Chapter 1: Called to Serve

Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Religion 130, (2005), 1–10


Our Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation provides an opportunity for all of His children to hear and accept the gospel. Your students are preparing to help take the message of the restored gospel to all the world. You have the opportunity to assist in their preparation by instilling within them greater faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and an enthusiasm for the work and by giving them opportunities to learn gospel principles and practice teaching them to each other. This chapter centers on the call to serve as a missionary of the Lord’s true Church. Encourage your students to accept the Lord’s call and serve Him with all their “heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2).

Group of Missionaries

Doctrines and Principles to Understand

  • Members of the Church have the duty and privilege to share the restored gospel.

  • The Lord has said, “The field is white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4).

  • Missionaries assist in the gathering of Israel.

  • The focus of missionary work is to invite people to Christ.

  • A full-time mission call comes from the Lord through His authorized servants.

Teaching Suggestions

Note: Allow time during the first class for students to introduce themselves. Encourage them to state their name, explain what motivated them to take this course, and indicate if any family members are currently serving missions and where they are serving. If your class is small in number, you might ask students to name one blessing that comes from missionary service (try not to duplicate answers).

You may also wish to either start or end each class by singing with students missionary hymns, such as “Called to Serve” (Hymns, no. 249), “Behold! A Royal

Army” (Hymns, no. 251), “Hark, All Ye Nations!” (Hymns, no. 264), “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” (Hymns, no. 270), and “Ye Elders of Israel” (Hymns, no. 319). This will help them become familiar with missionary hymns.

Members of the Church have the duty and privilege to share the restored gospel.

Invite students to name a few great missionaries from the scriptures and from the latter days. Write the names on the board. Have each student briefly explain what impresses him or her about the missionaries he or she named.

Add to the list or highlight the names Paul, Alma, the sons of Mosiah, and Aaron. Have the students pair up and have each pair take one or more of the following scriptures and analyze what made the missionary or missionaries great. (You may wish to select fewer verses to read if you feel the students understand the context of the accounts.)

Paul. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23–28

Alma. Read Alma 8:8–21.

Amulek. Read Alma 8:18–32.

Sons of Mosiah. Read Alma 17:1–12.

Aaron. Read Alma 22:1–23.

Next, divide the class into four groups. Assign students in each group to read about one of the following missionaries (see student manual, “Missionary Accounts,” 6–10): Samuel H. Smith, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and Dan Jones. Invite students to share with the class what impressed them in the account and how it may help them while serving their missions.

Invite students to discuss answers to the following questions:

  • What relationship is there between the Savior’s teaching in Luke 18:29–30 and some of the experiences and traits of the missionaries we have discussed?

  • Why are missionaries willing to sacrifice so much for people they may not know?

Have students read the statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley in the student manual (p. 2).

  • What elements of the Restoration does President Hinckley urge us to teach?

  • Why do you think each of these is important for people to understand?

Write the following words randomly scattered on the board: baptism, socials, gift of the Holy Ghost, Church sports, judgment, dances, repentance, the Atonement, sanctification, food storage, do Heavenly Father’s will, faith in Jesus Christ, endure to the end, resurrection. Write the word gospel in bold in the center of the board.

Have students look at both 3 Nephi 27:13–22 and Doctrine and Covenants 39:6 and determine which words on the board fit the Savior’s description of the gospel. Have students circle those words or erase the ones not referred to in the scriptures. Suggest that, while the other items are important, the elements of the gospel taught by the Savior are the foundation of a missionary’s message. Invite a student to read to the class the explanation in the student manual regarding the meaning of the word gospel (see student manual, 2). Ask students to listen for words or phrases that should be added to the list on the board.

Have students pair up and practice giving each other a brief description of the gospel that would be understandable to an investigator.

Discuss as a class:

  • Why do you think it is important for a missionary to understand the meaning of the word gospel?

  • How is the meaning of the word gospel different than the word church?

Have a student read Abraham 2:9–11. Begin a class discussion with the following questions:

  • Why do you think most Church members are descendants from Abraham?

  • How do we learn if we are from Abraham? (If needed, you may need to suggest that our patriarchal blessings will tell us. Doctrine and Covenants 86:8–10 also indicates a relationship between priesthood and lineage.) You may want to share the following statement from Elder Russell M. Nelson regarding the Abrahamic covenant:

    “We are also children of the covenant. We have received, as did they of old, the holy priesthood and the everlasting gospel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are our ancestors. We are of Israel. We have the right to receive the gospel, blessings of the priesthood, and eternal life. Nations of the earth will be blessed by our efforts and by the labors of our posterity. The literal seed of Abraham and those who are gathered into his family by adoption receive these promised blessings—predicated upon acceptance of the Lord and obedience to his commandments” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 42–43; or Ensign, May 1995, 33).

  • What do you think is the central message of Abraham 2:9–11 to us?

  • What is your responsibility as a result of this lineage? (To bless others with the opportunity to enjoy blessings of the restored gospel.)

DVD Track 2 Read with students the statements by Elder Russell M. Nelson regarding the Abrahamic covenant in the student manual (p. 2), or you may choose to show DVD track 2 (0:42).

DVD Track 3 Read and familiarize yourself with the following story before class, or you may choose to show DVD track 3 (5:41). Prepare yourself to tell students a brief version of the story in your own words. Emphasize at the conclusion of the story that everyone is our brother or sister and that we must view others as children of God so we can love them sufficiently to share the message of the restored gospel with them.

Elder Jacob de Jager, former member of the Quorum of the Seventy and a convert to the Church, used the following story as a parable for all missionaries called to make sacrifices to save Heavenly Father’s children:

“I have heard so many remarkable testimonies about wonderful men and women that have been brought into the Church that I would like to say: ‘You never know whom you will save.’

“To illustrate my point, I would like to go back in thought to my native Holland where six generations of my father’s ancestors lived in the little village of Scheveningen at the seashore. They were fishermen or had other related vocations, like fishing-boat builders, sailmakers, or fishing-net repairmen. Many of them were also involved in the voluntary but hazardous task of lifesaving. They were stouthearted, experienced men who always were ready to man the rowing lifeboats to go on a rescue mission. With every westerly gale that blew, some fishing boats ran into difficulties, and many times the sailors had to cling to the rigging of their stricken ships in a desperate fight to escape inevitable drowning. Year after year the sea claimed its victims.

“On one occasion during a severe storm, a ship was in distress, and a rowboat went out to rescue the crew of the fishing boat. The waves were enormous, and each of the men at the oars had to give all his strength and energy to reach the unfortunate sailors in the grim darkness of the night and the heavy rainstorm.

“The trip to the wrecked ship was successful, but the rowboat was too small to take the whole crew in one rescue operation. One man had to stay behind on board because there simply was no room for him; the risk that the rescue boat would capsize was too great. When the rescuers made it back to the beach, hundreds of people were waiting for them with torches to guide them in the dreary night. But the same crew could not make the second trip because they were exhausted from their fight with the stormwinds, the waves, and the sweeping rains.

“So the local captain of the coast guard asked for volunteers to make a second trip. Among those who stepped forward without hesitation was a nineteen-year-old youth by the name of Hans. With his mother he had come to the beach in his oilskin clothes to watch the rescue operation.

“When Hans stepped forward his mother panicked and said, ‘Hans, please don’t go. Your father died at sea when you were four years old and your older brother Pete has been reported missing at sea for more than three months now. You are the only son left to me!’

“But Hans said, ‘Mom, I feel I have to do it. It is my duty.’ And the mother wept and restlessly started pacing the beach when Hans boarded the rowing boat, took the oars, and disappeared into the night.

“After a struggle with the high-going seas that lasted for more than an hour (and to Hans’s mother it seemed an eternity), the rowboat came into sight again. When the rescuers had approached the beach close enough so that the captain of the coast guard could reach them by shouting, he cupped his hands around his mouth and called vigorously against the storm, ‘Did you save him?’

“And then the people lighting the sea with their torches saw Hans rise from his rowing bench, and he shouted with all his might, ‘Yes! And tell Mother it is my brother Pete!’

“… You never know whom [you] will save! It may be the one that on life’s billows is tempest tossed or it may even be the one that had been reported missing at life’s sea. And when someone is saved through [your] rescue mission, oh how great shall be [your] joy with him or her in the kingdom of our Father” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 80–81; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 56–57).

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 123:12–17 and suggest principles from these verses that are relevant to missionary work. Compliment each response and encourage other responses.

The Lord has said, “The field is white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4).

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 11:3.

  • What does the phrase “the field is white” mean? (see the introduction for this section in the student manual, 3).

Have a student read Doctrine and Covenants 33:7–9. Explain that sheaves are grain stalks bound together. Anciently, workers harvested grain by cutting the stalks, binding them in sheaves, and carrying them to the granary, or storage place. “Sheaves” does not necessarily refer only to a quantity of baptisms in the mission field. It can also refer to blessings a missionary receives while engaged in the Lord’s work.

  • In what ways do these verses describe how missionaries should work?

  • What do you think you must do to qualify for the promise “Open your mouths and they shall be filled”? (D&C 33:8; see also D&C 84:85).

  • How does obeying this command show faith on the part of a missionary?

  • How would trying to be “even as Nephi of old” affect how you approach missionary work?

  • What could you do differently now, before your mission, to be more like Nephi?

Missionaries assist in the gathering of Israel.

Draw the following pedigree chart on the board:

Pedigree Chart
  • According to 1 Nephi 22:3–4, where are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) today?

  • In the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer (D&C 109) the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed that through the Restoration “scattered remnants of Israel” would begin to be gathered. What does Doctrine and Covenants 109:67 say they would be gathered to? (To knowledge of the truth and belief in the Messiah.)

  • What role do missionaries have in the gathering of Israel? (see D&C 29:7).

Read with students the statement by President Spencer W. Kimball in the student manual (p. 4), and have students look for and discuss what qualifies an investigator to become a part of the gathered Israel. Emphasize the missionary purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ by having faith, repenting, being baptized and confirmed members of the Lord’s true Church, and enduring to the end.

The focus of missionary work is to invite people to Christ.

Point out the following sentence from the statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (see student manual, 5):

“Beyond my words and teachings and spoken witness, my life must be part of that testimony of Jesus” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 40; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 31).

  • As a potential missionary, what does Elder Holland’s statement mean to you?

Have class members pair off and each take a turn asking and answering the following questions. (While these questions may seem simple, they provide an opportunity for students to practice articulating their beliefs and testimonies on a level they will experience in the mission field.)

  • How has being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought you closer to Jesus Christ?

  • How has drawing closer to Christ influenced or changed your life?

DVD Track 4 Read the following experience related by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, or you may choose to show DVD track 4, segment 1 (0:18):

“In zone conferences, which are some of the greatest teaching moments we as General Authorities have with these young elders and sisters, I have asked missionaries what it is they want investigators to do as a result of their discussions with them.”

  • How would you answer Elder Holland’s question?

DVD Track 4 Continue with the story Elder Holland related, or you may choose to show DVD track 4, segment 2 (1:06):

“‘Be baptized!’ is shouted forward in an absolute chorus.

“‘Yes,’ I say, ‘we do want them to be baptized, but what has to precede that?’

“Now they are a little leery. Aha, they think. This is a test. It is a test.… ‘Read the Book of Mormon!’ someone shouts. ‘Pray!’ an elder roars from the back of the room. ‘Attend church!’ one of the sisters on the front row declares. ‘Receive all of the discussions!’ someone else offers.

“‘… I say, ‘but what else do you want your investigators to do?’

“‘Be baptized!’ The chorus comes a second time.

“‘Elders,’ I plead, ‘you have already told me about baptism, and I am still asking!’

“Well, now they are stumped. … ‘Live the Word of Wisdom!’ someone says. ‘Pay tithing!’ another shouts. And so it goes.”

  • What do you think these missionaries are missing?

DVD Track 4 Continue reading, or you may choose to show DVD track 4, segment 3 (0:50):

“I have to say that almost never do the missionaries get around to identifying the two most fundamental things we want investigators to do prior to baptism: have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. Yet ‘we believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; [then] third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.’ [Articles of Faith 1:4; emphasis added.]”

  • Why are faith in Jesus Christ and repentance vital to a new convert?

DVD Track 4 Finish reading Elder Holland’s account, or you may choose to show DVD track 4, segment 4 (1:20):

“A convert’s new life is to be built upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redeeming sacrifice—a conviction that He really is the Son of God, that He lives this very moment, that He really is the door of the sheepfold, that He alone holds the key to our salvation and exaltation. That belief is to be followed by true repentance, repentance which shows our desire to be clean and renewed and whole, repentance that allows us to lay claim to the full blessings of the Atonement.

Then comes baptism for the remission of sins. Yes, baptism is also for membership in the Church, but that isn’t what the Prophet Joseph Smith chose to stress in that article of faith. He stressed that it was baptism for the remission of sins—focusing you and me, the missionary and the investigator again on the Atonement, on salvation, on the gift Christ gives us. This points that new convert toward the blessings of the ‘good news.’” (“Missionary Work and the Atonement,” Ensign, Mar. 2001, 10–11).

  • According to 2 Nephi 2:6–9, what message must be brought to all people?

  • As a missionary what should be your focus as a result of understanding this scripture?

A full-time mission call comes from the Lord through His authorized servants.

Show students the following certificate. If possible, you may want to make an enlarged copy that is easier for students to see, or make it into an overhead transparency and project the image onto a screen.

  • What are the formal steps a person must go through before he or she becomes a full-time missionary? (Fill out applications, have several priesthood interviews, receive a mission call, be set apart.)

  • What will it mean to you to be set apart as a full-time representative of Jesus Christ?

Have a student read Doctrine and Covenants 64:29.

  • How does knowing that you are on the Lord’s errand change how you do things, how you live, and how you act?

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 64:29, what is the key to being a successful “agent”?

Share the following hypothetical case study or develop one yourself that could lead to a class discussion regarding the Lord’s hand in each missionary’s call:

With great enthusiasm Roberto sat down to open the envelope containing his mission call. He had spent the past several years learning a foreign language. He was certain that he would receive a call to serve where he could use this acquired skill to teach the restored gospel. When he read the letter and saw his assigned mission, his heart dropped. Not only was he being called to serve in his own country but also in a mission that used his native language! “How could this possibly be a call from the Lord?” he wondered. “Surely the Lord knows of my proficiency in another language.”

  • If this young man came to counsel with you, expressing doubt that he was called by inspiration, what would you say?

  • What other kinds of challenges may missionaries have regarding their calling that may cause them to be concerned?

You may wish to share the following statement from President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“The first great experience is to learn that it is not your mission at all—it is the Lord’s mission. I know that we say, ‘I am going on my mission,’ but it is not my mission, it is His mission. … You will find through prayer, through challenge, through work, through study, and through the difficulties and disappointments you face that it is the Lord’s mission. You will come to know that” (“Some Things Every Missionary Should Know” [seminar for new mission presidents, June 26, 2002], 2).

Ask if a student can quote the fifth article of faith (if not, have a student read it).

  • How does this article of faith relate to mission calls?

  • In what ways can understanding that your call literally comes from the Lord through His servants influence how you serve?

Suggested Assignments for Students

  • Start a study journal. This is a journal in which you record gospel insights learned from your study. Many missions will instruct you to keep such a journal, so this will give you a start on a useful missionary tool.

  • Memorize Doctrine and Covenants 4 and prepare to recite it in a future class devotional (or you may recite it together as a class).

  • Memorize (or rememorize) the Articles of Faith.

  • Talk with a recently returned missionary about the value of serving a mission and whether or not his or her mission was a sacrifice.

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 31:3–13, and analyze those charges and promises of the Lord to missionaries.

  • Bring scriptures and the student manual to class each week.