So excited for today's Guest Post from Lara at Overstuffed Life. She is always sharing great things on her blog and today she is sharing with us missionary tips when it comes to our children.
Sharing the Gospel can be a scary prospect. Even as someone who served a mission, I often feel nervous about sharing my beliefs with my friends. It's one thing to be a set apart missionary, and quite another to give a Book of Mormon to your neighbor. I'm not sure what my friends will think of the church, and even more, I'm worried they'll feel I'm trying to push it on them.
I want my kids to grow up without being afraid to share the Gospel. That means helping them to be missionaries right now, so that when they grow older they aren't afraid of it the way I often am. Especially now that we live in an area where members of the Church are few, my husband and I have really tried to instill the value of missionary work in our children.
Create a Family Mission Plan
One of the things our stake has asked us to do is to create a family mission plan. It doesn't have to be scary or even very elaborate. Ours states that this year we will 1) invite friends to church activities as often as we can, and 2) give away a Book of Mormon to someone by Christmas.
That's it! Sometimes the missionaries come by and ask us how our plan is going, and sometimes we remind ourselves of it during Family Home Evening. So far, we haven't given away a Book of Mormon yet, but we have done quite a bit of inviting.
Which brings me to my next point...
Encourage Your Children to Invite
Invite. That is the crux of missionary work. Missionaries invite people to listen to the discussions, read the scriptures, pray, and to be baptized. Children in the church don't have to invite others to do those things, but they can invite them to participate in church activities. My children invite friends to mutual and activity days. They have invited friends to come on Sunday and watch the Primary Program. And they have invited friends to attend their baptisms.
Inviting isn't scary if you don't make it a big deal. When I was Primary President, I made invitations the kids could hand out for the Primary Program, and I was impressed that many of the children did hand them out. I was even more impressed that a handful of their friends came.
Prepare Your Children to Answer Questions
As an adult, I find that one of the best ways I can do missionary work is to just be open about the fact that I am LDS and field the inevitable questions. I have had opportunities to answer many questions from my friends about the church. Sometimes they have watched a show like Big Love and have misconceptions, and sometimes they are just curious about how our beliefs compare to their own. It has resulted in a lot of delightful conversations.
Your children will experience the same thing--especially if they are inviting their friends to church activities. During Family Home Evenings you can practice asking and answering some of the questions their friends may have about the church. Memorizing the Articles of Faith as a family is an excellent place to start.
The first question my eldest daughter received after moving here was "What does CTR stand for?" Because she wore her CTR ring every day, she had an opportunity to answer that question often. She never elaborated much, but her friends knew that it was important to her to make the right choices and to keep the commandments. That was the start of missionary work, and it wasn't difficult at all!
Remind Your Children That Some People Won't Be Interested
My youngest daughter was baptized just last week. She really wanted to follow our family mission plan and to invite as many of her friends as she could to her baptism. So, we made invitations and passed them out. She invited nearly her whole class and her second-grade teacher.
As it turned out, none of the people she invited came, and she was very upset and hurt by this. I did not do my job to prepare her for that possibility. I don't know if they would have been more likely to come if it wasn't the middle of summer and vacation season or if we could have passed out the invitations a little closer to her baptismal date instead of on the last day of school, but I should have prepared her. If kids understand that not everyone is going to want to come to church with them or know about the church, it will be easier for them to continue sharing their beliefs as they get older. If they aren't prepared for that, the rejection will hurt more and they will be less likely to want to invite friends to activities or even talk about the Church.
There are probably a million other little ways to help get your children comfortable with sharing the Gospel, but these are things that have worked for us. So far, missionary work has been a good experience for my girls, and I hope it continues to be.
Lara is the mother to three beautiful, brilliant and bossy daughters. She’s married to The Maestro, Orchestra Conductor extraordinaire. When she isn’t working on her mother of the year status, you can find her singing professionally, teaching voice lessons at the University, taking lots and lots of photographs, listening to opera, finding a good deal on groceries, or reading a good book. (that is, if she’s not blogging). She blogs at www.overstuffedlife.com, where she writes about parenting, home organization, photography, gluten-free living, and all of the other things that comprise her overstuffed life.