Ward priesthood and auxiliary leaders strive continually to help less-active members return to Church activity. The Savior said, “Unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them” (3 Nephi 18:32).
Less-active members usually still believe in the gospel, but they may be experiencing difficult trials that make them feel uncomfortable attending church. They also tend to have fewer friendships in the Church, so they are less likely to feel they are among friends when they go to ward meetings. Those who return to activity often do so when they see that something is missing from their lives. As a result, they realize that they need to make changes in the way they live. At such times, they need the love and friendship of caring, active Church members who accept them as they are and show genuine personal interest in them.
Bishop and His Counselors
The bishop and his counselors have the overall responsibility for activation. They direct the efforts of priesthood quorums and auxiliaries to help less-active members rekindle faith and to ensure that returning members receive fellowship and support. They help returning brethren advance in the priesthood, and they help brethren and sisters receive temple ordinances or become worthy to enter the temple again.
The bishop may assign one of his counselors to coordinate activation.
Under the bishopric’s direction, members of the ward council review their goals for activation as outlined in the ward mission plan (see 5.1.8). They share recommendations for ministering to less-active members in their organizations. By being continually aware of the needs and circumstances of less-active members, ward council members can discern when families and individuals might be ready to respond to an invitation to receive Church visitors, attend a Church activity, or participate in a temple preparation seminar.
The ward council prayerfully identifies the less-active members who are the most likely to return to activity. They also decide which leaders and members could best strengthen less-active members and build personal relationships with them. When more than one family member is less active, leaders coordinate their efforts in ward council meetings.
Ward council meetings regularly include reports on the progress of these members. As some members return to activity or decline invitations to return, the ward council identifies others who may be receptive. Leaders may use the New and Returning Member Progress form to keep track of these efforts.
Home Teachers and Visiting Teachers
In consultation with the bishop, Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders assign dedicated home teachers and visiting teachers to less-active members. These leaders focus their efforts on the less-active members who are most likely to respond to invitations to return to activity.
Full-Time Missionaries and Ward Missionaries
The ward mission leader, full-time missionaries, and ward missionaries may assist with activation efforts when appropriate, especially when their teaching of less-active members will create opportunities for the missionaries to teach these members’ nonmember friends or relatives.
Gospel Principles Class
Less-active members ages 18 and older may attend the Gospel Principles class during Sunday School (see 5.2.8).
Stake President and His Counselors
In his regular interview with each bishop, the stake president asks for a report on the progress of less-active members in the bishop’s ward. The stake president and the bishop discuss the plans and goals prepared by the ward council for these members.
When the stake president and mission president meet to discuss missionary work, they may also discuss the assistance full-time missionaries can give in working with less-active members.
High councilors who work with ward Melchizedek Priesthood leaders may help teach and fellowship less-active members. They may also participate in efforts to help prospective elders prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Stake Auxiliary Presidencies
Stake auxiliary presidencies may occasionally work with ward auxiliary leaders in teaching and fellowshipping less-active members.