5. The Work of Salvation in the Ward and Stake
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ are sent forth “to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men” (D&C 138:56). This work of salvation includes member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, and teaching the gospel. The bishopric directs this work in the ward, assisted by other members of the ward council.
Although the bishop retains ultimate responsibility in these areas, the ward mission leader coordinates member missionary work, the elder quorum presidency coordinates temple and family history work, and the Sunday School president assists other ward leaders in improving gospel learning and teaching. The bishop may assign one of his counselors to coordinate convert retention and the other to coordinate activation, or he may assign these responsibilities to the elders quorum and the Relief Society presidencies. Each priesthood or auxiliary leader assists in furthering the work of salvation in his or her organization.
5.1 Member Missionary Work
Bishop and His Counselors
The bishop directs the ward council in preparing and following a ward mission plan, as described in 5.1.8.
The bishop calls and sets apart a Melchizedek Priesthood holder to serve as the ward mission leader. The bishop and his counselors may call and set apart other members to serve as ward missionaries.
The bishop and his counselors give priority to member missionary work. They teach the doctrines of missionary work regularly. They encourage ward members to work with full-time missionaries to find, teach, and baptize investigators. They set an example by finding and preparing individuals and families for the missionaries to teach.
The bishop and his counselors help prospective full-time missionaries, including sisters and couples, prepare to serve missions.
Member missionary work is most effective when ward council members are fully engaged in the missionary effort. In quorums and auxiliaries, they encourage members to participate in missionary work in the following ways:
In ward council meetings, members of the council develop and review the ward mission plan (see 5.1.8). They review baptismal candidates, other investigators, and other matters from the Progress Record prepared by the full-time missionaries. They make plans to help each investigator progress. They offer counsel about those who might serve as ministering brothers or sisters to investigators who are preparing to be baptized and confirmed.
As recommended by the ward mission leader, the bishop may occasionally invite full-time missionaries to meet with the ward council.
Ward Mission Leader
Under the bishop’s direction, the ward mission leader has the following responsibilities:
He coordinates the ward’s efforts to find, teach, and baptize investigators. He coordinates this work with the work of the full-time missionaries and ward missionaries. In ward council meetings, the bishop may ask him to lead discussions on missionary work.
He conducts missionary coordination meetings and directs the work of ward missionaries.
He arranges as many teaching opportunities for the full-time missionaries as possible each week.
He organizes convert baptismal services, assisted by the full-time missionaries (see 20.3.4).
He helps coordinate the confirmations of new members in sacrament meetings.
He participates with full-time missionaries in teaching and fellowshipping investigators.
He attends the Gospel Principles class, and he may teach the class when assigned by the bishopric.
A Melchizedek Priesthood holder may be called as an assistant ward mission leader.
The bishopric and the ward mission leader determine how many ward missionaries are needed in the ward. Ward missionaries serve under their direction. Priesthood holders, sisters, and married couples may serve as ward missionaries. They need not have assigned companions, but they should not go alone when visiting in homes. A man and a woman do not make visits together as ward missionaries unless they are husband and wife.
Ward missionaries are called to a specified term of service, such as two years. They normally do not have other Church responsibilities, except for assignments as ministering brothers and sisters, preferably to part-member or less-active families. They do not wear name tags.
Ward missionaries find and prepare people for the full-time missionaries to teach. They also assist in fellowshipping and teaching investigators.
Ward missionaries visit members’ homes to encourage members to seek missionary experiences, identify people the missionaries could teach, and prepare people to be taught.
Missionary Coordination Meeting
The ward mission leader conducts a missionary coordination meeting with the ward missionaries and the full-time missionaries. The meeting is held regularly. If full-time missionaries serve in several wards, they attend as often as circumstances allow.
In this meeting, the ward mission leader coordinates the work of the full-time missionaries and the ward members. The ward mission leader may also lead discussions on implementing the ward mission plan, scheduling as many teaching appointments for the missionaries as possible, and arranging to have members present as often as possible when investigators are taught.
Members and Full-Time Missionaries Working Together
The mission president holds the keys for baptizing and confirming converts. Under his direction, full-time missionaries have the primary responsibility for teaching investigators. Full-time missionaries also conduct baptism and confirmation interviews for each candidate and authorize the ordinances to take place.
The bishop becomes acquainted with all investigators and follows their progress. Although he does not interview baptismal candidates, he meets with them personally before they are baptized. He also oversees ward members’ efforts to fellowship them. Investigators are more likely to be baptized and confirmed and remain active when they have close friendships with Church members.
Normally, full-time missionary companionships are not separated to work with ward members. However, they may be separated to work with members when necessary to fill a large number of teaching appointments. In such cases, the ward mission leader ensures that those who work as companions to full-time missionaries understand and accept mission rules. He instructs them that they must never leave a full-time missionary without an authorized companion.
Baptismal Services and Confirmations
Baptismal services should be scheduled as soon as an investigator has committed to be baptized. The services should not normally be delayed past this date unless a person is not prepared. Baptisms of family members should not be delayed so the father can receive the priesthood and perform the baptisms himself.
A baptismal service offers the opportunity to find and encourage other investigators. Converts should be encouraged to invite their family members, other relatives, and friends. Church leaders and missionaries may also invite other investigators who are being taught, potential investigators, and leaders and members who will be working with the new members. Other ward members may also attend.
Converts are confirmed in a sacrament meeting in the ward where they live, preferably on the Sunday following their baptism.
Guidelines for baptismal services and confirmations, including guidelines for baptisms and confirmations of 8-year-olds, are found in 20.3.
Ward Mission Plan
Under the direction of the bishop, the ward council develops a ward mission plan. The plan should be brief and simple. It should include specific goals and activities to help members of ward priesthood and auxiliary organizations participate in member missionary work, retention, and activation. The ward council coordinates the ward mission plan with the plans of the full-time missionaries assigned to the ward. The following steps may be helpful in this planning process:
The ward council reviews the ward mission plan regularly and revises it as needed.
Stake President and His Counselors
The stake president and his counselors give priority to missionary work. They teach the doctrines of missionary work regularly and encourage stake members to work with full-time missionaries to find, teach, and baptize investigators. They set an example by finding and preparing individuals and families for the missionaries to teach.
In his regular interview with each bishop, the stake president asks for a report on the progress of investigators in the bishop’s ward.
The stake president meets regularly with the mission president to coordinate the work of full-time missionaries in the stake. Matters to discuss include the number and location of missionaries, the role of members in missionary work, the assistance of missionaries in retention and activation efforts, the assistance of missionaries in training local members, and meals, housing, and transportation for missionaries.
High Councilor Assigned to Missionary Work
The stake presidency assigns a missionary-oriented high councilor to assist them in overseeing the stake’s efforts to find, teach, baptize, and confirm investigators. This high councilor may lead discussions on these topics in high council meetings, stake council meetings, stake priesthood leadership meetings, and other stake meetings.
The high councilor assigned to missionary work orients newly called ward mission leaders. He also provides ongoing instruction and encouragement to all ward mission leaders, both individually and as a group. With the stake president’s approval, he may train ward leaders and ward missionaries.