Random thoughts about handing out Books of Mormon

About three years ago I made a pledge to hand out 12 Books of Mormon a year. I have more than met that goal. I would estimate I have handed out more than 45 Books of Mormon over the last three years.

Now to be fair to readers, I should point out that I travel all over the world and bring Books of Mormon with me. Only about a dozen or so of the books I have handed out (four a year) are to people near where I live. The vast majority have been to acquaintances in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Panama, the UK and Hong Kong whom I have met over the years. A lot of them have been taxi drivers.

Random thought number one: the plural is Books of Mormon, not Book of Mormons. (If you have seen “The Best Two Years,” there is a funny scene regarding this that I tried to link, but I could not find it on Youtube).

Random thought number two: if you want to hand out Books of Mormon, you must bring them with you when you go someplace. Stop reading this right now and go put a Book of Mormon in your car or your briefcase or your purse or your backpack. If you do not have a Book of Mormon, you can either get one from the missionaries or order them on-line here. I cannot emphasize this enough: go put a Book of Mormon someplace so you can hand it out.

Random thought number three: I have encountered a LOT more atheists lately than I remember from a decade ago. Has anybody else noticed this trend? My experiences do not count as a scientific survey, but the average person seems to have migrated from “I am spiritual and believe in the value of religion but don’t go to Church” or “I am Catholic” to “I don’t believe in a God that would allow people to suffer on the Earth.” I am amazed at how many people openly claim to be atheist. Is this a sign of the times?

Random thought number four: explaining the Book of Mormon in two minutes or less is really, really difficult. I am fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and don’t have a problem with the language, but I simply do not have a formula for quickly explaining our book. The average explanation always come across the wrong way (in my mind) and seems so jejune and incomplete.

Random thought number five: About half of the time I have really, really interesting discussions with people when I can get 15 minutes with them to discuss religion and the Book of Mormon. Last year I had an absolutely fabulous talk with a man who was searching for religion in Panama. He knew the Bible well and said that he could not find a religion that seemed to match the religion of the New Testament. I explained prophets and apostles to him, and it was as if we were completely in synch. I felt the Spirit really strongly during that discussion. I gave him a Book of Mormon and bore my testimony and told him to talk to the missionaries.

Random thought number six: funny story. I handed a Chinese Book of Mormon to a taxi driver in Hong Kong when he dropped me off at my hotel. (He did not speak English). I got out of the car and got my bags from the trunk and was about to go pay the guy, but he drove away! I guess he thought I was paying him with a free book. The power of the Book of Mormon!

Random thought number seven: The modern-day hero of Book of Mormon gift-giving is Bookslinger, who comments on M* pretty regularly. You can visit his blog here. He is literally famous: I believe he was mentioned in General Conference at one point for giving out Books of Mormon and blogging about it. Bookslinger helped me get my start by sending me several Books of Mormon in different languages.

Random thought number eight: I realize many of our readers live in Utah or Idaho where it is difficult to find non-members. This post is not meant to make you feel guilty. If you cannot think of anybody to give a Book of Mormon to, that’s cool. Maybe you could bring one with you next time you go on vacation? Just an idea.

I make this challenge to many Church members I talk to: make a goal of handing out more Books of Mormon than you have been doing. If you hand out one a year, try to make it two. If you haven’t handed out a Book of Mormon in a long time, try to think of somebody you could give one to. I highly recommend it.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

24 thoughts on “Random thoughts about handing out Books of Mormon

  1. Thanks for the challenge. Incidentally I just cleaned out my car and I think I’ll put a couple of copies inside to fill the void. I think the Book of Mormon can do a lot of the missionary work for us if we trust its purpose.

  2. Actually, the correct plural is not “Books of Mormon.” The movie Best Two Years gets it wrong. The correct plural (even according to the Church style guide) is “copies of the Book of Mormon.” After all, we wouldn’t say, “I gave away a dozen Tales of Two Cities.” :-)

  3. Great ideas, Geoff. For the first time in a long while, I gave out a BofM two weeks ago to a friend, and he contacted me later, wanting discuss it further, which we did last night. I definitely want to make a habit of doing my part to “flood the earth.”

    Sign of the times? I think yes and no. Yes, in the sense that faith is generally becoming a less common denominator amid growing wickedness; No, in the sense that in the history of every dispensation (except for Enoch’s) apostasy was almost always the end result, so it seems a natural evolution in any society that had God’s priesthood authority.

  4. I don’t know about the plural thing. I know we usually say “The first book of Nephi” and “the second book of Nephi.” But in the song I learned in primary about how to remember the books in the Book of Mormon, it says “First and Second Books of Nephi…..” (Children’s Songbook, “The Books in the Book of Mormon.”) Just sayin’….

  5. Books of Mormon is technically correct, like attorneys general or brothers-in-law.

    Anyway …

    I had no idea you were doing this Geoff. Way to go! If you want I need to just copy you on the old missionary discussions explanation of the Book of Mormon. I still explain it to people this way.

  6. Random 1. It is “copies of”. There is only one Book of Mormon. JA: there ARE multiple books of NEphi, multiple attorneys and multiple brothers, so that explains those.

    Random #4.
    First sound bite “would you like a free book from my church (in Swahili/whatever)?”
    2nd sound bite “its called the Book of Mormon. Have you heard about it?”
    3rd, “It’s Religious material. It’s Christian.”
    4th, “it’s about ancient people who believed in Christ.”
    5th, “we believe in the Bible, and we believe the Book of Mormon as the word of God too.”

    If they ask “who wrote it?” I respond “ancient prophets, but a modern man, Joseph Smith, translated it into English.”

    I don’t think i’ve ever had to explain further.

    #7, [blush]. Actually it was a Byu Hawaii commencement address, which was excerpted in the Ensign. Credit goes to blogger Frank Bruno for bringing my blog to the attention of Elder Ballard. Elder Ballard was bro Bruno’s mission pres, and they kept a correspondence.

  7. Hold on a second… why would you tell someone that the BoM is Christian?

  8. @Meg: Perhaps, but it is not the Christ of Christianity, and LDS beliefs are often in contradiction to Christianity.

  9. Darren, I testify that the Jesus Christ of the New Testament is my personal savior and the savior of the world. I am also a Mormon.

    Have you ever read the Book of Mormon?

  10. LDS beliefs are often in contradiction to Christianity

    … Darren says, as though “Christianity” is some sort of single-belief instead of a conglomeration of different beliefs. I think what Darren could have said, which would have been more correct is “LDS beliefs are often in contradiction to my specific interpretation of Christianity, which I impose upon anyone else who disagrees with me.”

    To which, we would all laugh, as though Darren Morningstar’s interpretations had any sort of importance to anyone except Darren…

  11. Easy, h_nu. :-) I understand your feelings, but let’s give Darren the benefit of the doubt. He might be unfamiliar with what we believe, or simply have gotten some wrong information.

  12. All, is the world really getting more wicked? Even when I was a TBM, I was still puzzled at this statement! What is more wicked about the world now?

    Also, curious what might happen if a person who was born (then his parent died so he/she was all alone) on a stranded Island found the Book of Mormon and any other given religious document such as the Bhagavad Gita, and then only one other book such as the hobbit or LOTR, curious to know what this group self proclaimed nerds (arguing over grammar) think would happen. Would the spirit testify that the BOM was the only true book on the island? That the other books, while fun to read, were false?

  13. There is also an assumption that this person can read. Really trying to frame up a situation where the person is unbiased about what could be true or false.

  14. Interesting list.

    In SLC we were supposed to have a big kumbaya get-together between Mormon academics and atheists yesterday. An unholy convocation.. I did not follow up, but the implications are somewhat engaging. I cannot imagine anything less than thinly disguised mutual hostility.

  15. I find the BOM fascinating! There is not any other book or claimed historical artifact that would withstand more than one anachronism to be claimed a fraud, yet the BOM is held up a literal historical record of an ancient people. How do you reconcile this with a feeling? I am not trying to cast doubt on anyone, just on my own barriers to believing that the Book of Mormon is anything close to what it claims to be. Any pushback?

  16. Jeff, all of the claims of historical anachronisms have been answered repeatedly. You may want to catch up with the current research by going to this web site.

    http://www.fairmormon.org

    There are many resources and people there to answer and debate to your heart’s content. To repeat: all of the “problems” with the Book of Mormon you may have heard of have been answered there. If you don’t find something answered to your satisfaction, you can even engage with people who will answer your questions.

    Please note before bringing up your unbelievable proof that the Book of Mormon is false that 1)this is not the correct forum for doing so and 2)there is a difference between evidence and proof. You may think your evidence is unassailable, but people like myself who have been studying the evidence for 20 years might find it incredibly weak.

    Just so we are clear, this is not the forum for discussing problems with the Book of Mormon. Take your concerns to FAIR Mormon or another blog. Thanks.

  17. Geoff, I have been to FAIR. Thanks. That completely answered all of my questions and concerns about the BOM. Now I believe again that the BOM is 100% true.

  18. @ Jeff–An intellectual conversion? Anyone, even FAIR, can sound pretty convincing. I submit a spiritual conversion, in its many forms, is your best insurance policy.

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