“Every Member a Missionary”

Lesson 41 – D&C 1:4-5, 30; 65; 88:81; 109:72-74; Our Heritage, pages 116-17, 124-25

 

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “When I read Church history, I am amazed at the boldness of the early brethren as they went out into the world. They seemed to find a way… As early as 1837 the Twelve were in England fighting Satan, in Tahiti in 1844, Australia in1851, Iceland [in] 1853, Italy [in] 1850, and also in Switzerland, Germany, Tonga, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Czechoslovakia, China, Samoa, New Zealand, South America, France, and Hawaii in 1850. …Much of this early proselytizing was done while the leaders were climbing the Rockies and planting the sod and starting their homes.  It is faith and super faith” (Ensign, Oct. 1974, 6).

 

Even in the early years of this dispensation, Church leaders sought to meet the Lord’s charge to take the gospel to all the world. President Kimball had faith in our ability to continue the effort successfully: “Somehow,…I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors.  That is my faith” (Ensign, Oct. 1974, 7).  This lesson will discuss some efforts in progress to continue the missionary efforts.

 

The Church is coming forth out of obscurity

Past lessons in this year’s study have shown that the Church began small and in obscurity.  Now, almost every country in the world is represented in the Church’s membership. There has been a dramatic increase in the visibility of the Church that would have been difficult to imagine had we lived during those early years when the members struggled, suffered persecution, and endured poverty.  But the Lord revealed the destiny of His Church to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

·        D&C 1:30. Leaders of the Church shall have power to bring it out of obscurity

·        D&C 65:1-6.  The gospel will fill the whole earth.  The recipients of the gospel will be prepared for the Second Coming.

·        D&C 109:72-74. The Church will come out of the wilderness and “shine forth…clear as the sun.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540). 

 

Latter-day Prophets have challenged the membership to take the gospel to all the world

The missionary efforts of each individual member are one important way of moving the gospel forward.  We have been challenged by our latter-day prophets to increase our participation and effectiveness in missionary service.  President David O. McKay became well known for the saying: “Every member a missionary.” (See Our Heritage, Pages 116-17.)

 

President Spencer W. Kimball became identified with the challenge to members to “lengthen your stride”.  He requested the prayers of the Saints to have the Lord open new lands for the missionaries and help us prepare sufficient numbers of missionaries to take advantage of the new opportunities.   President Kimball addressed the regional representatives about the missionary opportunity and we are seeing his vision come to fruition. (See Our Heritage, 125).

 

President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about our responsibility to faithfully do the work: “Now what of the future? What of the years ahead?  It looks promising indeed.  People are beginning to see us for what we are and for the values we espouse…  If we will go forward, never losing sight of our goal, speaking ill of no one, living the great principles we know to be true, this cause will roll on in majesty and power to fill the earth. Doors now closed to the preaching of the gospel will be opened.  The Almighty, if necessary, may have to shake the nations to humble them and cause them to listen to the servants of the living God. Whatever is needed will come to pass.  The key to the great challenges facing us and to the success of the work will be the faith of all who call themselves Latter-day Saints” (Ensign, Nov. 1997, 68). 

 

“Every member a missionary.”

D&C 1:4-5 and D&C 88:81 teach our responsibility to share the gospel.  Think about what you personally can do to share the gospel this week.  Some of the ways we can support the work include:

·        Prepare to serve a full-time mission.  President Kimball said: “When I ask for more missionaries, I am not asking for more testimony-barren or unworthy missionaries.  I am asking that we start earlier and train our missionaries better in every branch and every ward in the world… Young people [should] understand that it is a great privilege to go on a mission and that they must be physically well, mentally well, spiritually well, and that ‘the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance’ [D&C 1:31]” (Ensign, Oct. 1974, 7).

Parents should help youth prepare by teaching them to be worthy and ready for a mission call at the proper time, sharing missionary experiences with them, teaching them of the blessings of missionary work, telling your own conversion story to them, starting missionary funds for them, and teaching them to work hard.

·        Serve a full-time mission.  Who fulfill a full-time call to service? Elder David B. Haight counseled: “The goal of every physically able couple in the Church, just as it is for every nineteen-year-old young man in the Church, should be to serve a mission.  No finer example can be given, no finer testimony can be borne by parents to children or grandchildren, than through missionary service in their mature years” (Ensign, May 1987, 61).

·        Support the full-time missionaries.  President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “My brethren and sisters, we can let the missionaries try to do it alone, or we can help them.  If they do it alone, they will knock on doors day after day and the harvest will be meager. Or as members we can assist them in finding and teaching investigators” (Ensign, May 1999, 107).  We can support missionaries by remembering them in our prayers, writing encouraging letters, contributing to the missionary funds, and by helping find and teach investigators in our area.

·        Share the gospel throughout your life as a part of your normal daily life:

ü      Set a good example for family, friends, neighbors, and work associates

ü      Share copies of the Book of Mormon

ü      Give referrals to the full-time missionaries and have them taught in your home

ü      Share your feelings about the gospel with people

ü      Invite people to Church meetings, activities, socials, and firesides

ü      Invite people to family home evenings and to neighborhood activities

ü      Invite people to visit the Family History Center with you

ü      Invite friends to baptismal services where the Spirit can touch them

 

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “It seems to me that the Lord chose his words when he said [that the gospel must go to] ‘every nation’, ‘every land’, ‘uttermost bounds of the earth’, ‘every tongue’, ‘every people’, ‘every soul’, ‘all the world’, ‘many lands’. Surely there is significance in these words!… I wonder if we are doing all we can. Are we complacent in our approach to teaching all the world?… Are we prepared to lengthen our stride?  To enlarge our vision?” (Ensign, Oct. 1974, 5).

 

President Kimball also said: “Our great need, and our great calling, is to bring to the people of this world the candle of understanding to light their way out of obscurity and darkness and into the joy, peace, and truths of the gospel.  I believe we must not weary in our well-doing. I believe it is time again to ask ourselves the question, what can I do to help take the gospel to others and to the inhabitants of the world?” (Ensign, Feb. 1983, 5).

 

President Hinckley has asked each priesthood leader to be responsible for finding and friendshipping investigators, see that it is discussed in sacrament, and assure that priesthood, Relief Society, Young Women, Primary, ward council, and stake council meetings be used to plan member missionary activities.

 

Every new convert needs to be nurtured by the members

President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Any investigator worthy of baptism becomes a convert worthy of saving” (Ensign, May 1999, 109). At the current rate of growth, hundreds of thousands of new converts are baptized into the Church.  It is our individual and collective responsibility to assure that each one is nurtured and strengthened by all of us.

 

President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about the difficulty new converts have in staying active: “It is not an easy thing to become a member of this Church.  In most cases it involves setting aside old habits, leaving old friends and associations, and stepping into a new society which is different and somewhat demanding” (Ensign, May 1999, 47).

 

President Hinckley taught what we can do to help every convert to the Church:

“…every new convert needs three things: 1. A friend in the Church to whom he can constantly turn, who will walk beside him, who will answer his questions, who will understand his problems.  2. An assignment. Activity is the genius of this Church.  It is the process by which we grow.  Faith and love for the Lord are like the muscle of my arm.  If I use them, they grow stronger. If I put them in a sling, they become weaker.  Every convert deserves a responsibility…  3. Every convert must be ‘nourished by the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4). It is imperative that he or she become affiliated with a priesthood quorum or the Relief Society, the Young Women, the Sunday School, or the Primary. He or she must be encouraged to come to sacrament meeting” (Ensign, May 1999, 108).  

 

The Lord is at the head of the Church. He is opening the way for spreading the gospel to all the world.  We are urged to lengthen our stride, prepare for full-time missions, and share the gospel with our neighbors and work associates. Once someone chooses to become a member, we need to encourage, nurture, and strengthen them as brothers and sisters of great value.

 

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