Never mind the Bible – the new good book is alphabetised.
Jehovah's Witness has turned to the White Pages as Covid-19 restrictions prevent traditional door-to-door evangelising.
Spokesman Victor Iorama says New Zealand's 183 congregations, which have not worshipped together since March, are now following a global Covid-induced instruction to 'witness' via telephone, email and text message.
"We've had to be creative in reaching people. We would normally go out and knock on doors. Obviously we value life and we want to do it safely."
Members were working from publicly available phone lists and some had bought Habitation Indexes, which sort electoral roll names by residential address. No statistics had been collected regarding the actual number of phone calls being made, but the practice was nationwide.
"It's been a bit of a learning curve," said Iorama. "But there are no dogs to deal with, or that sort of thing.
"We probably do get a few who get hung up on, but that's okay. It's the same thing as when we knock on someone's door and get shooed away."
Iorama said there was no quota or set script, but every member was expected to honour their faith's commitment to "talk about the good news and talk about our God Jehovah and that could be by any means".
"Door-to-door was the main thing but, in these times, it's either by phone or writing and text messaging."
Iorama said some recipients indicated they preferred phone calls to an in-person visit and had booked weekly chats.
"We've had great, positive feedback from people in the community who have welcomed just having someone look out for them."
Statistics New Zealand Census data showed 91.6 per cent of households had landline telephone access in 2006, but that had dropped to
62.5 per cent by 2018. Meanwhile, cellphone access had climbed from 74 per cent in 2006 to 91 per cent in the most recent Census, and 86 per cent of households had internet access.
Tania Torea, Pacific area assistant communication director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says social media has become an important tool during the pandemic.
She said that, when New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown, the church raced to bring home around 100 young missionaries from around the world. They were now reassigned locally, "reaching out through Facebook, posting messages of hope and peace in Jesus Christ and people are responding with kindness and a desire to learn more".