Leaders Instruct Missionaries during Video Segments of Worldwide Broadcast

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 22 January 2016

Elder and sister missionaries contact people on the street in Kyoto, Japan.

Article Highlights

  • Missionaries need to be worthy of the Holy Ghost, who is the teacher and testifier of all truth.
  • Being worthy of the Spirit and listening help meet investigators' needs.
  • Testify always, ask for referrals, and treat less-active members like investigators.

In prerecorded video segments shown at the worldwide missionary broadcast, General Authorities and leaders with responsibilities in the Missionary Department interacted with young missionaries—elders and sisters—focusing on the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion, meeting the needs of those whom the missionaries teach, and retention, activation, and working with Church members.

The role of the Holy Ghost in conversion

In the first video segment, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked the missionaries what came to their minds and hearts as they considered the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion.

“I think about how important it is for us to be the vessel for the Lord to bring [the gospel message] unto the hearts of the people,” an elder responded. Elder Bednar posed the question, “Can you take it into the hearts of the people?”

The missionary said the answer is no.

“You can bring truth unto the heart, but you can’t push it into the heart,” Elder Bednar explained. “That is very important to understand. We can bring the message unto the heart, but the investigator has to allow it into their heart.”

Another missionary remarked, “When we are worthy of having the Holy Ghost, we are giving our investigator the best opportunity for it to be carried unto their heart for them to accept it.”

Elder Bednar emphasized, “Your investigators can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. They are not yet in a position to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. You, as baptized members as set-apart servants of the Lord, are entitled to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, as you are clean and worthy and valiant in doing your work, you bring that Spirit with you into the teaching setting.

“Perhaps you have had the experience of people understanding clearly and simply the things that you teach, and when you leave, they become somewhat confused,” Elder Bednar continued. “That’s because the Holy Ghost is not there in such rich abundance as it was when you were with them.”

An image of Elder David A. Bednar appears as he participates in a discussion during a video segment of the worldwide missionary broadcast, which originated from the Conference Center on Wednesday, January 20, 2016.

Missionaries need to be obedient and worthy in order to invite the Holy Ghost into the teaching setting with investigators. The Holy Ghost is the teacher and testifies of all truth unto those who ask, seek, and knock with real intent, Elder Bednar said.

Meeting the needs of those whom the missionaries teach

In the second video segment, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president, began by citing Doctrine and Covenants 100:5–6, which contains the commandment for the Lord’s servants to lift up their voices and the promise that they would not be confounded but it would be given in the very hour or moment what they should say.

“Isn’t that a magnificent promise?” she asked. “But I think that this scripture is really dependent on some things that we need to understand.”

Sister Oscarson cited Doctrine and Covenants 1:21 and 84:85. She asked what could be learned from those passages.

A missionary responded, “I think, again, it goes off of what we were discussing with Elder Bednar, that we are instruments and the Spirit is the converter, and we as missionaries need to be … worthy, and obviously planning for those lessons so that the Spirit can really be the thing that brings to our remembrance what the investigator needs.”

Sister Oscarson asked how missionaries can understand the needs of those they teach.

A sister missionary responded, “First, listening to them and what they say. Because if we’re not listening, … we can’t really know what their needs are specifically.”

Sister missionaries meet with an investigator.

Retention, activation, and working with Church members

In the third video segment, Elder L. Whitney Clayton, senior President in the Presidency of the Seventy, asked how missionaries develop the faith to find people to teach.

Responses from the missionaries included action, prayer, and a good attitude.

Elder Clayton presented the statement, “We always find when we teach, and we teach when we find,” and then asked the missionaries what that means to them.

“I think always testifying, always looking for opportunities to share the gospel with them, and when you do have someone you’re teaching, always asking them for referrals or who they know that we can go and share this message with,” an elder responded.

Elder Clayton displayed a bar graph indicating that the most opportunities to teach result from missionaries’ own efforts, but the most baptisms come from the combined efforts of missionaries and Church members.

“Now I want to make one thing clear,” he said. “We don’t mean to diminish our own responsibility to find. Always still means always. So we want to open our mouth constantly, to be using every opportunity we can find.”

In asking Church members for referrals, it is important to ask specific questions about people they know who might be blessed by the gospel message, he emphasized.

Missionaries and Church leaders participate in a worldwide missionary broadcast, which originated from the Conference Center on Wednesday, January 20, 2016.

In the video segment, Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Missionary Department discussed with the 16 missionaries the subject of working with less-active and part-member families.

“Sometimes we call this the gold mine,” he said, explaining that such people have at some point stood in a font wearing white clothes on the occasion of their baptism.

“It was a happy day for them, and now they’re not with us,” he said. “We need to rekindle that faith.”

One way to do that, he said, is to treat them like an investigator.

“With a new investigator, would you just walk up to their door and say, ‘Would you come to church next Sunday?’ But we do that a lot of times with the less-active … without teaching them a lesson or allowing them to feel the Spirit.”