Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sharing the Gospel

"The intensity of our desire to share the gospel is a great indicator of the extent of our personal conversion." Elder Dallin H. OaksEnsign, November 2001, page 7.

“Missionary work is but home teaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to Church members”
Pres. Harold B. Lee, Improvement Era, Dec. 1964, 1078

A month or two ago, I gave a talk in sacrament meeting about sharing the gospel, so I thought I'd share some of it here. It is important for all members to share the gospel for at least three reasons. One, it strengthens our own testimony as we verbalize it and analyze how to explain it. Two, it can help others feel the Spirit, learn about our Heavenly Father's plan and possibly join the church. Three, there are many people who are not at all interested in joining the church, but are interested in learning about what we really believe instead of what others say we believe. We can help dispel untrue stories.

 “1. Of investigators found through media campaigns, about 1 to 2 percent are baptized.

2. Of investigators found through the missionaries’ efforts, about 2 to 3 percent are baptized.

3. Of investigators found through the members, 20 to 30 percent are baptized.

…. Whenever there is a member who introduces an investigator, there is an immediate support system.

“The full-time missionaries may do the actual teaching, but the member, wherever possible, will back up that teaching with the offering of his home to carry on this missionary service. He will bear sincere testimony of the divinity of the work. He will be there to answer questions when the missionaries are not around. He will be a friend to the convert who is making a big and often difficult change.” 
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, The Role of Members in Conversion,” Ensign, Mar 2003, 52–58

Missionaries are set apart to teach gospel and study it daily, but as we heard in the numbers, it is more effective for them to spend their time teaching the people we bring to church than it is for them to spend all day tracting.
People who come into the church can experience two different conversions. One is a spiritual conversion where they believe the things they learn and feel the Spirit testify of the truth. The missionaries help investigators through this conversion. The other conversion is a social conversion. It is our duty as members to welcome investigators whether we invited them, the missionaries brought them or they decided to visit on their own. Whether they stay active in the church or not has much to do with how welcomed they feel.
Our job is to bring them and love them, the missionaries can teach them. Invite them to activities, watch a church DVD at your home, have dinner with the missionaries in your home.
“The 12-hour-a-day, heavy-duty effort we’ll leave to the full-time missionaries, but why should they have all the fun? We are entitled to a seat at the abundant table of testimony as well, and fortunately a place has been reserved there for each member of the Church.

Indeed, one of the axioms of our day is that no mission or missionaries can ultimately succeed without the loving participation and spiritual support of the local members working with them in a balanced effort. If today you are taking notes on a stone tablet, chisel that one in deeply. I promise you won’t ever have to erase it. Initial investigators may come from many different sources, but those who are actually baptized and who are firmly retained in activity in the Church come overwhelmingly from friends and acquaintances known to members of the Church.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, ‘Witnesses unto Me’, Liahona, Jul 2001, 15–17

For me, the desire to share the gospel started when I was young. When I met someone, I would wonder if I promised them in the premortal life that I would find them and share the gospel with them. That thought helped me to share the gospel with many people.

In the middle of first grade, I moved and started a new school. I really liked my new teacher Mrs. Lawson and wanted to share the gospel with her. I was shy, but sneaky. We had free reading time during class where we could read a book from the class, the library or home, so I started taking my Book of Mormon. She asked me what I was reading. Then on Fridays we had music time where any of us in the class could take a record from home so I took My Turn on Earth. Then after talking to my parents about it, I got very brave and invited her to FHE. I don't remember the lesson, but my parents talked to her afterward. I really hoped she would be baptized, but she decided not to and then we moved. I don't know what ever happened to her.

As we are friends with others who are not members of the church, we can teach them about our beliefs just by how we live. Stacie, a friend from high school in Ohio, sometimes attended church, young women and even early morning seminary with me. She decided not to be baptized, but has told me of many times when someone has said something untrue about the church or its beliefs and she has been able to correct them because of the things she learned.

A lot has changed since the time I took the record to school to help share the gospel. The internet can be used for bad things, but it can also be very useful. Here are two quotes from

“Since the launch of the official Facebook page for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in May 2008, the Church has increased its Facebook presence over the last two years, adding nearly two dozen official Facebook pages for everything from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to LDS Technology.

As the Church enhances its presence in the social media world, members have the opportunity to share their testimonies online, according to the promptings of the Spirit, with others. In 2007, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited members to “join the conversation” by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration.

Joining the Church’s official Facebook pages, linking to them, or commenting on them are effective ways to do this. Find the list of official pages by visiting the official Facebook page for the Church and clicking on the “Official Pages” tab.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, recently joined a growing list of Church leaders who have encouraged members to consider sharing the gospel online as appropriate. “With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before.”2 “Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Liahona and Ensign, May 2011.

To go along with the online gospel sharing, I’ll read one more thing for

“With a blog, you have an even greater opportunity to share your beliefs. Talk about your day-to-day life. Remember that some who read your blog may not understand traditional “Mormon jargon”; be careful to be clear in your writing. Share what you learn when you go to Church. Share your family home evening experiences. Share how the Lord has blessed you. Bear your testimony where appropriate and if you are prompted by the Spirit.”

Like some of you, I have a blog and it’s lots of fun. I share pictures of my kids for my family and also recipes and music, but I also use my blog to share the gospel. I post quotes from talks I’ve heard that I like, visiting teaching message thoughts, family home evening lessons. At first when I started blogging, I was nervous that I would get comments from people against the church. Instead I have received good comments from people all over the world, many are members of the church, but not everyone. Even if readers don’t feel the Spirit and aren’t converted, at least they now know more about what we believe and what Latter-day Saints are like. I appreciate being able to have so many ways to share the gospel.

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