Muster Up Boldness to Make Return Visits
1 Do you enjoy making return visits? Many publishers do. You may have been apprehensive at first, especially when calling back on householders who showed only limited interest when they were initially contacted. But as you ‘muster up boldness by means of our God to speak the good news’ in making return visits, you may be surprised to find how easy and rewarding this work can be. (1 Thess. 2:2) How so?
2 For one thing, there is an important difference between a return visit and the initial call. The return visit is being made on an acquaintance, not on a stranger, and it is generally easier to converse with an acquaintance than with a stranger. As for the rich rewards that result from sharing in this work, return visits may lead to productive home Bible studies.
3 When we work from house to house, we call repeatedly on people who were not interested when we previously visited them. Why, then, do we keep calling? We realize that people’s circumstances change and that an individual who seemed indifferent or even opposed on a previous visit may be interested the next time we call. With that in mind, we prepare well and pray for Jehovah’s blessing so that something we say this time will strike a responsive chord.
4 If, in our house-to-house work, we willingly preach to people who previously showed no interest at all, should we not all the more willingly call back on anyone who shows some interest in the Kingdom message?—Acts 10:34, 35.
5 Many of us are in the truth today because a publisher patiently made return visits on us. If you are one of these, you may ask yourself: ‘What initial impression did I make on that publisher? Did I immediately embrace the Kingdom message when I first heard it? Could I have seemed indifferent?’ We should be happy that the publisher who called back judged us worthy of a return visit, ‘mustered up boldness by means of God,’ made the call, and proceeded to teach us the truth. What of those individuals who show some interest at first but later seem to be avoiding us? A positive attitude is vital, as the following experience bears out.
6 While engaging in street witnessing early one morning, two publishers met a young lady pushing a child in a stroller. The woman accepted a magazine and invited the sisters to come to her home the following Sunday. They arrived at the appointed time, but the householder told them she had no time to talk. She did promise, however, to be available the following week. The sisters were doubtful that she would keep the appointment, but the lady was waiting for them when they returned. A study was started, and the woman’s progress was amazing. Within a short time, she began attending meetings regularly and sharing in field service. She is now baptized.
7 Lay Groundwork on the Initial Call: The groundwork for a successful return visit is often laid on the initial call. Listen carefully to the householder’s comments. What do they tell you? Is he religiously inclined? Is he concerned about social issues? Is he interested in science? history? the environment? At the conclusion of the call, you may raise a thought-provoking question and promise to discuss the Bible’s answer when you return.
8 For example, if the householder responds to the Bible’s promise of a paradise earth, a further discussion of the topic may be in order. Just before you leave, you might ask: “How can we be sure that God will fulfill this promise?” Then add: “Perhaps I can stop by when the rest of the family is at home, and then I can show you the Bible’s answer to this question.”
9 If the householder has not shown interest in any particular subject, you could raise one of the questions that are featured in the presentations on the back page of Our Kingdom Ministry and use that as the basis for your next discussion.
10 Keep Accurate Written Records: Your house-to-house record should be accurate and complete. Write down the name and address of the householder as soon as you leave the call. Do not guess at the house number or the street name—check the information to be sure that it is accurate. Write a description of the individual. Make note of the topic you discussed, the scriptures you read, any literature you left, and the question you will answer when you return. Include the day and time of the initial call and when you said you would call back. Now that your record is complete, don’t lose it! Put it in a safe place so that you can refer to it later. Keep thinking about the individual and how you will handle the call the next time.
11 Know What Your Objectives Are: First, by being warm and friendly, do your best to put the householder at ease. Show that you are interested in him as a person, without being unduly familiar. Next, remind him of any question you raised on the previous visit. Listen carefully to his opinion, and express sincere appreciation for his comments. Then, show why the Bible’s viewpoint is practical. If possible, direct him to a related thought in the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life. Keep well in mind that your main objective on return visits is to start a Bible study.
12 The directness of the Knowledge book has inspired many of us to ‘muster up boldness’ on Bible studies to encourage students to attend meetings and associate with Jehovah’s organization. In the past, we tended to wait until individuals had studied for quite some time before inviting them to associate with us. Now, many students are attending meetings as soon as they begin to study, and they are progressing much faster as a result.
13 A couple witnessed informally to a coworker. When he expressed interest in the truth, they invited him to have a Bible study in the Knowledge book. At the same time, they told him he ought to be attending the meetings, where many of his questions would be answered. The man willingly not only accepted their invitation to study but also studied twice a week and began attending meetings regularly at the Kingdom Hall.
14 Use the Brochure What Does God Require of Us?: At the “Messengers of Godly Peace” District Conventions, we received the brochure What Does God Require of Us? This brochure is useful in starting Bible studies with God-fearing people regardless of their level of education. It contains a well-rounded study course, covering the basic teachings of the Bible. The publication will be a very effective tool for imparting the knowledge of God. It explains the truth so clearly and simply that virtually every one of us will be able to use it to teach others God’s requirements. Likely, many publishers will have the privilege of conducting a Bible study in this brochure.
15 Some individuals who feel that they do not have the time to study the Knowledge book may be willing to have brief sessions studying the Require brochure. They will be thrilled at what they learn! In just two or three pages, they will find answers to questions that people have pondered for centuries: Who is God? Who is the Devil? What is God’s purpose for the earth? What is the Kingdom of God? How can you find the true religion? Although the brochure presents the truth in simple terms, its message is very powerful. It covers key points that the elders will review with candidates for baptism and can serve as a springboard for a more thorough study in the Knowledge book.
16 To offer a study on a return visit, you could simply say: “Did you know that by taking just a few minutes, you can have the answer to an important Bible question?” Then, pose a question that appears at the beginning of one of the lessons in the brochure. For example, if you are calling on an older person, you might say: “We know that in the past Jesus healed people. But in the future, what will Jesus do for the sick? the elderly? the dead?” The answers are found in lesson 5. A religiously inclined person may be intrigued by the question: “Does God listen to all prayers?” It is answered in lesson 7. Family members will want to know: “What does God require of parents and of children?” They will find out as they study lesson 8. Other questions are: “Can the dead harm the living?” explained in lesson 11; “Why are there so many religions that claim to be Christian?” discussed in lesson 13; and “What must you do to become a friend of God?” covered in lesson 16.
17 Help Those Who Speak Another Language: What about householders who speak another language? If possible, they should be taught in the language they know best. (1 Cor. 14:9) The city overseer (or in a rural area, the circuit overseer) may be able to provide information regarding foreign-language congregations and groups in the area. The secretary would then be able to forward any Foreign Language Follow-Up Slips (S-70a) he receives from congregation members to the appropriate foreign-language congregation or group. If there are no congregations or groups nearby and there are no local publishers who can speak the language of the householder, the publisher can try to study with the householder, using the Require brochure in the two languages.
18 An English-speaking publisher started a study with a man who speaks Vietnamese and with his wife, who speaks Thai. Publications and Bibles in English, Vietnamese, and Thai were used during the study. Although the language barrier presented a challenge at first, the publisher writes: “The couple’s spiritual growth has been immediate. They have seen the need to start attending meetings with their two children, and they are reading the Bible nightly as a family. Their six-year-old daughter conducts her own Bible study.”
19 When studying with people who speak another language, speak slowly, articulate clearly, and use simple words and phrases. Bear in mind, however, that people who speak another language should be treated with dignity. They should not be treated as if they were infants.
20 Make good use of the beautiful illustrations in the Require brochure. If “a picture is worth a thousand words,” the scores of illustrations in the brochure will speak volumes to the householder. Invite him to read the scriptures in his own Bible. If the study can be conducted at a time when a family member who knows English is available to interpret, that will no doubt be beneficial.—See Our Kingdom Ministry, October 1990, pages 7-8; March 1984, page 8.
21 Make Return Visits Without Delay: How long should you wait before making a return visit? Some publishers call back within a day or two of the initial contact. Others return later on the same day! Is that too soon? Generally, householders do not seem to mind. Often it is the publisher making the call who needs to cultivate a more positive attitude along with a little boldness. Consider the following experiences.
22 A 13-year-old publisher was working from house to house one day when he saw two women walking together. Mindful of the encouragement to preach to people wherever we find them, he approached the women on the street. They showed interest in the Kingdom message, and each accepted a Knowledge book. The young brother obtained their addresses, returned two days later, and started a Bible study with each of them.
23 One sister makes arrangements to call back the following week. But a day or two after the original call, she stops by to give the householder a magazine on the subject they discussed previously. She tells the householder: “I saw this article and thought you would like to read it. I can’t stop to talk now, but I’ll be back on Wednesday afternoon as planned. Is that time still all right with you?”
24 When an individual shows interest in the truth, we can be sure that he will encounter opposition in one form or another. Our calling back soon after the initial contact is made will strengthen him to withstand any pressures he faces from relatives, close friends, and others.
25 Cultivate Interest of Those Found in Public Places: Many of us enjoy preaching on the streets, in parking lots, on public transportation, in shopping centers, in parks, and so forth. In addition to placing literature, we need to cultivate interest. To that end, an effort should be made to obtain the name, the address and, if possible, the telephone number of every interested person we meet. It is not as difficult as you might think to obtain this information. As the conversation is coming to a close, take out your notebook and ask: “Is there any way we can continue this conversation at another time?” Or say: “I would like you to read an article that I am sure will interest you. May I bring it to your home or office?” One brother simply asks: “At what number can you be reached?” He reports that in three months all but three persons were happy to give him their phone number.
26 Use the Telephone to Find and Develop Interest: A pioneer sister uses the telephone to reach people living in high-security buildings. She also makes return visits in the same way. On the initial call, she says: “I know you don’t know me. I am making a special effort to contact people in your area to share a thought from the Bible. If you have a moment, I would like to read the promise found at . . .” After reading the scripture, she says: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could see that time come? I have enjoyed reading this to you. If you have enjoyed it too, I would like to call again and discuss another scripture.”
27 On the return phone call, she reminds the householder of their previous conversation and says she would like to read from the Bible what conditions will be like when wickedness is done away with. Then she has a brief Bible discussion with the householder. Over the course of many telephone conversations, 35 people have invited her to their home and seven home Bible studies have been started! Is it sometimes difficult for you to make return visits on interested persons during the cold winter months because of impassable roads, icy conditions, or sickness? If so, why not keep in touch with them by telephone?
28 Follow Up Interest Found in Business Places: Much more is involved in working from store to store than simply offering magazines. Many shopkeepers have a sincere interest in the truth, and that interest must be cultivated. In some cases, it may be possible to have a Bible discussion or even a study right on the premises. In other cases, you and the interested person may be able to meet during the noon break or at some other convenient time.
29 A traveling overseer called on the owner of a small grocery store and offered to demonstrate a Bible study. When asked how long the demonstration would take, the traveling overseer said it would take just 15 minutes. With that, the storekeeper hung a sign on the door: “Back in 20 Minutes,” pulled up a couple of chairs, and the two of them discussed the first five paragraphs of the Knowledge book. This sincere man was so impressed by what he learned that he attended the Public Meeting and Watchtower Study that Sunday and agreed to continue the study the following week.
30 To offer a study in a business place, you might say this: “Our Bible study program takes just 15 minutes to demonstrate. If it is convenient, I will be glad to show you how it is done.” Then, stick to the time limit. If it is not possible to have a long discussion in a place of business, it may be more appropriate to call on the shopkeeper at his home.
31 Call Back Even When No Literature Has Been Placed: Every spark of interest deserves a return visit, whether literature has been placed or not. Of course, if it becomes clear that the householder really is not interested in the Kingdom message, it is best to direct your efforts elsewhere.
32 In the door-to-door work, a sister met a lady who was very friendly but who firmly refused the offer of the magazines. The publisher writes: “For days I thought about her and decided I wanted to talk to her again.” Finally, the sister prayed, took courage, and knocked at the lady’s door. To her delight the householder invited her inside. A Bible study was started, and it was conducted again the following day. In time, the householder came into the truth.
33 Plan Ahead to Get the Most Accomplished: It is recommended that some time be spent each week in making return visits. Much can be accomplished with good planning. Line up calls in the same area where you will be working from house to house. When working from an automobile, the group should be kept small so that each one will have a full opportunity to make return visits. The driver should know in advance where the return visits will be made so that unnecessary driving can be avoided.
34 Those who are successful in making return visits and in starting home Bible studies say that it is essential to show a sincere personal interest in people and to keep thinking about them even after the call is made. It is also necessary to have an appealing Bible subject to discuss and to lay the groundwork for the return visit before leaving the initial call. Further, it is important to return promptly to follow up the interest. The objective of starting a Bible study must always be kept well in mind.
35 A vital quality for success in the return visit work is boldness. How is it acquired? The apostle Paul answers by saying that we ‘muster up boldness’ to declare the good news to others “by means of our God.” If you need to grow in this area, pray to Jehovah for help. Then, in harmony with your prayers, follow up all interest. Jehovah will surely bless your efforts!
[Box on page 3]
How to Be Successful in Making Return Visits
■ Show a sincere personal interest in people.
■ Select an appealing Bible subject to discuss.
■ Lay the groundwork for each successive visit.
■ Keep thinking about the person after you leave.
■ Return in a day or two to follow up the interest.
■ Keep in mind your objective is to start a Bible study.
■ Pray for help to muster up boldness for this work.