Chapter 13: Preparing Investigators for Baptism and Confirmation

Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Religion 130, (2005), 87–91

become converted when they begin to live the principles of the restored gospel and feel the Holy Ghost confirm that what they are doing is in harmony with God’s will. Faith, repentance, and the making of covenants require action. Inviting investigators to commit themselves to live a principle is one important way that missionaries prepare them to make and keep sacred covenants. Investigators who are preparing for the ordinances of baptism and confirmation in the Lord’s Church are required to live certain standards of worthiness, which missionaries must help them understand.

Confirmation of a man

Missionaries must also understand that baptism and confirmation is not the end goal. It is the missionary’s privilege and responsibility to teach investigators that there are additional covenants and ordinances they may receive in the house of the Lord. Missionaries assist the priesthood leaders of the local ward and branch, who are primarily responsible for assisting in preparing the new members for the temple.

Doctrines and Principles to Understand

  • As investigators come unto Christ and prepare to become Church members, they must understand the covenants associated with saving ordinances and be willing to make and keep these sacred obligations.

  • Missionaries help those who are converted prepare for baptism, confirmation, and membership in the Lord’s Church.

  • Covenants and ordinances necessary for exaltation are received in the house of the Lord.

Teaching Suggestions

As investigators come unto Christ and prepare to become Church members, they must understand the covenants associated with saving ordinances and be willing to make and keep these sacred obligations.

Ask students what the word covenant means to a Church member. After responses, have students silently read the entry under “Covenant” from the Bible Dictionary (p. 651; or Guide to the Scriptures, 55; see also True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 44). Ask students to comment on additional insight gained from these entries.

  • Why are converts required to make covenants to become members of the Lord’s Church?

  • What important points should missionaries help investigators understand about the making of covenants?

  • How does Doctrine and Covenants 130:21 relate to the keeping of covenants?

Ask students to turn to the statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard (see student manual, 106–7) and identify key words that lead to covenant making (know, understand, feel, and live). List these on the board.

  • What helps an investigator feel the truth of a doctrine or principle?

  • How can a missionary know whether or not the investigator knows and feels the truthfulness of the restored gospel?

  • Why does the spiritual process of conversion lead to covenants and ordinances?

  • What additional covenants and ordinances can a newly baptized member look forward to?

Missionaries help those who are converted prepare for baptism, confirmation, and membership in the Lord’s Church.

Have students review Doctrine and Covenants 20:37, 68 and Moroni 6:2–3 to identify what a person must do to prepare for baptism, confirmation, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. List their responses on the board. Discuss this list, noting how each item continues to apply after baptism.

Missionaries have the responsibility to prepare truly converted investigators for baptism of water and of the Holy Ghost. This includes teaching investigators the covenants they will be making when baptized. During the baptismal interview, potential members will be asked to commit themselves to living these covenants. A willingness to make and keep these covenants helps indicate a person’s level of conversion. Share and discuss with students the following commitments. Offer the class an opportunity to discuss each commitment a member makes at baptism. Invite them to talk about why each of these commitments is necessary to understand and make before being baptized. You may wish to list them on the board.

Investigators who are truly converted and ready for baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost will:

  • Develop a testimony of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

  • Believe that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that a living prophet directs the Church today.

  • Truly repent of their sins (see Moroni 6:2–3; D&C 20:37).

  • Live the law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relationship outside the bonds of a legal marriage between a man and a woman.

  • Live the law of tithing, which is a regular contribution of one-tenth of a person’s income.

  • Live the Word of Wisdom.

  • Keep the Sabbath day holy, including partaking of the sacrament weekly.

  • Be willing to take upon themselves the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout their lives.

  • Be willing to prepare to receive the ordinances available in the temple.

Share the following statement by President Joseph F. Smith, as quoted by President Gordon B. Hinckley. Have students look for what is required of converts and what they think missionaries can do to help investigators meet these expectations.

“Speaking of worthiness in coming into the Church, President Joseph F. Smith once wrote: ‘People must be taught before they are fit candidates for baptism. Now, what shall they be taught? Why, faith in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost, faith in the efficacy of prayer, and in the ordinances and principles of the gospel which Jesus taught; faith in the restoration of this gospel and all its powers, to the Prophet Joseph Smith; faith in the Church which he was instrumental in establishing; faith in the priesthood, as authorized servants of the living God; faith in the revelations received in modern times; faith in the performance of the works required of a Latter-day Saint; faith in the principle of tithing, and in all other requirements, temporal and spiritual, mentioned in the law of God; and, finally, faith to live lives of righteousness before the Lord’ (‘Baptism,’ Improvement Era, Jan. 1911, 267–68)” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 106).

  • Why is it vital that a missionary help investigators understand what they are committing to before they join the Church?

  • How might knowing what is required for baptism affect the number of people who choose to be baptized?

  • Why do you think high standards are a requirement for baptism?

Note: The following teaching idea may take considerable time. The preparing and teaching experience, however, will be valuable to future missionaries. You may need to abbreviate this or other teaching ideas. Or you may wish to extend this activity to the next class period.

Ask students to turn to the student manual for this principle (see student manual, 107–10). List the following commandments on the board:

  1. 1.

    Keep the Sabbath day holy

  2. 2.

    Follow the prophets

  3. 3.

    Live the law of chastity

  4. 4.

    Obey the Word of Wisdom

  5. 5.

    Live the law of tithing

Inform students that they will be allowed time to make a brief lesson plan for one of the commandments listed on the board. Walk around the class, point to each student, and assign the number of a topic (1 through 5). Repeat the numeric sequence until all students have an assigned topic. Allow sufficient time for each student to create a lesson plan for teaching a five-minute lesson on the assigned topic to an investigator. Emphasize that their lesson plan should include scriptures, questions, testimony, and commitments to obey the commandment. They can use information in the student manual, Bible Dictionary (or Guide to the Scriptures), Topical Guide, and True to the Faith, as well as their own experiences.

When students have prepared, have them pair off and teach each other a five-minute lesson on their commandment. Be sure to have students evaluate each other’s teaching by complimenting each other for strengths and suggesting how the lessons could be improved.

Have two students who taught the same topic come to the front of the class and role-play missionaries teaching their topic to another three or four students who represent an investigator family. Discuss and evaluate their teaching as time permits. Repeat this activity using each of the remaining topics.

Covenants and ordinances necessary for exaltation are received in the house of the Lord.

Explain to students that missionaries not only help converts make and keep covenants of baptism and confirmation, but they also play an important role in introducing converts to the idea that they can begin looking forward to the time when they may receive temple blessings. The following teaching suggestion is provided to help future missionaries understand the importance of helping converts plan for future temple blessings.

Display one or more temple pictures. Ask students who have visited temple grounds or done ordinance work in the temple to describe the feelings they sensed while they were at the temple.

  • Why do these feelings often accompany a visit to the temple?

  • What blessings do newly baptized members have to look forward to in the temple?

Have a student read Doctrine and Covenants 124:55.

  • According to this verse, what are the ultimate blessings of the temple?

Have students find sentences or phrases from the statements of President Howard W. Hunter and Elder Russell M. Nelson that describe the importance of temple covenants and ordinances (see student manual, 111). Have students share their sentences or phrases.

Read the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith:

“It is a wonderful thing to come into the Church, but you cannot receive an exaltation until you have made covenants in the house of the Lord and received the keys and authorities that are there bestowed and which cannot be given in any other place on the earth today” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:253).

  • Why must missionaries understand that baptism is not the end goal for their converts?

Read with students 2 Nephi 31:17–20. Invite students to discuss what they feel verse 20 means as it relates to temple covenants and ordinances.

Conclude with your testimony of the importance of worthily obtaining the temple ordinances and their importance as we strive for exaltation.

Suggested Assignments for Students

  • Make a list of covenants you have made in your life, and ponder how they have influenced and protected you.

  • Practice teaching one of the topics from class in a family home evening setting or to a friend or roommate.

  • If you have not recently done so, visit with your bishop or branch president about preparing to go to the temple.