Members of the Marysville Washington Stake are highly encouraged to adopt a family mission plan, read through and study the Preach My Gospel manual, and to prayerfully find ways to share the message of the Restoration to family, friends, neighbors and even strangers. It is quite the challenge because many of us (from young and old) have fallen into our regular routines and may not know how to start a conversation, what to say and share, or even how to respond to any types of criticisms about our Faith that we may encounter. Take courage for not all is lost because we have effective tools available to us that will help facilitate sharing the Gospel – and the main resource that we have is the Preach My Gospel Manual. Therefore, what follows are some effective strategies for those willing to be courageous enough to step out and share the message of the Restoration of the Gospel to those open and receptive to what we have to share.
Pray always: We should always have a consistent pattern of personal and family prayer. Because of this, we are able to submit in prayer to be led or have doors of opportunity open for our family or personal involvement where we can share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This can be inviting a new family over that has just moved into the neighborhood, seek out those who are less active and part-member families and pray for them and their needs. Pray for people we happen to meet on the street or out and a bout.
Teach by the Holy Spirit: Relying on the power and companionship of the Holy Spirit, we can discover those opportunities to share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With all things, we are counseled to be prepared and study the necessary material. We should already have an established routine of studying the scriptures and we should be able to recognize those teaching moments where a thought or an impression has come to mind while we have taught a class, prepared and given talks, or for our own personal edification.
Utilize Church publications and materials: The Church has produced many manuals that can be utilized for effective teaching. One such resource is the manual Teaching No Greater Call and provides valuable information on ways to teach the principles of the Gospel to different age groups, people, and how to develop our ability to be effective teachers. One important aspect is that we all are called to teach and will be called upon to utilize our talents, understanding and perspectives of the Gospel to relay the information to another individual. The call may not come as a formal calling, however, there are opportunities where we may have to stand in holy places and teach the principle truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, much of what is written in the manual, is available online and concerns with the principles and methods of teaching.
Obtain copies of the Missionary Pamphlets: The Preach My Gospel manual has the lessons; however, by obtaining the individual copies of the pamphlets, one has a ready resource to provide those we may engage in conversation. This type of resource is helpful because if one begins talking about the Restoration of the Gospel, having the pamphlet available to hand will help the individual keep in mind the conversation. For youth, if they were talking about Chastity, having the pamphlet available will make it easier to share the topic in a simple to understand context. This would also require our own personal familiarity with each of the six topics.
Carry a copy of the Book of Mormon: Always have a copy of the Book of Mormon so that when the conversation gravitates to the Book of Mormon and its contents, we can easily use it to show particular verses on the Atonement of Christ, call for men to repent and to come unto Christ, what it means to serve others, and any other topic that we have come to learn and understand. It is also. There have been many times when engaging in a conversation; I personally wished to have had a copy available to hand out.
Find time to serve: We are taught that it is better to serve than to be served. As we go about striving to become better member missionaries, one of the more effective strategies one can employ is serve someone. The full-time missionaries are always asking if people need any help unloading a truck, loading up a truck or anything where the individual may need some assistance. See a neighbor trying to get kids in and have a trunk full of groceries, go over and offer to help. Have particular talents that can be put to good use, offer those up to someone who may not have such talents. Serving gives an opportunity to share with them the message of the Gospel because of our ability to recognize and meet the needs of an individual and/or their family. There are other ways to serve within one’s own community and school.
Do not be afraid of criticism: Part and parcel of sharing the message of the Gospel is the criticism one may face. We should not fear such criticism and actually accept the criticism (unless it is a true threat of violence or total lack of civility). We may not have all the answers, and should not be expected to answer any criticism right there on the spot. Having worked in the Customer Service/Call Center and Technical support field, one of the best things one can do is to be honest. “I am not that familiar with this particular issue, however, what I would like to do is research a little bit and get back with you on what I have discovered and then we can go from there.” Being open and honest will benefit any sincere dialogue about our faith, our teachings and the Restoration of the Gospel.
Share relevant messages and articles: About a year ago, a dear friend of mine had a daughter who survived a severe car accident. Her daughter’s boyfriend passed away after some time because of the injuries sustained. Through sincere prayer for them (they are not members of the Church, however this friend is a former supervisor of mine) I happened across a Mormon message by Thomas S. Monson about death and the passing of loved ones. I watched it and became quite emotionally impressed to share this message with my friend and her daughter. The impression was so strong, never before had I felt such compassionate urge to bring this to my friend through social media. Both her and her daughter were very comforted by the message I shared and while I am not sure the significant impact it had on either one of them, it was an opportunity to share a personal message in a time of need. Missionary opportunities can open up for us as we look at the new medium of how information is being dispersed. Sharing the Gospel is no longer done in person, but also through social media networks. We can Skype, instantly chat through various messenger services, and post particular thoughts on our own “walls” or “boards”.
Find common ground: In any conversations that we have with other people, there are going to be different perceptions, different understandings, and different levels of knowledge. When we are able to find common ground and focus on those similarities of our faith with others, we can become effective member missionaries because we bring our own unique experiences to the table. The ability to find common ground is significant to have a healthy and blessed conversation with others because we are not being defensive or argumentative.
Understand your own perception and biased position: In more sensitive topics, there are going to be significant differences in perception where our own biased and prejudicial thinking may cause offense. Having an understanding of our own biased and prejudicial viewpoints will help us engage in conversing with others that may challenge such positions and teachings. This includes hot topics as Gay Marriage, women in the Priesthood, and other such culturally relevant issues. In addition, we must be able to control how we react to another individual’s biased and prejudicial viewpoint without becoming offended – even if offense was intended.
Show empathy and charity: One of the most important traits we should strive to develop is that of being empathic toward another person and shows forth the Christ-like charitable attributes our Savior has shown during his mortal ministry. Many of us understand that being empathetic towards another person is to have some understanding of their struggles, questions, and even criticism. It is when we are able to have the compassion of that the Savior himself has shown, we are able to make a more impressionable impact on the person than what we are able or capable of saying. In essence, we must allow our actions to speak louder than our words.
We are called to be ministers and teachers, to serve one another and to have compassion towards our fellow neighbors. Each of us has a unique opportunity to seek out how we can use our talents and share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a broken and hurting society. Let us become effective member missionaries by utilizing these strategies in our own personal lives as well as the lives of those around us.