What role do the members play in our missionary work? In our ward right now our members are giving us referrals, they are service minded and always looking for ways to help around the island, they are good examples of righteous living, and they are great at coming to lessons whether it is with investigators or less active/recent converts. However, contacting these "not interested" referrals is not helping anyone. When we aren't contacting referrals or teaching a lesson we are tracting. We tract A LOT. Thank goodness I love tracting or I would die. Houses are far and few between with long dirt driveways. Most of the time they aren't home and if they are they have had missionaries knock on their door before and they aren't pleased to see another set. I am so grateful that these elders asked this question because it it something that Sister Bell and I have been talking a lot about recently. We have made some plans on how to better the member-missionary work here on the Island.
Member Missionary Work.
Pretend the following statistics are accurate.:)
An ox can pull a wagon 1 mile. Another ox can pull the same wagon 2 miles. But you hook both of the oxen up to the wagon and they can pull it 1000 miles. Now the numbers might not be correct but the principle is correct. I don't think any of us have oxen pulling wagons a thousand miles for us so let's change those oxen to something that does help or apply to us. Members of the church all over the world and missionaries serving all over the world are engaged in the same cause: hastening the work of salvation. Members can only do so much as well as the missionaries. Separately we can pull a wagon a total of 3 miles. But working together we can hasten the work 1000 times further.
I think the common denominator is flipping the thought of "how can members help the missionaries in this great cause" to "how can missionaries help the members in this great cause". Now I am not an expert and I don't have a doctorate in "missionary science" but I do know that this is the greatest work on Earth and there are always ways to learn and grow. There are people who need to know that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the Earth and because of that the Priesthood authority has been restored allowing us to perform sacred and everlasting ordinances that literally open the doors to the Celestial Kingdom.
Now as Sister Bell and I have discussed the idea of member missionary work we have thought about the talk verses the walk. Yes, more people than you think know you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Yes, they know that you have a faith in Jesus Christ and that you go to church to worship and that you pray for guidance. But these are just words. Do these people know that you are who you are BECAUSE you are a member of the church and you know the blessings promised to those you live faithfully? Do they know you are who you are BECAUSE you chose to "enter in by the gate" and are on a "strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life" where you can live with Heavenly Father and your families forever? These people, our lost brothers and sisters, need the invitation to come unto Christ.
Right now members of the church are doing the right things. They are giving missionaries referrals to contact, they are sitting in on lessons, and they are sharing their testimonies when asked to. They are helping missionaries do missionary work but they are only pulling the wagon 2 miles. It should be the other way around. They should allow us (the missionaries) help them do missionary work. It is more than a direction of who to go see it is using us as a resource to help them share the Gospel so we can pull the wagon of Salvation 1000 miles.
As Sister Bell and I have studied, prayed, and pondered ways to move this forward we came across a beautiful promise in Preach my Gospel. It states on page 2, "As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase. You will feel, as Lehi did, the 'great... importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth' (2 Nephi 2:8)." We are blessed to have member dinners majority of the week. We can use these opportunities to (A) Help strengthen their testimonies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and (B) allow them to practice inviting their friends to meet with the missionaries. I know that as members invite their friends and family to learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, missionary work will rapidly increase. When members are the ones inviting they are instant fellowship always there to encourage, uplift, and love. Members don't need to know all the doctrine, they don't need to know scriptures like the back of their hand, and they don't need to know how to teach. They are there for support and social aspects. Missionaries on the other hand are set apart for a period of 18 months to 2 years to teach and testify of the principles of the gospel.
So how can we discus this while in a members home? As we share a passage of scripture on the Atonement of our Savior the spirit will confirm their testimony that already exists. We then invite them to study the Atonement throughout the week. As they do so we ask that they have a piece of paper and pen by them where they can write down names that come to their mind. These are not names that they will give to us to contact. These are people they will share their testimony of Jesus Christ with and invite them to learn more by meeting with the missionaries. The people they write down are inspired as they prayfully plead with the Lord for names to come to their mind.
To help them feel comfortable inviting these friends to learn more we will role play with them. We will first explain the role play, our companionship will demonstrate, then the members will practice. They will give us a brief background of who their friends are, what they enjoy, and their personality. We will then follow the spirit in what that friend would say or do as the members invite to meet with the missionaries. Then we will evaluate, giving them compliments on the things they did well and suggestions on how they could improve. Then we would repractice if time allows.
Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping hem receive the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. This is the same purpose for members. We can only pull the wagon a total of 3 miles if we try to accomplish this purpose separately. As missionaries and members work together we can pull it 1000 miles or further.
I am grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that because he suffered, he not only overcame physical and spiritual death, but he now knows how we feel. He was perfect, he didn't know what it felt like to sin, he didn't know what it felt like to be sick. But because he suffered he now knows what it feels like. He can relate to us. He is he only one who knows exactly how we feel because he went through that exact same thing. He didn't just suffer for general trials, struggles, tribulations, temptations, pains, sicknesses, weaknesses, etc. He suffered specifically for individuals. Specifically for you. I know as we continue to study the Atonement we will have a desire to share the gospel with everyone we come in contact with allowing members and missionaries to work together- pulling the work of salvation 1000 miles.