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Making Home an MTC

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Rebecca Irvine, author of MTC at Home: Preparing the Lord’s Future Missionaries. We welcome her to our family of guest post authors.[/colored_box]

“Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre–missionary training center (MTC). Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation. That is influence; that is power.” (Julie Beck, Mother’s Who Know)

The Missionary Training Center (MTC) offers a vigorous instruction and preparation program for new missionaries. In 2012, in an effort to prepare for higher numbers of missionaries, Church leaders cut back on MTC training time by a third. This shifted, in part, the impetus of preparing future missionaries from the MTC to parents and leaders.

Missionary Training Center - Missionary MormonAd

Missionary Training Center: Now is the time to prepare. Home is the place to start. (See D&C 38: 40) From the New Era magazine, March 2007.

While discussing his future missionary service, my 16-year-old son revealed his biggest fear as having to teach doctrine to people. “I’m scared to have to teach people things I am just learning myself,” he noted. In learning about this fear, my husband and I determined we needed to help prepare our children to be confident and competent missionaries. In doing so we trust in the scripture, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).

Following are five things we are doing to help make our home a missionary training center:

Be Familiar with PMG

The primary training manual for missionaries is Preach My Gospel (PMG). It is available online for free, or can be purchased for low cost in bookstores (in both regular or mini format). Missionaries use this manual to:

  • Learn how to find investigators,
  • Know what to teach,
  • Know how to resolve investigator concerns,
  • Recognize how to improve themselves,
  • And understand how to communicate with their companion.

Parents can use PMG in the home as either part of family scripture study time, or as the basis for FHE lessons. By letting teens lead in these teaching situations, they also will become more familiar with this key handbook.

Use Role Playing Techniques

Missionaries spend several hours each day in the MTC practicing the PMG lessons in various role play scenarios. As I have used role playing techniques at home and as a college professor, I have found most people feel awkward at first. However, practicing definitely helps. Parents can use role play on a variety of occasions—at the dinner table, during FHE, or even in the car. Ideas of role play scenarios to try include:

  • Inviting (to be baptized, to read the Book of Mormon, to attend Church)
  • Resolving a concern (investigator is not sure Joseph Smith is a prophet)
  • Teaching a gospel concept (have them role play teaching you what they were taught at Church on Sunday)

Daily Family Scripture Study

[two_third last=”no”]Continuous regular scripture study will help build a foundation of gospel knowledge, as well as strengthen cohesive bonds of family unity. Despite these incredible blessings, many families find scripture study difficult. The key is to be flexible but persistent. Many parents prefer to get scriptures done first thing in the morning. But with hectic and varied a.m. schedules, morning study does not work well for every family. Our family has had to re-evaluate our scripture study time each new school year. We experiment until we find a time that works at least five days a week.[/two_third][one_third last=”yes”][colored_box color=”green”]Also see the post by Teresa Osorio about the Best Mission Prep Class Ever: Reading the Book of Mormon with Your Children or Jimmy and Heather’s experience of Reading the Book of Mormon as a Family.[/colored_box][/one_third]

Weekly FHE

Family Home Evening (FHE) is the best opportunity parents have to give their children opportunities to teach. The current youth curriculum the Church is using, Come, Follow Me, applies strategies designed to involve teens more actively in the teaching and learning process. If parents use the same type of teaching techniques the benefits are threefold for youth: stronger testimonies, more teaching experience, and deeper understanding of Gospel doctrine. All three of these blessings help prepare youth to be missionaries.

Develop Social Skills

Missionaries spend much of their days interacting with the public. In preparation for this, parents can plan opportunities for their children to improve social skills. Behavior during dinner appointments, interaction with mission and ward leaders, and the ability to handle rejection are some abilities to consider.

Technology plays a role strongly related to missionary social skills. Recent studies have shown texting causes apprehension in using verbal communication among youth and adolescents. Delaying or limiting cell phone usage among teens may help to prevent this. In addition, modern missionaries are often required to use social media in their service. Parents should help their youth understand both how to use common social media sites as well as to exercise proper etiquette online.

Reading The Bible

the bible

The Bible is an extremely valuable tool in missionary work. It provides a common foundation between Mormon missionaries and other Christians and other people that believe the Bible to be the word of God. By reading the Bible, current and future missionaries can come to understand its doctrines and history, and gain a testimony of gospel of Jesus Christ that is taught within its pages.

Love and Revere The Bible

I feel for the Bible what Abraham Lincoln expressed when he said: “This Great Book … is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong” (Speeches and Writings, 1859–1865 [1989], 628).

I also echo the words of the Lord’s apostle, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, when he said, “We love and revere the Bible…The Bible is the word of God. It is always identified first in our canon, our ‘standard works.’” (from “My Words . . . Never Cease”, General Conference, April 2008)

Reading the Bible Cover to Cover

Earlier this year I finished reading the Bible cover to cover. It is a feat that only took me about 15 years 🙂  I had read many parts of the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, throughout my youth, in seminary and in family scripture study. On my mission, when I was in the MTC, I decided I should read the Bible in its entirety. I started with the New Testament, and actually finished that before I left the MTC.

Then, when I got to the mission field, I started on the Old Testament. I think, by the end of my mission, I got through the first five books of Moses. When I got home from the mission, I neglected to continue reading it straight through, favoring instead the reading of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures.  After graduating from BYU, I picked up where I left off, and got over half way through the Bible. But once again, I got side tracked due to life and circumstances.

When I began working for the LDS Church a couple of years ago, I decided that I better finish my quest.  I was riding the bus to and from work each day and this gave me time to get through the remainder of the Bible. It was not easy to read. There were many chapters that I didn’t understand and were tough to get through. But I am grateful that I did it. I know the Bible is the word of God, and I can say that now with more power than ever before, having actually read every word in it.

President Kimball Read the Entire Bible as a Boy

When the 12th President of the LDS Church, Spencer W. Kimball, was a young 14-year-old boy, at the counsel of a Church leader he read the Bible from cover to cover, and was forever grateful that he completed that goal. Here is what he said:

“Let me tell you of one of the goals that I made when I was still but a lad. When I heard a Church leader from Salt Lake City tell us at conference that we should read the scriptures, and I recognized that I had never read the Bible, that very night at the conclusion of that very sermon I walked to my home a block away and climbed up in my little attic room in the top of the house and lighted a little coal-oil lamp that was on the little table, and I read the first chapters of Genesis. A year later I closed the Bible, having read every chapter in that big and glorious book.

“I found that this Bible that I was reading had in it 66 books, and then I was nearly dissuaded when I found that it had in it 1,189 chapters, and then I also found that it had 1,519 pages. It was formidable, but I knew if others did it that I could do it.

“I found that there were certain parts that were hard for a 14-year-old boy to understand. There were some pages that were not especially interesting to me, but when I had read the 66 books and 1,189 chapters and 1,519 pages, I had a glowing satisfaction that I had made a goal and that I had achieved it.

“Now I am not telling you this story to boast; I am merely using this as an example to say that if I could do it by coal-oil light, you can do it by electric light. I have always been glad I read the Bible from cover to cover” (in Ensign, May 1974, 88).

The Holy Bible is a Miracle

Just like it is important for every missionary to gain their own testimony of the Book of Mormon, every current and future Mormon missionary should read and study the Bible and gain their own witness of its truthfulness. It teaches of Jesus Christ, and how to live worthy to return to our Heavenly home. A deeper knowledge of the Bible will help missionaries and members alike come unto Jesus Christ. As Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has said:

“The Holy Bible is a miracle! It is a miracle that the Bible’s 4,000 years of sacred and secular history were recorded and preserved by the prophets, apostles, and inspired churchmen. It is a miracle that we have the Bible’s powerful doctrine, principles, poetry, and stories. But most of all, it is a wonderful miracle that we have the account of the life, ministry, and words of Jesus, which was protected through the Dark Ages and through the conflicts of countless generations so that we may have it today. It is a miracle that the Bible literally contains within its pages the converting, healing Spirit of Christ, which has turned men’s hearts for centuries, leading them to pray, to choose right paths, and to search to find their Savior.”

“…My brothers and sisters, we must help all people, including our own members, understand the power and importance of the Holy Bible. The Bible is scripture that leads us and all mankind to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. May God grant us the desire and capacity to accept and live His teachings.” (The Miracle of the Holy Bible, General Conference, April 2007)

Below is a video excerpt from Elder Ballard’s talk, The Miracle of the Holy Bible.