Members and Missionaries: Partners in Work of Salvation
Contributed by By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer
“We work together in faith and unity, faith that the Lord will guide our steps and unity with each other and the missionaries, always motivated by our love for Him, our love for one another, and our love for those we serve.” —Neal A. Andersen of the Quorum of Twelve
Church leaders said members and missionaries need to work together as partners in the work of salvation during a worldwide leadership training broadcast June 23.
The broadcast was part of the annual training for new mission presidents, numbering 173 this year, more than ever before, gathered this week at the Provo Missionary Training Center for four days of instruction.
The number of full-time missionaries worldwide has surged from some 52,000 to an unprecedented 70,274 after last October’s announcement that the age of eligibility for service would be lowered. Fifty-eight new missions were created to accommodate the increase, bringing the total to 405.
“All of us must plan for and use this heaven-sent resource in the most productive way possible,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum the Twelve as he conducted the meeting.
“We have asked, ‘What will all these missionaries do?’” said Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve in his address. “Our answer is that they will do the same thing that missionaries have always done; they will follow the Savior Jesus Christ and preach His restored gospel.”
But in this digital age, that will now include the Internet as a method, he said, explaining that for people today, online media are often their main point of contact with others, even close friends.
“During less-productive times of the day—chiefly in the mornings—missionaries will use computers in meetinghouses and other Church facilities to contact investigators and members, work with local priesthood leaders and missionary leaders, receive and contact referrals, follow up on commitments, confirm appointments, and teach principles from [the missionary guide] “Preach My Gospel” using Mormon.org, Facebook, blogs, email, and text messages,” Elder Perry said.
A partnership between full-time missionaries and rank-and-file Church members, including members of stake and ward councils, was the subject of a pre-recorded presentation by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve.
“We work together in faith and unity, faith that the Lord will guide our steps and unity with each other and the missionaries,” he said, “always motivated by our love for Him, our love for one another, and our love for those we serve.”
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of the unified nature of the work of ministering to others.
“Too often, we split the Lord’s work into parts we think are unrelated,” he said. “Whether it is preaching the gospel to non-members, serving with new converts, reactivating less-active members, teaching and strengthening active members, or performing family history and temple activity, the work is indivisible. These are not separate. They are all part of the work of salvation.”
He compared it to a parable in which a father, noticing that a child is missing from a family gathering, immediately goes in search of that child.
“What parent would postpone looking for the child until a handbook was written?” he asked. “Good leaders, like good parents, take action because of love.”
President Packer, in his pre-recorded address, spoke on the subject of teaching. “There are principles that we can learn, among them—perhaps the hardest one to learn—is to live so that you can abandon yourself and not read the script, just depend on the Spirit,” he said.
“Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him,” President Monson declared in his pre-recorded remarks. “He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.”
A video clip illustrated a story from President Monson’s past when he presided over a Church mission in Canada. The branch president in St. Thomas set a goal to have a new church meetinghouse built in his city, then worked with full-time missionaries to meet and convert craftsmen that would be needed to construct the building.
“Within 2.5 years, a site was obtained, a beautiful building was constructed, and an inspired dream became a living reality,” President Monson said in the earlier talk.
“The principle of faith as it pertains to missionary work remains just as true today as it was a half a century ago in the St. Thomas Branch,” President Monson commented.