How do I answer questions about the gospel?
Inquiries about the Church have increased as a result of the Church’s growth, the prominence of Church members in the public eye, and portrayals of the Church in various media. When others ask questions about the Church or its doctrine, members should be prepared to answer with “clear, simple statements that present those who are curious with the basics about the Church as it is today” (M. Russell Ballard, “Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 25).
Principles for Answering Gospel Questions
The following principles can help you answer questions about the gospel. When sharing gospel truths with others, how you react to the question can have just as much of an influence as the actual words you say.
Consider your reaction
- Be kind. When others ask questions, realize that you have been given the opportunity to share gospel truths. Consider expressing sincere gratitude to the person for coming to you with questions.
- Assume good intentions. Many times people ask questions out of curiosity and not because they want to belittle your faith. No matter the intent, it is better to answer them in a nondefensive way. Using kindness and being calm will assist in bringing the Holy Ghost into the situation. Elder M. Russell Ballard stated, “We should also remember that sometimes the best way to answer people’s interest can be by how we live, how we radiate the joy of the gospel in our lives, how we treat others, and how sincerely we follow the teachings of Christ” (“Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits,” 27).
- Be comfortable not knowing all of the answers. If you don’t know the answer, it is okay to say so. Tell the person that you would like to follow up with them when you have had the chance to study more about their question.
Consider your response
- Prayerfully study reliable resources. A regular habit of personal prayer along with studying the scriptures and words of living prophets is the best preparation for explaining the truths of the gospel to others. Other resources you may find helpful in answering questions are True to the Faith, Gospel Principles, Study by Topic, and the Church magazines. If you strive to prepare yourself spiritually, the Spirit will guide you when the time comes to share (see D&C 84:85).
- Keep answers short, clear, and simple. Most people do not expect long, complicated answers. Stick to the point and select what is most essential to share. Make sure to use plain language and avoid words or phrases that are unfamiliar outside of the Church.
- Testify with sincerity and love. Elder L. Tom Perry said, “We must be bold in our declaration of Jesus Christ. We want others to know that we believe He is the central figure in all human history” (“Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 42). The Spirit will testify as you share gospel truths, how they have influenced your life, and how you have come to know of their truth.
- Learn from each other. “Engage them in a two-way conversation—share something about your religious beliefs but also ask them about their beliefs” (L. Tom Perry, “Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear,” 43). Remember that the missionaries of the Church are called by God and set apart to teach the gospel. As the Spirit directs you, extend an invitation for those with questions to meet with the missionaries to learn more about the restored gospel.
1 Timothy 4:12
2 Timothy 1:7–8
3 Nephi 11:29
Doctrine and Covenants 38:41
Doctrine and Covenants 84:85
Doctrine and Covenants 100:5–8
Doctrine and Covenants 123:12–14