It is only natural that we have Gordon B. Hinckley Chapter 21: The Latter-Day Miracle of Missionary Work after a lesson on fellowshipping those of other faiths. We absolutely want to be respectful of their beliefs but also add additional light where we can. There will be some groans as you announce a lesson on missionary work but it's one of those things people know they should do but aren't doing plus we get a missionary lesson every year. How will you make this lesson different?
I often tend to overthink sharing the gospel when in reality it can be small and simple things that lead to more. I can share quotes on Facebook or count my blessings expressing gratitude to God. I can discuss with a friend what we each learned at church on Sunday. I can invite my neighbors to the ward Christmas party. These are little things that will add up. However, there are times for the bigger things like sharing a copy of the Book of Mormon with someone or inviting someone to church. The more we get used to doing the small things though, the easier it becomes to share the bigger invitations.
Questions to Ponder
Some of these questions are from the manual, others are ones that I thought of- use them in your preparation, lesson, or to help you think of your own.
- Why are you sometimes afraid to share the gospel?
- What are some ways you can overcome that fear and reach out to others? (see section 1)
- What are some miracles of missionary work that you have witnessed?
- Why do missionaries "succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found"? (see section 2)
- What are some other ways that members can assist the full-time missionaries?
- Why are full-time missions so influential in the lives of those who serve?
- How can parents help their children prepare to serve full-time missions? (see section 3)
- How can families help older couples prepare to serve?
- What are some common characeristices of all people? (see section 4)
- How can you overcome differences that seem to be hurdles to sharing the gospel?
- How have you seen the Spirit of the Lord help people overcome differences?
- How can you increase your desire and faith to share the gospel?
- What is your motivation to share the gospel?
Here are some articles to study as you continue to prepare for your lesson. They should NOT replace the manual but rather help answer questions and strengthen your own testimony so that it is easy to teach with confidence and answer questions that arise during your lesson.
"Called to the Work" by Elder David A. Bednar
"An Essential Role of Member Missionary Work" by Elder M. Russell Ballard
"It's a Miracle" by Elder Neil L. Andersen
"Raising the Bar" by Elder L. Tom Perry
"Sharing the Restored Gospel" by Elder Dallin H. Oaks
"Becoming a Missionary" by Elder David A. Bednar
Deseret Bookshelf PLUS Recommendations
Remember, as a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS member, you can access as many of these eBooks or audiobooks anytime. Find out more about Deseret Bookshelf PLUS.
"Becoming a Fearless Missionary" by Ryan Sharp
"Will My Child Be Ready? Ideas for Preparing Future Missionaries of All Ages" by Merrilee Brown Boyack and Emily Belle Freeman
"How to Be an Extraordinary Missionary" by John Bytheway
There are plenty more if you are looking!
Why Mormons Send Missionaries Around the World (about 3 minutes)- Brief explanation
Unto All the World: Hastening the Work in Europe (about 5 minutes)- Elder Ballard and Elder Oaks go to Europe to help with the influx of missionaries
Missionary Work- 3 pages of videos
Our Faith- Great page of videos to help explain different principles of our faith
These are my ideas. My hope is that reading my thoughts will be a springboard to finding the right plans for your class.
- As you discuss ways you can encourage children in their missionary work, check out these tips from Lara at Overstuffed Life. Be sure to discuss ways you can prepare for a mission too.
- Challenge your class one or two weeks before your lesson to have at least one missionary moment by the time you teach. Katelyn from What's Up Fagans has simple 5 minute ideas if they need some inspiration or see what this returned missionary suggests. Then during class, take time to share missionary moments. Sometimes hearing how others reach out can give us ideas.
- Take a minute to talk about how we can help returned missionaries continue in their missionary efforts and not lose that zeal. I mention three ideas here. You can also discuss ways to support the full-time missionaries from your ward with these 5 ways.
- Elder Gary E. Stevenson gave a great talk entitled, "The Knowledge of a Savior" at 2017 BYU' Women's Conference at BYU. In it he explained how we are able to reach the world with the message of the gospel in part because of the internet and social media. He explains several platforms and gives examples of how the Church uses those platforms to further the message of the Restoration. You can do a similar thing in your class highlighting even some of the things your stake or ward does. Of course, there is also the #ShareGoodness page for more ideas. You can even show the video on that page to give a quick tutorial.
- Take parts of Preach My Gospel to incorporate into your lesson. Several chapters are just as applicable to the everyday missionary as it is for the full-time ones. There is a part in Chapter 9 entitled "The Importance of Members" that would be good to go over. Use this Preach My Gospel Study Journal to help you prepare or print out a few pages for your class.
- Use this envelope to put pass along cards inside and challenge your class to use them. Put the envelope in your pocket or purse and read the scripture for some courage. Remember to encourage people to make a goal of how many they want to pass out by when. Specific goals are key to getting things done.
- Ask some returned missionaries to sing a missionary related hymn or “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” in the Children’s Songbook pg. 172
- Bring objects that you carry around with you regularly or that you have prominently displayed in your home that help you spread the gospel without being high pressure. Example: I used to wear a Return with Honor ring that people would always ask me about. It was an easy way to spread a little bit of the gospel and sometime lead to a longer conversation. What are some things your class has that can easily spark a conversation about missionary work?
- Invite your ward’s full time missionaries to come in and share some experiences. Ask them to bring extra copies of the Book of Mormon or pass along cards to challenge others to share (or bring some yourself). Ask them to pass around a calendar to do splits or visits with them as well or share their top 10 ways members can help support the missionaries.
- Invite the ward or stake missionaries (not full time- it’s their church calling) to come and explain the mission goals for the area. Have them share how they spread the gospel and what you can do as well.
- Hand out blank pieces of paper as people come in. Ask each person to write down one missionary fear or excuse they have to not share the gospel. When they are done have them put it into a jar or basket (no names on the papers). Draw from it during class and talk about ways to overcome these stumbling blocks.
- Pass out these missionary nugget wrappers to those that participate in your lesson. OR use them to spark a conversation. Have each person use the word on the wrapper to describe one way to share the gospel this week or what it has to do with missionary work.
- Issue a one week challenge to your class asking them to do one missionary act a day (and in different ways). If you issue this challenge during your class, you can come up with some ideas together to get people started. If you do this before your class, you can ask specific people to share their experiences of the past week. If you need more ideas for ways to share the gospel, Larry Richman has a great book called, 101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online or if you have Deseret Bookshelf PLUS, The Power of the Everyday Missionary is included in your subscription as an audiobook.
- With permission from your President, start a new tradition where you take 5 minutes each week to share any missionary moments. When we did this in my old ward, it made missionary work much more real and possible. It was great to hear the examples every week.
- There are so many missionary opportunities that we often overlook. Take time to go over some of these different types of missionary work with your class such as: Family History Missionary Opportunities, Part-Time Service Opportunities, Welfare Missionary Opportunities, Opportunities for Retired Military Couples, and Youth Church-Service Missionaries.
- Take a few minutes for people to write down names that come to their mind to give to the missionaries. You can have them write a little bit about each person and leave their own phone number. Then gather all the papers to give to the missionaries. If people can't think of a person to refer right now, have them write down someone they could talk to more about the gospel this month and put it in their home as a reminder. For example, they could invite their neighbor to a Family Home Evening.
- Check out My Computer Is My Canvas lesson kit- there is even a cute M&M handout.
- Instead of focusing on our fears of missionary work, focus on why you want to share the gospel. When you read a good book or eat at a good restaurant, you end up sharing it with your neighbors. What about the gospel makes you want to share it? What's your motivation? If you don't have a strong one, how can you work on that?
- Remember when sharing the gospel, some people take 50 years while others take only 50 days. The important part is that we share it and start planting those seeds and watering them. You can demonstrate this visually with multiple plants at various stages. It doesn't matter that one is in full bloom while another is just starting to sprout- they are all growing. Success is in the invitation.
Please see the hymns listed under the topic of "Missionary Work."