MPM Chapter 12 – Using Time Wisely to Bring People to Christ
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the responsibility alone of the missionaries. They succeed best when members become the source from which the new investigators are found” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 106).
D&C 123:12 – For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also emphasized the vital role of members in sharing the gospel: “An investigator who is brought to the missionaries through the members is 10 times more likely to be baptized than one the missionaries have found through their own contacting efforts. [Does this figure] catch your attention on the importance of the members’ role in finding people for the missionaries to teach?” (“The Role of Members in Conversion,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 54).
President Gordon B. Hinckley described the benefits of using members to find and support investigators:
“Whenever there is a member who introduces an investigator, there is an immediate support system. The member bears testimony of the truth of the work. He is anxious for the happiness of his investigator friend. He becomes excited as that friend makes progress in learning the gospel.
“The full-time missionaries may do the actual teaching, but the member, wherever possible, will back up that teaching with the offering of his home to carry on this missionary service. He will bear sincere testimony of the divinity of the work. He will be there to answer questions when the missionaries are not around. He will be a friend to the convert who is making a big and often difficult change” (Ensign, May 1999, 105).
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “Not long ago we did a study on convert baptisms, and only 10 percent of the investigators being taught by missionaries were found through referrals from members. But 60 percent of the investigators who were baptized came from those referrals” (The Role of Members [address at seminar for new mission presidents, June 24, 2003], 3).
Question: What are our fears of sharing the gospel? How can we overcome them?
PEM Chapter 1: We Cannot Predict and Should Not Judge
- There is no special process of sharing the gospel. You don’t have to befriend someone first, and should not befriend someone just so you can share the gospel with them. You don’t have to prepare them through a series of steps to meet with the missionaries.
- You should not exclude people based on lifestyle, habits or appearance. Bro. Christensen said hardly any of the people they know who have joined the church would have fit on their list of “likely members.” Everyone needs the gospel, so we must invite all to follow the Savior, not just who we think will accept Him.
- “Over the past twenty years, we have observed no correlation between the depth of a relationship and the probability that a person will be interested in learning about the gospel. But the reverse is almost always true: Everyone who accepts an invitation to learn about the gospel becomes a closer friend, regardless of whether or not he or she ultimately accepts baptism.”
- … “Even when people decline our invitations, they are not offended as long as they can feel our honesty, our love, and God’s love when we invite them to learn about Christ’s gospel. They typically have expressed gratitude that we cared enough about them to want to share something so personal and important.”
- Success as missionaries is not defined on whether or not someone accepts the invitation of baptism. It is based on making the invitation to learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ. If someone says, no, you have still succeeded.
- Making an invitation helps strengthen your testimony that God will help you find someone to hear the missionary discussions.
- Jesus loves all people, regardless if they accept or reject an invitation to learn more of Him. Christ suffered for everyone’s sins. We are also not judged by someone accepting our invitation. All that matters is that we are faithful.
*From MPM: James E Faust – “Learn to love and serve the people among whom you work. You should pray daily for them that the Lord will fill you with love as you serve them. If you do not love them, you will have difficulty teaching them” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 58; or Ensign, May 1996, 41).
PEM Chapter 2: Create Conversations about the Gospel
- Use Mormon words in every conversation: i.e. missionary, BYU, FHE, talk, etc. This opens the door for someone to ask if we are Mormons.
- If someone asks if you are a Mormon, respond by saying “I am, and I love it. Why do you ask?” This way you can find out what they know about the church, and you can find out if and what they are interested in. Not all conversations will go deeper, but wouldn’t it be great if they did?
- When someone asks us about our church, we shouldn’t spout off doctrine. It might be confusing, too deep, or uninteresting to the person. In 1975, the church did a survey of new converts to find out what initially interested them about the church. The most common answers were:
- They could see Mormons were close to God and they wanted to feel that.
- They noticed Mormons were happy and peaceful people, things they wanted for themselves.
- They wanted more purpose and direction in their lives, something Mormons have.
Only 9% of converts said the doctrine was what attracted them to the church. Doctrine becomes much more important after baptism. Try to talk about the three things above before talking about doctrine.
- Make sure your friends realize that they will still be your friends even if they don’t accept your invitations. Say that before inviting. This makes it easier for them to say no, and takes the pressure off.
- Many people just aren’t going to church anymore. If someone you know if a Christian, but isn’t really attending church on a regular basis, ask that person for an opinion on why people don’t seem to go to church anymore. Ask that person if (s)he has any big questions or concerns that his/her church just can’t answer. Offer to help answer those questions if you can using an LDS perspective.
Bro Christensen told of a specific time he did this. His friend made a large list of questions. For each one, he asked his friend why that questions was important to him, and why he wasn’t impressed with the answers he had previously been given. Then he answered the questions using the Book of Mormon. Bro Christensen also offered for his friend to speak with the missionaries about some of the questions. The missionaries covered all the four lessons, but around the friend’s questions. He learned from this and other experiences that sometimes people are interested in religion – they just haven’t gone to church because they couldn’t find answers to their big questions.
Exercise: Pick random subjects you talk to people about all the time and see if you can insert something about the restoration of the gospel in the conversation. Examples: What could you talk about if a friend’s family member passed away, or if someone is interested in family history, or if your friend wishes she had more people to spend time with who are good people?
*From MPM: Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy offered the following suggestion to full-time missionaries:
“Open your mouth. The Lord tells us, ‘And thou must open thy mouth at all times, declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing’ [D&C 28:16].
“Speak to everyone: shopkeepers, passengers riding buses, people on streets, and everyone you meet” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 53; or Ensign, May 1998, 40).
PEM Chapter 3: Asking for Help When the Winds of Prosperity Blow
- Oftentimes, those that are compelled to be humble due to troubling circumstances are more apt to accepting the gospel. The church works so well for these people because Mormons are helping, giving people. We can easily invite people like this because we can show how much the gospel helps us and can help them too.
- The prosperous are a little different. Sometimes they still feel a need for church, but more often than not, we will do better with them if we show how much we and the church needs them. Not everyone feels the need for religion, but most people like to help others. This can work well for nonmembers or less actives.
- Examples of how to help the church: ask people to help based on their skills, strength, availability, talents, interests, and professions. You can also ask someone to help the missionaries practice a lesson, or ask someone to read a talk you wrote to see if anything needs to be fixed. You can even ask someone spontaneously to help if they are around (i.e. someone is standing outside and you need help lifting a heavy couch for someone who is moving. Then strike up a conversation).
- “Inviting others to help us with our work in the Church helps them feel needed, to realize that we have a lot in common, and to feel the Spirit. When these feelings come, many people then realize that something has been missing from their lives. When we help others to do God’s will, they learn far more about what the Church and the Spirit feels like than they ever could through a conversation or from attending a ward social.” –everyone can feel the Spirit.
- Bro. Christensen talks about a couple things in a stake mission plan in New York from several years ago:
- Get involved in community organizations to get to know more people.
- Invite a nonmember to help you join with you in serving in the Church.
PEM Chapter 5: Set Goals and Deadlines to Guide Your Work
- We are more likely to accomplish something if we have a deadline. Missionary work doesn’t have a deadline, so we usually put it off. In 1984, M. Russell Ballard challenged us to periodically set a deadline to find someone to bring into our homes for the missionaries to teach. He promised if we would pick a date (not a person), and then do everything we can to share the gospel, the Lord would bless us with someone who would accept our invitation by that date.
- Bro Christensen told many stories of how year after year this has been true for him. He makes a goal each year, but the date is not always the same. It depends on things he knows will go on that year that might help open up a missionary opportunity. Based on his stories, here are some strategies that have worked for him: pray to find someone in a specific instance (he prayed that someone would sit next to him on the airplane that would listen to the gospel); don’t judge by appearances; insert the gospel into normal conversation; listen to the Spirit; be bold; fast and ask others to fast with you; don’t renege from the goal – keep it even if it seems hopeless; ask someone to be sent to you and promise to act when you meet that person; ask a lot of people to meet with the missionaries.
- You have to take your goal seriously. You have to desperately want to find someone to meet with the missionaries. The Lord has to trust you enough to put someone in your path. Do not be too casual, and never rationalize not sharing when you get a prompting to do so. God always keeps His promises. We have to have the faith that we will be blessed with results if we obey His commandments.
*From MPM: Elder Dallin H. Oaks specified what our first priority should be when he explained:
“Our priorities determine what we seek in life. …
“Jesus taught about priorities when He said, ‘Seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:38; in Matthew 6:33; footnote a ).
“‘Seek … first to build up the kingdom of God’ means to assign first priority to God and to His work. The work of God is to bring to pass the eternal life of His children (see Moses 1:39), and all that this entails in the birth, nurturing, teaching, and sealing of our Heavenly Father’s children. Everything else is lower in priority. … As someone has said, if we do not choose the kingdom of God first, it will make little difference in the long run what we have chosen instead of it. …
“Our priorities are most visible in how we use our time. … With time, we have only one opportunity for choice, and then it is gone forever” (in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 2001, 108–9; or Ensign, May 2001, 83–84).
*From MPM: Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, encouraged extending beyond what we think we can accomplish as we seek to set and attain goals:
“Our goals should stretch us bit by bit. So often when we think we have encountered a ceiling, it is really a psychological or experiential barrier that we have built ourselves. We built it and we can remove it. …
“… We must not expect personal improvement without pain or some ‘remodeling’” (Deposition of a Disciple , 33–34).
Suggestion: When you look at your day’s activities, think of opportunities to share the gospel. When will you see nonmembers/less actives? What can you say or do?
Think of friends/colleagues who have talents, skills, hobbies, or professions that can be of use to the Church. Try to think of opportunities where you can ask these people for help.