Giuseppe Craffonara, Christus, Photo by Buchhändler, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


D&C 100:2–8
Matthew 10:19–20

For Younger Missionaries


  • Is it possible that you live in the neighborhood you do, and work where you work because there are people there the Lord knows you can reach?
  • When was the last time you felt the Holy Ghost bearing record of what you say?
  • How do you reconcile admonitions to prepare to declare God’s word with those that direct us to take no thought for what we will say?


From a study of 226 converts baptized in the United States in July 1975

To emphasize particular doctrines of the Church at the very beginning, when the nonmember may not have a primary interest in them, may be to defeat our intentions. For example, some features of our beliefs were classified by the eventual converts in this study as “very difficult” to believe at first. These include the Joseph Smith story (difficult for 22 percent); work for the dead, progression to godliness, and the spirit world (combined for 21 percent); the Church’s teachings on blacks, women, and the priesthood (13 percent); the Book of Mormon (10 percent).

“It’s obvious,” the researchers observed, “that investigators need to understand and accept all of these teachings—especially the role of Joseph Smith. But the way we present it can sometimes cause ‘message shock.’”…

What was most impressive, most important, and easiest to believe for new converts?

The Plan of Salvation.

[P]erhaps we can soften “message shock” by showing, for example, how the Joseph Smith story fits into the plan of salvation. Linking this story to the concept of the plan of salvation can be especially effective, for in this study the plan of salvation turned out to be not only the most impressive teaching, but also the easiest one to believe and the one that played the most important part in the converts’ conversions.

Perhaps it will be argued that people gain the deepest testimonies of principles they have the most difficulty accepting. Not so, according to this study. For 94 percent of the converts there was no overlap at all between teachings they identified as the hardest to accept and the teachings they felt were the most important. “They’re taking the hard parts on faith, just the way members do, and building their foundation on what is giving them the strongest immediate confirmation,” the researchers said.

The implications for member missionaries: concentrate on helping the investigator in every reasonable way to become active in developing his own spiritual resources and in living the gospel, rather than taking him over difficult doctrinal terrain before his faith has been built through other meaningful teachings.

An observation about prayer during the conversion stage may be important. Converts said that they felt the Spirit most on two occasions: during private prayer, and during missionary visits. It dropped to a mere 5 percent during times when they were praying aloud with others present, as at the end of missionary discussions. “Naturally,” said Brother Maxfield, “they’re under observation, they’re pressured to perform the way you want them to, and they’re paying more attention to using the right words than to what the Spirit is trying to tell them. Stress instead that they pray themselves about the items of discussion. They may need some instruction about how to pray—but remember that most of them are already praying people.”

The same survey also gave another reason for helping nonmember friends come to church—many said that they felt the Spirit most strongly during Sunday services. (It was ranked third, behind prayer and the missionary visits, as a time when the influence of the Spirit was felt.)

Anything else we can learn as member missionaries? “Yes,” said the researchers a little ruefully. “According to a survey of the general Church population, only 55 percent of the adults in the Church attempt to share the gospel with someone in any given year. Compare that with new converts: 85 percent of them attempt to share the gospel, and their average time in the Church was less than three months (Lavinia Fielding Anderson, “What Are Nonmembers Interested In?,” Ensign, Oct. 1977).


The St. Thomas Branch


The Sons of Mosiah
Become Missionaries


  • Can you think of choices you will have to make between being a missionary and doing something else?
  • Did you notice that the sons of Mosiah had to repent before they went on their missions? How can you live a worthy life to be a missionary?
  • Can we expect the Spirit of the Lord to be with us in missionary work if we are not trying out best to be obedient to His commandments?


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