Thursday, July 10, 2014

6 Ways To Up Your Member Missionary Game

Before I became a missionary I had a skewed perception of what the job entailed.  I thought the weight of conversion rested upon the shoulders of the young servants of The Lord and that as a member of the church my responsibility was to just be a good example of the believers.  As I began to study Preach My Gospel and trained to become a missionary, I learned that members of the church are vital for successful missionary endeavors. The work is being hastened. The Lord is upping the speed of the treadmill whether you're in shape or not; are you going to pick up the pace and help Him or are you going to fly off and run into a wall? While you ponder that and inevitably conjure up a hilarious mental image, enjoy one of my favorite quotes about missionary work from Elder Bednar, "We properly pray for the safety and success of the full-time missionaries throughout the world. And a common element in many of our prayers is a request that the missionaries will be led to individuals and families who are prepared to receive the message of the Restoration. But ultimately it is my responsibility and your responsibility to find people for the missionaries to teach. Missionaries are full-time teachers; you and I are full-time finders. And you and I as lifelong missionaries should not be praying for the full-time missionaries to do our work!" Wow! Missionaries are full time teachers, not full time door knockers and street roamers? Yes. Yes. Yes. An apostle of The Lord has made it clear that members are the cornerstone of successful missionary work. Now that that has been put out there, I want to outline six ways that I believe everyone can become better member missionaries.

6. Don't Leave Church out of Your Weekend Water Cooler Conversations

"Hey Bob, what did you do over the weekend?"-Jim the Catholic

"Oh ya know. Family stuff. The lawn. Manly things. Painting dressers for the wife. Eating Steak. Hunting deer. What about you?"-Bob the shy Mormon

"The same. Except I'm more of a pheasant guy."-Jim the Catholic

"Cool."-Bob the shy Mormon

That was awful. Bob spent three hours of his weekend attending church services and didn't mention it! Not to mention the fact that Bob probably also went to the temple, cleaned the church, helped with a youth activity, served at the Bishop's Storehouse, had the missionaries over for dinner, or did something else on Friday or Saturday that involved his faith.  How can we open ourselves up for missionary opportunities if we won't even pluck the low hanging fruit? I know that I used to always omit church from my weekend synopsis and it was such a foolish habit I had.  Repentance is real though, and Bob rectified his actions the next time Jim asked about his weekend.

"Hey Bob, what did you do over the weekend?"-Jim the Catholic

"I went to my in-laws' cabin on Friday and Saturday, but we came back Sunday morning so we could make it to church."-Bob the ENTHUSIASTIC Mormon

"I didn't know you were a church goer, Bob. Which church do you attend?"-Jim the Catholic

"I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church. We meet on Celestial Boulevard and Truth Street. Do you go to church, Jim?"-Bob the BRAVE Mormon

"I hit up mass when it is convenient, but I have been thinking about maybe going to church more often now that my wife is pregnant."-Jim the Catholic

"If you ever want to try something new, we would love to have your family in our congregation. You can even come over for lunch after church. My wife can cook some of the deer I slayed last weekend."-Bob the FISHER OF MEN (and slayer of deer) Mormon

Conversations like this can happen all of the time if we allow them to take place. As members of the church we are always doing something that can be traced back to our faith; Mormonism isn't a religion, it's a lifestyle. Talk about family home evening, mutual, scripture study, and ward activities. Normal people in other religions spend time with their families, send their kids to youth groups, glance at the Bible, and have congregational activities. We aren't that weird, so stop letting that get in your way.

5. Use Social Media to Your Advantage  

If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another social media application on your computer or phone you should use it to express who you are; a son or daughter of Heavenly Father. Simple posts can plant a seed that may eventually grow. Did you have the missionaries over for dinner? Take a picture and put it on Facebook with a caption that says, "Our family hosted the local LDS missionaries for dinner this evening. They're such fun young men with good morals.  I'm glad we were able to serve others in such a fun way, even if they did eat us out of house and home!" Did you have a prayer answered lately? Tweet about it, "Heavenly Father helped me find my missing left Michael Kors wedge! #answeredprayers". Your posts don't have to be abrasive, confrontational, or lengthy. In fact, they should be none of those things! If you can post a 78234th rant about gun legislation or another picture of your baby kind of crawling but not really, then you can post an uplifting quote from General Conference.

4. Get to Know Your Neighbors

Do you set a land speed record every night as you step out of your car and bolt into your house so you don't have to be social with anyone? Do you think your neighbors may have three kids, but possibly four because you're still not sure if the glimpses you've seen through the fence are of a dog or an infant? Rectify that! People love meat. Invite your neighbors over for a BBQ and don't even mention the gospel.  Just get to know them; once you've fed them a few times and formed a relationship they will notice the Spirit in your countenance and in your home and will have questions.

3. Invite People to Church When It Is Easy

Are you giving a talk in sacrament meeting? Are six of your kids singing in the primary choir on Sunday? Do you have a son or daughter giving a mission farewell talk? Are you giving the lesson in High Priest Group? When you are doing any of these things, you have a valid reason to invite others to come and watch you. You would never hesitate to invite people to your son's soccer game, your daughter's choir concert, or your Pampered Chef party, why hesitate to invite them to church when you are "performing"?

2. Listen to The Spirit

It's so easy to listen to the quiet words of the Holy Ghost when we agree with what He is telling us.  It is completely different when He asks us to step outside of our comfort zone. I promise you that He is giving you missionary opportunities daily, you just aren't always taking them.  Sometimes it doesn't make sense to talk to your co-worker about The Living Christ, to invite your high school best friend to your child's baptism, or to strike up a conversation with the stranger in front of you at the movie theater, but through small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

1. Remember That No Isn't the End of the World

If you've tried some of the above listed things or other techniques to share the gospel but haven't had success, then don't let that discourage you.  Jesus definitely didn't let others stop Him from doing His thing, and as members of the church we have covenanted to take upon ourselves His name.  With His name upon our hearts we can act as He did, teach as He did, touch hearts as He did, and be the messenger of good tidings and peace that He was and still is. We often focus on the power of the atonement as a saving and soothing grace, but it does other things too.  The atonement can enable us to become better people and to do that which is frightening to us. You have a pearl of great price to share with as many as will accept it. Why hide it because of fear, apathy, or shyness? Pray for help and Heavenly Father and Christ will help you, even if that means he has to start from the very beginning by planting the desire in your heart to share the truth of the restored gospel.