Tips part 3, offering books to those who speak only English.
06/01/2009. This is part three of my tips series. Part one here, part two here, and part four here.
I would like to emphasize that the approach of offering non-English material to those whose native lanaguage isn't English really is a lot easier. At least it is for me. One reason is that it's easier for me to start off with non-religious subjects: country of origin and languages. It's a good ice-breaker or conversation starter.
Receiving a book in their mother tongue really does make most people (at least the ones I've met) happy. And making people happy is a good thing, so it's worth starting a conversation for that reason.
But with those who speak only English, the idea of "Hey, I got this book, and it's in English" just doesn't justify starting a conversation with a stranger.
So if you want to try "book slinging", I sincerely recommend starting with foreign languages.
That said, it's also true that people who speak only English also deserve an opportunity to receive the gospel. According to the prophets, everyone "needs" a Book of Mormon, or at least should have the opportunity to receive one.
I don't offer a Book of Mormon (or pass-along cards or other church material) to literally everyone I meet. I try to offer material to most of the immigrants I meet, but for English-only speaking people I usually wait for one of two things.
What seems to trigger an offer of material to English-only speaking people is one of two things: Either they give off spiritual light, or else I feel inspired (prompted of the Spirit) to approach them.
First I decide whether to offer a Book of Mormon (actually a Bible/Book of Mormon combination), or just a video. I'll discuss offering videos in part 4.
It's a two step process, and it uses the teaching concept of "relating the unknown to the known." The first step is to use the Bible as the known, and then relate the Book of Mormon to it.
Almost every English-only speaking person knows what the Bible is. Everyone knows there are people who believe in it, and who promulgate it. So if you offer someone a free Bible, they know what you're talking about.
Many times, I've started a conversation with this: "I like to give out free Bibles. Do you need, or would you like a free Bible?" And it's as simple as that.
The least expensive bible from Distribution Services (www.ldscatalog.com), is $8.20. So I buy my KJV Bibles from the International Bible Society or the American Bible Society. They sell nice paperback Bibles for about $2.20 each, in case lots, plus shipping. They often have specials where they offer free shipping. Not everyone wants a King James Version, so I also carry around some New International Version (NIV) copies, and Contemporary English Version (CEV) copies.
The LDS missionary department has free KJV copies, but they are available only on a limited basis through missionaries and by calling the number on a pass-along card, 888-537-1212. (Though calling any of the toll-free numbers from any pass-along card gets you to the same call center and you can request anything from any of the numbers.) As far as I know you can't order a supply of these LDS-imprint KJV Bibles.
Back to the approach. Remember the paramount point from parts 1 and 2. We're not giving out anything yet, we're verbally offering people something, and we're letting them determine whether or not they will accept it. If they don't agree to accept it, we're not forcing anything on them.
Well, they either have a Bible already or they don't. They either want one or don't want one. (And usually a non-answer or "I don't know" means "no.") It's as simple as that.
A) Suppose they want a Bible. Great. If you carry around several editions, you could ask "Would you like a King James or a more modern translation?" And the follow up is: "In my church we believe both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Would you like a free Book of Mormon too, to go along with the Bible?"
B) Suppose they already have a Bible. You can still follow up with "In my church we believe both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Would you like a free Book of Mormon to along with the Bible?"
C) Suppose they don't want a Bible. You can still follow up with "In my church we believe both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Would you be interested in a free Book of Mormon?"
The Book of Mormon follow-up still keeps the respect of an offer that gives them the opportunity to say "no thanks." Yet it also clearly illustrates that we closely associate the Book of Mormon with the Bible.
If they accept your offier, and if you keep copies of the Bible and Book of Mormon in your car (or office, or school locker, etc) you can deliver/present them right there. Or, if you're more of a pass-along card person, you can give them the appropriate pass-along cards. Or, if the other person is not busy, you can use your cell phone to call one of the toll-free numbers (888-537-1212, or 888-537-2200). Or if you're memorized the numbers, or have them handy in your cell phone, you can write them on any piece of paper, so they can call at their convenience.
If you deliver the Bible and/or the Book of Mormon on the spot, it's best to have prepared them ahead of time with local contact information (local mission office phone number, list of local chapels with addresses and meeting times, www.mormon.org web site, missionary department phone number (888-537-1212), etc). I made up a flyer with that information for Indianapolis and include it in almost every book and video that I give out. If I give them several items, each item will have a flyer in it. That way, if they give away anything to other people, everyone still has a flyer with contact information.
Don't forget at least one pass-along card in the books: a Book of Mormon pass-along card in the Bible, and a Bible pass-along card in the Book of Mormon.
I also try to make it a point to never write or mark directly on the scriptures that I give out. I use inserts and sticky notes. I include a personal calling card with my name, phone number, and email address. And I sometimes write my name/number on the info-flyer that I include that lists the contact information.
I also make it a point to not try to get them to commit to anything. But I do continue in the style of offering, by pointing out that there is contact information in the books, so if they are interested, or want to talk to someone from the church, they can call one of those numbers.
Related posts: Tips, part 1. Tips, part 2. Tips, part 4. How this started, some of the overall-story. A quick-start quide. How-to at Chinese restaurants.