You don’t have to listen to the message missionaries wish to share with you. Neither do you have to give them a lengthy explanation or feel guilty when you ask them to leave.
No matter what your reason is, keep it simple. You don’t have to make up a lengthy story.
A simple and effective way to turn away missionaries is to politely state that you are not interested in the message they want to share with you. You don’t want them to come back either, and you don’t want to take informational materials from them.
Being polite is the key and keeping the message you give to them short gets them on their way quickly.
Understand their Motivation
Missionaries aren’t there to bother you, but they do feel they must share information. They want to embrace those in the community with an interest in their religion. They also enjoy being able to convert others or to get them to commit to volunteering time or even coming to the church for the first time.
Set clear boundaries you aren’t interested in and turn them away. Otherwise, they will continue to see you as a possible person to continue reaching out to.
One of the main reasons people engage with missionaries when they have no desire to is because they feel guilty. Society often makes us feel like we have to give people a chance to share information with us or we aren’t being polite.
This is your home they have come to, unannounced and uninvited. You don’t owe them anything!
Missionaries are used to people telling them they aren’t interested. They face this at more doors they knock on than those where people engage with them. They aren’t going to be offended and they aren’t going to challenge your decision.
When you politely turn away missionaries, you don’t have to worry about them coming back all the time. They will use the time they have to share their message with those who have an interest in it.
State you aren’t Interested
Missionaries tend to be passionate about their message, but they also respect your boundaries.
Tell them you aren’t interested in what they share and then close the door.
You will get a few from time to time that tries to continue talking, but just continue to close the door and they will leave. If you feel they aren’t being respectful you can contact the church they belong to. Most will leave as soon as you close the door though.
Some feel it is wrong to just say no to missionaries, but it all comes down to how you say it.
Smile, make eye contact, and don’t make them feel like they bothered you.
People have different backgrounds and interests and that should be respected. Missionaries aren’t going to be forceful or try to get into your home if you state you aren’t interested. They will move along to other homes in their quest to connect with interested individuals.
What to say:
“Thank you for stopping by but I am not interested. Have a great day!”
“I am not interested in hearing more.”
“This isn’t something I have an interest in, please don’t stop here.”
It isn’t a Good Time
If it isn’t a good time when they dropped by, let them know. You may be getting ready for work or on your way out the door. You may have children to take care of or even do homeschooling with them. Let them know it isn’t a good time to drop by.
The problem with turning away missionaries this way is they will often ask if they can return at a later time. If you don’t want them to, make sure you convey that message.
If they put you on the hook for when it is a good time, tell them you don’t know. Tell them you prefer people not to show up unannounced at your home. You have a busy schedule and can’t commit to a time carved out to talk to them.
They will get the message you are sending, but if you leave the door open that you would talk if they came at a different time, don’t be surprised if they do show back up again!
What to say:
“Now isn’t a good time, I am in the middle of something.”
“I am on my way out so right now I don’t have time to visit with you.”
“We are taking part in homeschooling at this time and can’t be interrupted.”
“I don’t have time right now, and prefer you don’t come back at a later time.”
There are several different religions, and while they have some similarities, they are different in beliefs. Share with the missionaries you follow another religion.
You can choose to disclose to them which one if you like, but you aren’t obligated to. They make go on their merry way, but they may ask you about your religion. They may be interested in what you follow.
You can choose to engage with them in such a discussion. You can also tell them that you don’t wish to discuss that with them. If you don’t have a religious preference but you just want them gone, keep the reply vague and to the point.
Otherwise, they will try to find key points and common areas of both religions they can discuss with you to keep you talking and visiting with them.
What to say:
“I am a member of another church with different religious beliefs.”
“I don’t follow your same religion.”
“I choose to listen to a different religious concept.”
“I prefer not to discuss my religious views.”
Decline the Offered Materials
Missionaries often have materials with them to distribute. These materials share the message they wish to convey. When you politely turn them away, they may offer it to you. Taking the materials offered gives them the impression you are interested. They are likely to return to discuss it with you at another time.
Decline the offered materials. This will often be extended once you politely turn them away. It is their last attempt to connect with you. Don’t take anything, especially if you have no intention to read it.
Don’t make the mistake of taking it and tossing it in the trash. They may ask you to just take a look at one thing. This is a way for them to reel you in. Don’t take the bait!
What to say:
“Thank you but I won’t read it.”
“No thank you, I am not interested in reading the materials.”
“Thank you but keep it for someone that would like to read it.”
“I don’t want to see it, but thank you for the offer.”
Ask them to listen to your Message
If you want to have some fun with the missionaries, ask if you can share a message with them first.
Tell them you want to talk for 15 minutes and then you will listen to them for 15 minutes. Make sure you don’t mock them or what they are sharing in any way if you go this route. They will get the hint fast and should be on their way.
Some of them aren’t so quick to leave though, and you may be on the spot to offer them a story for a bit!
What to say:
“I will make you a deal, if you listen to me for 15 minutes, I will listen to you for 15 minutes.”
“Okay, but I get to share with you first, and then you can share with me. Does that work for you?”
“I am glad you stopped by; since you have time on your hands can I share a story with you?”
“I will only listen to what you share if you listen to me first.”
Ask them not to Return
Be clear when you politely ask the missionaries to leave. If you aren’t clear that you don’t want them to return, they may be back next week.
They are often out canvassing areas and you will remain a prospect on their list to talk to unless you specifically ask them not to return. Some feel that is bold to add at the end, but if you don’t want to come up with a reason every week, it is best to clear it up from the start.
Remember, the goal is always to keep it polite. There is no reason to be rude or try to intimidate them. There is no reason to slam the door on them or make them feel uncomfortable.
These are good people with a message they believe in. You wouldn’t be rude to Girl Scouts coming to the door asking if you wanted cookies, show the same respect to everyone.
What to say:
“Thank you, but I would prefer you didn’t return.”
“I am not interested today or at any time.”
“Please take me off your list of homes to stop at.”
“Due to our differences in religion, it is best if you don’t stop by again.”
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.