house where a Catholic woman told me they didn’t need a Bible because they have the catechism. I remember how the other Witnesses in my car laughed harder than me when I told them about our conversation.
The truth is,
Jehovah’s Witnesses make fun of Christians.
And talking with our Christian neighbors
on a regular basis only fortifies that position.
Even when a doubting JW takes that brave step to talk with “apostates” in on line discussion groups, they will often point out that ONLY Jehovah’s Witnesses are fulfilling the Great Commission by their thorough witnessing work. They’ll note that Jehovah’s Witnesses are KNOWN worldwide for their evangelism in contrast to others who identify themselves as Christians but are not engaged in such a work. And it’s all too true. As a new Witness approved for field service, I was both eager and intimidated by taking my first door, but within a few weeks I discovered that the activity of going out in service proved to further convince me that Jehovah’s Witnesses had “the truth” because no one who identified themselves as Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, or Presbyterian could intelligently challenge my beliefs nor share their own faith other than tell me what church they attended. After a few months of this activity, I was only EAGER to go out in service and wasn’t intimated by Christians or their pastors any longer.
In car groups, we took turns and I happened to be partner to a sister who’s turn it was to speak at the next door. As we approached the house she confided to me how nervous she was since this was where a pastor lived. So I gladly offered to take it.
From the moment this pastor answered the door, I was winning.
A female pastor? So wrong, so wrong. Tsk, tsk.
Jehovah 1, Christendom 0.
It was also October and she had Halloween decorations out.
I didn’t of course.
Jehovah 2, Christendom 0.
I don’t recall the exact conversation we had, but I do remember feeling like I’d won the debate that day. I even made a few more return visits with her and each time I left her door, I felt like my score card was filling up and she remained at 0. Then one day, the house was empty. I later learned she stepped down from her post at the church and left town altogether. As a smug JW, I enjoyed speculating that our conversations had brought this about, but I honestly didn’t know the reason she moved away.
It’s been 15 years since I last “went out in service” knocking on a stranger’s door with my New World Translation and Watchtower magazines. But I got curious about other former Jehovah’s Witnesses and their experiences with pastors so I posed a few questions in 3 separate Facebook groups for former Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Q: When you were an active JW and you knew where a member of the clergy lived, were you eager to take that door and talk to him/her? Intimidated? Did you avoid it or relish it? If you had any encounters with pastors as an active JW, did you go away feeling more sure of your JW “truth” or did the pastor make you question your beliefs?
I invite you to read their replies and see what was going on in the minds of these Jehovah’s Witnesses when out in service and also learn what kinds of reactions they encountered among pastors, priests, and others.
Some JWs were intimidated by pastors and doubted their own message…
I avoided it because I was intimidated.
I lived a half block from the preacher from the 1st Baptist Church in the little community I grew up in, and I avoided his house at all costs.
I was intimated about the possibility of running across a pastor. One time we knew of one in the territory we we working. We talked smack about him behind his back, specifically because he lived in a really nice home. (Envy/jealousy) but none had the backbone to face him. Another pastor we met was working on the yard of his small church. Right out the beginning he was snarky, and asked what religion we were before we became JW. I said I was Catholic, then my partner said she was Baptist. Then he targeted her as he was a Baptist preacher. He was defending the divinity of Christ based on the New Testament Greek. Which neither of us understood. He was just trying to show how smart he was. It only confirmed to us our persecution complex and how nasty clergy are.
I talked my husband out of buying a house, as it was next to a church. I didn’t want to do yard work and then end up in conversation with the pastor.
I remember they always were waiting to work those calls as the last one. They were always nervous about it. They never liked doing those ones.
In the territory that I worked there was a church and across the street was where the pastor of the church lived. I knocked on his door, not knowing who he was and offered him the mag. He told me who he was and that everyone on the block went to his church so I should leave. So we left that day, only to return in a couple of days avoiding his house so we won’t be asked to leave.
I kept my fingers crossed for not at homes at every door, even when I was pioneering
even though I grew up a JW, I wasn’t so sure I had all the ‘truth’ teachings right. Confrontations flustered me and when they’d come back with a response on something I was preaching to them, I would leave thinking, huh, what they said kinda made sense. Being a JW I always felt I needed a road map to explain their beliefs. I doubted things said at the KH even at a young age but never mentioned it for fear of being ‘not one of them’ and I really trusted my parents knew what they were doing
Yeah, I never liked talking to an “interested” person with real questions for fear that I wouldn’t know how to answer them. I was a regular pioneer for about 15 years, yet that whole time I practically stayed with easy presentations. For 30 years I just repeated what I was taught, but I guess I never believed without realizing it… if that makes any sense.
I hated absolutely everything about field service. Didn’t matter who came to the door. I never wanted to speak and let others do the talking … usually pioneers. I didn’t question though. Mostly ignored or blocked out the whole experience. I never questioned because of outside influence. My gut told me something was wrong. It all started to feel off the older I got. It was just a feeling.
I also hated field service, was afraid of dogs and very shy. Never came across any clergy though, wouldn’t have bothered me, remember we felt “superior” to the world UGH ! Glad am out of it since 30 + years, it’s an unnatural activity anyway
Very interesting comment. It shows how JWs feel superior even when they hate sharing “the truth” that supposedly makes them superior.
JW beliefs!!! I can’t say I really had JW beliefs. I believed the Bible and still do. I never believed in 1914 since I knew 607 was flawed. I never believed in disfellowshipping, though I was 3 times. I never believed the JW’s had all of the truth. I never believed they were the only ones to survive Armageddon. and now it doesn’t look like they are even going to make it to the great trib as an organization. I never believed that Jesus was only the mediator between God and 144,000. Paul was specific that Jesus was mediator to all mankind. I never believed the sister-in-law marriage thing that Jesus referred to was about those with the earthly hope. So, no I never walked away feeling more sure about the JW beliefs, but I did feel more encouraged in my own beliefs and was always willing to do more research on anything they presented.
It’s amazing how little of their beliefs you had and yet went back 3 times! Was that because of family or was it still “the truth” in your mind?
Made a deal with mom … (personal information not disclosed here)… But did I ever believe it was the truth? I thought it was as close as I could find. Had I known about the cover-ups that would have stopped me in my tracks with them at any point and time. I can put up with elders being (jerks), that’s just a personal thing, but I can not put up being part of a cover up through donations or whatever for anyone who hurts a child. I still believe in a lot of things that the JW’s believe, because I can prove them from the scriptures. If I couldn’t prove it from the scriptures I never believed it.
Some JWs enjoyed talking with pastors…
I loved talking to preachers. Especially the wives because most wives of preachers didn’t know the Bible. At least the ones in my area. They always told me how their husbands would be home any minute to scare me away but I always welcomed them. Preachers where I lived had no idea what jws taught so they had no idea on how to talk to us. So I never had a problem talking with any clergy, the fact they seemed hesitant to talk to me though always encouraged me. It strengthened my belief that we had the truth. Now however with the internet more & more preachers know what the organization teaches & can have a discussion.
I was cocky and had “the truth” so I was more than happy to turn that pastor into a doctrinal pretzel. Yep, I had all the answers lol.
As a young man going door to door I often got the vibe that they were educated and pridefully boasted they’re knowledge, I was insignificant and unlearned. I didn’t fear them and often held my ground…. Sadly, looking back JW’s have a pride and attitude that they are the only ones who are right and that arrogance can get you in trouble.
I had a study with a Church of Christ pastor. It was in the Truth book I think, lasted about 6 months. He was polite, never combative. He was impressed with some of the study and politely challenged the JW view on blood.
As a teenager (about 15-16) I had a return visit that was/is a pastor of a united Pentecostal Church. I enjoyed witnessing to him but walked away sure he was lost and I had the truth. I called on him for probably 9 months to a year.
I had a debate with a Baptist pastor who was going for a PhD in Greek. The topic was the Trinity and the debate lasted about 2 hours. I recorded it and I may still have the recording somewhere. He was very unprepared for a skilled JW. Too bad. He did not know how to use John 1:3 effectively. It was a stalemate, neither side impressed with the other.
I lived in the territory where there was a Southern Baptist seminary. A JW elder and I obtained the ‘territory card’ for the student housing complex and went door-to-door there. Talked to 1 professor and many students. They all were under-informed on apologetics.
Sadly I never lost a debate. The experience strengthened my resolve as a JW.
When I later joined a local Southern Baptist church they were associated with the same seminary. I had a Sunday School class teaching the Trinity and even had a seminary student in the class. Never would have believed I would end up there.
Thanks, you’ve certainly had the experiences! And yes, if the professor and students at the seminary were under informed in apologetics, how much more so the average Christian householder?
As a JW I would hammer on the verses that said Jesus ‘had’ a God over him. John 20:17; Ephesians 1:17; Revelation 3:12. Trinitarians are generally ill-prepared for these. How can the Son BE the same God as the God who is over him? The answer requires knowledge of how theos in John 1:1 is in the qualitative sense AND hold to the Complementarian version of the Trinity. That knowledge is more common now among seminary students, but still not universal.
I think most Christians focus on “Jesus is God” and don’t see His humanity in which He humbled Himself to become a man and thus could say the Father in heaven was greater.
I enjoyed talking to preachers/pastors/priest/etc.. When I was a teenager I had a regular magazine call on a preacher who claimed he used the Watchtower for his sermons. Now whether those were good or bad sermons I have no idea. We would have some good conversations though. And then there was this preacher, he started a church here in Mexico Testigos de Jesus and the elders wouldn’t even go and talk to him. I met him once out in the Wal-Mart parking lot and had a short conversation with him. During that conversation he invited me to his house. An elder I was in service with told me I should not go that I was just “wasting your time”. I went, had a nice long 2 hour conversation from the Bible. He wanted to know why Jesus said to baptize people in the name of the “father, son and holy spirit” but then opened up to several scriptures where the apostles only baptized in the name of Jesus. I still don’t know the answer to that. Other than at one place the people had been baptized in the name of the Father and holy spirit but not in Jesus name so they were re-baptized in Jesus name also. Which really makes you wonder since the JW’s don’t baptize in anyone’s name, just dunk you. I was always the one who would jump out and volunteer to talk to the preachers though. I thoroughly enjoy a good Bible conversation.
At the time i was an elder, i look forward to speaking with clergy, my head was too thick with watchtower propaganda to be open to any other idea, i was sure i had the “truth” . I often left the door of a clergymen feeling confused as to why he could not see the point i was trying to make.
I loved knocking on their doors. Hey. I had the TRUTH. Right?
I liked it it was a challenge but my experience they didn’t use the Bible hardly at all. One ex priest and married didn’t want to talk about religion or the Bible.
I remember My first door-to-door experience. I was about 6 yrs old and I was with my mom. I knocked, the man answered the door and I asked, “Are you ready for Jehovah’s judgment?” My mom immediately took over the conversation. It’s crazy how we (the youth) used to try to sell this shit.
Out of the mouths of babes! You just spoke what you heard most of the time, that’s all. That’s what kids do. You never heard anything about God’s love or forgiveness, just wrath and judgment. So that’s what came out.
Some JWs encountered hostility or ignorance from pastors…
I hated all aspects of preaching, so I never was eager to take any door LOL!! But I did find once a priest or whatever, not knowing he lived there. I do remember he let me give my presentation, he accepted the magazines, and then he began his attack. The more he spoke, the louder he got until he was yelling. He was saying that JWs were scammers and were willing to even take old people’s money from them. Of course at the time, I knew that our donations were never demanded nor our literature sold anymore, so I had no idea how his words had any truth to them. I just calmly told him I would return another day (which I knew was a complete lie lol) so that way we could have a more calm discussion without his need to scream at my face. Of course he said that it was so the whole neighborhood could know the truth, so I just quietly said goodbye and we walked away from his door. In my mind I just knew he was a crazy man, but it didn’t give me a boost to know I was “in the truth” either. It was like “eh, whatever”.
Hahaha… I even had minister yell at me while I was leaving his door tell me that ya can’t be saved by being nice either! LOL!
I talked with a catholic priest once and he got so mad he was visibly shaking saying this was his town. I left feeling very much I was sharing truth with him and my God was bigger than his false teachings. These type experiences just add to my frustration now.
I called on a vicar, and before I could say much he told me “I know more about Jesus than you’ll ever know”, as usual we scoffed as we walked away, but when you wake up you realize he was right. Boy did we make fools of ourselves.
One time two JW ladies came to our house and I introduced myself and my wife with our first names. We talked to them for 45 minutes and had an enjoyable conversation on several topics. When the two JWs were walking out the door one of them asked my last name. I told them and they looked shocked. One said, “Oh my god!” I smiled and said “we had a good friendly conversation, didn’t we?” She said “Yes” and I told her to pass that along in the KH.
Yes, good point. Once your name gets out there as someone who ministers to JWs, they KNOW they’re not really supposed to talk to you. When I first began field service as a JW, I went to the door of a man who was kind and we had a good biblical discussion. I was excited and wanted to return. When I got back in the car group, one elder said to the other “sounds like he knows just enough to be dangerous” and advised me not to make a return visit.
I remember taking the house of the pastor of the Apostolic church in town and he was just rude and mean.
I knocked on a lot of doors but only ran into a baptist woman who was so rude. She didn’t want to hear what i had to say. Just preached at me. I hated field service some days. Now i see how futile it is. It used to take 7000 hours of service to make one disciple or convert or should say victim. Now it takes 18,000 hours. Only born ins are being baptized. Very few from their other means of preaching.
I remember when I first started studying with a pioneer sister. It was about 2 weeks into the study and I was amazed at what I was learning as I had no prior Bible knowledge. We’d gone through knowledge book about death etc and a family friend had died suddenly and at the funeral I was really perturbed and confused by the words of the Priest. After that I felt a bit angry because I thought the priest was talking nonsense. I went to the local Church near my home, knocked on the door of the side house where the vicar lived and asked him if I could ask him some questions. He obliged and we had a chat. I said I was confused about a scripture and he said which one and I replied Ec 9:5. I said can we read it in the Bible? He then asked me which page number of the Bible it was on!! I was so shocked that I didn’t waste much time after that. He said it would be nice for me to join services if I’d like and I said “No thank you, I’m studying with Jehovah’s witnesses!! At that time in my mind he was teaching false doctrine. How little did I know and how even at that early stage I had been beguiled by witnesses.
I got a doozy for you! A deaf friend, whose twin brother died in accident, mother was jw, father was not, a former priest who worked at my high school, showed up in all his glory at his funeral as i was highly offended as many knew why, he was removed as priest because of molestation and we went head to head at the funeral as many jw had to hold me down as i was full of anger why he would show up in full costume acting all high and mighty and he wanted attention, giving no love to his family, i returned fire for calling him out, he left with his tail between his legs! I had no issues ever challenging priests, pastors even did it in his library using their own bible against them! Loved challenges. priest said nothing to me when we were at school after funeral. He was too embarrassed as colleagues, teachers were there as he was interpreter for deaf in my homeroom as they knew the deceased as former deaf student.
And some JWs were humbled, started thinking, and even left the Watchtower as a result of visits with informed Christians…
I did know where some pastors lived in our territory. One even tried to wake us up with printouts but of course we said “those are apostate lies”
i always enjoyed field service and loved talking to anyone with a faith buddists .hindus anyone. i made friends with many born again christians back in 1960s and 70s and still have some of them.one a vicar i met in 1976 .he was so kind and always took the WT and Awake.now i have woken up he is a great support to me and has helped me to grasp true relationship with jesus..also others that are now a suport.im so glad that i kept an open mind . yet many times other jws and my wife said .” i dont know why you bother with these people .”to add only one priest was rude to me .he put his hands on my shoulders and marched me out of the block of flats he lived in. however he was so disliked even his own congregation got a petition to have him replaced..i think i was about 20 then .
I went to this one pastor’s house, as a salesman for Encyclopedia Britannica, right after the interlibrary came out. Somehow I got on the subject of something about Greek. He went into another room, came back with the Nestle-Aland Greek text, and said “Show me!” Left there deflated, and with my tail between my legs
I always enjoyed talking with people of faith at the doors, especially born again Christians. I loved that they had a sincerity about them and the stories of how God worked in their lives. My heart cried out for that kind of relationship with Him. When I was 17 the local Salvation Army minister asked the high school I was at if they could recommend a babysitter while they went to church Sunday night. Out of 1000 kids the school picked me! It can only have been divine intervention because I was so quiet and mousey that at the beginning of each year they would forget to allocate me a class. Anyway, that family has so much love and gentleness for each other that it got me thinking about how if we had the truth, and were the happiest people on earth our family life was so awful. It was one of the things that woke me up and within months I was out.
I had a regular return visit with a pastor. We had great conversations. I never felt intimidated, scared or wanted to avoid anyone for that matter. He was a cool cat and honestly, I always enjoyed him. I lived and breathed to be out in service, I loved it! But as far as security in the info I was giving out — yah, sure, I was a complete jw drone so I had the truth, why worry. With the cult indoctrination of beliefs I never found it hard to share and just felt so sorry for those not willing to look into it. He did try to counter some of the things I said, but for the most part he WANTED to know. Later in my visits, he revealed that he used the mags I left in his sermons even!!! Ugh!! He invited me to come to his church and so I did. ( I was that kind of dub not being a born in and attending Lutheran church my entire childhood, it didn’t bother me) I saw how he used the dub info. Of course, he put another twist on all of it. It was kindda crazy sitting in the church hearing the same info I got from the hall. Eventually, the brother approached me and said I should turn him over to a brother …….(I always had trouble with this because I was a VERY busy jw and always had at minimum 2 studies and a gaggle of RVs – when I gave them to someone else, they never followed thru and it drove me nuts.) Anyway, the bro I gave him to never did anything. Ironically, about 2 years after leaving, I ran into him at a grocery store. He recognized me and spoke and said one of his parishioners had showed him some information from the web that talked about TTATT! He was concerned for me! Needless to say, we ended up having a great conversation and I gave him a few web pages and you tubes to go to for more info. And, of course, he invited me back, but…….I broke it down that I no longer believed I needed a building or another human (man or woman) to tell me how to have a relationship with the Source of ultimate energy.
No one wanted to take the door – so I took the Pastors door! Long story short, as a result of that call – 6 months later our family of 5 were set free from that dangerous cult!
What will Jehovah’s Witnesses encounter
in your neighborhood?
Will they encounter apathy, anger, and ignorance?
Is there anyone in your neighborhood
willing to share the Gospel with them in love?
After I shared why I chose Jehovah’s Witnesses over the Church at the Witnesses Now for Jesus conference in Missouri in 2017, one humble pastor in the audience stood up to apologize on behalf of the Church in general. He admitted there are far too many shallow Christians being entertained at church services rather than taught. He expressed a desire that more Christians would hear the stories of ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and know what’s going on.
What Churches Need to Hear
What do you think? Do the Churches need to hear about the experiences of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Do we all need to be better prepared to give an answer? Whether you’re a pastor, priest, new or seasoned Christian, or just plain curious, I encourage you to consider attending the next Witnesses Now for Jesus conference in Pennsylvania this October 5-7, 2018. There you will get an education over the three days of testimonies given by former Jehovah’s Witnesses along with apologetics specific to the doctrines which Jehovah’s Witnesses commonly distort. You can introduce yourself to others in attendance willing to answer some of your questions.
Meanwhile, Jehovah’s Witnesses are preparing to come to YOUR DOOR. Why not have something to say next time they do?
Keep yourself in God’s love,