The purpose of this lesson is to motivate us to share the gospel more effectively.
In the following story a convert told how she and her family were introduced to the Church:
“Shortly after we moved to a new neighborhood, I was out working in my garden when one of my neighbors offered me a huge armful of tomatoes she had just picked. That was just the beginning of what was to be a forever friendship.
“In the months that followed, [our neighbors] proved to be the best friends … we had ever met. They were not afraid to be too friendly and took our family in just as though we were their own family. We enjoyed the hot homemade bread sent over almost every week; the complete dinner brought in one evening when I was too sick to make our own; the beautiful pageant one summer evening in Independence, with ice cream on the way home. …
“We were always invited to Church activities but never pressured to go. When we did decide to go, our neighbors’ sweet, dependable daughter came over to babysit for us—and sometimes even refused to be paid for it.
“After I had had a hard day at home, my friend would ask me to come to Relief Society with her. I was generally eager just to get out of the house at that point. But in going I found much more than a [rest] from household chores. The warm welcome the sisters gave me made me into a regular attender for almost a year before our baptisms. …
“After a while, though, we knew in our hearts that we wanted a more complete life like theirs. We were then invited out to church on Sundays and began to go to the investigators class each week.
“In March 1976 we entered the waters of baptism.
“Not long after that we heard a special talk in sacrament meeting about a person who had been too hesitant to share the gospel for fear he might seem too forward—and the family had to wait ten years before the opportunity came again. Ten years, I thought. Where would we be in ten years if we didn’t have the Church now? My heart swelled and I could hardly wait to find our neighbors outside after church.
“‘Thanks for sharing the gospel with us’ was all I could get out. I wanted to say so much more, but I really didn’t need to. Tears came to their eyes, too, as we all exchanged loving words and hugs, just as I know we always will, for time and all eternity” (Doris E. Heydon, quoted by Jay A. Parry, “Converts Tell … What Brought Me In,” Ensign, Feb. 1978, 43).
What did this family do to prepare its neighbors to receive the gospel?
Have the class members ponder for a moment with whom they could share the gospel today.
Show visual 9-a, “Every member should be a missionary.”
Through His prophets the Lord has commanded every member of the Church to be involved in missionary work. Some of us may think that missionary work is only for full-time missionaries. But all of us who have been baptized are responsible for inviting others to accept the blessings of the gospel. The Lord said:
“Again, I say unto you, I give unto you a commandment, that every man, both elder, priest, teacher, and also member, go to with his might, with the labor of his hands, to prepare and accomplish the things which I have commanded.
“And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness” (D&C 38:40–41).
Why does Heavenly Father want us to share the gospel? (He depends on us to share the gospel with those who have not heard it so that all His children can enjoy its blessings.)
What blessings of the gospel do we enjoy and want others to have also? (One blessing is the knowledge that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father, to whom we can pray for help and guidance. The gospel helps us be happy in this life and live worthy to be with our Heavenly Father in the next life. The gospel also enables us to have our families forever.)
Some of our friends and relatives may never have the blessings of the gospel unless we care enough about them to be effective missionaries. They may never ask to be taught the gospel unless we talk to them about it. It is true that being a good example of what we believe is part of being a missionary, but we should also find ways to tell people about our beliefs. The Lord has said: “For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12).
President Spencer W. Kimball gave us some advice to help us share the gospel effectively: “Father, you are to take the lead. By working together as families, much great work can be accomplished. With your family, prayerfully select one or two families to friendship. Decide whom of your relatives or friends you will introduce to the Church. Perhaps you could plan a family home evening with them … or participate together in any number of ways. Then, when these families show interest, arrange through your ward or branch mission leader to invite them and the missionaries into your home to share the message of the Restoration. If you will follow this simple procedure, you will bring a number of fine families into the Church” (Sharing the Gospel through Priesthood Missionary Service [filmstrip, 1975]).
Most of us want to share the gospel with others because of our love and concern for them. But some of us do not know how to share the gospel, and others are afraid to do so. The following plan can help us share the gospel more effectively.
Display a poster of the following list, or refer to the information on the chalkboard:
First, prayerfully select a family or individual to introduce to the Church. People in the following circumstances are usually most receptive:
People who are experiencing a significant change in their lives (those who are new to a neighborhood or are experiencing a new birth, new marriage, or recent death in the family).
People who have recently attended a Church meeting or activity; visited a temple open house, a visitors’ center, a Church historical site, or another Church facility; seen a Latter-day Saint television program; or listened to the Tabernacle Choir.
People who are friends of Church members.
People who are related to Church members (part-member families or relatives of those who have recently joined the Church).
People who are interested in or curious about the Church (those who ask questions about the Church, talk positively about Church members, express interest in Church beliefs or principles, or are seeking a new religion).
President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “The gospel is nothing to be ashamed of. It is something to be proud of. ‘Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,’ wrote Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. 1:8). Opportunities for sharing the gospel are everywhere” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 105–6).
Show visual 9-b, “Being a good missionary means being a good friend.”
The head of the household should be an example to his or her family members in friendshipping nonmembers.
How can we befriend nonmember families or individuals? (Answers could include being cheerful, being a good listener, remembering their names, doing kind deeds for them, discussing their interests with them, visiting their home, inviting them to our home, going out for entertainment together, and doing other things that let them know we love them.)
In the following account a man explained how friendship led to his interest in the Church:
“Through work [a coworker and I] got to know each other very well. I really came to respect him. As we grew closer in our friendship, we would talk about our families and our activities, which led to the Church. I could tell that it was the Church that made him and his family different—in a very positive way—from most people. Soon we were talking about some of the doctrines of the Church, but never did he pressure me or preach to me. … One day at afternoon break he asked me if I would like to know more. … [Our family took the missionary lessons] at his home.
“If it were not for the real concern and the interest that the Brookses have shown to our family, I really think that we would not be members of the one true church and have the light and knowledge of our Father in heaven and his plans for us” (Keith Knoblich, quoted by Jay A. Parry, Ensign, Feb. 1978, 39).
Another convert said, “We have to make friends before we can make converts.”
Display visual 9-c, “Sharing the gospel is a rewarding experience.”
How can we introduce people to the Church?
Some ways we can introduce people to the Church are to talk with them about the gospel; give them a Book of Mormon or Church magazine; bear our testimony; take them to Church meetings, activities, firesides, and open houses; invite them to family home evenings and to neighborhood parties; invite them to participate in a Church service project; and invite them to visit a Family History Center. We could also invite people to baptismal services, view Church videocassettes with them, visit people who are new to the neighborhood, and give community service.
Another important way to introduce others to the Church is to set a good example. If we do this, people will often become interested because our lives are different.
Above all, we should show our love and concern for nonmembers as we strive to create opportunities to teach the gospel. The feeling we share with them matters more than the approach we use.
When we feel that someone is prepared to hear the missionary discussions, we should “extend a direct, simple, and clear invitation to hear the missionary discussions by using the words ‘will you.’ Friendships often become more positive after invitations are extended, even if the person chooses not to meet with the missionaries” (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders , 251).
When inviting people to meet with the missionaries we should not be afraid that they will be offended, nor should we be discouraged if they do not respond positively. Inviting them to learn about the gospel will not hurt our friendship, and the Spirit will help us recognize when it is time to ask again.
President Gordon B. Hinckley declared: “Great is our work, tremendous is our responsibility in helping to find those to teach. The Lord has laid upon us a mandate to teach the gospel to every creature. This will take the very best efforts of every [member]” (Ensign, May 1999, 107).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 84:85. How does this scripture apply to missionary work?
In all aspects of missionary work we must have faith in the Lord and prayerfully seek His Spirit. When we do so, the Spirit will guide us and help us as we do the Lord’s work (see D&C 100:5–8).
The Lord said, “It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (D&C 88:81). If we do as the Lord has instructed, using the steps outlined in this lesson, we will help many people find the truth.
Be a good friend and example to nonmember friends and family members. Prayerfully select a nonmember family or individual to introduce to the Church. Friendship the family or individual, and introduce them to the Church. Invite them to meet with the missionaries.
Before presenting this lesson:
Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.