Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

I am a young woman who is a friend of a young man who is not a member of our faith. He seems to be interested in the Church, but how do I know whether he’s really interested in the gospel or just interested in me?

New Era

  • Remember that many people are drawn to the Church because of the example of a righteous member.

  • Let your friends know that you respect and like them, whether or not they remain interested in the Church.

  • Never compromise your standards to please your friend.

  • Participate in activities that invite the Spirit—remember that’s the key to helping your friend learn the gospel.

  • Enlist the help of family, leaders, friends, and the missionaries.

As a teenager, you probably find yourself socializing with members of the opposite sex more often than you did when you were younger. You may also find that your friends are more aware of the fact that your religious beliefs are different from their own and are asking you more questions about them. When both social life and missionary opportunities are going on at the same time, it can be really exciting, but it can also be a bit confusing. One thing is clear in this situation, though—you have an opportunity to share the gospel, and unless your friend is acting inappropriately in some way, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be spending time with him to tell him all he wants to know about being a Latter-day Saint.

For most of us, the most natural way to find out about things is to ask a friend what they know. It sounds like your friend is doing just that. Many people are initially interested in the Church because of someone they know and like, and their interest develops into something deeper as they learn and study.

There are some pitfalls to avoid in this kind of a relationship, however. Here are some pointers to keep your friendship—and your missionary work—on the right path:

  • Be sure that your friendship is in keeping with Church standards. Be aware that getting caught up in romantic feelings for your friend can cloud your judgment.

  • Re-commit yourself to living the gospel. Now, more than ever, your friend will be observing your actions.

  • Participate together in Church and family activities. One of the greatest things about being a member of the Church is the strong relationships we have with our families and friends. Being around other Latter-day Saints not only shows your friend what our culture is like, but it also gives you lots of built-in help as you teach your friend the gospel.

  • Don’t base your friendship on whether or not he accepts the gospel. Perhaps after some investigation, your friend will lose interest or decide that the Church isn’t for him. Always remember that you weren’t being friends with him only to get him to join the Church. As Christians and as Latter-day Saints, it’s very important that we respect the religious decisions of others.

  • Ask for help if you need it. If your friend is asking you questions you can’t answer, you may feel a bit embarrassed or even tempted to give an answer that might be incorrect. Instead, tell your friend that you’ll research his question and get back to him. Pray for the guidance of our Father in Heaven as you look for answers. Parents, leaders, seminary teachers, and the full-time missionaries are all ready and willing to help you.

  • Remember that ultimately it’s the Spirit that converts people to the gospel. Do your best to be with your friend in places where it’s easy for the Spirit to dwell, and live worthy to always have that Spirit with you.

Readers

I have been faced with this situation. After a while, the young man I was fellowshipping lost interest and wasn’t willing to put forth the effort to learn the gospel. I knew he was investigating the Church for the wrong reasons. However, I still pray for him and hope that someday he will join the Church.

Leandra E. Acevedo, 17 Atlanta, Texas

My younger sister faced the same situation in her life. She continued her friendship with him and showed him the standards of the Church. She invited him to meetings and prayed for the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

Elder Ramnie D. Benes, 23 Philippines Cabanatuan Mission

Invite him to come to church with you and introduce him to your friends.

He may want to continue coming to church. However, even if he doesn’t, you have planted a seed that may grow later on.

Suzie Moon, 16 Strathroy, Ontario, Canada

First, talk to your friend about the Church and see if he really listens to what you’re saying and gives you feedback about it. Second, invite him to Church activities to find out if he likes being in a Church environment. Third, always pray about it. Good luck!

Wesley Price, 17 Salcha, Alaska

Since you can’t really know what his reasons for being interested in the Church are, the best you can do is pray for him and be a good example.

Victoria Juarez, 14 Wauchula, Florida

[photo] Photography by Lana Leishman. Posed by models

[photo] In the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, it says, “Good friendships can be developed at any age. … Avoid pairing off exclusively with one partner” (p. 7). It also says “many nonmembers have come into the Church through friends who have involved them in Church activities” (p. 9). Combine both pieces of advice, and you have a formula for a successful and fun friendship, whether or not your friend joins the Church.