Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
“Every Member a Missionary”
The Church is coming forth out of obscurity.
Latter-day prophets have challenged us to take the gospel to all the world.
“Every member a missionary.”
Nurturing new converts is our continuing responsibility.
A study of this lesson inspire us to participate in taking the gospel to all
the world and to strengthen new converts.
Scripture references for study:
109:72–74; Our Heritage, pages
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 41 Handout (PDF)
Out of Obscurity
I was approaching the end of my two years
as a missionary early in the spring of 1973. We had been out doing missionary work with one of
the members of the ward in Manhattan, Kansas. We had stopped for
a bite to eat before heading back to our apartment for the evening. Our
discussion centered around missionary work and how it was expanding throughout
the world. In my youthful enthusiasm I expressed to this
local member how the work seemed to be at a point where the growth of
the Church was about to explode. Being a few years older than myself
and having more perspective than I, this good brother explained that the
growth of new converts has always been remarkable. In fact, we were
both correct. From the earliest days of the Church, to 1973, to the
present, the Church has continued to grow at a remarkable pace. Should
this be a surprise?
In 1992, U.S. News & World Report published an article about the Church. The editors wrote: "Today the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . . . is one of the the world's . . .
fastest-growing religious movements. Since World War II, its ranks
have quadrupled to more than 8.3 million members worldwide. With
4.5 million U.S. members, Mormons already outnumber Presbyterians and Episcopalians
combined. If current trends hold, by some estimates they will number
250 million worldwide by 2080 and surpass all but the Roman Catholic Church
among Christian bodies. With such strong sustained growth, says Rodney
Stark, professor of sociology and religion at the University of Washington,
Mormonism 'stands on the threshold of becoming the first major faith to
appear on Earth since the prophet Muhammed rode out of the desert."
(U.S. News & World Report, Sep 28 1992)
It is interesting to note that this article was incorrect when it states
that Church membership "quadrupled" in the period from World War II to
1992. In actuality, Church membership grew more than eight fold between World War II
and 1992. Membership
of the Church in 1945 was 954,000 (2001-2002 Church Almanac, p117).
The U.S. News article was not all positive. The editors continued:
it's success, the Mormon Church faces potential crippling obstacles from
within and without." (Ibid.) Was this magazine correct
in its speculation?
Consider the words of the editors of this same magazine in a cover story
article about the Church eight years later: "In
the 170 years since its founding in upstate New York, the LDS church has
sustained the most rapid growth rate of any new faith group in American
history. Since World War II, its ranks have expanded more than 10-fold,
with a worldwide membership today of 11 million . . . .
"Experts say, there is
little reason to expect a reversal of Mormonism's fortunes. 'The nation,'
wrote The American Religion author Bloom, 'will not always be only 2 percent
Mormon. The Saints outlive the rest of us, have more children than all
but a few American groups, and convert on a grand scale, both here and
abroad. . . . Their future is immense'." (U.S. News & World
Report, Nov 13 2000). So much for the "potential crippling obstacles."
It is exciting to see this kind of reporting from the mainstream media. Newsweek did a similar article
in 2001. The growth of the
Church should not be a surprise to the student of the scriptures.
In His preface to the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said his servants
would "have power to lay the foundation of this
church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness." (D&C
"The keys of the kingdom of God are committed
unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto
the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without
hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth."
"Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their
families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and
afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth; that the kingdom,
which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill
the whole earth; That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of
darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible
as an army with banners." (D&C 109:72-73)
I suspect that when the boy Joseph walked out of the Sacred Grove in 1820
he had no idea of the floodgates that were about to open. Over time,
he began to catch the vision. A few weeks prior to his death, the
Prophet stated: "I calculate to be one of the
instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I
intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world" (HC, 6:365). Through the Prophet Joseph Smith,
the Lord initiated this great work that has now expanded to a significant
portion of the world.
Concerning the continued growth of the Restored Gospel throughout the world,
the Prophet stated: "No unhallowed hand
can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine,
armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth
boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent,
visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till
the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall
say the work is done." (HC, 4:540)
We live in an age when we measure things by numbers. We turn on the
news to learn about the growth of the stock market. We check the Internet
for the latest statistics on a favorite sports team. We
are amazed when the figures come out each year and we learn about the wealth of
the richest people in the world. As members of the Church, we
are excited to see figures on the annual growth of the Church. We
stand in awe when we realize that at present more converts are baptized
into the Church in one year than the total Church membership after 80 years
of missionary work.
As exciting as this is, we cannot lose focus of a simple truth, that this
is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and we are involved in the work
of salvation of individuals. We are all servants of our Lord and
Master in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of mankind. We should not be so caught up in the big picture that we forget about our
next door neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, or a business associate.
The Call To Missionary Work
In December 1832, the Lord gave the Prophet Joseph Smith this commandment:
becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor."
The call for missionaries began shortly after the organization of the Church
in 1830. In June 1830, the Prophet's brother, Samuel Smith was set
apart to take a missionary journey east. He took with him several
copies of the Book of Mormon and began to share its message. He returned
home discouraged, thinking that he had not been successful. However,
he left a Book of Mormon with a Methodist minister by the name of John
P. Greene. He had also sold a copy of the book to Phineas Howe Young. These two books were read by members of the Young and Kimball families.
One of the most significant early missionary journeys occurred in the fall of 1830,
when Oliver Cowdery was called to take a mission west to the Lamanites
on the frontier. Oliver was joined by Peter Whitmer, Jr., Ziba Peterson,
and Parley P. Pratt. As they traveled west, they stopped and preached
the restored gospel in Kirtland, Ohio, and the surrounding area. Among those converted
as a result of this mission were Sidney Rigdon, Edward Partridge, Frederick
G. Williams, and Newel K. Whitney. The Church grew quickly in Kirtland
and the following spring, the New York Saints gathered to Kirtland, which
became the headquarters of the Church.
Every call to do missionary work is important. During the late Kirtland
era, when the Church was struggling, the Prophet Joseph Smith spoke with
Heber C. Kimball in the Kirtland Temple. "On
Sunday, the 4th day of June, 1837, the Prophet Joseph came to me, while I was
seated in front of the stand, above the sacrament table, on the Melchizedek side
of the Temple, in Kirtland, and whispering to me, said, 'Brother Heber, the
Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me: "Let my servant Heber go to England and
proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation"'." (Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp103-104) Shortly
thereafter, Heber Kimball, Willard Richards, and Joseph Fielding departed
for England and were later joined by Isaac Russell, John Goodson and John
Snyder. By the time Heber returned to Far West in 1838, over
2000 British Saints had been baptized. This paved the way for the
mission of the Twelve in 1839, led by Brigham Young, when thousands more
Every prophet in this dispensation has continued to emphasize the missionary
work begun by Joseph Smith. Consider the statements from several of
Brigham Young: "The Gospel must be preached
to the world, that the wicked may be left without excuse." (Discourses
of Brigham Young, p319)
Brigham Young: "I shall be very happy when
I can know that the people of the East Indian Archipelago, and the people
on every island and continent, both the high and the low, the ignorant
and intelligent, have received the words of eternal life, and have had
bestowed upon them the power of the eternal Priesthood of the Son of God,
by which they may become truly civilized." (Ibid.)
John Taylor: "We have the gospel to preach
to the nations, a message that the Lord has given unto us to promulgate
to all peoples.. . . . Our mission has principally been to preach the first
principles of the gospel, calling upon men everywhere to believe in the
Lord God of heaven, he that created the heavens and the earth, the seas,
and the fountains of waters; to believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, repenting
of their sins, to be baptized for the remission of the same; and then we
have promised them the Holy Ghost." (JD, 23:235-236)
Wilford Woodruff: "I have waded swamps and
swum rivers, and have asked my bread from door to door; and have devoted
nearly fifty years to this work. And why? Was there gold enough in California
to have hired me to do it? No, verily; and what I have done and what my
brethren have done, we have done because we were commanded of God. And
this is the position we occupy today. We have preached and labored at home
and abroad, and we intend to continue our labors, by the help of God, as
long as we can have liberty to do it, and until the Gentiles prove themselves
unworthy of eternal life, and until the judgments of God overtake the world,
which are at the door." (JD, 23:130)
Lorenzo Snow: "This, then, should be our
aim and object: to learn to make ourselves useful, to be saviors to our
fellowmen, to learn how to save them, to communicate to them a knowledge
of the principles that are necessary to raise them to the same degree of
intelligence that we have ourselves." (JD, 9:22)
George Albert Smith:
"Brethren and sisters,
if the gospel of Jesus Christ, as delivered to you, has not planted that
feeling of love in your hearts for your fellowmen, then I want to say that
you have not enjoyed the full fruition of that wonderful gift that came
to earth when this church was organized. As I go to and fro in the earth
and find opportunity to mingle with our Father's children in various lands
and climes, many of them honored because of their intellect and because
of their virtues, I rejoice to realize that these are our brothers and
sisters. It is to them that the gospel has been sent, and upon us, as elders
of this church, has been laid the obligation to go into all the world and
preach the gospel unto every creature. We have received a wonderful gift,
but with that gift comes a great responsibility. We have been blessed of
the Lord with a knowledge beyond our fellows, and with that knowledge comes
the requirement that we divide it with his children wherever they may be."
(CR, Apr 1922)
Harold B. Lee: "It is our responsibility
to give all other men the opportunity of hearing and receiving that gospel
if they desire, in order to gain that testimony, without which we know
they cannot achieve life's greatest purpose." (Teachings of
Harold B. Lee, p594)
Spencer W. Kimball: "Now is the moment in the
timetable of the Lord to carry the gospel farther than it has ever been carried
before-farther geographically, and farther in density of coverage. Many a person
in this world is crying, knowingly and unknowingly, 'Come over ... and help us.'
He might be your neighbor. She might be your friend. He might be a relative. She
might be someone you met only yesterday. But we have what they need. Let us take
new courage from our studies and pray, as did Peter, 'And now, Lord ... grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness
they may speak thy word'." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball,
Ezra Taft Benson: "'Why does the Mormon
Church continue to send missionaries out into the world, particularly to
Christian countries?' May I read the words of the First Presidency of this
Church, uttered from this very pulpit, in which they gave answer to this
question. 'It is our duty, divinely imposed, to continue urgently and militantly
to carry forward our missionary work. We must continue to call missionaries
and send them out to preach the gospel, which was never more needed than
now, which is the only remedy for the tragic ills that now afflict the
world, and which alone can bring peace and brotherly love back amongst
the peoples of the earth.'
"This is not a matter of
our own choosing. It is not something that has been devised by man. The
Lord has made it clear to us, my brethren, that the responsibility is ours,
as holders of the priesthood, to carry this message of the restored gospel
to the people of the world." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson,
Howard W. Hunter: "The program of the Church
is a vital, vibrant force in the lives of its members. We hold the conviction
that this is the Church of Christ, which imposes upon us the responsibility
of sharing that witness with others." (Teachings of Howard W.
Gordon B. Hinckley: "Now, what of the future?
What of the years that lie ahead? It looks promising indeed. People are
beginning to see us for what we are and for the values we espouse.
"If we will go forward,
never losing sight of our goal, speaking ill of no one, living the great
principles we know to be true, this cause will roll on in majesty and power
to fill the earth. Doors now closed to the preaching of the gospel will
be opened. The Almighty, if necessary, may have to shake the nations to
humble them and cause them to listen to the servants of the living God.
Whatever is needed will come to pass.
"The key to the great challenges
facing us and to the success of the work will be the faith of all who call
themselves Latter-day Saints." (CR, Oct 1997)
The missionary work has spread throughout the world in a remarkable way. Though early missionary work was confined to the United States and Canada,
it quickly spread overseas when Heber C. Kimball was called to preside
over the British Mission in 1837. From that time on, the work has
continued to spread throughout the world.
Early on, missions were formed in the following lands (Church Almanac,
Society Islands: 1844
Sandwich Islands: 1850
East India: 1851
South Africa: 1853
It is interesting to note that many foreign missions were established during
the time when pioneers were still migrating to Utah and the Saints were
building a new civilization in the west. Without question, the work
of sharing the gospel must continue whenever and wherever it is possible
to do so.
At the end of the year 2016, there were a total of 421 missions organized
throughout the world with 70,946 full-time missionaries (LDS.org).
In April 1971, I received a letter signed by President Joseph Fielding
Smith. In part, it said: "You are hereby called to be a missionary
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to labor in the Oklahoma
Mission." What an exciting thing to be called by a prophet of God
to preach the everlasting gospel, just as Samuel Smith, Parley Pratt, Heber
Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and others. The receipt of this letter
began for me a remarkable two year journey of sharing the gospel with the
good people of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. Nothing can compare
with that experience. How blessed I have felt when I have had subsequent
communication with those whom I had the privilege of teaching the gospel
and to learn of the blessings that have come into their lives.
Every Member A Missionary
In 1923, Elder David O. McKay was called to preach over the European Mission. While there he encouraged the European Saints to share the gospel with
their neighbors and used the motto, "Every Member A Missionary."
That motto became a part of President McKay's teachings while serving as
President of the Church. As noted in the above quotations by latter-day
prophets, all those who have received the gospel have a responsibility
to share the gospel. President McKay's slogan sums it up perfectly.
WHAT CAN WE DO AS MEMBERS TO BE INVOLVED IN THE GREAT MISSIONARY WORK?
Prepare to serve full-time missions.
The call of "every member a missionary" suggests to me that every member
ought to be preparing to serve a full-time mission. That does not
necessarily mean that all will serve, but this process makes each of us
more conscious of our responsibilities as member missionaries and it helps
the young people and couples approaching retirement who will serve missions.
WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING TO PREPARE OURSELVES AND OUR CHILDREN?
When I first entered the mission field in 1971, I found that my spiritual
preparation was lacking. I had not sufficiently developed a close
spiritual relationship with my Heavenly Father through prayer and it took
some months before I was sufficiently humbled. Without question,
we need to be striving to live the fundamental principles of the gospel. We need to be praying, reading the scriptures, providing service, attending
our meetings, etc. I am sure I could have been a more effective missionary
at an earlier date if I had taken my preparation more seriously. Families working together can help missionaries hit the ground running
when they land in the mission field.
Elder Rey L. Pratt (formerly president of the Mexican missions):
"Brethren and sisters, this responsibility rests
upon us. In our homes let us breathe the missionary spirit, that our sons
and daughters may grow up with a realization of the great work that devolves
upon them. Let there be some little thought toward the preparation necessary,
for it is a fact that a great deal of preparation for usefulness is made
after missionaries come into the missionary field, preparation that might
well have been made in our homes, at our firesides, by the teachings of
the fathers and the mothers to their children, seconded, of course, by
the work of the great auxiliary organizations which are in the Church."
(CR, Apr 1923)
Elder Oscar A. Kirkham (First Council of the Seventy): "We
must start somewhere down the line with little fellows, in our preparation
for this missionary service. It is unfair to your boy to have him called
suddenly, not having had your guidance and care in his preparation for
missionary service. I appeal to you that you will see that he is kept physically
fit; that he has a sound body. George Mayo of the great Mayo clinic said
to me one day, 'The place where spirit ends and body begins, or vice versa,
I do not know. It's all together.' We must see that our prospective missionaries
are kept physically fit. One of the most interesting letters we received
in our home was a letter from one of our boys who wrote from far-off Africa
to his mother and said, 'Mother, please tell me how to make "Mormon gravy".'
So it is with many of your fine fellows who go out; they just try to keep
themselves going on simple, plain foods since they have to do some of their
own cooking. You mothers, show them how to make a stew. Show them to poach
an egg; how to prepare a simple meal. Am I talking of spiritual things?
Yes, for many a fine sermon and many a day of tracting have been spoiled
because your boy was ill at ease physically.
"Help him in his study. Recently I went to interview
a young man for a mission. I found him in the field where he was plowing,
and I saw one of the finest things I have witnessed in a young man's life.
He was on the sulky plow, but near the front where he could constantly
see it, he had fastened a passage of scripture with a clothespin. When
I came up to greet him, I said, 'What's this?' pointing to the paper. 'Oh,'
he said, 'ever since the bishop spoke to me, I have been studying the scriptures,
Brother Kirkham.' This young man was preparing so that when he arrives
in his field of labor he may stand and defend his faith intelligently and
be grateful for the suggestions of his father and mother.
"Start to save now. What a lovely thing it is
to know that through the war years and other years, these young men kept
their savings that they might go on a mission. Start, after this conference,
if you haven't already done so, with your son. 'Here, son. I'll put ten
dollars away for a missionary fund, will you join me?' 'Well, I'll put
in a dollar,' your son will say. He will do his share as far as he can.
That's the practical thing, for in the Latter-day Saint Church the whole
family goes on the mission, if we get the full benefits out of it."
(CR, Apr 1949)
Those that are planning on missions should not have their first introduction
to missionary work at the Missionary Training Center. We need to
make our homes MTCs. As Elder Kirkham notes, there is much we should
be doing in our homes to prepare our children for the great missionary
service. Our attitudes within the home ought to be directed towards
My grandmother was a huge supporter of the missionary
work. After grandpa died, she served two full-time missions. When she came to our home she often talked of her experiences and encouraged
us to prepare for missionary service. I shall never forget the many
times when she joined us at the dinner table. Boys being boys,
I did not always sit up or use proper etiquette. Grandma kindly reminded
me that I was preparing for a mission and I should present myself at the
dinner table or any other occasion with the dignity of a servant of the
Lord. She reminded me that we attract interest by the example we
My father often spoke of the people he served on his
mission. As a little boy, I watched my parents support my older brother
on a mission. I recall in every family prayer, a request to aid and
support the missionaries in the field. My mother taught me how to
iron my own clothes and to cook basic meals. Mom supplied me with
simple recipes on 3x5 cards. Without question, there was a great
love of the missionary work in our home. From my earliest memories,
I always knew I would go on a mission. As I approached the time to
go on a mission, I recall sitting down with my parents. We talked
about my going on a mission. They told me that going on a mission
was now my choice and they would support me in whatever decision I made. I chose to go on a mission, because me parents raised me to be a missionary. What else could I do?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "When I ask
for more missionaries, I am not asking for more testimony-barren or unworthy
missionaries. I am asking that we start earlier and train our missionaries
better in every branch and every ward in the world. … Young people [should]
understand that it is a great privilege to go on a mission and that they
must be physically well, mentally well, spiritually well, and that ‘the
Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance’ [D&C
1:31]." (Ensign, Oct 1974, p7)
Serve full-time missions.
WHO SHOULD SERVE A FULL-TIME MISSION?
"All worthy, able young men ages 19 through 25
should serve full-time missions. Full-time missionary service is a priesthood
responsibility for these young men. Women ages 21 and older may also be
recommended to serve full-time missions if they desire. Older couples are
also encouraged to serve missions when they are able to do so. All missionaries
must be worthy." (Lesson Manual)
- This instruction has been superseded by the announcement at the October 2012
General Conference that 18 year old male high school graduates and 19 year old
females are now eligible for missionary service.
President Spencer W. Kimball: "While some
young women will fill missions, the greater responsibility rests on the
young men who bear the priesthood. Every normal boy in the Church should
keep his life righteous so that he could fill a mission.
"Women missionaries receive special blessings.
In addition, many young women have a desire to serve a full-time mission,
and they are also welcome in the Lord's service. This responsibility is
not on them as it is on the elders, but they will receive rich blessings
for their unselfish sacrifice. The Lord is pleased at their willingness
to bring souls to him.
"Older people can contribute as missionaries.
There are many people today who are being placed on retirement ... far
too early ... and the rest of their life is almost valueless in many cases,
because they need something to do. They need the experience that they could
receive if they could go on a mission.
"We have rather forgotten, we older people, who
have been retired and who have found an easy place to go with our camping
outfit and with our other opportunities. We have found an easy way to satisfy
our own thoughts and our own consciences that the work must go on-we will
send our boys, we say.
"All of us have this responsibility. Not all
of us are able, but many, many of us are. Hundreds of thousands of Latter-day
Saints are able to preach the gospel in a careful, splendid way.
"So let us make that the rule-that every boy
ought to go on a mission. There may be some who can't, but they ought to
go on a mission. Every boy, and many girls, and many couples. We could
use hundreds of couples, older people like some of you folks, whose families
are reared, who have retired in their business, who are able to go and
spend their own money, to teach the gospel. We could use hundreds of couples.
You just go and talk to your bishop-that is all you need to do. Tell him,
'We are ready to go, if you can use us.' I think you will probably get
a call." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp550-551)
Support full-time missionaries.
HOW CAN WE SUPPORT THE MISSIONARIES?
Support for the missionaries comes in a variety of ways:
Uplifting and inspirational letters.
Contributing to the ward or general Church missionary fund.
Though our missionaries serve without salary, this great work still requires
significant amounts of money. Our first responsibility is to save
sufficient funds for ourselves or our children so that other contributions
to the missionary fund can be given to those with greater need. As
Elder Kirkham noted, let us also get our children involved in this process
Again, the attitude of support towards missionary service in my parent's home
was awesome. Not only did dad and mom see to it that my older brother
and I were supported on their missions, but they have made a significant
contribution to the funds of their grandchildren. My father, believing
that he would not live long enough to see my oldest son go on a mission,
started giving me funds to save from the time he was a young boy. We saved that money, added to it from time to time, and it grew into a
fund more than sufficient to fund my son's entire mission. My father
passed away in 1997. Two years later my son departed for two years
in Bulgaria with his mission completely paid for. There are excess
funds in that account which we are now putting into a fund to assist my
grandchildren. My mother has already contributed to that fund. What a wonderful tradition to help our children
and grandchildren carry out this marvelous work.
Remembering them in our prayers.
Inviting the local missionaries into our homes for meals.
Invite our friends, associates, and other contacts to listen to the discussions.
Live our lives in an exemplary way.
I found on my mission that, in almost every instance, those whom I had
the opportunity to teach and baptize had already had some kind of positive
contact with a member of the Church. Indeed, we are the city (or
should be) upon the hill that cannot be hid (see
Share the gospel throughout our lives.
President Gordon B. Hinckley: "My brethren
and sisters, we can let the missionaries try to do it alone, or we can
help them. If they do it alone, they will knock on doors day after day
and the harvest will be meager. Or as members we can assist them
in finding and teaching investigators." (Ensign, May 1999,
President Spencer W. Kimball: "My brothers
and sisters, I call upon you to organize yourselves and your families and
bring the gospel to your neighbors and your friends.
"Remember the slogan President David O. McKay
gave us, 'Every member a missionary.'
"This is your privilege. This is your duty. This
is a command from the presidency of the Church and from your Lord. Listen
to the Lord's command: 'Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn
the people, and it becometh every man [every man!] who hath been warned
to warn his neighbor. Therefore, they are left without excuse, and their
sins are upon their own heads.' (D&C 88:81-82.)
"Each of us is responsible to bear witness of
the gospel truths that we have been given. We all have relatives, neighbors,
friends, and fellow workmen, and it is our responsibility to pass the truths
of the gospel on to them, by example as well as by precept.
"We say to our friends of the world, we love
and admire you. We are grateful for your resolve to be righteous in an
increasingly wicked world. Bring all that you have that is good and wholesome
with you, and let us add to all that you have, that which we have-the fullness
of the gospel and the even greater blessings that can follow unto you through
membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! ...
"We believe that there are many good men and women in
all the parties, in all the churches and denominations, who are kept from the
truth by just not knowing where it is found.
"We would ask that you select a family, some
family in your neighborhood, that you have considerable, high regard for,
and then invite them to your home. Show them how to hold home evenings;
teach them the gospel. There isn't anyone here that can't teach the gospel,
and if there is, there are missionaries available. ... If you can't think
of anything else you can say, 'I know that God lives.' That's the greatest
testimony in the world. And you don't need to have a thousand reasons for
doing it." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp551-552)
WHAT SPECIFIC THINGS CAN WE DO TO SHARE THE GOSPEL?
Nurturing New Converts
As a missionary, I quickly learned that the missionaries cannot be the
instruments for nurturing new converts. Missionaries are frequently
transferred to new areas and eventually return home. There
are those that I had the opportunity to teach and baptize from which I have never
heard. I often wonder how many are still active. It is the responsibility of the local ward and branch membership to put
their arms around these new converts and make them a part of the Church
I recall sitting in our stake center in April 1997, at the General Priesthood
Session, listening to President
Hinckley speak with great passion about our responsibilities in working
with new members of the Church. It was one of those times when the
spirit whispered to me that this was indeed a prophet of God and that this
was an important message. President Hinckley:
"It is not an easy thing to become a member of
this Church. In most cases it involves setting aside old habits, leaving
old friends and associations, and stepping into a new society which is
different and somewhat demanding.
"With the ever-increasing number of converts,
we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they
find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility,
and nurturing with 'the good word of God' (Moro. 6:4). It is our duty and
opportunity to provide these things....
"I plead with you, brethren; I ask of you, each
of you, to become a part of this great effort. Every convert is precious.
Every convert is a son or daughter of God. Every convert is a great and
"This is a work for everyone. It is a work for
home teachers and visiting teachers. It is a work for the bishopric, for
the priesthood quorums, for the Relief Society, the young men and young
women, even the Primary....
"Now, brethren, I ask each of you to please help
in this undertaking. Your friendly ways are needed. Your sense of responsibility
is needed. The Savior of all mankind left the ninety and nine to find the
one lost. That one who was lost need not have become lost. But if he is
out there somewhere in the shadows, and if it means leaving the ninety
and nine, we must do so to find him." (CR, Apr 1997)
This responsibility is part of our missionary responsibility. The
reason for doing missionary work is to bring individuals back to our Heavenly
Father. What good is that effort if we are only adding numbers to
the roll? Missionary work does not stop at baptism. Maybe it
never stops. We need to continue the effort of teaching and fellowshiping
with every new convert until they are firmly rooted in the soil of testimony.
WHAT SPECIFIC THINGS CAN WE DO TO NURTURE NEW CONVERTS?
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on missionary service. What is your role in this
great work? How can you contribute in a more significant way?
Resources Used In This Lesson
2001-2002 Church Almanac.
Conference Reports (CR).
Discourses of Brigham Young.
History of the Church (HC).
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
Teachings of Harold B. Lee.
Teachings of Howard W. Hunter.
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
U.S. News & World Report.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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