When I began talking with Jehovah’s Witnesses about 10 years ago, I quickly learned (from advice of others found online, and from my own experience) that the best way to talk with JW’s is to ask them questions. It does little good to simply confront them, even if what we’re confronting them with is the truth. Telling them “The 144,000 are Jewish males who have never been with a woman” will only make them ignore you. Shouting it at them will only make them run away or claim that you’re persecuting them. Asking questions is the way to engage them in dialogue if we hope to engage them for more than 3 minutes.
But even with asking questions, 3 minutes is usually all you get with them before they shut down. I longed to talk with them for longer. How could I keep them engaged in conversation for 5 minutes, or even 10 or 20, or (gasp) an hour? Is it possible?
Well, an hour may be asking for too much. A rare “old school” JW will enjoy debating with you for hours, but most JW’s, like most modern people (including you and me?) are good for about a half hour before we feel like our brain is full.
Anyway, in my years of talking with JW’s, I have learned that certain types of questions are most effective in reaching them; that is, connecting with their hearts and minds (and imaginations) so that they actually want to talk for longer. At least for about half an hour.
My posts to follow this one will discuss four types of questions that I have found to be most helpful. It’s not so much about finding the definitive, mind-blowing question that will cause the collapse of your friend’s whole JW system. It’s about asking something outside of their JW box, something they have never thought about before, which can then be the first thread in the unraveling of the JW sweater. Or the first chink in the JW’s Hoover Dam of doctrine, leading to its collapse. Or the first spark that ignites the Hindenberg . . . okay, you get the idea.
So, for the next four posts, I will share with you not so much specific questions to ask your JW friends, but rather the types of questions to ask. (I will be giving examples of each, so I guess I will be sharing specific questions after all. But that’s not the point.) My aim will be to begin with the most obvious type of question, and work toward the least obvious (counter-intuitive) type of question. I have four types of questions in mind, but along the way I may come up with more. Or you may come up with more (please share your thoughts with the rest of us in the comments). Your idea may become my additional post. Don’t worry–I’ll credit you for the idea.