Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminded us: “We are missionaries every day in our families, in our schools, in our places of employment, and in our communities. Regardless of our age, experience, or station in life, we are all missionaries” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2005, 47; or Ensign, Nov. 2005, 44). The accounts of Ammon and his brethren in Alma 17–22 illustrate many principles that can help us improve as missionaries, such as following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, setting a good example, and being patient in our efforts. As you teach from these accounts, you can help students understand these principles and apply them in their lives.
Ask students to listen carefully to the following statements by latter-day prophets:
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel” (in History of the Church, 2:478).
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) said, “Brothers and sisters, … I invite you to become a vast army with enthusiasm for this work and a great overarching desire to assist the missionaries in the tremendous responsibility they have to carry the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 110).
How would you summarize these two quotations in one concise statement?
Before class, assign a student or a few students to prepare to recount the major events in Alma 17–22. Ask them to prepare brief, concise presentations, concentrating only on the story line. Suggest that they use the chapter headings as guides. Explain that after their presentations, the class will work together to find principles they can learn from the events and to grow in their understanding of those principles.
Write the following on the board:
Divide the class into four groups. Assign Alma 17:1–8 to the first group, Alma 17:9–25 to the second, Alma 17:26–39 and 18:1–9 to the third, and Alma 18:10–23 to the fourth. Invite students to read their assigned passages silently, looking for principles related to effective missionary work. Explain that when students are done, you will ask them to share the principles they have found.
After students have completed their search, ask them to share the principles they have found. List their findings on the board. Some possible answers are shown below:
How does each of these principles help an individual share the gospel effectively?
How can we prepare to teach with power and authority like Ammon and his brethren?
If any students were converted to the gospel after being taught by full-time missionaries, you may want to ask them to share how they felt as they were learning the gospel.
Ask a student to read Alma 18:24–29.
As Ammon began to teach Lamoni the gospel, what questions did Lamoni ask?
How do you think these questions helped Ammon share his message?
For additional insights, you might refer students to the section titled “Building on Common Beliefs” on page 202 in the student manual.
If you had a conversation about God with a friend of another faith, how might you build on common beliefs? How might this effort help your friend?
What else can you talk about with your friends of other faiths to open opportunities to share the gospel with them?
As students discuss these questions, you might want to invite them to read the statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard on pages 201–2 in the student manual. This statement is also available on the companion DVD A.
Invite the class to listen as two students read what Ammon and Aaron taught Lamoni and his father. Before the two students read, instruct the others to follow along in their own scriptures, looking for the doctrines that Ammon and Aaron taught. Ask one student to read Alma 18:36–39. This is what Ammon taught Lamoni. Ask the other student to read Alma 22:12–14. This is what Aaron taught Lamoni’s father.
What doctrines did Ammon and Aaron teach?
You might list students’ answers on the board. Accept all their answers, and then highlight three doctrines that Ammon and Aaron both taught: the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Point out that a short phrase summarizes what Ammon and Aaron taught: “the plan of redemption” (Alma 22:13).
Why do you think Ammon and Aaron began teaching with these same truths?
As part of this discussion, you might invite a student to read the statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie on page 202 in the student manual.
What do we learn about God from these three foundational doctrines?
What do we learn about ourselves?
Students might need some time to think about these questions before they answer them. Do not be afraid of silence, which might be exactly what the students need before they discuss these truths.
Give students a few minutes to think about how their knowledge of the plan of redemption helps them draw nearer to Heavenly Father. Let them know that after they have had time to ponder this idea, you will ask a few of them to share their thoughts.
After sufficient time, invite a few students to come to the front of the class and share their thoughts. Then bear your testimony of the plan of redemption and the importance of making it known to all people.
Invite students to read Alma 18:41 and 22:15 silently.
What did Lamoni and his father realize that led them to plead for help? (They recognized their fallen nature and realized that they needed Christ’s mercy.)
Write Forgiveness of Your Sins on the board.
How did Lamoni and his father realize that they needed forgiveness of their sins?
Explain that Lamoni and his father were touched by the Spirit through the teachings of missionaries. As a result, they wanted the blessings of the gospel.
After discussing Ammon’s words to King Lamoni, point out that Ammon’s approach shows a pattern for teaching the gospel in a missionary setting:
He taught with simplicity (see Alma 18:24–30).
He bore testimony (see Alma 18:32–35).
He taught from the scriptures (see Alma 18:36–39).
He instilled a desire in the investigator to pray (see Alma 18:40–43).
Ask a student to read Alma 22:15.
What was Lamoni’s father willing to give up in order to receive eternal life?
Ask a student to read Alma 22:16.
What did Aaron say the king had to do to receive the hope he wanted?
Ask a student to read Alma 22:17–18.
What was the king willing to give up to know God and to be “saved at the last day”?
Note the contrast between (1) what Lamoni’s father was willing to give up to know God and receive salvation and (2) what he had been willing to give up earlier when he had felt his life was in danger (see Alma 20:23).
How was King Lamoni’s action an indication of sincere conversion?
Invite students to silently ponder the following questions:
What do you need to give up to be able to return to live with your Father in Heaven?
What can you do today to draw closer to your Father in Heaven?
Invite a few students to share important principles regarding missionary work in the accounts they have discussed. Bear your testimony as appropriate.