I've been meaning to do this for a while, but just haven't had time. This is my write up of the Preach my Gospel fireside that President Watkins gave with Elder Packer (area authority, not Boyd K.). This fireside was all about how members can get involved in missionary work. Since we don't tract anymore, the rescue test employs a greater use of members in finding. We have been bringing the fireside to members to help them catch the missionary spirit. We used a lot from chapter 9.
Developing the Faith to Find
"The doctrines and principles in this chapter will strengthen your faith that the Lord is
preparing people to receive you and the restored gospel. He will lead you to them or
He will lead them to you." (PMG pg 155)
This is a reassuring paragraph. It also applies to members. The Lord is certainly preparing people and either they will be lead to us or He will lead us to them. It goes with the house analogy. In an investigator's life, the Lord builds the foundation. He is always letting them have experiences and meet people that will prepare the investigator to hear the gospel. The members then come in and build the walls. They are responsible for the social conversion. Fellowshipping the member and being a general positive influence for them help build up a good view of the gospel. The missionaries then come in and top it off with the roof. We are responsible for the teaching. We can be bolder then a member can be, and the members don't have to worry about the teaching since that isn't their job. If something goes wrong in the teaching, you can always blame it on the missionaries. We get transfered anyway (that was President Watkins' interjection). There are always difficulties and obstacles that members have with sharing the gospel, and Elder Packer gave 5 "arrows" that we can put in our quiver to help us.
"2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;" (2 Nephi 21:2)
1 Pray for missionary experiences everyday.
As we pray for missionary experiences, they will happen. They will not be grand manifestations of someone coming up to you and saying "I want to be baptized!" They will come more subtlety, but they will happen. An opportunity where a friend asks "what did you do this weekend?" or "Why don't you do that?" are excellent opportunities to share the gospel. Those are missionary experiences. We are no longer in the days of "help the missionaries find the right people." We are in the days of "help me find the right person." Although we missionaries still love and are grateful for the prayers.
2 Use the Ward Council
This point highlights that we can bring names to the ward council members and they can bring them up. Ward councils now are all about helping people and making sure the needs of people are met, and less about which auxiliary is which and calendaring. Letting the ward council know of needs of people is a great way to help with member missionary work.
3 Feed My Sheep
This point is interesting. Elder Packer suggested that we make a list of 100 names, ranging from our best friend in the world, to the cashier at the grocery store whose name we don't know. Throw out any preconceived notions of "they wouldn't be interested." Just write down names. Then take this list and prayerfully select a few names. Elder Packer listed 3 or 4 examples of how people off his list have been baptized. Not everyone will be prepared enough for that, but opportunities will come.
4 Invite People to Everything
This point helps members build those walls of fellowship. It helps people interact with other members and feel that spirit, even if it isn't a gospel centered event. Christmas is coming up and between choir performances, the First Presidency broadcast, ward christmas parties and all the other stuff going on make great things to invite non-members too. I am challenging everyone reading this letter to bring at least one non-member to something this christmas season. The more you invite, the more bridges are built, and the more apt they are to investigate the gospel more seriously.
5 Invite people to Sacrament
If people are ready, invite them to sacrament. Sacrament is one of the best places to feel the spirit. It helps people learn and grow, and receive answers to prayers. Elder Packer threw out a stat that some huge percentage of people who attend sacrament are baptized (sorry, don't remember the number). Sacrament meeting is the best way to help a person know more about the church. When they are confused or ask you some deep doctrine question, turn that into a sacrament invite. Say something like, "I don't really know that, but you can learn things like that at church with me this sunday." Something along those lines. Turn everything into an invite. Another point Elder Packer made about invites is that many people are flattered to receive them. Inviting someone to see you give a talk, teach a lesson, or see a child's baptism or ordination, is an honor. When we are invited to a catholic baptism, a christening, a Bar-Mitzvah, or some other religious event, we are flattered. It goes both ways.
Remember that no effort is wasted.
No Effort Is Wasted
When people choose not to investigate the restored gospel, your work is not wasted.
Your consistent efforts in serving and teaching as many people as you can is one way
God prepares His children to eventually receive His servants. He often reaches out to His
children through you. Even when people do not accept the opportunity to learn the
gospel, your service and words are evidence of God’s love for them and may plant seeds
that future missionaries and members of the Church will harvest.
When people do not accept the gospel, do not be discouraged. You have raised a
warning voice. You have given them a clear choice. Disciples of Christ feel sorrow when
people choose not to repent, but they maintain a vision of who they are and what they are
doing. They continue to diligently move forward. (PMG pg 170)
We've been teaching people that for a couple weeks now, and we've seen returns from it. I know that as the members are involved in missionary work, the work progresses even quicker. It is the best way to do missionary work.
Have a good week and remember to pray for missionary experiences.
-Elder James Richards