Lesson 41: “Every Member a Missionary”

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 237–42


Purpose

To inspire class members to participate in taking the gospel to all the world and to strengthen new converts.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures and other materials:

  2. 2.

    Review the material for this lesson in the Class Member Study Guide (35686). Plan ways to refer to the material during the lesson.

  3. 3.

    Ask class members to prepare to summarize the following information from Our Heritage:

    1. a.

      Missionary work under the administration of President David O. McKay (pages 116–17).

    2. b.

      President Spencer W. Kimball’s address to the regional representatives of the Church (first two paragraphs on page 125).

  4. 4.

    You may want to ask one or two class members who are converts to share briefly the feelings they had as new members of the Church. Ask them to tell how other members helped them; they could also suggest how other members could have been more helpful.

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Write the following on the chalkboard before class:

England

Tahiti

Australia

Iceland

Italy

Switzerland

Germany

Tonga

Turkey

Mexico

Czechoslovakia

China

Samoa

New Zealand

South America

France

Hawaii

  • Which of these areas do you think were visited by missionaries in the first 20 years after the Church was organized?

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “When I read Church history, I am amazed at the boldness of the early brethren as they went out into the world. They seemed to find a way. … As early as 1837 the Twelve were in England fighting Satan, in Tahiti in 1844, Australia in 1851, Iceland [in] 1853, Italy [in] 1850, and also in Switzerland, Germany, Tonga, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Czechoslovakia, China, Samoa, New Zealand, South America, France, and Hawaii in 1850. … Much of this early proselyting was done while the leaders were climbing the Rockies and planting the sod and starting their homes. It is faith and super faith” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 6).

Emphasize that from the earliest days of the Restoration, Church leaders have sought to fulfill the commission to take the gospel to all the world. President Kimball expressed his confidence that we can continue to do so: “Somehow, … I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors. That is my faith” (Ensign, Oct. 1974, 7).

Explain that this lesson discusses a few ways in which the gospel is going forth into all the world.

Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. The Church is coming forth out of obscurity.

This year’s course of study has shown how the Church began as a small group of people who were little known. The Church has now grown to include members in almost every country of the world. This dramatic increase in membership and visibility would have been difficult to comprehend during the Church’s early days of struggle, persecution, and poverty. But the Lord revealed the marvelous destiny of His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Ask class members to read the following scriptures and discuss what each teaches about the destiny of the Church.

  1. a.

    D&C 1:30. (Those called by God to lead His Church would have power to bring it forth out of obscurity.)

  2. b.

    D&C 65:1–6. (The gospel will roll forth until it has filled the whole earth. Those who receive it will be prepared for the Second Coming of the Savior.)

  3. c.

    D&C 109:72–74. (The Church will fill the whole earth. It will come out of the wilderness and “shine forth … clear as the sun.”)

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).

  • In what ways is the Church coming out of obscurity throughout the world?

2. Latter-day prophets have challenged us to take the gospel to all the world.

Explain that one important way the Church moves forward throughout the world is through the missionary efforts of each member. Latter-day prophets have challenged us to make greater efforts to share the gospel as member missionaries and as full-time missionaries.

President David O. McKay became well known for his saying “Every member a missionary.” Ask the assigned class member to report on missionary work under President McKay (Our Heritage, pages 116–17).

Later, President Spencer W. Kimball called on Church members to lengthen their stride in missionary service. He asked Church members to pray that the doors of nations would be opened to the preaching of the gospel and to increase the number of prepared missionaries so we could enter those doors. Ask the assigned class member to report on President Kimball’s address to the regional representatives (Our Heritage, page 125, first two paragraphs). Explain that President Kimball’s vision of how missionary work would move across the earth is now coming to pass.

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught that each of us has a responsibility to bring to pass this vision of the gospel filling the earth:

“Now, what of the future? What of the years that lie ahead? It looks promising indeed. People are beginning to see us for what we are and for the values we espouse. …

“If we will go forward, never losing sight of our goal, speaking ill of no one, living the great principles we know to be true, this cause will roll on in majesty and power to fill the earth. Doors now closed to the preaching of the gospel will be opened. The Almighty, if necessary, may have to shake the nations to humble them and cause them to listen to the servants of the living God. Whatever is needed will come to pass.

“The key to the great challenges facing us and to the success of the work will be the faith of all who call themselves Latter-day Saints” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 92; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 68).

  • How are these prophecies of the gospel filling the earth being fulfilled?

3. “Every member a missionary.”

  • Read D&C 1:4–5 and D&C 88:81 with class members. What do these passages teach about our responsibility to share the gospel?

  • What can each of us do to assist in missionary work? (Use the following information to discuss or add to class members’ responses. Write the headings on the chalkboard as you discuss them.)

Prepare to serve full-time missions

  • How can we prepare ourselves to serve full-time missions? Why is it important that we prepare ourselves before we are called?

    President Spencer W. Kimball said: “When I ask for more missionaries, I am not asking for more testimony-barren or unworthy missionaries. I am asking that we start earlier and train our missionaries better in every branch and every ward in the world. … Young people [should] understand that it is a great privilege to go on a mission and that they must be physically well, mentally well, spiritually well, and that ‘the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance’ [D&C 1:31]” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 7).

  • How can parents and other adults help young people prepare to be full-time missionaries? (Answers could include teaching them to be worthy and ready for a mission call at the proper time, sharing mission experiences with them, teaching them of the joys and blessings of missionary work, telling conversion stories of their own or of ancestors, starting missionary funds for them, and teaching them how to work hard.)

  • What challenges do youth face as they prepare to serve full-time missions? How can they overcome these challenges? What challenges do older members face as they prepare to serve full-time missions? How can they overcome these challenges?

Serve full-time missions

  • Who should serve full-time missions?

    All worthy, able young men ages 19 through 25 should serve full-time missions. Full-time missionary service is a priesthood responsibility for these young men. Women ages 21 and older may also be recommended to serve full-time missions if they desire. Older couples are also encouraged to serve missions when they are able to do so. All missionaries must be worthy.

    Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve counseled: “The goal of every physically able couple in the Church, just as it is for every nineteen-year-old young man in the Church, should be to serve a mission. No finer example can be given, no finer testimony can be borne by parents to children or grandchildren, than through missionary service in their mature years” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 73; or Ensign, May 1987, 61).

Support full-time missionaries

  • How can we support missionaries who are now serving? (Answers could include remembering them in prayers, writing encouraging letters, and contributing to the ward or branch missionary fund or the General Missionary Fund. We can support missionaries who are serving in our area by helping them find and teach investigators and by giving other assistance.)

    President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “My brethren and sisters, we can let the missionaries try to do it alone, or we can help them. If they do it alone, they will knock on doors day after day and the harvest will be meager. Or as members we can assist them in finding and teaching investigators” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 107).

Share the gospel throughout our lives

  • Why is it important for us to share the gospel with others throughout our lives? What experiences have you had in sharing the gospel with others?

  • Why are we sometimes afraid to share the gospel? How can we overcome these fears?

  • Were any of you influenced to join the Church because of the example and friendshipping of a Church member? How did the actions of this Church member affect you?

  • What are some ways we can share the gospel with others as part of our daily lives? (Answers could include the following.)

    1. a.

      Set a good example for family members, neighbors, and friends.

    2. b.

      Share copies of the Book of Mormon.

    3. c.

      Refer names of interested people to the missionaries.

    4. d.

      Share your feelings about the gospel with people.

    5. e.

      Invite people to Church activities, meetings, and firesides.

    6. f.

      Invite people to family home evening and to neighborhood activities.

    7. g.

      Invite people who are interested in genealogy to visit a Family History Center.

    8. h.

      Invite people to baptismal services.

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “It seems to me that the Lord chose his words when he said [that the gospel must go to] ‘every nation,’ ‘every land,’ ‘uttermost bounds of the earth,’ ‘every tongue,’ ‘every people,’ ‘every soul,’ ‘all the world,’ ‘many lands.’ Surely there is significance in these words! … I wonder if we are doing all we can. Are we complacent in our approach to teaching all the world? … Are we prepared to lengthen our stride? To enlarge our vision?” (Ensign, Oct. 1974, 5).

  • In what ways can each of us lengthen our stride as we seek to share the gospel in our daily lives?

President Kimball also said: “Our great need, and our great calling, is to bring to the people of this world the candle of understanding to light their way out of obscurity and darkness and into the joy, peace, and truths of the gospel. I believe we must not weary in our well-doing. I believe it is time again to ask ourselves the question, what can I do to help take the gospel to others and to the inhabitants of the world?” (“Are We Doing All We Can?” Ensign, Feb. 1983, 5).

President Hinckley requested that each priesthood leader accept the responsibility and set the example for finding and friendshipping investigators. He asked that this subject be discussed occasionally in sacrament meetings. He also asked that priesthood, Relief Society, Young Women, Primary, ward council, and stake council meetings be used to plan how to find and friendship investigators. (Ensign, May 1999, 107.)

4. Nurturing new converts is our continuing responsibility.

Write the following statement on the chalkboard: “Any investigator worthy of baptism becomes a convert worthy of saving” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1999, 109). Explain that each year, hundreds of thousands of converts are brought into the Church. These new members need to be nurtured and strengthened by all of us.

  • Why is it sometimes difficult for new converts to stay active in the Church?

    President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “It is not an easy thing to become a member of this Church. In most cases it involves setting aside old habits, leaving old friends and associations, and stepping into a new society which is different and somewhat demanding” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 66; or Ensign, May 1997, 47).

  • What can new converts do to strengthen themselves? What can other members do to strengthen new converts? How have you seen members do this effectively?

    President Hinckley taught that “every convert needs three things:

  • A friend in the Church to whom he can constantly turn, who will walk beside him, who will answer his questions, who will understand his problems.

  • An assignment. Activity is the genius of this Church. It is the process by which we grow. Faith and love for the Lord are like the muscle of my arm. If I use them, they grow stronger. If I put them in a sling, they become weaker. Every convert deserves a responsibility. …

  • Every convert must be ‘nourished by the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4). It is imperative that he or she become affiliated with a priesthood quorum or the Relief Society, the Young Women, the Young Men, the Sunday School, or the Primary. He or she must be encouraged to come to sacrament meeting” (Ensign, May 1999, 108).

If you asked class members to share the feelings they had as new members of the Church, have them do so now (see “Preparation,” item 4).

Conclusion

Emphasize that the Lord is guiding His Church and opening the way for the gospel to be taken to all the earth. Encourage class members to lengthen their stride as they prepare for full-time missions and share the gospel with those around them. Also encourage them to nurture and strengthen new members. As prompted by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Idea

You may want to use the following idea to supplement the suggested lesson outline.

An Ensign to the Nations video presentation

If the videocassette An Ensign to the Nations (53980) is available, consider showing a segment of it as part of the lesson. This presentation contains inspiring stories of the Church’s growth in Europe, the Pacific Islands, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. It concludes with visuals of temples and of people from all over the world singing the hymn “Faith in Every Footstep.”

Because the videocassette is 60 minutes long, you will not be able to show the entire presentation in class. However, as you preview the presentation, you may find a segment that will be particularly inspiring for those you teach.