The Doanes and Womeldorfs say that everyone can be a member missionary, and that it’s possible to do it unobtrusively and even naturally. Here are some of their recommendations based on their experience.
Represent the Church well. Professionally, Rick works providing social and welfare services for a nondenominational interfaith organization. When he was hired, people noticed that it was unusual for a Latter-day Saint to be offered such a position. Local press reported that Rick, who serves in a branch presidency, was a lay minister in a local Portuguese-speaking congregation and that he had served as a missionary in Brazil for two years. “People were naturally curious about those things,” he said. “When we represent the Church well in our work, whatever its nature, we’ll find missionary experiences there.”
Talk about your experiences with the Church. “If, after the first weekend in October, a colleague asks, ‘What did you do this weekend?’ don’t respond with ‘Nothing,’” says Rick. Instead, he recommends that members “explain that every six months, our Church leaders give us counsel and instruction and teachings tempered for our time.”
Other ideas? If you’re taking vacation time to be at youth conference, tell your co-worker about the conference—or about your calling in general. Tell them what you like about it and how you’ve benefitted from connecting with local teenagers. If you heard a great talk in sacrament meeting, tell a friend why it touched you. If you spoke in church, tell them about your topic or what you learned in the process of preparing for the talk.
Don’t feel embarrassed. “I believe that there are other people out there like me, people who are searching for the truth,” says Arlene. “And because of that, I don’t need to be afraid of who I am or what I believe or where I go on Sundays. It’s fulfilling for me to be able to live the gospel—in the small things as well as the big ones—and to share it.”
“We certainly have a unique culture and unique differences. But we can explain them to people,” Rick says. “I have some funny stories about eating meals in members’ homes as a missionary or about being in a singles ward before I was married,” he continues. “We often tell those kinds of stories to other Latter-day Saints who already understand the background of what being a missionary means or being in a singles ward means. But we miss a good opportunity if we don’t also share them with friends who aren’t members of the Church. When we talk about the cultural aspects of the Church, people become intrigued and interested. At the same time, we become more comfortable discussing the gospel. Where we might have been hesitant to tell about the First Vision, we now speak openly and bear testimony of the truths dear to our hearts.”
Don’t over-compartmentalize your life. “Some of us tend to separate our church life from the rest of our life, but the gospel isn’t meant to be lived that way,” says Rick. “Rather, everything in our lives should be filtered through the gospel sieve.
“We are members of the Church whether we are at church on Sunday or at work on Wednesday. We don’t need to walk around quoting scripture to people, but we can still openly be members of the Church. Sometimes I’ll take the missionaries to lunch, and I’ll ask the elders meet me at my office. Sometimes my co-workers ask me about them. Sometimes they don’t. But being open about my membership in the Church leads to curiosity. That can’t happen if we separate our lives too much.
“It’s a good thing to privately pray for someone or for missionary experiences,” he says. “But it’s also OK to be openly Mormon. We live in a world where there is an entire counterculture pushing an agenda that is against religion,” Rick notes. “We can be just as open about who we are as they are about who they are.”