Full-Purpose Missionaries Needed to Retain Converts
Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer
- Technology makes it easier for missionaries to keep in touch with those they meet on their missions.
- Missionaries have the responsibility to keep in touch with their converts and encourage them throughout their lives.
“We have a lifelong responsibility as missionaries not just to bring someone into the gospel, which is the way it used to be, but to help them endure throughout their lives.” —Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy
This is the greatest day there has ever been to be engaged in missionary work, said Elder David F. Evans as he spoke to couples on the subject of “being full-purpose missionaries.”
Elder Evans led a discussion January 13, the first day of the 2015 Seminar for New MTC Presidents and Visitors’ Center Directors held at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
From the discussion, based on instruction given last June at the Seminar for New Mission Presidents, being a full-purpose missionary was defined as “beginning with the end in mind as new converts are helped to grow and develop in the gospel and build the kingdom of God.”
“In today’s world, missionaries have remarkable tools, tools we didn’t have as young missionaries,” Elder Evans remarked. “We would baptize people, we would love them, and they would love us, but we would go home, and the distance in many cases created a barrier.
“In today’s world, with the use of social media and low-cost communication tools such as Skype, missionaries have just as great of an opportunity to maintain contact with their converts as when they were in the mission field themselves.”
Elder Evans spoke of staying in touch through his Facebook page with people he taught in Japan more than 40 years ago. As they have married and had children and grandchildren, he has come to love their families as well.
“We have a lifelong responsibility as missionaries not just to bring someone into the gospel, which is the way it used to be, but to help them endure throughout their lives.”
Citing Moses 1:39, he said the work of salvation is defined as bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of mankind. He differentiated between immortality, which is living forever, and eternal life, which is to become exalted.
Baptism, he said, is an ordinance of salvation, while the temple ordinances pertain to exaltation. Missionaries today have the opportunity of helping converts receive both kinds of ordinances.
He cited chapter 5 of Handbook 2: Administering the Church, which defines the work of salvation as member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, and teaching the gospel.
“Missionaries today are truly involved in all the work of salvation,” he said. “This is a wonderful time.”
He referred to the definition of missionary work on page 1 of the missionary guide Preach My Gospel: “My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is phrased in that way, Elder Evans said, because it implies a process involving effort over time on the part of the one receiving the Holy Ghost.
Missionaries today can help their converts after baptism to receive the Holy Ghost, he said.
He explained that enduring to the end involves developing a pattern of righteous living leading to receiving the temple ordinances.
“Missionaries today help in every part of this work of salvation, and they need to be full-purpose,” he emphasized.