Don't Put Your Foot in Your Mouth
Sometimes I think about my friends or co-workers, and I wonder if they will ever come to Church someday and ask me why I didn't share the Gospel with them sooner. But other times, I stress about sharing the gospel with others.
Who am I kidding? Every new opportunity to explain our church, its teachings, or even to just share my testimony can be riddled with sweat and a mouthful of second-guessed responses.
I had one of those conversations that I'd rather not share with you because it was embarrassing for me. But I will share it because perhaps this will provide some encouragement to see how you respond to conversations where you have the opportunity to introduce someone to the Gospel.
Here it goes:
Erin: How was your weekend?
Mary: Not too bad. Saturday I went swimming at my cousin's birthday party, and I worked on Sunday. How about you?
Erin: Mine went well. I spend Saturday with my family, and I went to church on Sunday.
Mary: Oh, cool. Where's your church at?
Erin: It's located in Irvine off the 5 freeway and Lake Forest.
Mary: What church is it, if you don't mind me asking?
Erin: Sure, it's called The Church of Jesus Christ.
(Mary's eyes get really wide and she pauses. Now I'm worried. Is she wondering if we're Mormon? Maybe she thinks I'm Mormon. I better tell her...)
Erin: ...but we're not Mormon or anything like that.
Mary: Oh, I see. (another pause) Um...I'm Mormon. Well, I used to go to the Mormon church but I don't anymore because I work my second job on Sunday.
Erin: (OH NO! Open mouth, extract foot. I've probably just offended her. How do I save this conversation?) Oh, OK! We come from similar foundations. We believe in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. You see, when Joseph Smith...
(…and the conversation continued nicely).
Thankfully, the conversation righted itself and she is interested in visiting church some Sunday if she can change her work schedule. But, as you can imagine, that was a huge lesson for me in assumptions and jumping ahead of myself.
Most of the time, I take the offensive. I don't even mention about the Mormon church — why would I want to emphasize how we are unlike another religious group and insinuate we are better than them, or encourage people not to worry because we are not like whatever they've heard about that other group? But in this scenario, I misread and misspoke.
Next time, I'll stick to a better intro. As a general rule, I try to stay clear of the vague and generalizing responses of "We're non-denominational," "We're Christian," or saying, "TheChurchOfJesusChrist" in one breath and then changing the subject.
Instead, I explain that we follow the scriptural teachings of Christ, which were the same on this land as they were in the land of Jerusalem. That's a little bit confusing for some people, but it gives me an opportunity to explain how we practice all of Christ's ordinances, as well as giving details about the Book of Mormon and how it accompanies the Bible.
No matter what, we are a peculiar people, and we should continue to live up to that and be as transparent as possible when sharing our most precious gift with someone else.
How do you explain The Church to others for the first time? Perhaps you share a testimony or offer to pray for an acquaintance who has just shared a trial? Leave a comment below, and tell us all about it.
If the Lord has given you a special experience about sharing your testimony, please share it with us for November's Miracle Monday theme, which is "missionary work."
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.