The Relief Society’s Role in Missionary Work, Retention, and Activation
A Relief Society presidency in an Asian country determined to visit every less-active sister in their ward. It was a daunting task, but they were determined. One visit was to a woman who had joined the Church more than 20 years earlier but had stopped attending shortly thereafter because she found it difficult to make friends and did not feel comfortable. During these years she often found herself thinking about the Church. She believed it to be the Lord’s true Church and was delighted to welcome these sisters into her home. She accepted their invitation to come to Relief Society.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has repeatedly pleaded with Church members to become actively involved in missionary work, the retention of new converts, and the activation of less-active members (see “Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 104–10).
As an auxiliary devoted to helping bring sisters and their families to Christ, the Relief Society can help with this effort in simple but profound ways. We invite Relief Society leaders to consider the following possibilities:
• Encourage sisters to cultivate friendships with women not of our faith and sisters new to Church activity.
• Encourage sisters to invite new members and less-active members into their homes.
• Invite sisters to church and make sure they never sit alone.
• Introduce sisters to others.
• Assign faithful visiting teachers to sisters investigating the Church as well as to new members and less-active members.
• Emphasize the valuable impact of visiting teaching.
• Visit every less-active sister in her home.
As sisters, we have special gifts for nurturing others. Is there any service more important than helping another person experience the light and love of the gospel? May we respond to President Hinckley’s plea by reaching out to all who fall within our sphere of influence.
Follow the Prophet and Strengthen the Youth
In a remarkable and historic meeting held on 12 November 2000 in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke in a fireside especially for the youth of the Church. As the meeting began, those assembled in meetinghouses and homes throughout the world united in singing “We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days” (Hymns, no. 19). And guide, even pray for us, he did. In words clear and inspiring, our prophet instructed us regarding standards for Latter-day Saints. What a tremendous blessing is ours to have a prophet who knows, understands, and cares about youth!
Young Women presidencies and advisers can now turn their attention to supporting President Hinckley’s message. Consider the following ideas as you plan to follow the prophet and strengthen the youth under your leadership:
• Discuss President Hinckley’s teachings in your presidency meetings and ward or branch councils. Remember the prophet’s message concerning youth, and consider how you can involve and support parents (see “‘Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,’” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 50–53; “Your Greatest Challenge, Mother,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 97–100). Including parents in your efforts will be a great blessing.
• Help the young women respect and honor the prophet and his message through your daily example and the many formal and informal teaching opportunities available to you. Help them have a desire to follow his six “B’s.”
• Consider assigning youth to give talks during Mutual or Sunday opening exercises focusing on President Hinckley’s talk. In planning Mutual and other events, study his prophetic counsel and then help the youth understand how to apply it in their lives.
As we help young women live the prophet’s teachings, Heavenly Father will know that we truly are thankful “for a prophet to guide us in these latter days.”
Follow the Prophet
Primary is an opportunity for loving teachers and leaders to teach and testify of Jesus Christ and to reinforce gospel principles taught in the home. To help provide a firm foundation of gospel teachings for children, the Church provides a yearly theme for sharing time and the children’s sacrament meeting presentation.
This year the theme is “Follow the Prophet.” As leaders and teachers teach this theme in Primary, children will develop a personal testimony of the mission of the prophets, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith. President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: “I love the Prophet Joseph Smith! I bear testimony of the divinity of his calling. … I thank the Prophet for his testimony, for his work, for his life, for his sacrifice, for his witness of the living reality of God our Eternal Father and the risen Lord Jesus Christ” (quoted in “A Tour of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building,” Ensign, Sept. 1993, 38).
Knowing that the gospel and the Church were restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith under divine authority will help children understand the importance of prophets and of following the living prophets. As the children memorize the sixth article of faith [A of F 1:6], they will understand that Heavenly Father organized His Church in the latter days just as He did anciently. And as in ancient times, Heavenly Father guides His Church today through living prophets.
This year, share your testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith often and testify of the importance of sustaining the living prophets. Help the children understand that we follow the prophets today as we:
• Keep Heavenly Father’s commandments.
• Heed the prophets’ counsel and follow their examples.
• Accept callings and serve faithfully.
• Are kind and reach out to others.
Help children learn that by following the living prophets, they are also following Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Note: Information about prophets, including timelines of their lives, is available from Church materials such as the Gospel Art Picture Kit (item no. 34730, U.S. $25.00).
Opening the Scriptures
Part of the Savior’s greatness as a teacher is captured in the question posed by the two disciples He taught as they walked along the road to Emmaus: “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).
A worthy goal for every teacher is to be able to open the scriptures to the members of a Sunday School class so that they are edified by the Spirit and motivated to apply scriptural teachings in their lives. Equally worthwhile is fostering a love for the word of God. A teacher who values the scriptures and consistently teaches from them with enthusiasm and the Spirit can accomplish both aims. A young man who had such a Sunday School teacher said: “I could tell just by the way my teacher held his scriptures and made them come alive as he taught that they meant a great deal to him. It wasn’t long before they became very important to me also.”
As ward and branch Sunday School presidencies visit classes, counsel with each teacher quarterly, and participate in teacher improvement meetings, they can help teachers learn to teach from the scriptures. Presidencies might consider the following ideas:
• Invite teachers to develop a personal gospel study plan centered on the scriptures as outlined in part A, article 7 of Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching.
• Review with teachers the principles contained in part B, article 12, “Teaching from the Scriptures,” in Teaching, No Greater Call.
• Encourage students to bring their own scriptures to class and ensure that, when needed and if possible, scriptures are available from the meetinghouse library.
As Sunday School teachers earnestly seek to teach from the scriptures, they and their students will come to understand as Alma did that it is “expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God” (Alma 31:5).