This great guest post is by Melanie from Melanie’s Library where she shares inspiring resources that teach gospel principles.
How many of us when we hear the words “Member Missionary” instantly feel guilty and uncomfortable? I sooooo get it because that was me not so long ago. But it’s not anymore and it can be the same for you too. Don’t believe me? Let me prove it to you.
Did you know that if you are a member of the church, there is a 99.9% chance you have already been successful as a member missionary? Yep, it’s true. Whether it be….
Sharing your beliefs online
Befriending newly baptized member of the church
Visit or home teaching a less active member of the church
Answering a question about Mormons to someone who asked
Feeding the missionaries
Sending out your own missionary
Living your religion
Bringing a nonmember or less active friend to a church function
Or teaching your own children the gospel.
If you have done any one of those things, pat yourself on the back – you HAVE BEEN successful in being a member missionary! Just because you may not have gotten anyone baptized, I promise you, you have not FAILED at being a Member Missionary.
“The Power of Everyday Missionaries” by Clayton M. Christensen changed my whole way of thinking when it comes to being a Member Missionary. It made me realize that I CAN do Member Missionary work and NOT get out of my comfort zone. Let me show you how as I share with you the 6 Principles I learned from his book.
We cannot predict who will or will not be interested in the gospel
Have you ever met a nonmember and thought they’d make a great Mormon? That was my mistake, thinking I needed to find people like that to teach the gospel to. We CANNOT predict who will or will not be interested in the gospel based on their lifestyle, habits and/or appearance. Why? Because we don’t know their heart. What does 1 Samuel 16:7 say?
“For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart”
Building a friendship is not a prerequisite to inviting people to learn about the gospel
Have you ever had the missionaries over for dinner and they ask you if you know anyone that they can visit? You then rack your brain trying to think of one nonmember that you know well enough that you’d feel comfortable sending the missionaries to. That’s a lot of pressure. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to feel that amount of pressure anymore. Remember that we cannot predict who will or will not be interested in the gospel. In his book, “The Power of Everyday Missionaries,” Brother Christensen says:
“Over the past 20 years, we have observed no correlation between the depth of a relationship and the probability that a person will be interested in learning about the gospel. But the reverse is almost always true: Everyone who accepts an invitation to learn about the gospel becomes a closer friend, regardless of whether or not he or she ultimately accepts baptism.”
Tell yourself that the next time the missionaries ask you if you know anyone they can visit. Don’t hold back and give only the names of your friends that you think you know well enough, give them the names of the first nonmembers that come to your mind- that could be the Spirit telling you who is ready to listen.
If someone you refer to the missionaries does decide to take the missionary discussions but does not get baptized, you will still have succeeded because you have made a great friend in the process and they have taken a step closer on their own path to eternal progression. Win-win.
You succeed when you invite, regardless of how it turns out
Elder Neil L. Anderson stated:
“Please don’t see your efforts to share the love of the Savior with another as a pass/fail test with your grade determined by how positively your friends respond to your feelings or invitation to meet the missionaries. With our mortal eyes, we cannot judge the effect of our efforts, nor can we establish the timetable. When you share the love of the Savior with another, your grade is always an A+.”
There is no pass or fail grade when we invite others to hear the gospel; our grade is always an A+ whether they accept the invitation or not. Here’s why: The Lord loves each of His children and is ready and willing to pour out His spirit upon them but at the same time we must remember that everyone has their free agency. The Lord will not force any man to accept the gospel. That’s where we come in. We give others the choice, the opportunity to hear the gospel and decide for themselves. When we invite, we put the ball in their court – it’s now up to them to decide what to do. Some will use that agency to accept the gospel, others will not; either way, we succeed when we do our part and invite. The rest is up to them.
Create conversations and preserve relationships
One of the best ways to invite is create conversations. One way to do this is to use “Mormon” or religious words in your day-to-day conversations with people. When you use words such as Missionary, BYU or Primary in your everyday conversation, it opens a door for people to start up a conversation about the Church. The vast majority, of course, don’t always walk through the door you just opened up, and that’s fine. But sometimes they’ll walk through by asking, “Oh – so you’re a Mormon?”
When someone asks you, “Are you a Mormon?” It’s important that you respond with “Yes – Why do you ask?” This way we don’t spend a lot of time bombarding them or cramming down their throats a lot of information that they really aren’t interested in. Most of the time, what we’re interested in, isn’t what they are interested in.
What about people who already know you’re a Mormon? They already know all about Missionaries, BYU and Primary, then what? For those you know well, a good habit to make is to separate your invitation to learn about the Church from your relationship with them. For example, you could simply say, “As you know, I’m a member of the LDS Church. I’ve sensed that maybe there’s a few aspects of the Church you might be interested in. Just know that if you ever have any questions, feel free to ask me – but in no way do I ever want it to jeopardize our friendship and I will not be offended if you decide you’re just not interested to learn more.”
By phrasing your invitation that way, you separate your invitation from your relationship with them. You’re honest, open and sincere and at the same time you don’t strain your relationship.
Asking sincere questions about someone’s disinterest in religion
Believe it or not, you may actually come across a person in this world who doesn’t have any interest in religion AT ALL. Instead of telling someone who shows no interest in religion that they should go to church because it would be life-changing, ask them, “Do you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to?”
Believe it or not, but there are a lot of people with questions. Most of them have given up on churches as a way of getting answers. Our goal should always be to figure out what it is they want to know. What are their questions? You won’t know if you don’t ask.
Ask for their help in acts of service – to neighbor or Church
Everyone in this world loves to feel needed, and we as members of the Church could always use some extra help. Do you realize that almost every calling or act of service that we undertake in the Church can be used as a missionary opportunity?
In a 2013 National Report – it stated that 64.5 million adults volunteered 7.9 billion hours of service and the top volunteer area was religious (from the National Philanthropic Trust Statistical Report). How easily it can be, to ask our nonmember or inactive friends to help out in Scouts, Relief Society meetings, Ward Choir or even with helping those in need within the ward by bringing food to a funeral, or any other of the many acts of service we are involved in. Think of their talents – let them know how talented you think they are and how you could really use them. Then give them the opportunity to serve and feel needed.
Preparing a lesson on being a Member Missionary? Here's a great handout that will help you discuss these 6 simple principles of being a Member Missionary. AND it pairs up great with M&Ms.
Remember, you no longer have reason to feel guilty or uncomfortable whenever you hear the words “Member Missionary.” You know you’ve so got this! I would almost guarantee that you have already successfully succeeded at being a Member Missionary and will continue to do so as you apply these 6 principles all within your comfort zone. Keep being you. Keep living the gospel and simply invite and share your beliefs with no pressure attached to it.
Every Member a Missionary… No Problem!
Hi! I’m Melanie from Melanie’s Library – Inspiring Resources that Teach Gospel Principles. My library is a collection of amazing walk-on-water content that can be used in lessons, talks, devotionals, FHE or personal study. On LDS.org it states that when you teach with variety, learners tend to understand gospel principles better and retain more. I couldn’t agree more! That’s why I aim to provide the very best variety of teaching methods. My library contains everything from Short Stories, Games, Object Lessons, Music, Audio Visuals and more! Everything you need to be the most effective teach you can be! Follow Melanie on Facebook or Pinterest.