“Every Member a Missionary” Motto Stands Firm Today
“The idea being that every member of the Church probably has a mother who isn’t in the Church, a father, an uncle, some relative, or he may have a fellow workman in the factory, whose heart prejudice is already removed because of daily contact with members.” —President David O. McKay
In 1897, when President David O. McKay, ninth President of the Church, was a missionary in Great Britain, he and his companion, Peter Gene Johnston, had the opportunity to go door-to-door in a small village outside of Lenark, Scotland, to give tracts or pamphlets about the Church to the residents.
President McKay said of his first experience with tracting, “Brother Johnston let me take one side of the street and as I approached a house I saw a lady standing in the doorway peering at me so you see, I didn’t even have to knock at the door. I greeted her and added, ‘I am a Mormon missionary and I should be pleased if you would accept this gospel tract.’ She put out her hand and took it with a sneer on her face, tore it to three or four bits and threw it on the ground, and said, ‘Good-bye’; and that was the end of our conversation.”
In this community, no one accepted any literature from these missionaries. “It was a discouraging beginning,” President McKay said, “but a good lesson in tracting.”
Years later, President McKay presided over the European Mission from 1922 to 1924. Rather than focusing on previous methods that typically produced fewer results, the missionaries in Great Britain “all decided that they would work that year with the thought that every member should be a missionary—every member a missionary,” President McKay said. “The idea being that every member of the Church probably has a mother who isn’t in the Church, a father, an uncle, some relative, or he may have a fellow workman in the factory, whose heart prejudice is already removed because of daily contact with members.
“And so it was decided before December of that year came each one would put forth effort to bring at least one friend or relative into the Church, and the record stands there today as one of the best that had been achieved for many years.”
With the recent emphasis on the Lord hastening His work, President McKay’s motto, “Every member a missionary,” stands firm as the best way to bring people into the Church. Today he might have added Facebook friends and other social media connections that broaden the network of contacts members have with others.
“Let the members assist missionaries,” President McKay said. “Why? Because it brings about personal contact.” —From an address in a meeting held during the 122nd Annual General Conference of the Church, Salt Lake City, Utah, April 4, 1952, “McKay Scrapbook,” no. 32