What Do I Study and Teach?

“3: What Do I Study and Teach?” Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2004), 29–88

Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount, by Carl Bloch. Original at the Chapel of Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark. Used by permission of the Frederiksborgmuseum. Do not copy.

The lessons in this chapter contain the essential doctrines, principles, and commandments that you are to study, believe, love, live, and teach. They are what the living prophets and apostles have directed you to teach. They are organized so that you can help others clearly understand the doctrines of Christ.

The lessons in this chapter are:

Teach the first four lessons before baptism. Make sure those you teach qualify for baptism and confirmation by making and keeping all of the commitments in these lessons.

Full-time missionaries take the lead in teaching lessons before baptism with the help of ward missionaries and other members. After baptism, new members are taught the first four lessons again, as well as “Laws and Ordinances.” Ward leaders determine whether ward missionaries or full-time missionaries lead out in ensuring that these lessons are taught and how long full-time missionaries are involved. Encourage each new member to keep all the commitments in these lessons.

You should also use these lessons in individual and companion study, district meetings, and other training settings. As you study the scriptures and treasure up in your mind the doctrines in these lessons, the Spirit will give you in the very hour what you should say and do to help others receive a witness of the truthfulness of the teachings.

As a missionary, you have a great responsibility to teach from the heart and by the Spirit. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “Our purpose is to teach the message of the restored gospel in such a way as to allow the Spirit to direct both the missionaries and those being taught. It is essential to learn the concepts of the [lessons], but these should not be taught by rote presentation. The missionary should feel free to use his own words as prompted by the Spirit. He should not give a memorized recitation, but speak from the heart in his own terms. He may depart from the order of the lessons, giving that which he is inspired to do, according to the interest and needs of the investigator. Speaking out of his own conviction and in his own words he should bear testimony of the truth of his teachings” (“Statement on Missionary Work,” First Presidency letter, 11 Dec. 2002). As you and your companion study these lessons and prepare to teach, keep firmly in mind these instructions. Make sure that you teach all the doctrines in these lessons.

Unless directed by the Spirit, for each of the first three lessons, you should give the full content in the order in which they are written. A few of the commandments may also be included as appropriate or be taught as lessons of their own.

Each lesson outlines the baptismal interview questions, commitments, and doctrines that you are to teach. Thoroughly learn the doctrines. Consistently focus on helping those you teach make and keep the commitments. Use the baptismal interview questions to prepare those you teach for baptism and confirmation. The lessons also have ideas for teaching. Use these suggestions to strengthen how you prepare and teach.

The Role of Memorization

Memorize scriptures to use in your teaching. Commit to memory the sequence of the doctrinal points in each of the missionary lessons. Missionaries learning a second language should focus their language study on preparing to teach the missionary lessons. They should memorize vocabulary, phrases, sentence patterns, and brief statements of doctrine as they appear in the lesson, but only after these have become personally meaningful. Do not memorize entire lessons.

Teach with Clarity

At the end of the first three lessons is a list of words that may be unfamiliar to those you teach. Learn how to define these words simply. As you teach, do all you can to make the message easy to understand.

Scripture Study

What are you directed to teach?

Why must you study the doctrines in the lessons?