6 thoughts on “Jehovah’s Witness Role Play

  1. Hi Mike,

    I really enjoyed your presentation. As an educational technique, I’m a big fan of the role play. That method has helped me in the ministry and I confess has also made me some money when I was in sales.
    For your purposes and intended audience, I thought you were excellent. You channeled your inner Jehovah’s Witness and explained our beliefs with acumen and I thought pretty well overall. Your speech and demeanor was very similar to that of JW’s. And you certainly look the part. 🙂 You had everyone believing you were one of JW’s.

    It sounds like you rattled a couple of the students. It was most apparent when you explained Jesus’ resurrection to a spirit body. A couple of students also were a bit defensive and also challenged you to justify “your” theology.

    You may or may not be aware, but we will occasionally venture into college campuses to present material on specific topics upon invitation. In my area, we’ve met with nursing and PA students to inform them on medical alternatives to blood transfusions, and social work students on issues relating to some legal matters. Also, if certain criteria are met, we will present to other groups. In my area, for example, we have met with the region’s hospital chaplain’s group to discuss questions related to blood transfusions and the basis for JW belief.

    If you have a good relationship with the JWs in your area, you might be able to get them to speak to your group. A meeting with an actual Witness would probably be different from your role play. It would likely be focused on one topic. It would be interactive but since the intent is to “inform” the audience, it would take an objective tone, thus coming across less “preachy”. It would not involve a back and forth point counterpoint discussion. (The objective is not to convince, but rather to inform, and a fine line must be drawn) JW’s are not prone to draw attention to themselves, and will not spend time talking about how and why they became Witnesses, unless asked. This is especially true in this environment.

    And a quick technical observation for the future. It may be a good idea to repeat the audience questions or statements if you plan to record the discussion, as it’s hard to hear what they were saying.

    Was there any other feedback or other anecdotes from the students that you can share? I would have been interested in knowing how many have had a JW knock on their door, in addition to the question you asked about how many had had a similar conversation with them.

    1. Hi Fred-

      I’m glad you watched this and thank you for your constructive thoughts! I definitely agree that things would have been quite different if a real JW had been there. My objective wasn’t necessarily to provide an overview of what JW’s believed. If that had been the case, then the role play wouldn’t have really been that necessary. Instead, I wanted to test them and see how they would do in a real encounter, which could have just as easily been from a Mormon, Muslim, or atheist. As I suspected would be the case, little time was spent with the students really trying to get to the bottom of what I believed. Instead, they spent more time talking. Thus, I had them right where I wanted them.

      I agree too about repeating the questions for the sake of those watching virtually. The problem is, I had maybe one or two actual questions that were asked of me. Everything else was a conglomeration of arguments and statements, a lot of which were difficult to repeat as even I couldn’t understand their points. I think if I were to do this again, I would ask the audience to limit their responses to only questions.

      As far as anecdotes and feedback, I got a lot of it. Probably the biggest one was that they recognized that they spent too much time arguing and disagreeing. They were pretty bummed that I couldn’t get to the deity of Christ, which they admitted was their fault. They realized that in order to get to these deeper topics with a JW, they really needed to get through the intro stuff. So a lot of them learned patience and that hearing a person out before jumping all over them with objections is very important. I also got a lot of positive feedback from students who didn’t interact with me, but were very challenged in realizing that they didn’t know their theology as well as they should. But most importantly, almost everyone felt that they could comfortably approach a JW now that they had a gist of what interacting would look like.

      If you have any other constructive feedback to share, i’d love to hear it as I hope to do this again. I was EXTREMELY nervous when I did this, so a lot of mannerisms came out that I wouldn’t do again, and i’d also speak more slowly and clearly. Also, I probably wouldn’t prefer to do something like this to an apologetics study group. Instead, a typical high school youth group would be ideal 🙂

  2. And your explanation as to how your alter-ego became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses sounds awfully familiar. 🙂

  3. The video was interesting to watch. Just two observations, Mike.

    1) Please don’t overuse the expression, “That’s a great question.”
    2) I’m not sure the Witness objection to independent thinking was represented accurately. Witnesses are not necessarily afraid of questions since we get them all the time. Nor do we try to change the subject because we feel uncomfortable about some query. Independent thinking usually involves the private interpretation of scripture or thinking that’s rooted in the flesh or thoughts of men.



  4. Hey Mike:

    Honestly, you were excellent. Being nervous is natural and normal, and probably makes the situation a bit more realistic. Like anything else, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. There’s always little things but that’s being kind of nit-picky.

    I understand now that you were teaching a broader lesson to the group, the importance of being a good listener when witnessing and the role of well placed questions. No doubt that these things are crucial in reaching the hearts of people.

    If that’s the case, you might find some useful techniques in our publication “Benefit from the Theocratic Ministry School”. This is the textbook for one of our weekly meetings. What separates this textbook from others out there is that is uses biblical principles to teach public and extemporaneous speaking. It also focuses on biblical application. I believe its available on the WT library.

    If nothing else, it might be helpful to do what JW’s do in these types of presentations, which is to focus on one topic and let the audience know ahead of time what the topic of discussion will be. The audience can come in prepared with good questions. That generally worked for us in the past.

    take care.

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