DVD Outreach to Mormons

Well, it’s over, but the work has just begun. March 25th, 2007 was a historic day. Never in the history of Mormonism has there been a bigger outreach to the Mormon people. An anonymous Christian businessman donated 600,000 DVDs to Christians, churches, and ministries who would agree to distribute them door to door on March 25th. The DVD, titled Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith is an excellent production that contrasts the differences between Christianity and Mormonism.

Not only did Christians in Utah participate in the DVD outreach, but DVDs were also made available to those of us outside Mormon country. The idea was to blanket communities that have a Mormon temple. For roughly .53 a piece, we had the opportunity to buy as many DVDs as the Lord would provide for and join in on the distribution. Our original goal was to raise enough money to purchase 5,000 DVDs and distribute them in the Stone Oak area of San Antonio, which is where the LDS temple is located.

We put the word out about the distribution and gave people the opportunity to participate financially and boy, did they respond. Christians gave, gave, gave some more and then when they were finished giving, they contributed enough funds to purchase 14,000 DVDs! We were completely surprised and excited on one hand and overwhelmed and concerned on the other. How in the world would we get enough people to prepare and distribute all of those DVDs? God came through again and supplied us with 110 people from 15 different churches.

After the distribution, I was struck by exactly how big of a job we had just done. When I thought about our original goal of 5,000 I realized that God had purposely given us more than we could do by ourselves. I believe this was so that we would rely on Him instead of trying to accomplish this work in our own strength.

These last five days have been very busy trying to keep up with all of the news about the DVD distribution. Although most of the DVDs were distributed in Mormon country, Christians also distributed DVDs in Washington, California, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Virginia, Montana, Nevada, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Oregon. The DVD has also been sent to Australia, Chile, Mexico, Liberia West Africa, and several places in Europe.

Aside from reaching out to the Mormons, the DVD also serves the purpose of inoculating non-Mormons from joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has been said that for the effort that it takes to get one person out of Mormonism, hundreds could be kept from ever joining. Distributing the DVD to Mormons and non-Mormons alike addresses two ways of keeping the LDS Church from growing as much as it could. We can focus on getting people out and keeping others from joining in the first place. Obviously people have the freedom to join whatever religion they wish, but we find that informing the public about what Mormonism really teaches is usually enough to ensure that they do not become Mormons.

So far I have heard of six professions of faith and some others who have left the LDS Church. We expect to hear many more stories about what God is doing. Please join us in prayer for God to use the DVDs to save Mormons and give glory to His name. For more information about the DVD and to view it online, visit Good News For LDS.

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10 Comments

  1. Sweet post man. God is good.Btw, the video is available on YouTube now.

  2. Keith:A point-by-point rebuttal to the DVD was made available on March 24th, a day before the canvassing of targeted areas:http://josephsmithdvd.orgThe DVD distorts and deceives about Mormon doctrine and history, and is not likely to have much influence among Mormons. As you mentioned, perhaps a greater reason for the effort was “boundary maintenance,” an effort to prevent people from investigating and ultimately becoming Mormons.The effort, from what I can see, is really serving to arouse curiosity among non-Mormons. Mormon missionaries don’t leave information that purports to explain the beliefs and history of other churches; they try to explain their own faith. The protesting at Mormon temples and distribution of material that seeks to paint Mormonism in a bad light makes many people wonder what all the fuss is about, leading to many to look further into it from other points-of-view that aren’t so one-sided and agenda-driven as this DVD.Other non-Mormon Christians have come out against this effort:http://johnwmorehead.blogspot.com/2007/02/jesus-christjoseph-smith-video_10.htmlAnd the Anti-Defamation League has condemned the DVD:http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ChJew_31/5013_31.htmI think that, as with other efforts to “poison the well” against the growth and prosperity of Mormonism, this effort will prove instead to have furthered it.

  3. McKay Jones said, “I think that, as with other efforts to “poison the well” against the growth and prosperity of Mormonism, this effort will prove instead to have furthered it.”This line is something I hear every time I participate in an outreach to Mormons. McKay, I will give you the same offer that I give to every other Mormon who says this. If our efforts are indeed furthering Mormonism’s growth, then why don’t you put your money where your mouth is? I would love to receive a check from the nice folks over at F.A.I.R. for more DVDs. They cost only .53 cents apiece. We were able to deliver DVDs to a very small percentage of San Antonio. If you folks could give the funds to help us reach the rest of San Antonio, I’ll make sure they get delivered. I’ll also give the LDS mission president in San Antonio a call and maybe we could have some of the Mormon missionaries help us deliver them.So what do you say? Deal?

  4. These are the types of challenges that are meant to look like a “challenge,” but are not sincerely held out. The counterpart to your “challenge” would be for me to challenge you to distribute copies of The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price (scriptures Mormons accept along with the Bible) along with the DVD. After all, why not give people primary sources so they can look up references, right? And, if the Book of Abraham, Book of Mormon, etc. are such a joke, wouldn’t distributing them lead to their demise? Etc., etc.Such a “challenge” would be neither realistic nor sincere on my part, nor would I reasonably expect you to accept it. Besides, the advertising value is much better if the DVDs are distributed by evangelicals. What other religious group has the distinction of protests, picketing, and nation-wide outreach efforts? Only one, and such efforts are a tacit admission that the growth of Mormonism threatens certain other churches within Christianity.FAIR has directed people who have asked where they can get the DVD to the “goodnewsforlds” site. Question: would those who produced and distributed the DVD direct people who ask for responses by Mormons to FAIR’s response?Would you?

  5. McKay said, “These are the types of challenges that are meant to look like a ‘challenge,’ but are not sincerely held out.”You don’t know me very well do you? My “challenge” was a sincere offer. If you or FAIR wants to contribute for more DVDs, I’ll be happy to arrange with the LDS mission president to get their help in distributing them. I am as sincere as sincere can be. I am sure you know, but I make the offer to prove that it is you who are not sincere about your claim that our efforts help the LDS Church grow. If you really believe it, put your money where your mouth is.Your counter challenge is not valid because I never claimed that distributing your scriptures would decrease LDS church growth.McKay said, “Question: would those who produced and distributed the DVD direct people who ask for responses by Mormons to FAIR’s response? Would you?”I guess I already have by not deleting your post. 😉

  6. Keith: While not deleting my post is commendable, I was actually asking if you would refer people who ask about a Mormon response to FAIR’s response. While I don’t know you very well, from this exchange I suspect that you would, which is also commendable.You said:”I am sure you know, but I make the offer to prove that it is you who are not sincere about your claim that our efforts help the LDS Church grow. If you really believe it, put your money where your mouth is.”Definitely, LDS efforts to share their faith are much more effective than having their critics do it for them. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I think that passing out anti-Mormon DVDs would convert more people than positive, assertive efforts of LDS to share their faith; the latter is much more effective. Still, outreach efforts such as this DVD canvassing do set Mormons apart. What other group has had such efforts directed at them over the years?I would have two major concerns with passing out the DVDs as a means of generating interest in Mormonism:1. It is deceptive and innaccurate in many, many places and attacks a caricature of Mormon beliefs and history unrecognizable to knowledgeable, believing Mormons. Why would I help disseminate that?2. This DVD effort is the street equivalent of email spamming, and that’s not how Mormons evangelize. We seek to talk to people one-on-one and invite them to learn more. We do not leave material on door knobs, stuff mail boxes, or mass-mail materials to people who haven’t requested it. If you recall, the letter that went out with the sample DVDs specifically instructed people not to engage in conversation, but rather, to simply leave the materials. Non-Mormons see the difference in this approach, and this has been pointed out by non-Mormon hosts and callers in our local talk radio stations (Phoenix). In fact, there has been a considerable amount of damage control by many ministries in connection with this effort as non-Mormon reactions have not been what were expected (the condemnation of the Anti-Defamation League didn’t help). Pastor Jon McCartney, one of the DVD’s “talking heads,” went to great lengths to emphasize that he was led to believe that the DVD wouldn’t engage in “name-calling:”http://www.tooeletranscript.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=20408&Itemid=2How do efforts like the DVD canvassing help the Church? Typically, people who know Mormons well bring it up to their Mormon friends and acquaintances. Their friends clarify and testify about the issues/questions, and then people have a number of data points on which to base an impression or conclusion:1. The claims of the DVD/pastor/book, etc.2. Personal knowledge and acquaintance with Mormons.3. What these Mormons tell them.4. The confirmation of the Holy Ghost.These all work overwhelmingly in Mormonism’s favor, overall, and leads to a certain level of distrust of “countercult ministries” and their outreaches as far as providing objective information of Mormonism. It’s much more effective to let the countercultists disseminate the propaganda, so as to keep that as a distinct “data point” for people when they sift and weigh what their experience with Mormonism, pro et con, is.Incidentally, because the DVD canvassing is really analagous to junk mail or email spam, have you considered that the effectiveness and results might be similar? In at least one case in Washington, many non-Mormons thought that it was from the Mormons and left a pile of them at an LDS chapel with a note asking that no more unsolicited materials be left:http://www.mormonapologetics.org/index.php?showtopic=23045What did you think of (non-Mormon seminarian) John Morehead’s thoughts on why this effort was not going to be effecitve with Mormons or non-Mormons (link posted in my first post)? —McKay

  7. McKay,You are correct. If someone asked me for a Mormon response to the DVD, I would point them in F.A.I.R.’s direction. Now, if I could just get the LDS church to link to our site for those asking for an evangelical response…McKay said, “I hope I didn’t give the impression that I think that passing out anti-Mormon DVDs would convert more people than positive, assertive efforts of LDS to share their faith; the latter is much more effective.” No, I did not get that impression. You specifically said that our efforts, in this case the DVD distribution, work better for you then they do for us. I challenged that by asking you to financially back our efforts.McKay said; “What other group has had such efforts directed at them over the years?”I get that from the JWs all the time. ;-)McKay said, “Incidentally, because the DVD canvassing is really analagous to junk mail or email spam, have you considered that the effectiveness and results might be similar?”While I reject the comparison, have you stopped to think about the fact that junk mailers and spammers would be doing something else if it weren’t effective?As for John Morehead, let’s just say that I disagree with his assessment of the distribution. We have a different philosophy of ministry. At this point, I do not think it wise to say any more than that.

  8. Btw McKay, how did you stubble across our blog?

  9. “McKay said: ‘What other group has had such efforts directed at them over the years?’Keith replied: ‘I get that from the JWs all the time. ;-)’ “Will “Jesus/Charles Taze Russell” DVDs be up next? :-)Keith, you focus on both Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Would you say that both groups receive an equal amount of evangelical outreach efforts, or does one receive more emphasis than the other? Keith said: While I reject the comparison, have you stopped to think about the fact that junk mailers and spammers would be doing something else if it weren’t effective?I don’t know what the figures are, but I’m sure that direct mail and spam campaigns are very inefficient. In other words, I think that businesses that engage in this as a major marketing strategy take it as a given that the success rate will be very low. In terms of economies of scale, though, gazillions of mailings or emails may yield, say a thousand or so purchases or replies. For these types of businesses, the inefficiency of the method doesn’t matter, since the cost of producing the marketing materials in bulk is quite small. For every million Nigerian email scams that are deleted, some poor guy somewhere will eventually send his routing number and account number, which makes it all worthwhile to the scammer . . .Keith asked: Btw McKay, how did you stumble across our blog?Your blog was among the web chatter concerning the DVD effort in the aftermath of March 25. There are other blogs from people who reported participating in the DVD effort as individuals or with their churches.

  10. McKay said, “Will “Jesus/Charles Taze Russell” DVDs be up next? :-)”I have to tell you McKay, I really laughed out loud when I read this. Great idea! Maybe we can get the LDS missionaries to help us pass those out too! I was also impressed that you knew who the founder of the Watchtower is. Do you critique the methods of the counter-cult towards them too or just Mormonism? Wanna hear a funny story? We once had some LDS missionaries give us a call and ask for some help in witnessing to the JWs. We took them out to lunch and taught them our “Watchtower False Prophecy Pack.” When we were finished with the study, one of the LDS missionaries asked us if we had a packet like that for the Mormons. I said No, we have two.” They smiled.McKay said, “Keith, you focus on both Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Would you say that both groups receive an equal amount of evangelical outreach efforts, or does one receive more emphasis than the other?”Good question. When I first started in the counter-cult movement in 1995, our ministry was more focused on the JWs. I had been in contact with ministries to Mormons, but I can’t say one was more active than the other since we were mostly involved with the JWs and ministries to JWs. There was a time in our ministry when the focus shifted and we were about 90% focused on the LDS. Now it is about 60-40 towards the LDS. This is just from the perspective of our ministry though.Personally, I think there is more of an effort towards the LDS though. I think the most obvious reason is because, for all practical purposes, Mormons have their own State. This is not the case with JWs. This just makes it easier to reach Mormons. If the JWs had their own State, I think more ministries would focus on them.McKay said, “I don’t know what the figures are, but I’m sure that direct mail and spam campaigns are very inefficient.”Efficiency and effectiveness are different things some times. In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-8), it is evident that there is a lot of wasted seed. That is not very efficient, but there is always enough of a harvest to justify the waste. Having enough of a crop to get through the upcoming seasons is important. That is effective.

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