Firstly, I live in Auburn, Alabama where there aren’t a lot of mormons. The majority of my friends aren’t mormon. While I’m okay with this, I can tell most of them don’t think highly of the church, Joseph Smith, etc. (but most of them do have high opinions about the members) It hurts a little bit to be able to tell they think that because the both the church and my friends are important to me. What, if anything, should I do?
You are a fortunate person to live in the Southern part of the United States! These are good people who love the Lord, want others to come unto Christ, have strong family values, hard working and are genuine people.
We don’t attract others to our church by putting them down (and vice versa!). If they want you to visit their church, it really doesn’t feel good when the person says “You’re going to hell if you don’t come to church with me.”
Here are some ideas for you:
1) Emphasize that the Holy Spirit is the source of all truth about the Gospel. The Holy Spirit will teach us what we want to know. But it takes studying the source of the information. If they have questions, you can invite them to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.
If you anticipate getting into a “confrontational” discussion, before you say anything, ask them about the Holy Spirit. Do they know how to recognize it? (Do you?) Ask them to NOT believe in your own words, but in the feeling they get from the Holy Spirit. This will invite a better spirit into your discussion, and (hopefully) dissipate any spirit of contention.
If they won’t agree tohttp://askgramps.org/wp-content/uploads/book-of-mormon.jpg listen to the Holy Spirit, then they are only looking for a “Bible bash”. If you know your Bible well enough, you can win the bash, but you might lose the friendship. I’d avoid this if possible.
2) Find areas of commonality with your friends. When someone brings up “we believe you shouldn’t add to the Bible”, you can (and should) say “We don’t either!” Then proceed to explain.
3) Go to church with them. The neat thing about most churches in the South is that they have multiple services on Sundays and a weeknight service as well. If they invite you, go with them! Enjoy it and learn from it. Learn to distinguish what you know to be true and other things that you may be taught there. It may be a true learning opportunity that you are denying yourself.
(Here’s a sneaky idea: Take a paperback Book of Mormon, tear out a couple of chapters from it and give it to your friends and ask them what they think of it. It’s a way to get them to read it without the cover of the book. Plus, if their parent’s find it, they may not know what it is – at least not right away.)
4) Read and study the Preach My Gospel and Gospel Principles manuals. Learn the concepts of the gospel so you can teach them in general terms. Keep it simple.
5) Be sure to ask what THEY believe! Let them share what’s important to them. It’s important because that will help them to feel and invite the spirit into your discussion.
Now, if they say “I believe all Mormons are going to hell”, that’s not a testimony. That’s an opinion. What do they believe? You can recite a couple of the Articles of Faith saying that is what you believe in. Then ask them what they believe. Keep the discussion on beliefs and on faith… not on negatives on each other.
Good luck and have fun learning about others!