Missionary Couples Told to Help Missionaries Grow Spiritually

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 29 January 2014

Elder W. Craig Zwick displays what he says are the tools that should be used in teaching missionaries: the scriptures and the missionary guide Preach My Gospel.  Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

“In the brief time you’re with your missionaries, there’s a spiritual development that will absolutely change your life and theirs.” —Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy

Elder W. Craig Zwick told departing missionary couples, “In the brief time you’re with your missionaries, there’s a spiritual development that will absolutely change your life and theirs.”

Elder Zwick of the Seventy addressed a January 15 session of the 2014 Seminar for New Missionary Training Center Presidents and Visitors’ Center Directors and their wives on the topic of teaching missionaries.

Displaying the scriptures and a copy of the missionary guide Preach My Gospel, Elder Zwick said, “These are our tools. Don’t divert from them. Use them in teaching.”

He displayed a graph with the horizontal axis representing the time they spend with missionaries and the vertical axis representing the missionaries’ growth in spirituality.

“During the time you are with them, you’re constantly teaching them,” he said. “You’re teaching them in interviews. You’re teaching them the doctrine. You’re teaching them the fundamentals. You’re engaging them in teaching others as well, even in visitors’ centers.”

Elder Zwick told the couples they will find that the curve in growth of spirituality for missionaries progresses upward for a time and then begins to flatten out.

“The flattening time is when they think they know, or when they think they can speak the language, or they think they’ve had some experience with success,” he said. “Your task as teachers is to cause that trajectory to continue upward.”

Hopefully that curve will continue to accelerate upward even after the missionaries’ time in the MTC or the visitors’ center has ended, Elder Zwick said.

“If you could imagine that timeline going well beyond their mission to the time after their mission, to the time after their marriage, to the time when things might get tough, then they don’t have a big void to deal with,” he said.

Elder Zwick cited Mark 1:22, which states that those who heard the Savior were astonished at His doctrine because He taught them “as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.”

Elder Zwick said he has heard Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in allusion to that passage of scripture, urge missionaries to “go astonish someone.”

“And I think what it means is go teach them the doctrine of Christ until you can see in their eyes that their lives have changed.”