Friday, June 17, 2011

Mormon Times: William Monahan Cites 10 Excuses Holding LDS People Back From Member Missionary Work

In order to amplify the ability of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to deliver the message of the restored Gospel worldwide, the Church decided to augment the efforts of the full-time missionary force by getting individual members more involved. Fifty years ago as he closed the April 1959 general conference, then-President David O. McKay twice pronounced the phrase "every member a missionary." That simple, four-word statement immediately thrust missionary work into the consciousness of the general Church membership and has since thrived over the past half-century as an oft-repeated reminder.

Yet there are those who criticize us for it. Not only ex-Mormons and anti-Mormons, but also a number of more progressive Mormons have expressed concern that we look upon people we have just met as investigators first, and friends second (if at all). They decry our occasional tendency to lose interest in a person if they rebuff our efforts to evangelize them.

Thus many members become hesitant to share the Gospel altogether. On June 17th, 2011, in a Mormon Times article entitled "Friday Minute: Overcoming excuses about missionary work", William Monahan identifies 10 common excuses used to avoid member missionary work, and tips to overcome them. At first glance, it may seem like Monahan is urging people to "spam the Gospel" more. But his 9th excuse, "I don’t know what to say", shows that he recognizes the value of making other connections first. He writes, "When your goal is friendship, you will build relationships of trust. Trusted friends will often approach you about the gospel first. When that happens, you will know from the Holy Ghost what to say".

This means you fellowship them first, then evangelize them. Oftentimes they'll make the first move simply out of curiosity -- then they're all yours.

But William Monahan still believes we must not preclude making the first move ourselves altogether. An account published today on By Common Consent provides a rather embarrassing tale. The individual, a college professor, was not in the habit of sharing the Gospel with his students. It came back to bite him; here's part of what he wrote:

...A few years ago, I had a former student email me, a bit out of the blue. She had graduated about six years before, but I remembered her well. She had been a stage manager when I directed the school play, and we had a fair number of quite serious conversations. In this email, she explained that something had happened to her that she wanted to share with me. As you’ve already guessed, she had joined the LDS church, and she wanted to share her testimony with me. She wrote that the gospel would help me find the answers and (I remember the quotation very well) ‘leave my confusion behind.’ I sheepishly returned her email, explaining that I had been a member of the church when she knew me, although perhaps not very deeply involved with the church at that time...


Being a member missionary simply means we seek out and capitalize upon any opportunities as the Spirit prompts. We are not substituting for the full-time missionaries; instead, we make them more efficient through a form of "pre-screening". We direct missionaries more towards those who have actually displayed some interest in the Gospel; we make their efforts more fruitful. Thus the full-time missionaries can spend less time tracting and more time teaching.

Member missionary work can be as simple as sending an LDS-related attachment to a friend in an e-mail.

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