Chapter 10: Faith and Conversion

Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Religion 130, (2005), 68–73

Missionaries must have faith that Jesus is the Christ, their Savior and Redeemer. They must apply His Atonement through repentance, follow His teachings, trust His words, and have confidence that He loves them. Sufficient faith in Jesus Christ will carry them through their missions no matter the location or circumstances.

Missionary praying on chair

Missionaries must teach investigators how to gain faith in Christ. They must help them become converted and receive baptism of water and of the Spirit. This chapter will suggest ways to help students learn more of faith in Jesus Christ, consider how to increase their personal faith as well as the faith of those they teach, and understand the importance of the gift of the Holy Ghost in a person’s conversion.

Doctrines and Principles to Understand

  • Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is essential to spiritual growth.

  • Faith can increase.

  • Faith leads to conversion.

  • Conversion includes repentance, baptism, and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Teaching Suggestions

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is essential to spiritual growth.

Ask for volunteers to read definitions of the word faith from Hebrews 11:1 and Alma 32:21. Then encourage students to give examples of how exercising faith has blessed them or those they know.

Invite a student to recite (or read) the fourth article of faith.

  • In whom should we put our faith? Why?

Have a student read the two questions from the student manual (p. 82) that President Ezra Taft Benson asked about faith. Ask students to suggest how they would answer these questions if they were asked by an investigator. List brief summaries of their responses on the board.

Have a student read President Benson’s entire statement. Then invite students to compare their responses with the prophet’s statement. Suggest that students briefly summarize each of President Benson’s descriptions and add them to the list on the board. Invite discussion of these descriptions.

Have students look up “Faith” in the Bible Dictionary (p. 669, first paragraph; or Guide to the Scriptures, 80, first paragraph). You may also wish to have a few students refer to the section “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” located as a part of the gospel topic “Faith” in True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference (2004; p. 54). Have them read and mark key sentences. Invite students to share the sentences they marked and why they consider them important. Ask students to identify any scripture references they know that speak of faith (for example, Alma 32:21; Ether 12:6; Hebrews 11:1; James 2:17–18).

Have students read Ether 12:14–15, regarding the results of missionaries who exercised faith.

  • Why were these missionaries able to have success?

  • According to verse 14, what did faith among the Lamanites lead to?

Ask students to answer each of the following questions using an explanation that an investigator or recently baptized Church member would understand:

  • What is a substitute phrase that I can use to help explain the meaning of “faith”? (see descriptions they may have read from the Bible Dictionary, Guide to the Scriptures, or True to the Faith).

  • What is a basic scripture I can read and mark that describes faith? How can I state in my own words the content of the scripture?

  • What is it about faith in Jesus Christ that leads to salvation?

Faith can increase.

Many missionaries want to know how they can increase their faith in Jesus Christ. This is an important matter. The more faith missionaries have in the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel, the greater power they will have to find those whom the Lord has prepared and to teach them in a way pleasing to God. Use these teaching suggestions to emphasize how a missionary can personally increase in faith.

The next principle and corresponding teaching suggestions (about faith and conversion) emphasize the need for teaching investigators to develop faith in Christ and the message of the Restoration as vital to their conversion.

Read the following statement from Elder John K. Carmack:

“Increasing our faith requires trusting the Lord with our whole souls” (“Lord, Increase Our Faith,” Ensign, Mar. 2002, 57).

  • What can we do to increase our trust in the Lord?

After the students respond, have them turn to the statements of Elder Carmack and Elder Richard G. Scott in the student manual (pp. 83–84). Write on the board the phrase “Increase Faith by …” Invite several students to read the bulleted points aloud. Have students suggest a summary statement for each point to add to the board.

Ask one student to read to the class the final paragraph from Elder Scott’s statement and another student to summarize it in his or her own words.

Divide the class into pairs and have them take 10–12 minutes to prepare a lesson. Have the students use the scriptures and statements cited in the corresponding student manual section (p. 83) to prepare a brief three- to five-minute lesson that they could teach to help other missionaries increase their faith. They could also include personal experiences they feel would be helpful. In addition, encourage them to think of a familiar object, such as a plant, that they could relate to the growth of faith; have them build this comparison into their lesson. Allow class time for pairs of students to teach their lesson to other small groups or to the class. Invite students to provide feedback on the strengths of each lesson and what might be done differently to strengthen it.

Faith leads to conversion.

Write the word conversion on the board and ask students to discuss its meaning. Have students refer to the Bible Dictionary (p. 650; or Guide to the Scriptures, 52) and the statement by Elder Marion G. Romney in the student manual (pp. 84–85). Invite a student to read the information defining conversion.

  • Why is faith in Christ an important motivating element in conversion?

  • In addition to faith in Christ, what other elements are essential to a complete conversion?

Invite a few class members to share their personal conversion experiences with the class. Ask them to discuss how the Spirit and having faith in Christ were a part of their conversion.

Read the following statement from Elder M. Russell Ballard:

“Our duty lies in assisting others, through the power of the Spirit, to know and understand the doctrines and principles of the gospel. Everyone must come to feel that the doctrines of the Restoration are true and of great value” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 97; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 75).

Divide the class into groups of three or four students. Assign each group one of the following: the title page of the Book of Mormon, the introduction to the Book of Mormon, or the promise in Moroni 10:2–7. Have the groups study their passages to find answers to the following question:

  • What are some ways or settings in which a missionary might share the message of each of these sources with an investigator?

Have a volunteer from each group role-play how he or she would share the source, with another student acting as an investigator. Invite them to encourage the investigator, as part of their role play, to sincerely read and pray about the Book of Mormon as a means for developing faith in Christ. Allow time for students to offer feedback to the students in the role play.

Ask class members how faith is necessary for both the missionary and the investigator. Conclude with the following statement from President Thomas S. Monson:

“Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other. Cast out doubt. Cultivate faith” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 65; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 49).

Write the following list on the board (without the supporting scriptures). Give the class five to eight minutes to copy the list and silently read Alma 32:26–43 and Ether 12:6 and note verses that teach each of these parts. Have students write down the supporting verses next to each phrase. Explain that these are the same actions that lead us to conversion and help Church members increase their faith and strengthen their testimonies.

Increasing Faith

  1. 1.

    Listen to the word of God without automatically dismissing it. (Alma 32:27–28.)

  2. 2.

    Hope or desire to believe that it might be true. (Alma 32:27.)

  3. 3.

    Act upon that hope (conduct an experiment; do something to nourish it). (Alma 32:27, 33, 36.)

  4. 5.

    Watch for good feelings or results that indicate the word is true. (Alma 32:28, 33–35.)

  5. 5.

    Endure trials. (Ether 12:6.)

  6. 6.

    Continue to nourish the word until it becomes a certainty. (Alma 32:38–42.)

Divide the class into pairs, and have students assume they have just taught a gospel message to a family or individual. Then ask the class to use their list and supporting scriptures to practice teaching their investigators the principles that lead to increased faith. They should use their own words with occasional references to a verse in the text. Encourage them to include a personal experience from their lives if appropriate. Give each pair of students 10 minutes for the exercise. The person being taught may ask questions as the exercise progresses.

At the conclusion of the exercise, allow class members to make observations about the experience and to ask additional questions about the development of faith. Rather than answering the questions yourself, be sure to first give students an opportunity to suggest answers.

DVD Track 17 Display a branch recently pruned from a living tree or shrub, and explain that President Gordon B. Hinckley compared a piece of green wood to an investigator. Ask the class to listen to a student read the statement and to try to determine the meaning of President Hinckley’s comparison (see student manual, 85), or you may choose to show DVD track 17 (1:44). After reviewing President Hinckley’s comparison, allow class members to suggest the symbolism of comparing an investigator to a green piece of wood placed on a fire.

  • What can missionaries do to help those they come in contact with to “catch the fire” of the restored gospel?

Conversion includes repentance, baptism, and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Ask a student to read John 3:5.

Have students read the Prophet Joseph Smith’s statement regarding the ordinance of baptism (see student manual, 85).

  • Why would baptism without the confirmation of the gift of the Holy Ghost be, as the Prophet Joseph Smith called it, “good for nothing”?

Display a set of sacrament trays or pictures of priesthood holders blessing and passing the sacrament (Gospel Art Picture Kit, pictures 603–4).

  • How would the ordinance of the sacrament be affected if at the next sacrament meeting the priesthood holders blessed and passed only the bread?

  • How might this unusual description of the ordinance of the sacrament be compared to preparing your investigators for baptism of water without also emphasizing and teaching them about the gift of the Holy Ghost? (Caution: This analogy is not an attempt to compare the water of the sacrament to the gift of the Holy Ghost.)

DVD Track 18 Explain to students that we often speak of preparing people for baptism but often neglect to link baptism in a tight relationship to confirmation and the conferring of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Share the statement by President Boyd K. Packer in the student manual (pp. 85–86), or you may choose to show DVD track 18 (0:45).

  • Why is it vital that we emphasize the need for the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Share the following scriptures with students. You may wish to list them on the board and have class members read them and then explain what they emphasize regarding the importance of the gift of the Holy Ghost.

DVD Track 19 Share the following statement to reemphasize the need for converts and missionaries to understand the need for the gift of the Holy Ghost in their lives, or you may choose to show DVD track 19 (0:42):

“There are two parts to baptism—baptism by water and baptism by fire or the Holy Ghost. If you separate the two, as the Prophet Joseph Smith said, it is but half a baptism. …

“… Put the two together so that you almost forbid yourself to say ‘baptism’ without saying ‘confirmation’—that is baptism of the water and confirmation and the conferring of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Get that idea in your mind with those two fixed together so tightly that, as one, it becomes part of you” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Gift of the Holy Ghost: What Every Missionary Should Know—and Every Member as Well” [seminar for new mission presidents, June 24, 2003], 3, 6).

Suggested Assignments for Students

  • Memorize Hebrews 11:1; Alma 32:21; and Ether 12:6.

  • Review the bulleted points in the statements by Elder John K. Carmack and Elder Richard G. Scott (see student manual, 83–84). Think about how your attitude and ability fit each of their points. Select one or two areas in which you would like to improve and develop a plan that will lead to improvement. Share that plan with your Heavenly Father in prayer and ask for help to increase your faith.