Monday, May 16, 2011

Missionary Work - That they may hear the Message of Truth

Brothers and Sisters have you ever wanted to just sit someone down and explain something to them whether they wanted to listen or not?  This happens to me all the time.  As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are anxiously engaged in saving souls through missionary work.  Every member is a missionary and we must preach the gospel in order that the sins of the world fall not upon our own heads at the last day. 

According to a 'stake president only' training meeting I recently attended studies have shown that non-members often suspect that they will be preached to from members and do their best to avoid such situations.

It is in this spirit that I want to discuss with you a way in which missionary work can be done that will likely be more effective and rewarding for you.  You will need to learn to create settings in which it would be socially unacceptable for a non member to not listen to the message of the gospel. This will enable you to help them feel the spirit that under other circumstances would not be possible. 

Allow me to give an example from personal experience.  My neighbors Pete and Dave have always been very friendly with me.  I have often thought they would make excellent church members, but they always seemed hesitant whenever I would invite them to our church.  I noticed they had a small rainbow on their car and took the opportunity thank them for reminding me of the covenant God had made with Noah after the flood. When I told them the name of the church and my position therein I could discern that they were quite uncomfortable.  I didn’t see much of them over the next few weeks.

When I ran into them in town I insisted that they come over for dinner and looking at each other they rather hesitantly accepted.  I had Sister Paternoster make a wonderful meal and decided to invite the missionaries over also.

When Pete and Dave arrived the missionaries were already at our home and we had a wonderful dinner.  In this setting the Elders were able to help my neighbors understand the importance of the First Vision.  I then gave each of them their very own copy of The Book of Mormon with my testimony written therein and explained to them the eternal nature of marriage and families. 

While Pete and Dave haven’t yet joined the church and don’t seem to be home when the missionaries stop by I can feel good knowing that I did my part in helping them understand the restored gospel.
           
Another beautiful example of creating a setting in which it would be difficult for a non member to not listen to the message of the gospel was given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the October 2006 general conference.  His talk can be found at this link:

In summary Elder Holland talked about a non member sister who was invited by her member colleagues to go on a hike in the mountains of Provo.  They chose to do this on the first Saturday of October. 

“As the sun steadily rose, so did the hikers on the mountainside. Then, as the ten o’clock hour approached, the group began to find places to sit down… But the participants seemed unusually earnest about this particular break, some pulling out pencils and notebooks while one intently dialed a transistor radio.

What then happened would be a turning point in her life forever. One of her friends said, “Carolyn, we need to explain something. This is the first Saturday in October, and for us that means not only lovely weather and bright fall foliage, but it also means a general conference of the Church. As Latter-day Saints, wherever we are or whatever we are doing, we stop and listen. So we are going to sit here among the oak and the pines, look out over the valley below, and listen to the prophets of God for a couple of hours.”

“A couple of hours!” thought Carolyn. “I didn’t know there were prophets of God still living,” she said, “and I certainly didn’t know there were two hours’ worth!” Little did she know that they were going to stop again at two o’clock that afternoon for another two hours and then invite her to tune in at home for four more the next day.

Well, the rest is history. With the gift of a leather-bound copy of the scriptures from her students, the love of friends and families in the LDS ward she began to attend, and spiritual experiences we want all who make their way into the light of the gospel to have, Carolyn was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church”

Brothers and Sisters as you pray for ways to introduce your friends to the gospel please consider the examples given by Elder Holland and I in this blog post. 

Sincerely,

President Paternoster

20 comments:

anonymous said...

President,
Can I ask where it states we have a monopoly on the truth? Because I've talked to several of my non-Mormon friends and other than the Book of Mormon we have alot of our beliefs in common. Yet a few weeks ago in Relief Society when this topic was being taught, and I mentioned we don't have a monopoly on the truth and if we truly want to reach our friends we need to know what it is they need. I have old missionary discussions that say build on common beliefs, which is exactly what I was trying to tell the dear sisters. Somehow my comment did not go over well, in fact I am finding my non-Mormon friends to be kinder and more compassionate than my Mormon ones. If I even have any Mormon friends anymore, which I seriously doubt.

Anonymous said...

Thank you President for setting an example for us. I never realized how many wonderful circumstances there are to put your friends and family into that will force them to feel the Spirit. Maybe next time when I invite them over for Thanksgiving I'll say a long prayer introducing restored doctrine, or stage a Family Home Evening at a business party. They will feel the Spirit.

Stake Pres. said...

To the first anonymous poster, we do have a monopoly on the truth. Those of other faiths have parts of the truth; we build upon this to give them the fulness of truth which resides only in the restored church of the Lord.

To the second poster, it is good to see you thinking about this post and the many ways in which you can help others feel the spirit. Prayers are an excellent way to get your point across.

Bjorge Queen said...

Poppycock. People should never apologize for knowing more on a particular subject than everybody else. Can LDS help it if they have been given special opportunities by God to be born into the most choice conditions? Sometimes we have to save people from their own prideful stiff neckedness. Let those good feelings touch their senses that they may eventually be softened...

anonymous said...

Me again..
Are you speaking as a man here or is there a prophetic quote to back up your claims of having a monopoly on the truth? Why would the sisters look at me with such disgust when I state we aren’t the only ones with the truth if other churches have parts of the truth?
I have so many questions maybe you can help…
I don’t understand the gift of the Holy Ghost, how is that feeling limited to only Mormons? I hear faith promoting stories from others who are not LDS, and have strong feelings, sometimes stronger than I feel on Sunday or during conference. I believe what they are telling me is true and through their very real tears they too feel the spirit testifying to them. If we have a monopoly on truth, why would I feel this way about another religion? If the Holy Ghost is a gift only for Mormons, why would others feel it too?
Also, why didn’t John the Baptist just baptize Joseph and Hyrum? Why did Elijah appear to Joseph if he’d already conferred the keys he held to Peter, James and John? Why are adults the only ones required to wear garments if we are teaching our children to be chaste and modest as well? Wouldn’t this be more impressionable and effective at a younger age? Why don’t women hold the priesthood anymore? Emma was doing temple endowments in her living room.
Thank you President for taking the time to answer my questions, I bring these up at church and get disgusted looks and no answers. Yet I go to my friend’s church and they are willing to answer all my questions and dispel any myths, I don’t understand why I’m not getting answers on Sunday in the Mormon church.

Daniel said...

Brother or Sister Anonymous,

Those are all good questions. But they're not essential to our salvation. Just keep re-reading the Standard Works again, and I'm sure we'll get some answers in the hereafter.

Oh, and as for the spiritual experiences of others -- I'm sure the Holy Ghost is confirming truth to them, when it matches up with what we already believe. When it's different from what we believe, that's just Satan deceiving them. Truly he is a wily one.

anonymous said...

I am a sister. :) If we have the truth, shouldn't we be able to talk about it? I'm not an apostate or dwindling in unbelief, I would just like to fully understand the truths in the restored gospel. I wonder if I ask when Jupiter is aligned I will get more answers like Brother Joseph did? Truly he knew how to talk to God.
How do you tell the difference between Satan and the Holy Ghost? I feel the spirit the most when they speak of how God has used them to help others in our community. These are values I hold dear as well, particularly the mall in SLC.

Brigham Taft Pratt said...

Sister Anon,
The feelings Satan gives can be exactly the same as the feelings the spirit gives. For this reason, when you feel a warm or fuzzy feeling, it is important to ask your priesthood leaders if it is from the Holy Ghost or Satan. The "good" feelings people of other faiths get that tell them their churches are true are from Satan. The good feelings we Mormons get about the Mormon church are from the Holy Ghost. I think it is also safe to say that the promptings of the Holy Ghost can also manifest as feelings normally ascribed to Satan. Let me explain. I have met many people who say that reading the Book of Mormon and attending the LDS church leaves them empty and confused. It is pretty clear that in these instances the Holy Ghost is actually using different kinds of feelings to let these people know that the Book of Mormon and the LDS church are true. I know, I know, it gets confusing. Isn't it marvelous that we have priesthood leaders on the earth who can tell us what is true so that we don't have to think about it? That would be my advice to you good sister; just turn off that mind of yours. Ask your husband for a priesthood blessing if you need extra help with this.

Will said...

Thanks President, I think prayers that preach sermons are truly the most powerful out there. There's even a chapter in the Book of Mormon on it.

Sister Anonymous, I don't feel the Spirit when I'm reading your comments and it makes me doubt the Church. I don't like my faith in Christ being challenged.

Goldarn said...

I still remember being on mission to Taiwan. The inspired Area Presidency member (I believe it was William R. Bradford) gave us inspired counsel. We were told to "accidentally" drop a Book of Mormon while in a crowd of people. When a polite chinese person picked it up for us, we were to slip our hands in our pockets and start preaching, because their politeness would keep them there, waiting for us to take the book back. And thus, we would catch them with guile.
I can still picture in my mind how smooth he demonstrated slipping his hands into his pockets. He looked so clever, like any spiritual servant of the Lord Jesus Christ should be. Truly, he was as wise as a serpent, and harmless as a pigeon.

Macha said...

surprised you had the missionaries there before your neighbors; they might have had a chance to run away at the sight of them.

anonymous said...

Brigham you are right, I should get that blessing, can you and the Prez join in as well? Thank you!

Will, I assure you I am a true believing member and my comments were never to have made you feel any doubt at all. My patriarchal blessing says I will be a missionary to the world, although I did not go on a mission, I found my eternal mate before I turned 21, I feel like I am called, like the Prez, to take my message of hope online where it can reach the world. Take this as an opportunity to teach your children how the Holy Ghost works and why blessings are so important.

anonymous said...

Prez,
I gave you incorrect information, it was Joseph and Oliver who received the priesthood from John the Baptist, not Joseph and Hyrum. I get the two confused sometimes and I greatly apologize.
I have been thinking more about what you said and I noticed you used the words "restored church of the Lord". Didn't the Apostle John hold all the keys in the kingdom and ask to live forever, as well as the 3 Nephites? Therefore the church and gospel was never taken away, why would a restoration be necessary? As you can see I am really in need of your guidance and blessing here, I am very confused about the truth and whether or not it is "out there".

J Hume said...

I would remind everyone that the WAR that began during the pre-mortal existence is still being fought on the Earth in these last days. Satan is using any tactic he can to lead the world astray; we, likewise, must use any and all tactics to share the Gospel.

It is an eternal spiritual principle that a righteous end justifies any means (Nephi killing Laban, the massacre of the Caananites, Joseph Smith destroying the Expositor printing press, etc.) This principle should inform and guide our missionary efforts as we seek to share the gospel message by any means necessary.

I like to follow the Savior's mandate to "visit the sick" in the hospital and share the gospel with them as they recover. Many of them cannot even get out of bed, most of them enjoy having visitors, and all of them need to hear the message of the Restoration. The only problem with this is that I sometimes have to lie to gain entrance to the hospital, but if I take some flowers and pretend to talk on my phone, I can usually walk right past the security guards.

Anonymous said...

Dear Prez P.

I have to share with you that you just illuminated my entire childhood!! All those dinners, young women's meetings, and family home evenings were used to create wonderful opportunities for me to grow in my faith and accept the truth of the Church. Thank you for this insight!

Stake Pres. said...

To the anonymous poster 3 posts ago. You make an interesting point that the 3 Nephites along with John from the Bible were upon the earth at the time of the restoration. My understanding is that they were with the lost tribes in the North and therefore a complete restoration by the foreordained prophet Joseph Smith was necessary.

Thank you Brother Hume for your insight and suggestion of preaching within the hospitals.

And you are very welcome anonymous. Enlightening those such as your good self is the main purpose for having this blog.

Cindy said...

I remember hearing that story at conference. It gave me hope and taught me that if people would just hear the gospel they would embrace it as I have. Sometimes there are people I just know will accept the gospel if I could just get them to listen. Creating an inviting atmosphere for the spirit to be able to work through you is important. I have to admit that I really do struggle with this. I get so nervous when ever I have an opportunity to do something with a non member. I do feel like I'm looking for opportunities and I do talk openly about my beliefs but I never seem to get anywhere with it. I know I shouldn't make excuses for myself, it's just that when I hear stories like the one you are telling sometimes it feels like it just comes easier to others than it does to me. I guess this is just one of the trials that I've been given.

Dr. Rangi said...

It might sound strange and, to some, outright apostasy, but I do not believe that Carolyn needed to be baptized. As a medical man, I am often asked to meet with patients and assess their level of capacity (i.e., can they make decisions on their own or do they need someone else to make medical and financial decisions for them). To me, Carolyn does not have the capacity to make decisions regarding her wellbeing, and therefore is innocent in the eyes of the Lord. Let me explain.

Carolyn lives in Provo, home of the Lord's university, numerous temples, and dozens churches, and the world renown Missionary Training Centre. She has a number of LDS friends and, if they are doing what they should be doing, then Carolyn would already know that there is a living prophet on the earth. However, as the story goes: '“A couple of hours!” thought Carolyn. “I didn’t know there were prophets of God still living,” she said'. Clearly, Carolyn is cognitively impaired to such a degree that she did not know, before going on the hike, that there was a prophet on the earth! In my expert opinion, she would not have the capacity, in this life at least, to make a decision to join our church (or to donate blood or purchase a vehicle).

Hopefully, the missionaries who taught Carolyn obtained consent from her Enduring Power of Attorney and/or Guardian in order to baptize her. I would hate to see this play out in the courts! We don't need any more bad publicity (e.g., baptizing victims of the Holocaust).

Lowes Steem. said...

One of the things that has often captured the attention of investigators, President, is if they are led to believe that the Church is a great and wealthy organisation with lots of important people as members. Missionaries should not hesitate to point out how many temples there are in the world, many in the kinds of places one would not expect them, such as China. They can also explain how they are built of the finest Italian marble, and adorned with exquisite furnishings of all kinds, of valuable timber, the finest carpets and ornaments. There is also the matter of wealthy members. When some people get to hear that Mitt Romney, who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and could be the next President of the United States is a member, their ears prick up and they become focused on the missionaries' message. The serving Elders will find there are many credulous and impressionable people, especially young persons, out there in the world just waiting for the message of the restored gospel, once they know they are likely to be worshipping among fat cats and big hitters. You can be an important influence yourself President Paternoster. Let it be known far and wide what kind of car you own. New converts will experience far less embarrasment telling their friends they have joined the Church when they can also point out that their Stake President drives a Rolls Royce and is the Chairman of a large Conglomerate.

link to the family international membership said...

Its just a suggestions about your friend pet and dave.. if you invite them to go to your church, it wont help.. instead just keep on reading them the gospel of God from that you help them realize and let them decide by themselves. Just keep visiting them , keep reading them.

God Bless!