Not wanting to clutter ATJ's reasoned thread on JWs' art of persuasion, this thread attempts to trace my personal evolution in style, technique and substance relevant to JW proselytizing. Even so-called secular sources have called attention to the general progression from foot-in-the-door arguers of the 50's to the pet-the-pooch, broad smiling, "not-here-to-change-your- religion" marketers of the 70's, 80's. Door to door skills have dumbed down a bit since then, but that's another story.
I cut my field service teeth on the American Standard Version, the 6-8 minute sermon, the 10-15 minute back call sermon and the anti-trinity, anty-hellfire, anti-immortal soul scripture lists. Scripture flipping requires quick fingers, a canned rhetorical question to lead into the next flip and conveying the false expectation to the householder that your annoying little rant is within a millisecond of finishing. In my personal case, no trinitarians or hellfirers were converted, no arguements were won, no seats needed to be added to the Kingdom Hall.
A dramatic shift in personal style was influenced by my Uncle Joe, the quintessential door to door preacher. Uncle Joe exuded movie star, not Pentecostal style charisma, flashed his white teeth, was beyond relaxed, accommodating, listened keenly and could not be insulted. He broke down scriptures slowly, simply, making eye contact, using the person's first name. In the post WWII 50's and 60's young male Jehovah's Witnesses needed a 4-D or Minister's Exemption to avoid the military draft or prison. Since 18-20 year olds are never actually ministers or pastors of an actual congregation, the Watchtower put an interesting spin on things. They said the doorstep was the pulpit for JWs, that the folks in the territory were the congregation. The Secret Service didn't buy that arguement and followed young JWs out in field service, sometimes interviewing householders. I suspect that my uncle was one of the rarest of JWs who actually fit the Watchtower's definition of minister, with many in his personal territory actually knowing him by name. He kept notes on all of the, too, interested, apathetic or violently opposed.
(to be continued)