Missionary Broadcast: How to vs How not to

Lots discussed in last night’s broadcast. Geoff has already discussed the social media efforts for full time missionaries, so I won’t discuss that here.

I will note two things.  First, did the camera guy really have to take a nice long shot at the sleeping man (presumably a high priest?) during Elder Nelson’s discourse?  That, for me, is a “how not to”.

Here, though, I would like to open up a discussion to help all of us on something Elder Nelson stated last night: we know the reason why, but we do not yet know the “how to.”  How does one do missionary work effectively as a member?  Obviously, tracting is now anathema, as was pronounced last night, while working with members is the correct manner.  So, how do we do effective member missionary work?

A couple of the videos shown give a hint of one “how to do” method, and added upon my experience (FTM, 9 years WML/Stake mission presidency, 2 year service mission), I will offer some thoughts. However, I really would like to hear others’ thoughts on how we can do the work in an effective and efficient way.

First, there were videos of a few people invited to baptisms/birthday parties, but especially one where a couple was first introduced to one LDS family, then another, and another, until they had many LDS friends.  The second, discussed by Pres Monson, was the small branch in Canada, in which the branch president desired a chapel.  When he was told the branch (25 members, 12 active) would have to grow first, the branch president asked for six FTMs and then went to work. He opened the Yellow Pages and began selecting people from it.  With 6 missionaries, he could better surround these people than with the 12 active he currently had.  Within a couple years, they were approved for a chapel.

The “how to” here is to surround the investigator with loving LDS friends.  If her only contact is with the missionaries or perhaps one LDS family, then there is a major disadvantage, as the person’s worldly friends will be pulling them in one direction, with only one pulling them toward Christ and his Church.  However, if we can surround the person with loving LDS friends, then there is no pulling from the world.  The influence of the Spirit is more prominent, and the opportunities to hear and desire the gospel are everywhere.

This is what happened about 20 years ago in Wetumpka, Alabama.  The branch president at the time, Carl Stephens, wanted to prepare the branch to be a ward.  As the missionaries prepared an investigator, Carl would assign members to invite the family in for dinner each week (often on Sunday after church).  So, one week, the family would eat with one LDS family, and with another the next.  In one instance, a young black family (the Montgomery stake had only recently actively started teaching African-American families) was brought into the Church using this method. They were very well integrated into the branch by the time of their baptism.  One year later, the new brother was called as elder’s quorum president (and did a fantastic job), and a few years after that the couple were called as service missionaries in the Tuskegee branch.  Wetumpka became a ward within just a couple years, and is a strength to the small stake to this day.

What are other methods of “how to” that members and FTMs alike can implement in their wards and lives?

13 thoughts on “Missionary Broadcast: How to vs How not to

  1. “The “how to” here is to surround the investigator with loving LDS friends. If her only contact is with the missionaries or perhaps one LDS family, then there is a major disadvantage, as the person’s worldly friends will be pulling them in one direction, with only one pulling them toward Christ and his Church. However, if we can surround the person with loving LDS friends, then there is no pulling from the world. The influence of the Spirit is more prominent, and the opportunities to hear and desire the gospel are everywhere.”

    Rame, I think you hit the nail on the head. I would add that we need to keep contact constant, through baptism and then after. One short story from our ward: I am home teaching a widow who lost her husband a year ago. She is completely lost, cannot drive, cannot speak English, no income. I drop by twice a month, but we have also had other high priests and other sisters and missionaries who drop by. She is visited several times a week by somebody. She told me yesterday we are the answer to her prayers. So, the answer is: be like Christ. Be friendly, be aware of the needs of others, be charitable.

  2. Helping the investigator/new member/less active member build good gospel habits, which goes along with having LDS friends. One thing that I noticed as a full time missionary and I’ve noticed as a regular member, is that often those habits of coming to church regularly, learning how to home and visit teach, learning how to serve in the church are not taught. I have to remind myself, that as a life long member I grew up seeing how the church works and how to do things, but for a new member these things will be totally foreign. Which goes right to the point that was raised about making sure new members have their new member discussions.

  3. Having an investigating family share meals with different ward members is a brilliant idea. Half of the people I baptized are now less-active or inactive, many of them becoming that way shortly after baptism. Almost every one that is still active was embraced by the ward during the discussion and soon after baptism, with two wards(that I know of) organizing after-church potlucks that they made sure new converts attended.

  4. Having fun activities available weekly for new members and converts is very important. There has to be a social network to strengthen emotional ties, and provide spiritual and temporal support for one another. We often look at Church as a service project. We need to start looking at it as a vehicle to create relationships that will last not only here, but into the eternities. We hear of Ward families, but often those ward families are strangers, only knowing those people they are called to attend meetings with.
    One of the things I love about the Hispanic culture is the frequent fun activities they have. On my mission, we had a weekly ward fun night. It consisted of a 10 minute spiritual lesson, followed by games and refreshments. It was the perfect place to bring non-member friends and less actives, as well as the active members. I’ve tried it in a couple places here in the USA over the years, but usually just ended up with investigators and missionaries coming by, no active members. It is clearly a part of our culture we need to change.

  5. Well, of course this makes sense, but… (you KNEW there was a “but” coming!) the trick is making it work in real life.

    The wards I’m famiiar with don’t do enough fellowshiping, home-teaching, visiting-teaching to members, both active and inactive. My understanding is that most wards don’t have the man-power or time to complete home-teaching visits. But now members are supposed to “encircle” investigators to the point where those members become the biggest social influence in that person’s (or family’s) life, to the point of over-riding all non-church influences? I didn’t see the broadcast, but that’s the impression I’m getting from Ram’s summary.

    Of course, church members being an influence for good is a good thing. It’s a GREAT thing. But a cynical view of Ram’s description can easily make it sound creepy, kind of cult-like, where members intentionally become the biggest influence in the investigator’s life.

    In order for members to fulfill fellowshipping requirements to members (ie, 100% home-teaching and 100% visiting-teaching) and now ADD this friendshipping to investigators by *multiple* families in the ward, the only way I can see that happening is if members give up practically all other outside interests (sports, hobbies, activities) besides family, work and church.

    It may be doable in wards with a very high activity rate, but in wards where 1/3 of the roster is inactive, and only 1/2 of the Sunday-going members are enthused about home/visting-teaching, I don’t see how 1/3 of the ward can socially support the other 2/3rds *and* add multi-family friendshipping to investigators.

    I’m glad to see a shift to social-media. The time it took the church to transition missionaries into social media after it became de rigueur in our culture was much shorter than the time it took to transition missionaries from land lines to cell phones after cell phones became de rigueur.

    So yes, I can see this paradigm shift in proselyting work, but it will take getting members more “removed” from the world in order to get more “inserted” into the lives of investigators.

    In other words, will families have dinner out less often in order to have dinner with investigators more often? (Or go out to dinner with investigators.) Will families go out to movies less often in order watch Netflix with investigators more often?

    What will individuals and families subtract from their lives in order to spend more time with investigators? Or, even better, will wards, and quorums and families get super-organized to the point where investigators can automatically be invited to whatever the ward families are doing?

    Unless something revolves around youth activities, the members in my current ward don’t socialize with each other that much. Sure, there are friendships and cliques, but how do we open those things up, and notify the missionaries and their investigators that the Jones family is having dinner at Red Lobster and extend an invitation to join them?

  6. Ok, I thought of something. We get everyone to download the church app to their smart phone, and give the app access to their calendar. Then the missionaries check in to see who is doing what, and who is open to having investigators join them.

  7. BS, not a difficult thing to do. If one cannot do 100% hometeaching, then a ward should pick 5 less active or part member families to fellowship. The goal being to reactivate them over the period of a year. If a ward/branch can surround 5 families with love each year, over just 5 years, you have reactivated or baptized 25 families. As that group grows, you can increase your fellowshipping families and have the new active/baptized help in loving others into the Church.

    IOW, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…. It is a marathon, not a 100 yard dash.

  8. My first thought: “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

    When the Lord’s servants invite us to act, our response should not be, “It can’t be done,” but, “I will go and do.”

  9. ” tracting is now anathema”

    I sure wish this had been the case on my mission to Japan back in the 90s. All we did was tract because that’s what we were told to do. Many long dreary days. I’m sure it was character-building, though.

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