Help family members learn how to share the blessings of the gospel with others.
Imagine what your life would be like if you did not have the blessings of the gospel. Have you ever felt a sense of gratitude for the blessings you enjoy each day and felt as though you wanted to share that gratitude with someone who would listen? Have you ever experienced the warmth that floods your heart when you have shared your feelings with others and could sense their receptiveness? That warmth was the love of Christ burning within your soul and needing to be shared.
Perhaps you have experienced the desire to tell others but have been fearful of rejection. This lesson gives some ideas that may be helpful in sharing the gospel.
Bring to family home evening an envelope, crayon, slip of paper, and pencil for each family member. Also bring two large sheets of paper.
Prepare an envelope in which there is a slip of paper with the following scripture written on it: “If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7). Write on the outside of the envelope “Our Heavenly Father’s Gift.”
You may want to prepare to show the segment “The Joy of Missionary Work” from the videocassette Family Home Evening Supplement (53276).
“High on the Mountain Top” (Hymns, no. 5).
“I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” (Children’s Songbook, p. 169).
Note: If you live in an area where there are few nonmembers, you can help a totally or partially inactive member. These same principles apply in helping either members or nonmembers.
Ask family members to pretend that the names of all the nonmember or inactive families or persons in your neighborhood, at work, or at school are placed in a box. Your family is to pretend that they are given the opportunity to draw a name from the box and give a gift to the family or individual whose name they draw.
Give family members pencils and paper. Have each family member write the name of the family or person whose name he would hope to draw. Have him read the name he has written and explain why he would hope to get that name.
The activity should help the family focus on some of the nonmembers or less active members they know.
If the family has any difficulty in naming someone, you could ask them to tell you the names of nonmember friends with whom they associate. You could give the names of nonmembers you know at work or through other associations in the community.
After several names have been mentioned, decide together on a family or person to whom your family would like to give a gift.
Give each family member an envelope, and ask him to use a crayon to draw a ribbon on the envelope, making it look like a present. On each envelope have him print the name of the family that has been chosen.
Next, have each family member write on a slip of paper what he feels would be the greatest gift he could give to the other family. Have him place the slip in the envelope. Collect the envelopes, and read and discuss the responses.
It will be interesting to see what the suggested gifts are. Perhaps some will be material things. Comment on how much fun it would be to give such gifts. Some gifts may be spiritual. Point out how much more lasting such gifts are.
In conclusion, show the envelope marked “Our Heavenly Father’s Gift.” Have the family pretend that Heavenly Father has named the gift he would offer and placed it in the envelope. Open the envelope and read:
“If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).
Explain that our Heavenly Father really does offer the glorious gift of eternal life to all of his children.
Can Heavenly Father just give us the gift of eternal life?
What must his children do to have this gift? (Accept his gospel, be baptized into his Church, live his commandments, and be married for time and all eternity.)
Point out that each person has to do something to accept the gift. He has to do something for himself to earn eternal life.
Can our family offer the gift of eternal life to the family we have chosen to present a gift to? Why not?
What can we give?
Redistribute the envelopes, and ask each person to write on it some blessing that the chosen family would receive if our family could help them become members of the Church. You might make a chart of these blessings as they are mentioned. Some of these things might be included:
A true knowledge that God is our Heavenly Father.
A prophet to guide us.
Opportunities for service to others.
Temple marriage and sealings.
The full gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Book of Mormon.
Family home evenings.
Opportunity to become a family forever.
Which of these gifts do you feel we could give first? (Answers may include family home evening, Primary, Relief Society, Sunday School, a recreational activity.)
Talk about how these gifts could be offered. Summarize by stating that if we could give the chosen family the opportunity to become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we would give them the opportunity to enjoy all these gifts on the list plus many more.
Why do we want to give these gifts of the gospel to the family we chose? (So that they can have eternal life.)
How can we help them to truly desire the gospel? (By allowing them to see the teachings of the gospel in our lives.)
Remind the family of the story of Ammon who wanted to give the gift of the gospel to the Lamanites. He understood that he would first have to do something to make them want to receive the gospel.
Either briefly retell the story of Ammon and King Lamoni (Alma 17:20–19:36), or use the story told in the pictures and words in this lesson for your younger children.
Why was Ammon able to teach the gospel to the Lamanites?
What must we do before this family can be taught the gospel? (Win their hearts.)
How do we win their hearts? (We must become their friends.)
What is the first gift we must offer? (Love.)
Illustrate by showing the video segment, “The Joy of Missionary Work,” or by relating the following story or one from your own experience that will teach the same ideas.
The Grant family were members of the Church. They did not know anyone in the neighborhood they had just moved into, so they invited the entire neighborhood to a party.
Among the families who came were the Montgomerys, who had eight children as did the Grant family. Both families liked each other immediately. It seemed natural for them to want to do things for each other.
The Montgomerys came and enjoyed warm and wonderful family home evenings with the Grants. The Grants were invited to dinner at the Montgomerys. The families went sleigh riding together. The children played ball in the Grant’s yard and played on the trampoline in the Montgomery’s yard. The parents of both families enjoyed watching the children and visiting together.
One day while the two families were together, Sister Grant said to the Montgomerys, “Why don’t we invite the missionaries to come over and tell you about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” The Montgomerys agreed.
In the weeks that followed, the missionaries taught the Montgomerys, but because of their long family heritage in another church, they did not feel they could accept the gospel.
Do you think that the Grants were a failure in their missionary efforts because the Montgomerys did not become members of the Church? Why not?
What blessings did the Grants share with the Montgomerys? (Family home evenings, friendship, knowledge about the gospel.)
Did the Montgomerys give anything in return? (They gave love and friendship to the Grants.)
Explain that in order to teach the gospel, you do not always have to ask the questions, “What do you know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” and “Would you like to know more?” These questions may be appropriate at times, but they are generally more effective if we first win the hearts of our friends and neighbors. We can share the gospel only as people are willing to receive, a little now and more later. Sometimes a little of the gospel principles now will open their hearts for more later on. Acts of interest and kindness will win their hearts. We must let them see us live the gospel and know we are their friends, then we are better able to share the gospel.
Talk about the family you have chosen to receive your gift of friendship. Pray about the family, asking the Lord to help you approach them at the right time and in the right way. Consider the questions and ideas listed on the chart included in the lesson. Read and discuss the suggestions and their possibilities in your missionary efforts. Do those things that you can do sincerely.
As you plan the activities, pray about your plan, and then get started. When you have won the hearts of your friends, give them the opportunity to hear about the gospel. Remain friends whether or not they accept the gospel.
[Ammon] had gone into the [Lamanite] country to serve a mission for the Church. He became a [servant] to King Lamoni so that he might seek opportunities to [teach] the gospel to the [Lamanite] people. One of [Ammon]’s duties was to tend the [flocks] of King Lamoni.
One day some [wicked men] scattered the [flocks]. [Ammon], upon seeing the scattered [flocks] and observing the fear of the other [servant]s, recognized his opportunity to [teach] the gospel.
The [servant]s wept because of fear they would be killed. When [Ammon] saw this, his heart filled with joy. He said, “I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-[servant]s, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-[servant]s that I may lead them to believe in my words” (Alma 17:29).
Then, acting under the inspiration of the Lord, [Ammon] encouraged the [servant]s to stop their weeping, to gather the [flocks] once more. When this was done, the same [wicked men] came again to scatter the [flocks]. [Ammon] said: “Encircle the [flocks] round about that they flee not; and I go and contend with these men who do scatter our [flocks]” (Alma 17:33).
The [servant]s obeyed [Ammon]. [Ammon] then went to the watering place to protect the [servant]s and the [flocks] from the [wicked men] who delighted in killing.
At first they fought with slings and stones. [Ammon], in mighty power from the Lord, threw his stones among the [wicked men] and killed six of them. Not one of the [wicked men] was able to hit [Ammon], so they threw down their slings and stones and came toward [Ammon] with clubs. As they came near him, [Ammon] raised his sword and cut off the arms of the [wicked men] who raised their clubs against him. [Ammon] was able to defend himself, the [servant]s, and King Lamoni’s [flocks].
After the battle was over, the [servant]s ran to the king and excitedly told their story of how [Ammon] had saved the king’s [flocks]. King Lamoni sent for [Ammon]. He could not understand how [Ammon], a Nephite, could be so loyal to the [Lamanite] people when the Nephites and [Lamanite]s had been bitter enemies for many years.
[Ammon] had been faithful in his duties as a [servant]. Because of this he was able to [teach] King Lamoni, his household, and his court the gospel. He was able to do this because he had first won their hearts with his love, friendship, and example.
There have been instances when a person has been turned away from the gospel truths because of the actions of some of the members of the Church. We can win hearts and teach the gospel if we ourselves are good examples of believers.
Are you always careful to be honest and fair? For example, do you return extra change a clerk gives you by mistake? Do you speak up when someone else is blamed for something you did? Do you return things you borrow? Do you give an honest day’s work for a day’s pay?
Is there anything you could do to make your home and yard more tidy and thus make the neighborhood more beautiful?
Are you always obedient to parents, teachers, and Church leaders?
Are you considerate of your neighbors? For example, are you careful not to be noisy late in the evening or early in the morning? Do you keep your pets from being an annoyance? Do you respect rules neighbors have for their children? Do you keep your children from annoying the neighbors? Do you put your outside toys away when not in use so that no one will stumble over them?
Are you careful not to gossip or talk about other people? Do you try to say something good about a person who is being talked about negatively in your presence?
Are you always courteous? For example, do you wait your turn in line? Do you speak to those who live across the street? Do you always remember to say please and thank you?
Are you careful about obeying the law? For example, do you obey traffic signals even though no one else is around? Do you refrain from scattering litter in public places?
Do you always keep your word? For example, when you say you will do something, do you do it at the time you said you would, at home, at school, at work, at Church, and in the neighborhood? Do you let the proper person know if you cannot keep an appointment or fulfill an assignment?
Accept people for what they are and who they are. Acknowledge from the beginning that life-styles differ, but all are children of our Heavenly Father and need to have the blessings of the gospel. Remain their friend even though they may not accept the gospel at the present time.
Is there a nonmember family in your neighborhood with whom you are not well acquainted? Could you pay them a short visit, and tell them you would like to know them better and perhaps invite them to a dinner at a future date?
Could you chat with your neighbors about gardening, exchange produce or recipes, in an effort to become more neighborly and to win their hearts?
Do you have a nonmember friend you could invite to go with you to Primary, a fireside, or an activity night at Church such as a play, road show, carnival, seminary function, or ball game?
Could you be a friend to persons at school or work who seem left out? Invite them to eat lunch with you, write a complimentary note to them, or express appreciation for them.
Could you make an opportunity to refer to a Church event in your conversations with nonmembers? For example, “I started learning to crochet in Primary yesterday,” or “We are learning to make tie quilts in Relief Society next week.” Follow with an invitation to have them join you.
Is there a new family moving into your area? Acquaint them with the location of the school, the grocery store, and the location of churches in your area; and perhaps tell them of neighborhood customs and group activities of common interest to all.
If the opportunity arises, could you explain the family home evening program to your nonmember friends? Is it possible to have them share a family home evening with you and your family?
Could you sponsor a “getting-to-know-you” party to welcome people into the neighborhood or to get to know a family or individual with whom you are not well acquainted?
Little children would enjoy drawing a colored ribbon on the envelope. They could name a child who does not go to Primary. They could tell what they do in Primary and why they think their friends would like to go to Primary with them.
They will like looking at the pictures in the story “Ammon Goes on a Mission” included in the lesson and hearing the story.
You might also want to tell the following stories:
It was Sunday morning. Judy and Dwight were getting ready for church. There was a knock on the door. Judy ran to open it. Her friends Rachel and Wally were there and wanted to know if she could play. Judy said, “No, it’s Sunday, and I’m going to Primary. I don’t want to miss it.”
“What’s Primary?” asked Rachel.
How would you have answered Rachel? (Allow time for answers.)
Continue the story:
“Why do you like Primary?” Wally asked.
What would you say to Wally?
Continue the story:
Then Judy said, “Why don’t you ask your parents if you can go with us?”
“We will,” said Rachel and Wally, and they ran home.
Do you think the parents of Wally and Rachel would let them go? (Sometimes parents say yes, and sometimes they say no. But it doesn’t hurt to ask.)
“Mommy,” Mary asked as she came in the house, “who lives in the big house down the street? We don’t ever see anyone there.”
Mother replied, “An older lady. Her name is Mrs. Johnson. She isn’t able to get around very well so she stays at home a lot. Would you like to meet her?”
“I don’t know,” said Mary. “Is she nice?”
“Oh, yes,” said mother, “and she loves children. Maybe we could make some cookies to take to her.”
The next day Mary helped her mother make some cookies. They took them down the street to Mrs. Johnson’s house. Mary was excited to give the cookies to Mrs. Johnson. When Mrs. Johnson answered the door, she had a sad, tired look on her face, but she started to smile when Mary gave her the cookies.
“Oh, thank you,” said Mrs. Johnson. “These look delicious. Did you help make them?”
“Yes,” said Mary.
The next day Mary was walking down the sidewalk, and Mrs. Johnson was sitting on her porch. Mary waved, and Mrs. Johnson called for her to come. Mary skipped over to where Mrs. Johnson was sitting. Mrs. Johnson again thanked her for the cookies. Then she told Mary some stories about when she was a little girl. Mary loved to listen to her. Each day she would go to see Mrs. Johnson, often taking some pictures she had colored and some fresh peas or corn from the garden. Mary soon grew to love Mrs. Johnson, and Mrs. Johnson loved to have Mary come. They talked about many things.
Then one day Mary asked Mrs. Johnson to come to family home evening at her house. The whole family planned a special night. They had a good time. Mrs. Johnson felt so good to be involved, and Mary had a new friend.
How was Mary a missionary? (She showed love and kindness for a neighbor. She invited Mrs. Johnson to family home evening.)
Is there someone who lives by us that we could show love for?
Explain that all through our lives, we should tell people about the Church. Sometimes they will listen and sometimes they won’t. But we should always try to give them the great gift of happiness and kindness. They can be good friends.
In addition to the suggested lesson, your family might enjoy reading and discussing the following scriptures about the responsibility and privilege we have of sharing our blessings of the gospel with others:
Prepare a chart with four headings: “My Rewards for Sharing,” “What Sharing Does for Others,” “Things to Share,” and “Preparation for Sharing.” Have someone read or tell the story in Mosiah 28:1–9.
Why share the gospel?
Have family members think of as many reasons as they can. List these under one of the first two headings. If someone does not mention duty, read to them the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:
“No person who has been converted to the gospel should shirk his responsibility to teach the truth to others. This is our privilege. This is our duty. This is a command from the Lord.” (“It Becometh Every Man,” Ensign, Oct. 1977, p. 3.)
What can we share?
Again family members can suggest items for sharing with nonmembers. These can be listed under the heading “Things to Share.”
Am I ready to share?
Have family members suggest the qualities that one needs to have in order to share effectively, and list their suggestions under the heading “Preparation for Sharing.” Have someone read Doctrine and Covenants 4, and compare that list with those suggested by the family. Suggest that family members can use these suggestions as checklists to see how well they are following the advice of the prophet that we should each be sharing the gospel with others.
You can build a family lesson on doing missionary work and the reasons for doing it from the material in chapter 33, “Missionary Work,” of Gospel Principles , pages 211 through 217. Perhaps family members can read and discuss the chapter. Or you may wish to use the chapter as a lesson outline and present the material to the family.
Ask family members to share ideas about what is the strongest, most convincing way of sharing the gospel with others. If no one suggests testimony bearing, add this on your own. Ask why bearing testimony is a powerful tool in sharing the gospel. Point out that both members and nonmembers need to hear the testimonies of others. You may wish to read and discuss the following incident:
A missionary once sat in the home of a learned scientist. The missionary tried in every logical way to convince him that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was true. The scientist toyed with the missionary as a cat with a mouse, riddling the missionary’s message with his superior learning. But then the missionary said something that changed the whole course of the discussion.
He said, “I know the message I am trying to bring you is true. I know it as surely as I’m here with you in this room.
The scientist was silent. He was affected by the spirit he felt in this testimony. His attitude changed. The missionary became the teacher and the scientist the learner.
Three months later the scientist knew something he had never known before. He knew that the Church was true. He was baptized and began to bear his testimony to others.
Spend an evening preparing copies of the Book of Mormon for a family Book of Mormon placement project. First you will need to obtain several copies of the Book of Mormon that you want to give as gifts. Then together write up a family testimony, and have a friend take a picture of all of you in a group. Glue copies of the picture and testimony inside the front cover of each copy of the Book of Mormon.
Give the copies of the Book of Mormon to nonmember friends, or offer them to local missionaries for them to distribute. If your family wishes to place larger quantities of the Book of Mormon, write to Family-to-Family Book of Mormon Program, LDS Church Missionary Department, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.
Family members may never be really convinced that sharing the gospel can be rewarding until they try it firsthand. Here are some suggestions for activities in which your family can participate that will help them to experience these rewards:
If you have a returned missionary in your family, have him tell about his missionary experiences. If not, you might invite a recently returned missionary to share an evening in your home with your family.
Invite a family into your home to participate in a family home evening activity. Sincerely try to win their hearts. This can be either a nonmember family or one that is inactive.
Read and discuss this statement by President Spencer W. Kimball, “It should be clear to us that usually we must warm our neighbors before we can warn them properly” (“Report of the Regional Representatives’ Seminar,” Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 140). Discuss what family members can do to become more friendly and the ways they can go about winning hearts. Point out that it is much more effective to share the gospel with friends than with strangers.
Read the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball: “Think, brothers and sisters, what would happen if each active family were to bring another family or individual into the Church: … We would be joined by several hundred thousand new members of the Church” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1979, p. 114; or Ensign, May 1979, p. 82).
Then read or tell the following experience:
One family was inspired by President Kimball’s remarks to accept the challenge. They began by going to Heavenly Father for guidance on what to do. After the family had knelt in prayer, the mother said, “Let’s invite a refugee family into our home.” The next day they made an inquiry, and that evening the family became sponsors and picked up a refugee family from the airport. After learning how to turn on lights and water taps and receiving a lot of love for several days, the refugee family was asked if they would like to go to Church, and they said yes. A Sunday School class was arranged, taught by a returned missionary. Soon several refugee families were attending, and those interested were invited to hear the missionary discussions. Twenty were interested and heard the discussions in the home of the sponsoring family. Fourteen joined the Church.
Discuss with your family the many different ways in which one can find and fellowship investigators. Then make it a matter of prayer. If family members are willing, put your own missionary plan into action.