A_Prayer_for_those_at_Sea_by_Frederick_Daniel_Hardy

Frederick Daniel Hardy, A Prayer for Those at Sea, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons.

DAILY READING

D&C 90:10-11
Moroni 10:10-18

For Younger Missionaries

CONSIDER AS YOU READ

  • Why does the scripture say people will hear in both their own language and tongue? Do you think “language” includes other kinds of communication? Why is it important for people to hear the Gospel in their own tongue?
  • What gifts have you been given for missionary service? Have you ever asked God to reveal your gifts so you might use them to feed His sheep?
  • How can you learn if a person is “religiously restless?”

WHAT ARE NONMEMBERS INTERESTED IN?

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

Four important elements surface in the preparation stage [of a new convert]:

  1. A positive image of Church members. The survey showed that, prior to becoming investigators, 79 percent of the converts studied had a Latter-day Saint friend, neighbor, or colleague whom they respected; 48 percent knew someone who had joined the Church; and 42 percent had Latter-day Saint relatives…. What this means is that personal contact with members is a very important way for nonmembers to learn about the Church before their actual introduction to it. In fact, as a first source of information for nonmembers, “personal contact” far outranked all other media, including printed media, electronic media, and visitors centers and other public media….In other words, personal contact reaches more eventual converts and has a more positive effect than any other effort!…
  2. A kind of restlessness.… [I]t is interesting to note that 34 percent of the LDS converts in this survey had previously joined another church, and a surprising 63 percent had studied at least one other religion—22 percent had studied three or more other religions. Relatively few of these converts had been “very active” in their previous church, while over half called themselves “inactive.” Many said they had felt dissatisfied….What are they restless about? A third said they were restless and dissatisfied about inadequacies in their belief systems and what they understood about the meaning of life, while a smaller percentage said that they felt emotionally unsatisfied. Was it a crisis—such as a death, divorce, or other personal disaster that precipitated the dissatisfaction? Usually not. Only 7 percent said that they felt they had been prepared for conversion by some kind of crisis. The majority who indicated that something specific had prepared them for baptism put their finger squarely on the member-missionary: “I knew a Mormon.”
  3. The importance of prayer in their lives: Seventy-three percent of the respondents in this study considered themselves praying people before becoming investigators. Brother Maxfield feels that this inclination toward prayer is evidence of an already existing and developing relationship with God, and this seems to be consistent with the element of “restlessness” and a desire to find a more satisfying system of beliefs. “The kind of relationship they already have with the Savior or want to have is extremely important,” he said. Later, during the period of actual conversion, prayer typically becomes the single most important factor….
  4. Personal needs and feelings. The researchers gave all those involved in this survey a list of eight things that might be regarded as important to a new convert and asked each person to choose up to four of the most important ones. Overwhelmingly they named (1) a closer relationship with the Lord, (2) being a happier person, (3) being a better person, and (4) being more at peace with themselves. These appear to be much more important than informational kinds of things, such as a knowledge of why we build temples, etc.In other words, in terms of appeal to nonmembers, specific doctrines became subordinate to their perception of how the Church could make them happier and satisfy their desire to improve. Or, as the researchers put it, “What they appreciated most was what benefited them directly.”

This may provide us with an important clue as to what kinds of needs the potential investigator usually has. If the results of this study are correct, perhaps in our “every member a missionary” effort we should concentrate more on pointing out the fruits of gospel living—the power of the Latter-day Saint way of life to make people happy—rather than trying to explain specific doctrines right at first (Lavinia Fielding Anderson, “What Are Nonmembers Interested In?,” Ensign, Oct. 1977, 72–76).

ADDITIONAL MEDIA

The Tender Mercies of the Lord

FOR YOUNGER MISSIONARIES


Gifts of the Spirit

QUESTIONS FOR YOUNGER MISSIONARIES

  • What gifts do you feel you have been given?
  • Are you finding ways to use those gifts?
  • Do you know its okay to pray for gifts that you are willing to use?
  • How can you help others find and develop their gifts?

 

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