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The Power of Everyday Missionaries

The Power of Everyday Missionaries is an excellent book by Clayton M. Christensen. Brother Christensen has served as a bishop, a counselor in the Massachusetts Boston Mission presidency, and an area seventy. He teaches at Harvard University, is a well-known management consultant, and has researched and written much on business innovation.

The Power of Everyday Missionaries teaches the what and how of sharing the gospel. It gives great insight and wonderful examples of how each member of the Church can use the opportunities in everyday life to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with our friends and neighbors. I highly recommend the book to all members. Though it focuses mostly on member-missionary efforts, the knowledge and techniques he discusses will also serve to help young people who are preparing for a full-time mission some day.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Blessings of Missionary Work

  • introducing a friend to Jesus Christ“Every time you take someone figuratively by the hand and introduce him or her to Jesus Christ, you will feel how deeply our Savior loves you and loves the person whose hand is in yours.” (p. 1)
  • “Having the missionaries regularly help us as a family teach the gospel to new and old friends through the power of the Holy Ghost has profoundly affected the faith of our five children and brought the Spirit of God into our home.” (p. 6)
  • “Sharing the gospel doesn’t just require that we have the power of God unto the convincing of men. It gives us this power…It doesn’t just demand our purity. It will help us be pure.” (p. 10)

Many People Are Waiting and Ready to Receive the Gospel

  • “The Lord’s statement that the world is “white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4) doesn’t have an expiration date. The world is still ready.” (p. 3)
  • “There are a lot of people with questions. Most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. As a consequence, we [mistakenly] categorize them as not interested in religion.” (p. 30)
  • “People will learn when they are ready to learn. Discovering what questions are on people’s minds about religion helps me to see that I actually am surrounded by many more people who are religious than I had imagined–because they have questions.” (p. 34)

Making the Gospel Part of Our Conversations

  • “Finding people for the missionaries to teach and helping them progress toward baptism can be easy and natural for all of us if we learn how to do this in ways that mirror the mind and the ways of God.” (p. 13)
  • “It is important to view normal conversations with people in probabilistic terms. If 5 percent of people have some latent interest in the LDS Church, and I open a conversational door about the church with twenty people, one of them will express interest–and I can’t judge who it will be. If we open a door to a hundred people, five of them will be interested. This is why it is so important to make the gospel a part of our conversation.” (p. 26)
  • “The Restoration of the gospel allows us to categorize things by ‘truth vs. falsehood’ instead of ‘science vs. religion.’ This has made me unafraid. It helps me to instinctively draw upon concepts from religion to solve problems in business and academia.” (p. 67)
  • coworkers using gospel to solve problems“Just as we have been taught to put footnotes in essays when we use an idea from another person, we should simply be sure that our coworkers understand where the principles came from as we use the gospel to solve problems.” (p. 68)

Open Your Mouth

  • “(Satan) simply needs to convince the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that it is awkward and politically incorrect to talk about God’s plan with others at work.”(p. 53)
  • “Every time I have set a date–first to invite someone, and then to find someone who says yes, God has blessed me to intersect with someone who has accepted my invitation to come into our home to study with the missionaries. “(p. 77)
  • “In the equation that determines whether we can find people for the missionaries to teach, God’s role is constant, not variable. He always keeps His promises. The only variable is whether we have the faith that we will be blessed with miracles if we make commitments to God and then obediently do what we said we would do.” (p. 79)
  • “Each of these members and leaders [examples of successful member missionaries] were entrepreneurs in Zion. They rightly assumed that the power was in their hands to bring to pass much righteousness.” (p. 149)

Sharing the Gospel Online

  • “We realized only a handful of youth during their teenage years have regular opportunities to share their testimonies with nonmembers. We felt that asking them to serve as digital missionaries was a perfect way to help them have regular missionary opportunities and also to help them learn how to better articulate their beliefs.” (p. 86)
  • sharing gospel online youths native tongue“In many ways, the call to be online missionaries is a calling to share the gospel in their (the youth’s) native tongue.” (p. 86)

Helping Investigators Learn and Feel the Spirit

  • “Consider the difference made by a shift in approach. Phil had regularly commanded my dad to get off the porch when the proposal was “Phil, you need the Church.” But when the pitch was, “Phil, the Church needs you,” instantly he said yes.” (p. 37)
  • “Many of us misdiagnose the reason why so many investigators don’t follow through on their commitments to read and ponder the Book of Mormon, to pray to learn if it is true, and to attend church. When investigators repeatedly fail to keep these commitments, we and the missionaries are prone to conclude that the investigators really are not interested. But often investigators don’t do these things because they don’t know how.” (p. 91)
  • “We know that we learn much more when we teach a lesson than when we hear a lesson. We now know that the same principle applies to those who are learning about the restored gospel. They learn it far more deeply when we give them the chance to reach us.” (p. 106)
  • “We can schedule meetings with our investigators in a church building before they come to Sunday services. Given them a tour of the building and tell them what goes on in every (room). …We want them to feel that the church building is a sacred place because people like to return to places that they consider sacred, places where they know they will feel good.” (p. 109)
  • “When our friends are preparing for baptism we should expect temptation and deception to intensify. This means, consequently, that our job as missionaries is to teach our friends how to identify temptation and withstand it.” (p. 112)

Missionary Oriented Wards and Stakes

  • “Every ward in the Church can bring the Spirit into their meetings. But it helps if they know which investigators are coming and what each person needs.” (p. 110)
  • “God trusted the Weston Ward. He knew that when His children prayed to Him for help and guidance, if He could just guide them to the Weston Ward or one of its members, He could trust the members to take it from there.” (p. 140)
  • “Everyone in the branch was brought by a friend, and then they brought friends.They were given responsibility the day after baptism to be proselyting missionaries. …Predictably, not miraculously, hundreds of people accepted baptism, and most of these converts stayed committed to the faith.” (p. 147)
  • “A sense among some in the Church is that obedient Saints are those that follow the programs assiduously, and that innovation is a symptom of rebellion if it hasn’t been ‘approved.’ These Saints [examples of successful member missionaries] followed the Spirit in an unscripted way.” (p. 149)

 

Origins of the Saying “Every Young Man Should Serve a Mission”

Most of you have probably heard many times that in the LDS Church, we expect every worthy young man to fulfill a mission. This is not new, every prophet since President Spencer W. Kimball has repeated that charge. Prior President Kimball, the Church had a large missionary program and many young men and young women served missions. But the expectation that everyone young male member should prepare and serve a mission wasn’t quite as strong then as it is today.

President Kimball’s Landmark Address on Missionary Work

spencerwkimball_thumbIn 1974, President Kimball gave a landmark address that changed the way we Mormons view the missionary service of young men. Thomas S. Monson, then a member of the Quourm of the Twelve Apostles, said President Kimball’s talk “had profound and deep influence on all who heard it.” Elder Monson further said that “the impact of his dynamics as a missionary-oriented person…have set in motion factors which have resulted in one of the greatest upsurges in missionary work that we have ever seen” (Status Report on Missionary Work, Ensign, October 1977).

This is what President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“The question has been often asked, Is the mission program one of compulsion? And the answer, of course, is no. Everyone is given his free agency. The question is asked: Should every young man fill a mission? And the answer of the Church is yes, and the answer of the Lord is yes. Enlarging this answer we say: Certainly every male member of the Church should fill a mission, like he should pay his tithing, like he should attend his meetings, like he should keep his life clean and free from the ugliness of the world and plan a celestial marriage in the temple of the Lord” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Planning for a Full and Abundant Life”, Ensign, May 1974, 86).

Every Prophet Since Then Has Repeated the Call

Since President Kimball’s memorable address, every prophet of the Lord has repeated that message, that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. After President Kimball, came Ezra Taft Benson as the prophet and President of the Church. This is what he said:

“The Lord wants every young man to serve a full-time mission. Currently, only a fifth of the eligible young men in the Church are serving full-time missions. This is not pleasing to the Lord. We can do better. We must do better. Not only should a mission be regarded as a priesthood duty, but every young man should look forward to this experience with great joy and anticipation. What a privilege—what a sacred privilege—to serve the Lord full time for two years with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.

You can do nothing more important. School can wait. Scholarships can be deferred. Occupational goals can be postponed. Yes, even temple marriage should wait until after a young man has served an honorable full-time mission for the Lord.” (Ensign, May 1986, pp. 44–45).

Then Howard W. Hunter became Church President, and this is what he said:

“Earlier prophets have taught that every able, worthy young man should serve a full-time mission. I emphasize this need today” (Howard W. Hunter, “Follow the Son of God”, Ensign, Nov. 1994, 87).

Many of you young people may be too young to remember presidents Kimball, Benson, and Hunter.  But hopefully, many of you still remember President Gordon B. Hinckley. This is what he said:

“I throw out a challenge to every young man within this vast congregation tonight. Prepare yourself now to be worthy to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary. He has said, ‘If ye are prepared ye shall not fear’ (D&C 38:30). Prepare to consecrate two years of your lives to this sacred service. That will in effect constitute a tithe on the first twenty years of your lives” (Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 70; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 51–52).

And of course our living prophet today is President Thomas S. Monson, and he has repeated the call:

“I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. Young men, I admonish you to prepare for service as a missionary. Keep yourselves clean and pure and worthy to represent the Lord” (President Thomas S. Monson, As We Meet Together Again, October 2010).

I hope all young men, if there ever was a doubt, now know with certainty that the prophet of God expects them to serve a mission. As President Kimball said, the Church will never force you to go because that would be contrary to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But full-time missionary service is the duty of every able young man, and we hope you will choose to accept the assignment.

Young men, we need you to be missionaries. Start preparing now. Keep yourself worthy, study the scriptures, learn how to become an effective missionary, and prepare yourself in all other ways to be a representative of the Lord for two years. Serve with honor and faithfulness and the Lord will bless you. May all the young men out there heed this call from the prophet is my prayerful desire.