Saturday, November 9, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson 41: Every Member a Missionary

This year's course of study has taken us from the very earliest days of the church as just a handful of people gathered together in a small farmhouse in New York. It was probably hard for them to imagine the future but as these scriptures illustrate the Lord knew exactly what the future held for the restored church.

Doctrine and Covenants 1:30
Doctrine and Covenants 65:1-6
Doctrine and Covenants 109:72-74

What does the analogy of the stone suggest to us about the work in the latter days?
In what ways is the Church coming out of obscurity throughout the world?

As we look at 3 Latter-Day prophets missionary efforts what do we learn about the Lord and the way He works?

President McKay gave renewed emphasis to missionary work by urging every member to make a commitment to bring at least one new member into the Church each year. He became well known for his repeated admonition: “Every member a missionary.”

In 1952, in an effort to increase the effectiveness of full-time missionaries, the first official proselyting plan was sent to missionaries throughout the world. It was titled A Systematic Program for Teaching the Gospel. It included seven missionary discussions that emphasized teaching by the Spirit and taught clearly the nature of the Godhead, the plan of salvation, the Apostasy and Restoration, and the importance of the Book of Mormon. The number of people converted to the Church throughout the world increased dramatically. In 1961 Church leaders convened the first seminar for all mission presidents, who were taught to encourage families to fellowship their friends and neighbors and then have these people taught by missionaries in their homes. A language training program for newly called missionaries was established in 1961, and later a missionary training center was constructed. 
Spencer W. Kimball’s first address as President was to the Church’s regional representatives. A participant in the meeting recalled that only moments after the talk began, “we became alert to an astonishing spiritual presence, and we realized that we were listening to something unusual, powerful, different. … It was as if he were drawing back the curtains which covered the purpose of the Almighty and inviting us to view with him the destiny of the gospel and the vision of its ministry.”
It was here that President Kimball sounded the now famous slogan, ‘We must lengthen our stride.’” He admonished his audience to increase their commitment to proclaiming the gospel to the nations of the earth. He also called for a large increase in the number of missionaries who could serve in their own countries. At the conclusion of the sermon, President Ezra Taft Benson declared, “Truly, there is a prophet in Israel.”
Under President Kimball’s dynamic leadership, many more members served full-time missions and Missionary training centers were established in Brazil, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, and Japan.

Thomas S. Monson just announced last year that the age for missionaries to be able to enter the mission field would be lowered. In just one year the missionary force world-wide increased from 55,000 missionaries to 80,000 active missionaries. There are now 15 Missionary Training Centres across the world and 405 missions.




How can we as members be missionaries?
How do we lengthen our stride?
How do we become a part of this great work?
I know that various programs and plans have been initiated over the years and many Saints have been successful as they have followed them, but many Saints have felt frustrated too. That's why I like this video.

video

What lesson do we learn from this video about missionary work?
Let me relate a personal experience that echoes the story in the video.
As the manager of a workforce, I had certain guidelines handed down by the Human Resources department that included not proactively promoting religion at work. I wondered how I could share the gospel with people in that kind of setting under those constraints when most of my life was spent at work and the rest was spent at church or with church friends and family.

I knew I must but I did not know how.
So I would take my Book of Mormon to work and try to read it during lunch times. This was not some great master plan I had developed. It was more Plan B while I tried to think of a better way to open my mouth. Invariably, I never found time to take lunch and read and so the Book of Mormon sat on my desk.
Also not part of any master plan but more out of curiosity I would make a point of asking employees on the Monday what they had done over the weekend. Without hesitation, after they had recounted their exploits, they would return the question. I noticed it was a great opportunity to share my church attendance experiences.
Many weeks and months passed without any noticeable effect of what I felt were my rather lacklustre missionary efforts. Then one Monday, I asked an employee, Sharon what she had done that weekend. Sure enough, she then returned the favour and asked me the same question. For one reason or another, I mentioned very specifically that I had attended my High Priest Group. I had not intended to say that but out it popped. I thought nothing more of it. But unbeknownst to me she was intrigued that her boss held a title that she associated with days long long ago in the Bible. It seemed to eat away at her, this niggling thought that she should ask more. Other events in her life also challenged her to seek the same happiness that she saw in my family life. One day Sharon approached me in my office. As she broached the subject of religion her eyes welled up and I knew that she was whom I had been sent to share the gospel with. I bore her my testimony of the happiness the gospel brings to those that live it. I gave her the copy of the Book of Mormon still sat there on my desk.

Not long after, Sharon embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ and was baptized. She was like a sponge, she just wanted to learn more and more, she attended weekly institute and private scripture study sessions with my family and today is serving in a leadership position in the church, helping others to live the gospel.
The Lord prepared the way. I knew all I had to do was find a way to open my mouth and the Lord would do the rest. Doctrine and Covenants 33:7-9.
Sometimes we can be frustrated and busy and maybe even feel thwarted in our missionary efforts but if we keep at it great blessings await not only those you share the gospel with but us too!
Doctrine and Covenants 18:15-16

What do we learn from stories like this?

At a seminar for new Mission Presidents held in June 2013 Elder L. Tom Perry added the concluding comments: “This is the most remarkable era in the history of the Church. This is something that ranks with the great events that have happened in past history, like the First Vision, like the gift of the Book of Mormon, like the Restoration of the gospel, like all of the things that build that foundation for us to go forward and teach in our Father in Heaven’s kingdom.”

As President Henry B. Eyring has said, “Whatever our age, capacity, Church calling, or location, we are as one called to the work to help Him in His harvest of souls.”

The church is coming out of obscurity across the world. What part are you playing in the church coming out of obscurity in your neighbourhood, in your city, in your workplace?

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