There is probably no better way to easily reach thousands of JW’s than going to one of their summer conventions with the expressed purpose of “Witnessing to the Witnesses.”
Signs and banners:
One of the best methods is holding up large, bold-lettered, short and easily read signs and banners with a pithy message that might say, “Read the Bible, not the Watchtower.” This method transformed the lives of author David A. Reed and his wife, as highlighted in two of my videos.
A necessary and vital tip on making signs or having them made for you by a local sign shop: Less is more. In other words, less words is far better than many words. The less words on a sign, the better you are able to capture the attention of your audience. Don’t make the amateur mistake of putting an entire paragraph on a sign; these are too hard to be easily and quickly read. You need short and powerful messages.
Call around for the best prices at your local sign shops. For one or two signs, red or black vinyl lettering on a white background is best. The sign material is made out of plastic, called “Corex.” A good sized sign is 3′ x 2′. Such a sign will probably run you anywhere between $20 and $30. If you know someone in your church who has a vinyl cutter and can make the signs for cost, that would be even better.
I had what proved to be one of the most effective ideas for outreach at these JW summer conventions: advertising a favorite ex-JW website. In my case, the first website I advertised was “towerwatch.com”. My evangelism partner, Mike, made me a small, handheld banner with “towerwatch.com” in bold, easily read letters on his home printer; when stretched out, it measured about four feet in length. When not in use or being transported, we rolled it up like a scroll, very easy to carry or put in my backpack. A picture is below:
During the lunch break, as thousands of JW’s would stream out the doors and eat their lunches outside, I slowly and continually walk around with this banner stretched between both of my hands, in plain view of the JW’s.
I developed what I hope is a humorous and light-hearted script as I walk around, saying something like this: “I want to wish all of you Jehovah’s Witnesses a happy birthday by giving you a gift, a gift of knowledge, found here on this banner I’m carrying which reads, “towerwatch.com”. It’s a great website that has all kinds of helpful information on Jehovah’s Witnesses that you won’t get at your weekly Kingdom Hall meetings.
“It’s simple to remember this website: towerwatch.com. It’s just like ‘watchtower’ but you split ‘watchtower’ in half and put the word ‘tower’ in front of ‘watch’ and you have the website, ‘towerwatch.com’.
“But like any gift, you have to ‘open’ the present before it can do you any good. So before you can enjoy this gift of knowledge, you have to log onto the internet and type in “towerwatch.com”.”
I walk all around the area where the JW’s are sitting or standing, endlessly repeating the same thing. Why do I do this? Because by the end of their lunch break, they will have heard “towerwatch.com” so many times that it will be burned into their memories and perhaps they will even dream about it at night while they are sleeping.
I repeat this website endlessly on purpose, knowing that the most effective advertising is that which is seen by people over and over again. The more times a person watches the same commercial on t.v. or hears the same ad on radio, the more apt he is to remember the product or service being advertised. I employ the same tried and proven philosophy at the conventions.
But the “proof is in the pudding” and the only true sign that this unorthodox method is effective is whether or not people are actually logging on to the towerwatch.com website. I’m happy to report that people do log onto this website.
How I know this is because I contacted the man who started and runs towerwatch.com; his name is Cal Lehman. I explained to Cal what I was doing, and had done, at the summer conventions in Tucson with the small “towerwatch.com” banner, asking him to check his web traffic on and around those days. Here is what he wrote:
July 5, 2011
Hi Roy, Thanks for the email and the story, I will respond to your email soon I promise. I have a lot on my plate right now 🙂 Thank you so much for displaying the TowerWatch.com sign at the convention sites. Yes there was a sharp increase …in visitors to the TowerWatch website starting around June 13 and lasting the remainder of the month. What I found very interesting was that there were very strong spikes on each of the last three Mondays in June! Thanks again for helping to get the word out.
To say the least, I was thrilled with this news! This meant this idea was effective in at least one way: traffic being driven to Cal’s website through the simple act of advertising it during the lunch hours at the summer conventions, with perhaps thousands of seeds being planted in the hearts of JW’s were some of them will surely bear fruit unto salvation.
This reminds me of that portion in David A. Reed’s book mentioned in my one of my video’s when David described how he and his wife Penni eventually accepted the Lord and left the org:
“Like a stranger on a mountaintop viewing a peaceful valley below, who, as he turns to leave, casually tosses a pebble into the void, and who continues on his way, unaware that the pebble dislodged two other pebbles, which unbalanced a small stone, which in turn set other stones in motion until a major avalanche rumbled down the mountainside, forever altering the valley scene he viewed—just such a stranger set in motion a series of events that eventually brought turmoil to Penni and me, and permanently changed our lives.”
“The initial pebble was a picket sign carried by one of five individuals walking in a small circle on the sidewalk outside the Providence, Rhode Island, Civic Center in July 1977…”
I can only hope that, in eternity, the Lord will reveal to me what wonderful, eternal miracles happened to some of these JW’s who, out of curiosity by seeing and hearing me walk around the convention they attended years ago, logged onto Cal’s website and eventually set off a chain of events that led to their salvation. Praise the Lord!
Here is the 1914 sign in action:
Here is the video I made years ago showing how a friend of mine made the banner that changed the life and eternity of David and Penni Wood:
Preaching at the conventions are another excellent way to get your message across to the teeming multitudes of JW’s that descend upon the summer conventions. Unfortunately, this biblical method has been so often abused by well-meaning yet misguided Christians that it has fallen into disfavor with much of our society, a tragedy of epic proportions.
Without going into too much detail, here are some helpful tips for effective preaching:
- Use amplification to be effectively heard. These crowds are often counted in the thousands, requiring the need to speak loudly to have any hope of being heard in an often noisy, constantly moving crowd. Raising your voice to be heard can work, but you will be seen by many as “shouting” at them, an instant turn-off. Reasonably amplified speech without “blasting” the crowds with excessive decibel levels requires wisdom and experience.
- Your messages should be short and to the point; remember, you are not behind the pulpit with all the benefits that entails. Though you may have a captive audience if the people are having their lunches and sitting around for 20 minutes or more, this is often not the case. Usually, the crowds are constantly moving, requiring that you pack one main thought into 30 seconds or less as they pass you by. Perhaps you only have time to share one particular scripture and a few words of commentary before the crowd passes you by and the next set of people come into your zone.
- I like to have a short “loop” of a tightly packed message that I repeat over and over again as the crowds pass by. Since they are constantly moving, you need to reach each passing group of people with the same message because they don’t stick around long enough to hear a three point, 45 minute sermon. Know your audience and plan accordingly!
- Remember 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “And the Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who in opposition, if perhaps God will grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, that they will come to their senses, having escaped the snare of the devil, being held captive by him to do his will.”
The old saying, “Honey catches more flies than vinegar” has application in open-air preaching. Remember, preachers must overcome severe stereotyping that automatically puts us at a disadvantage to our potential audience. Don’t feed into that bias by proving it correct by rude and obnoxious behavior.
Jehovah’s Witnesses will not accept tracts or any other non-JW literature from your hand, no matter how gently and respectfully you offer it to them. This is yet another example of their blatant hypocrisy, but this is not the place to delve into this aspect of this non-Christian cult. I point this fact out so you don’t waste your time in what will prove to be a fruitless attempt.
But saying this, I have had great success in “planting” tracts around the areas where I know the JW’s will eventually sit or stand when they break for lunch and gather in their large groups outside.
This is where an example of good planning is crucial to the success of your mission. Since I have been ministering to JW’s in the same area for over two decades in Tucson, I am familiar with their routines: when they break for lunch, how long these breaks are, where they will sit and stand, and most importantly, the strategic spots and time of actually planting the tracts.
Timing is critical in this idea, because not only do I know the JW’s schedule, but they know mine. After all, we have been dealing with each other for over twenty years, so even enemies can’t help but get to know one another during this long stretch of time.
If I plant the tracts too soon before the lunch break, they might send out their scouts to pick the literature up, defeating my hard work. What I have found works best is to work in a “planting team” and blanket the area within several minutes of the lunch break. This way, there is no time for the JW’s to pick up all the literature because it is too close to the chaos of the thousands of JW’s all leaving for lunch at the same time.
Planting tracts can be a mixed bag of success. Some weekends most of the tracts are picked up by the various JW’s who sit down in the spot where we’ve placed the tracts and/or CD’s. (A Christian donated CD’s of the movie, Witnesses of Jehovah, and I have placed this CD underneath the gospel tracts. Many have been taken!) Some weekends, few are picked up; one never knows. But again, we are planting seeds, and the most important aspect of seed planting is simply planting the seeds in the right place to be picked up.
I always place a small rock or rocks on top of the tracts/CD’s to keep them from blowing away in the wind. One year the police came by and gave me some nonsense that I was littering, a common tactic with police that are not schooled in first amendment law. Placing small rocks on top of your packet will not only prevent them from blowing away, but shows the police that your intention is not to litter.
At the end of the lunch break when all the JW’s return inside to their indoctrination sessions, I go back and pick up all the tracts that are left. We leave at the end of the lunch break and, though we could leave the tracts, I’m assuming most of them will not be picked up because the JW’s are only intent on getting to their cars and leaving the convention center. They are not sitting around for two hours or so like they are during the lunch break; leaving the tracts would not only be a waste of the literature but could become an issue of the police making a point of littering.
Best practice, I believe, is never, if at all possible, to allow any open door of criticism to be made against us during these conventions. This means we leave the place just as we found it, clean and tidy. It makes for a better witness.
These are just a few, tried and true methods for effectively reaching JW’s at the summer conventions. There are many other methods one can use limited only by one’s imagination. Some people have dressed up like JW’s and attended the conventions, sneaking literature into the bathrooms to leave for those who need to use the facilities. I’ve never tried this but I’m sure it is effective.
I always wear a chest-mounted GoPro when I am out on my evangelistic outreaches. If you don’t have one, keeping your cellphone in a front shirt pocket or in a small holder on your chest area with the camera facing toward the people, continually recording, is a wise idea. Why? Several reasons.
First and foremost is you now how a video recording, a trail of evidence, if something goes awry. Say you get into an altercation with a particularly violent, hot-headed JW (see video below). They accuse you of some “incitement” to violence and call the police. The problem is this if you do not have a camera recording the entire event: JW’s will often lie and say you did things you never did or claim you said things that you never said.
Many times I have gone by myself to these conventions. This is not my preference, but it happens. And what will the police decide if a false accusation is made against me and there are a handful of JW’s all lying that I did or said something that never happened? Who are they going to believe? Probably not you, especially if you are vastly outnumbered, which is why it is a must that you plan of videoing every second you are out in the “field of souls.”
Also, and this is more of a reason to continually video, is in case of violence happening (and it does happen), you need video evidence of what actually happened. Nothing more frustrating for a court of law to have to decide the merits of a case based on “he said/she said” testimony.
Whenever I see some JW beginning to show signs of violence or anger towards me, I point to my camera and alert them to the fact they are being recorded. While this is no guarantee this will stop their violent behavior, as my video shows, often the awareness of the fact they are being recorded is enough to cool their jets.
All this to say: develop a system of video recording every moment you are “witnessing to the Witnesses.” It is a rule for me that I have steadfastly followed for years and feel it is one of the best decisions I have made.