Chapter 12: Using Time Wisely to Bring People to Christ

Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Religion 130, (2005), 80–86


When a missionary begins full-time service, he or she is on the Lord’s time. Working with Church members to gain new investigators as well as developing skills in approaching others with the message of the restored gospel will build confidence and bring success. Missionaries are in the mission field in the Lord’s service to accomplish His will. Careful planning and goal setting can help a missionary use the Lord’s time in meaningful service to bring others to Christ through the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. Knowing how to organize efforts for maximum value can enhance the joy of missionary work.

Missionaries talking with man

Doctrines and Principles to Understand

  • Finding people to teach is a responsibility for missionaries and Church members.

  • Effective planning, goal setting, and time management help focus missionary efforts and increase success.

Teaching Suggestions

Finding people to teach is a responsibility for missionaries and Church members.

Invite the class to suggest as many ways as they can think of for missionaries and Church members to find people to teach the message of the restored gospel to. Have a student list the suggestions on the board.

Have a student read aloud Doctrine and Covenants 29:7 and 42:8. Then ask the following questions:

  • Who has the Lord “called” us to gather?

  • What does it mean to “find them that will receive you”? (D&C 42:8).

Remind students that we are all members of God’s family and have a responsibility to share the gospel (see D&C 88:81). They should pray for the spiritual sensitivity to recognize opportunities to talk to others about the gospel.

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 123:12 and the statements by Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Richard G. Scott in the student manual (p. 99).

  • What reason does this scripture give as to why many good people have not yet accepted the gospel?

  • According to Elder Oaks, what is the key to finding investigators?

  • In what ways do members and missionaries work together in the finding and conversion process?

You may also wish to have students read and discuss the additional ideas and statements in the student manual (pp. 98–100).

Write the following phrase on the board: “Teach when you find; find when you teach.” Ask a student what this phrase would mean to a missionary. Invite students to suggest several gospel subjects or principles that they think investigators might be interested in learning more about. Ask a student to write down the ideas on the board. After the list is on the board, ask students which of these doctrines or principles could be introduced to a stranger in a brief conversation. Place a checkmark by the principles selected.

Introduce to your students the idea that when they meet people in the mission field, they should “be prepared to teach brief summaries of restored truth so that the Holy Ghost can bear witness that [they] are the servants of the Lord” (Preach My Gospel [2004], 158). This will allow people to feel the power of the Holy Ghost. Explain that missionaries will learn to take whatever subject they are discussing and refer quickly and simply to the Restoration of the gospel. This is important because the Restoration is our unique message to the world.

Read to students the following example of how a missionary speaking about the importance of families could tie this message into the Restoration:

“The feelings of love and concern that we have for our families are eternal. … They are centered in our [knowledge of] God. You have been part of God’s family since before you were born. He is our Father. Because He is our Father, we are brothers and sisters. Heavenly Father wants us to return to live with Him as part of His family. Families here on earth are a tie to God’s family. Families can live together after this life. We know this because after centuries of being lost, true doctrines and ordinances … have been restored to the earth by our loving Heavenly Father through a living prophet. These restored truths not only help us understand our place in God’s family, but they are the greatest hope we have for a strong, happy family in this life. May we teach you more about …” (Preach My Gospel, 160).

Ask students to suggest other Church subjects that people might be interested in talking to missionaries about (such as the Word of Wisdom, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or eternal marriage), and write their suggestions on the board. Then have the class suggest a way to tie one of these subjects into the message of the Restoration. Discuss this idea as a class until students understand how it can be done.

Have students get in pairs and discuss with their partner how they could use one of the subjects on the board to introduce the message of the Restoration during a brief visit with a stranger. Have each pair figure out what the setting will be and how they could introduce the message of the Restoration in a two-minute conversation. Then have them get together with another pair and take turns role-playing the meeting of a nonmember and the presentation of a brief message. The teaching pair can decide if they wish to role-play a conversation with only one person or use both members of the other group.

After one pair practices their approach, have the other pair discuss what they liked about the teaching moment and what they might change. Then reverse the roles and repeat the process, allowing the second pair to teach and receive feedback.

Discuss as a class their experience by asking the following questions:

  • What doctrines do you think would easily lead into the message of the Restoration?

  • What is difficult about sharing a gospel message with a stranger? (Students may respond with answers such as overcoming shyness, fear of rejection, and knowing what to discuss.)

  • What are ways these difficulties could be overcome?

Discuss why it is important not to use the same approach with everyone. Help your students understand that God knows the hearts and circumstances of all His children. He knows who is ready to hear the gospel and who is not. Effective missionaries seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit so they can be led to those who are ready to hear and learn the gospel.

If pass-along cards are available in your language, show several different kinds to your students. (These are available from your local missionaries or local priesthood leaders.) Explain that these cards are one way to start a conversation regarding the Restoration.

Ask for several volunteers to come to the front of the class, choose a pass-along card, and demonstrate with another student a setting in which they might give a pass-along card to a person they just met. After two or three students demonstrate, allow class comments and suggestions of additional circumstances in which they might be able to place these cards with people. (You could also repeat a similar activity using Church pamphlets, copies of the Book of Mormon, videos, and so on.) The idea is to give students opportunities to practice speaking up and overcome the natural nervousness of speaking to others about the gospel.

Read the following statement by President James E. Faust:

“Learn to love and serve the people among whom you work. You should pray daily for them that the Lord will fill you with love as you serve them. If you do not love them, you will have difficulty teaching them” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 58; or Ensign, May 1996, 41).

  • Why is it important for missionaries to love the people, culture, and language in the areas where they serve?

Ask students to pair off. Have one role-play a missionary and the other represent a total stranger who has just responded to the missionary’s approach at his or her home. Give them 30 seconds to offer a greeting and a missionary message. (Don’t allow time for preparation. It is expected that they might struggle with this assignment.)

Next, have pairs combine to make groups of four. Have two students represent missionaries, a third student represent a Church member, and the fourth student represent the Church member’s nonmember friend. Ask the student representing the Church member to introduce the investigator to the missionaries and open the way for a lesson of the restored gospel.

After this brief exercise, ask students to compare the experiences by commenting on the values and limitations to each approach.

Invite students to read President Hinckley’s statement in the student manual about working with members to find people to teach (p. 98). You may also wish to point out the statistics indicated in the paragraph quoting Elder Dallin H. Oaks (see student manual, 99).

  • Why do you think members are an important source for finding people to teach?

  • How does Doctrine and Covenants 33:8–9 apply to full-time missionaries? to Church members?

  • What are some ways that full-time missionaries could help Church members learn to share the restored gospel with others?

Ask what the word fellowshipping means. Invite students to read the statements of President Hinckley and Elder Richard G. Scott in the student manual (p. 99). Discuss the statements and ask why members are so important in teaching and fellowshipping. The following question may be helpful:

  • What are some ways a missionary can encourage fellowshipping between members and investigators?

Invite class members who have fellowshipped investigators to briefly talk about their experience. If you have converts to the Church in the class, invite them to share their point of view on the subject of fellowshipping.

  • What other ways can we fellowship our friends and associates?

  • Why is it important to continue to friendship converts after they have been baptized?

Effective planning, goal setting, and time management help focus missionary efforts and increase success.

Ask students to quickly suggest a few indications of success for the following occupations:

  • Doctor

  • Store salesman

  • Teacher

  • LDS missionary

Invite students to compare their answers for an LDS missionary with the key indicators listed in the student manual (see p. 101).

  • What factors could influence the realistic setting of goals in each key indicator? (Possible answers might include the number of Church members living in an area or the attitude of residents toward the Church in general.)

  • How would you determine when it is appropriate to make adjustments in missionary goals?

  • Are there any risks in goal setting? What or why?

  • How might prayer influence goal setting?

Ask if there are any fishermen or hunters in the class. Ask one student to read Jeremiah 16:16 and another to read Matthew 4:19 to the class.

  • In what ways can missionary work be compared to hunting and fishing?

  • What are some considerations in planning for a successful fishing or hunting trip?

  • What are some considerations in planning for a successful day in the mission field?

Draw the following illustration on the board:

Things to do today
  • Why are both prayer and planning necessary in missionary service? (Encourage more than one student to answer.)

Write on the board, “A typical day seeking for people to teach.” Have students suggest possible missionary activities that could lead missionaries to find investigators. List student responses on the board. (Answers may include meeting with members to encourage them to love and serve their neighbors and friends, set dates when they will invite friends to learn of the Restoration, contact referrals, give service to people they don’t know, talk with as many people as possible, offer pass-along cards, or visit a family history center to become familiar with its resources.)

Write the word priorities on the board, and discuss the following questions with the class:

  • What does this word mean?

  • Why are priorities important in missionary work?

  • How does the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks apply to a full-time missionary? “With time, we have only one opportunity for choice, and then it is gone forever” (in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 2001, 110; or Ensign, May 2001, 84; see also student manual, 101).

Ask students to suggest a probable time sequence (what would occur first, what activities would follow, and in what order) for the activities listed on the board under “A typical day seeking for people to teach.”

Have the class suggest activities that would be most effective at different times of the day.

Students might also find it helpful to prioritize these activities with numbers, such as labeling the most important activity as one and so on. Continue numbering until all activities have been prioritized. Allow students to comment as to why they place certain tasks above others in importance.

  • What circumstances might require a change in these priorities?

  • In what ways are planning and prioritizing each day helpful for missionaries?

  • Given experience, how quickly do you think a companionship could outline their workday?

  • How does wise missionary planning relate to Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s metaphor regarding a missionary’s actual time spent “fishing”? (see student manual, 101).

Share the following statement from President Thomas S. Monson:

“When we deal in generalities, we will never have a success; but as we deal in specifics, we will rarely have a failure” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1984, 55; or Ensign, Nov. 1984, 43).

  • How might we apply this teaching to the setting of missionary goals?

  • What relation might President Monson’s statement on reporting performance (see student manual, 102) have to a missionary setting goals?

  • Why do you feel it is necessary for missionaries to report their work to their mission president weekly?

Share with students the importance of beginning now to use their time wisely and set meaningful goals. Ask students what specific goals they could set now that will help them prepare for their mission (such as reading the Book of Mormon, starting a journal, and going to bed early and arising early).

Suggested Assignments for Students

  • If you are not already doing so, begin using an activity planner to organize and prioritize your daily activities.

  • Set and prioritize realistic goals to help you prepare for and progress toward your mission.

  • Write four different brief approaches for sharing a message of the restored gospel with someone who is not a member of the Church. Practice verbalizing each approach—first with notes and then without.

  • During the next week, share a pass-along card with someone who is not a member of the Church.