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How can I help my less-active friends return to church?

As part of our commitment to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9), we reach out to Latter-day Saint friends and neighbors who are not coming to church. We can help them by making sure they feel our genuine love and concern by sharing our testimonies through our words and actions and by including them in our activities.

Prepare yourself spiritually

What scriptures and talks will help the young women learn how to help their less-active friends?

Luke 15 (Parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and prodigal son)

Luke 22:32; John 21:15–17; 1 Peter 5:2–4 (The Lord commands us to strengthen each other)

Alma 31:34–35; D&C 18:10–16 (The worth of souls is great)

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Come, Join with Us,Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013

Thomas S. Monson, “Sugar Beets and the Worth of a Soul,” Ensign, July 2009, 3–5 (see also the video “Sugar Beets and the Worth of a Soul”)

Jeffrey R. Holland, “Prophets in the Land Again,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 104–7

Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Faith to Move Mountains,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 83–84

Video: “Help Others Come Back to Church,” “The Faith of Youth: The Ennis Family”

Share experiences

At the beginning of each class, invite the young women to share, teach, and testify about the experiences they have had applying what they learned in the previous week’s lesson. This will encourage personal conversion and help the young women see the relevance of the gospel in their daily lives.

Introduce the doctrine

Choose from these ideas or think of your own to introduce this week’s lesson:

  • Show the video “The Faith of Youth: The Ennis Family,” and ask the young women to share their thoughts about this story.
  • Write the title of the lesson on the board. Invite the young women to write on a piece of paper one way they can help less-active friends return to church. Collect the papers and pass them out to different young women. Invite them to share the ideas from the papers. Ask the young women to be thinking during the lesson of someone they know who is not active in the Church and to look for ways they can help that person.

Learn together

Each of the activities below will help the young women understand how to help their less-active friends return to church. Following the inspiration of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for your class:

  • Ask the young women to think of a time when they lost something very valuable. What did they do to try to find it? Assign each young woman one of the three parables in Luke 15. Ask her to retell the parable in her own words and share a phrase from the parable that summarizes what the Savior was teaching in the parable. What do the young women learn from the actions of the shepherd, the woman, and the father in these parables? How can they follow these examples as they try to help those who are “lost” from the Church? Ask the young women to share any experiences of friends or family members who have returned after being less active, if they feel comfortable doing so.
  • Ask the young women what it means to “rescue” someone. Share with them the story of the handcart pioneers who were stranded in a snowstorm in 1856 and Brigham Young’s plea to the Saints to rescue them (see Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Faith to Move Mountains,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 83–84). Invite someone to read the fourth-to-last paragraph of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk “Prophets in the Land Again.” How are those handcart pioneers like people the young women know today who need to be rescued? Ask them to think of a friend or family member who they could help return to activity in the Church.
  • Share one of the stories from President Thomas S. Monson’s article “Sugar Beets and the Worth of a Soul” (see also the first two minutes of the video with the same title), or share an experience you have had helping a less-active friend or family member return to church. Invite the young women to read Alma 31:34–35 and D&C 18:10–16. What do these scriptures teach about how Heavenly Father feels about His children? Help the young women make a list of less-active young women in the ward, and discuss as a class the great worth each of them has and things they can do to invite those young women to return.
  • Write on the board some reasons people give for not coming to church, such as “I have doubts about the Church’s teachings,” “I don’t fit in with people in the Church,” “I don’t think I could live up to the Church’s standards,” “I know a member of the Church who is a hypocrite,” and so on. Invite the young women look for President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s responses to these concerns in his talk “Come, Join with Us.” Give the young women an opportunity to role-play how they would respond if a friend expressed one of these concerns.
  • Show the video “Help Others Come Back to Church.” Invite the young women to look for principles Elder Bednar teaches that will help them be more effective as they invite their less-active friends to return to church. Why is family history work a good way to invite less-active friends to participate in church? What other activities could accomplish what Elder Bednar is describing?

Ask the young women to share what they learned today. What feelings or impressions do they have? Do they understand how to help their less-active friends? Do they have any additional questions? Would it be helpful to spend more time on this topic?

Live what we are learning

Invite the young women to consider how they will live by what they have learned today. For example, they could:

  • Complete Good Works value experience 7 in Personal Progress.
  • Pray for inspiration on how to help a friend or family member return to church and invite that person to come to church or a Mutual activity.
  • Follow through with any plans they made today to reach out to a less-active class member.