Successful Telephone Witnessing
1 Our objective as Jehovah’s Witnesses is not merely to engage in preaching the good news but also to reach everyone possible with the Kingdom message. (Acts 10:42; 20:24) While the house-to-house work continues to be the principal way to reach people, we realize that not even by this systematic method do we contact everyone. So to ‘fully accomplish our ministry,’ we are using other methods—including telephone witnessing—to find sheeplike individuals.—2 Tim. 4:5.
2 In many places, people live in high-security apartments, multi-family complexes, or gated communities, where it is difficult to engage in our traditional door-to-door method of reaching people. Even in territories where we can work from house to house, a substantial number of people are not at home. However, many publishers are having excellent success in reaching these residents by telephone. In a morning of house-to-house work, one married couple had nine not-at-homes. After returning to the Kingdom Hall, they looked these up in a reverse directory that lists telephone numbers by addresses. They called the numbers and found eight of the householders at home!
3 Are you reluctant to include telephone witnessing in your ministry? One brother admits: “I don’t like anyone calling me at home to sell me anything, so I have a mental block about this type of witnessing.” However, after making just two phone calls, he said: “I love it! I never thought that could happen, but I love it! People are relaxed on the phone, and you have everything you need within reach. This is great!” A sister had a similar reaction: “I was really not excited about telephone witnessing. To tell you the truth, I did not want to do it. But I tried it and found it to be very fruitful. I have 37 return visits from phone witnessing and more studies than I can care for!” If you are willing to try telephone witnessing, you too can be successful.
4 Organizing for Telephone Witnessing: The witnessing activity of the congregation comes under the supervision of the service overseer. Depending on the need, the body of elders may choose to appoint another elder or a qualified ministerial servant to work closely with him in organizing telephone witnessing. The brother caring for territories should also be involved, since he will assign the territories and keep an up-to-date record. Likewise, the circuit overseer will be interested in the progress of the program.
5 If there are areas in your territory not accessible by door-to-door witnessing, telephone territories should be prepared. The brother assigned will carefully make a list of the addresses that are to be converted into such territories, which should be kept relatively small so that they can be worked regularly. All territory maps with those areas on them should be marked with a notation that the specified section is designated for telephone witnessing.
6 From where can you obtain the telephone numbers? A reverse directory that lists phone numbers by addresses may be available at the public library. If a high-security complex has its own telephone list, perhaps you can get the numbers from there. Otherwise, it may be possible to copy the names of the residents from the directory in the lobby and to look them up in a standard telephone book.
7 The elders can take an active interest in this work by arranging for those with experience in telephone witnessing to train others, perhaps through the Pioneers Assist Others program. Periodically, a local needs part on the Service Meeting may be devoted to enhancing the success of this feature of witnessing.
8 When elders make shepherding calls on shut-ins or the infirm, they can be alert to encourage these ones to participate in telephone witnessing. Perhaps an elder can make a few calls while the publisher observes. Then the publisher may enjoy an opportunity to make a call. Many who have started in this way spend a few minutes each day in this work, and they really love it.
9 Suggestions for Success: When Jesus sent out his disciples to preach, he “sent them forth by twos.” (Luke 10:1) Why? He knew that by working together they would learn from and encourage each other. The same is true in telephone witnessing. By working as partners, you can learn from each other, discuss your results, and offer suggestions for the next conversation. Even during a phone call, you can help each other locate appropriate information.
10 To promote clear thinking and concentration, sit where you can lay your witnessing materials—Bible, Reasoning book, Require brochure, magazines, and so forth—in front of you. Write out some presentations, and have them where you can see them. Be prepared to keep accurate and complete records, including the date and time of day so that you will know when to follow up the interest found.
11 People are often cautious when hearing an unfamiliar voice on the phone. So be warm, friendly, and tactful. The householder has only the sound of your voice to determine your character and sincerity. Relax and speak from your heart. Speak slowly and clearly and with sufficient volume to be heard. Allow the householder opportunity to speak. Use your full name, and mention that you live in the community. We do not want people to think that we are telemarketers. Rather than saying that you are calling all the residents in a particular building or complex, personalize your call.
12 Telephone Presentations: Many of the introductions on pages 9-15 of the Reasoning book can be adapted to telephone witnessing. You might say: “I’m calling you on the phone because I’m unable to come and see you personally. The purpose of my call is to ask your opinion on a very interesting question.” Then state the question.
13 The first presentation under the heading “Crime/Safety” could be used this way: “Hello. My name is ․․․․․․․․. I live in the community. I want to assure you that I am not selling anything or taking a survey. I am calling because of my concern about the matter of personal safety. There is a lot of crime around us, and it affects our lives. Do you think the time will come when all people will be able to walk on the street at night and feel safe? [Allow for response.] Let me read what God has promised to do.”
14 Using the direct approach to offer Bible studies over the phone has had good results. The study may be demonstrated in a few minutes. Offer to visit the individual at his home to continue the study, or if the person is reluctant, offer to continue the study by phone on another day.
15 When you close a conversation, have in mind something that will lead to your visiting the person at his home or to mailing a piece of literature. If the person hesitates to give you his address, offer to phone again. It may take several calls before he feels comfortable enough to invite you to his home.
16 Taking the Initiative: A 15-year-old sister started her morning service with a phone call. She talked to a woman who agreed to accept a Knowledge book. When the sister delivered the book to the home, the woman wanted to know how the youth knew her phone number, since it was unlisted. The sister had dialed it by mistake! The woman welcomed a study and is now an unbaptized publisher.
17 A sister signed out a telephone territory but held off working it for three weeks because of fear. What gave her the courage to start? She remembered the January 22, 1997, Awake! article entitled “When I Am Weak, Then I Am Powerful.” It was about a Witness who preaches by telephone in spite of physical limitations. The sister said: “I prayed to Jehovah and asked for strength. I asked him to give me the proper words to give my presentation.” What was the result of her first day of telephone witnessing? She reports: “Jehovah answered my prayer. The people gave me their attention, and I arranged for a return visit.” Later her telephone witnessing resulted in a Bible study. She concludes: “Jehovah has taught me once more to trust in him and not in myself.”—Prov. 3:5.
18 Presenting the truth by telephone has become a successful method of preaching the good news. Prepare well, and participate wholeheartedly. Do not become discouraged if a favorable response is not forthcoming on the first few tries. Pray for Jehovah’s direction, and compare notes with others who are preaching in this exciting way. With a desire to miss no one in our territory, may we thoroughly carry out our ministry with urgency.—Rom. 10:13, 14.