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July 20, 2017

Inspiration from the Field—Marcos de Niza Seminary

young men talking about scriptures

As religious educators, we constantly strive to invite students to attend seminary and institute. Our time is spent creating more effective invitations and finding better opportunities to invite more students to attend and participate in our classes. However, sometimes the most effective invitations don’t come from us—they come from our students.

The seminary students at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Arizona, USA, truly put into action the principles of sharing the gospel that they learn in class. They don’t simply learn about missionary work; they become great member missionaries by putting their faith and trust in the Lord and in personal revelation.

Although the Marcos de Niza Seminary hosts many social events throughout the year, the most important event is the Marcos de Niza Seminary Open House. While a simple open house might entail inviting the public to learn more about the Church’s seminary program and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in general, the Marcos de Niza Seminary students take their open house above and beyond.

Their teacher, Sister Kristin Shaeffer, described the students’ unique invitations: “Every semester they prayerfully choose two of their friends that they feel have been prepared to learn more about the restored gospel. Then … the students welcome their guests and guide them through the seminary room. … Next, they give them a tour of the entire Church building, … answering their questions all along the way.”

After the tour, the students invite their two friends to a meal in the building. Full-time proselyting missionaries are also invited to the meal, and at least one missionary is placed at each table.

Sister Shaeffer helps foster a relaxed atmosphere where the guests feel comfortable and acts as the facilitator for her students and their guests. She ensures that the students have all of the resources necessary to create their effective invitations. She said, “The trick to having everyone relax and stay for a long time is for me to expect to stay for a long time. I don’t let anyone clean up tables and chairs. As a result, the kids stay for up to three hours, laughing, sharing talents, and talking.”

The students don’t force Church discussion topics on their guests. Instead, the conversation follows a natural pattern. Sometimes, an entire missionary lesson will be taught to a particular guest at the event; other times, the guests accept to receive the missionaries at a later date. Many of the invited students simply enjoy the time in the building and the opportunity to feel comfortable with other friends.

As the Marcos de Niza Seminary students have put their faith and trust in the Lord, they have been able to create effective invitations in order to share the gospel with their friends. Additionally, their own testimonies have been strengthened as they have participated as member missionaries.

Sister Shaeffer said, “The seminary students at Marcos aren’t just good missionaries when there is a seminary activity going on. Often there is a missionary lesson going on during the lunch hour or after school because the Marcos kids are such good missionaries. They are truly a light to the whole community.”

As you study the Invite All priority this year, encourage your students to learn the principles as well. Your students have great potential to invite their friends to attend seminary or institute.

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