Member Missionary work

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Our Elders were over last night and after a lenghty discussion about the status of Kim’s hairstyles in his youth, we got back to our original conversation. In BC the track record for tracting out for missionaries is 1 in 2000 being baptised as opposed to 1 in 1000 in Canada. They are trying to get more member referrals to work with. I tried explaining to them I do not work, everyone in our building works during the day, I literally have no friends/acquaintances outside the church and I don’t belong to any groups or social clubs etc where I am in direct contact with anyone to talk to about the church.

I keep saying that it isn’t about bringing new blood into the church. Part of member missionary work has to be with the inactives as well and that is where I am focusing my strenght. But then I feel so bad for them. I know somewhere there is a mom worrying about them especially with one of our Elders who is actually from the area that Kim served. Most missionaries in our area will go through their entire mission without having been able to get in one single door from tracting.

What’s the solution here? Am I so wrapped up in my callings that I don’t make time to socialize outside the church? Do they need to focus more on member retentiveness? More Ward missionaries to pick up where the Elders leave off? Our Mission President 2 weeks ago just closed 3 cities to missionaries because of lack of member referrals. THREE!!! What is everyone else doing for member missionary work?

32 thoughts on “Member Missionary work

  1. Well, I am not a good one to comment on this as I feel like such a dud in the member missionary area. I don’t know what works, not sure what to do. We try our best, I suppose, or maybe we don’t. I think the best thing is just being a friend, living the Gospel and being open to sharing it when the Spirit directs. I don’t believe just going up to someone and saying “Hi,, I am Mary, want to hear about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints” really works.

  2. Sally said:

    “Part of member missionary work has to be with the inactives as well and that is where I am focusing my strenght.”

    This is completely false. This is also the biggest hinderance to missionary work in the church.

    Proclaim the gospel -> Working with the un-baptized.

    Perfect the saints -> Working with the baptized.

    Missionary work, as defined in the LDS church, is to “Bring souls to Christ through the ordinances of baptism and confirmation.” By that definition, no part of missionary work is to work with the already baptized, unless it is with a part-member family.

    By shifting the focus of perfecting the saints to the missionary program, we unfairly burden them with an unnecessary distraction, and we make priesthood quorums impotent in their duty to perfect the saints.

    I can remember countless P.E.C. meetings where the bishop would routinely assign the visitation and fellowship of less active members to the ward mission leader or the full time missionaries while in my mind saying “Hello… perfect the saints is over here!!!”

    After discussing this with the bishop, he mentioned “Well, the mission president said it’s ok for us to use the ward mission to help with less actives.” Sounds to me like a mission president who doesn’t understand his mission. Never once did the EQ receive an assignment to work with the less active. It’s no wonder that in 3 years, that ward never had a single member referral for the missionaries.

  3. “This is completely false. This is also the biggest hinderance to missionary work in the church.”

    I sort of have to disagree with this statement (in reference to less actives). Having younger siblings who are not only NOT active, but some who are actively INACTIVE I think missionary work with them is really important. Sure they were baptised, but they certainly aren’t “members”. I don’t think theya re any less important in missionary work than the non-members. In some ways the missionary work is harder with them. They already have the resentments and biases. I would say Heavenly Father is JUST as concerned with their eternal welfare as He is with non-members.

    Ok, you are saying it is not missionary work, but I still don’t agree. When some less actives are less active, they may as well be non members.

  4. True, but the responsibility to minister to them falls to the priesthood quorums, not the full time missionaries.

    The priesthood holders who are called and set apart to watch over, be with, and strengthen the less active have a specific assignment and calling to do so. By denying the priesthood the opportuinity to participate in the re-activiation, you are working outside the divinely inspired framework.

    The ward mission leader and the ward / full time missionaries are called to work with the non members. They cannot, and will not receive inspiration for the less active. This will only come to the priesthood.

    Why is that so hard for members to understand?

    And by distracting the full time missionaries from their real calling, are we denying non-members the potential blessings of the gospel?

  5. ok, i agree, i should have read back more. i don’t believe full time missionaries should be working with with less actives either.

    however in primary, i think the majority of our “missionary” work is with less actives.

  6. I think that depends. Our stake is on this push to hand out 2000 books of mormon this year. Each ward has been given their share to hand out.

    A couple of weeks ago, our ward mission leader reported on how our ward is doing.

    The majority of our wards “Hand-out’s” have been through the primary(thirty or so copies), followed by the YM / YW (in the teens), and lastly, the adults (single digits).

    The ones handed out by the primary are all to non-members. My daughters have each handed out one to a friend and even invited their friend to church.

    At least in our stake, it seems the primary is properly focused. Perhaps not in your area.

  7. I am not saying primary children can’t hand out Books of Mormon. But there are so many children who slip through the cracks and they stay there, if work isn’t done to help them feel loved while they are in primary. Teachers, fellow classmates, leaders, all have a very important role in helping them.

    I don’t see what the point is in building our numbers if we can’t retain them. Pres HInckley did talk about this. Missionary work isn’t just in sharing our testimonies, it is in being friends and helping people, less active members and non-members, that they actually are important, not just as potential members of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day Saints, but as individuals. For themselves. This is why many people fall away, after being converted. They don’t feel loved.

    Our primary is very properly focussed. We have a great primary, the children and leaders and teachers, who are doing their best to not only be missionaries to non members, but to help those who are not active, feel important, special and the love of the Lord.

  8. Mary Said:

    “I don’t see what the point is in building our numbers if we can’t retain them.”

    I agree with that and all you have said in #9. In fact, I tend to take the extreme view that we should close down much of the Canada Calgary Mission until we as members are more ready, willing, and able to support the missionary program and do a better job at retention.

    But a huge part of our retention problem is that our church culture teaches the false doctrine that missionary work is working with the less active.

    What I am saying, is lets use the proper definitions for each mission. In my ward, when I speak about missionary work, I am talking about one specific thing, but almost everyone else hears another. We are pulling the wagon in two different directions, and as a result, we are less effective and often stall in our efforts to do any of it.

    My comment in #4 wasn’t to say that we shouldn’t do any reactivation. On the contrary, we should be spending 1/3 of our efforts there. What I am saying is lets stop calling it missionary work. By calling reactivation work missionary work, we wrap ourselves in a false sense of accomplishment of one of the missions of the church when in fact we are completely ignoring it.

  9. Well, that’s good.

    Actually I should make it clear. When I think of missionary work I don’t really think of less active work as being missionary work. At least not in the full time missionary work. I do see working with anyone who is not a member or who is less active as “being a missionary” and by this I mean as members, not full time missionaries. Probably it would be good to have a clarification of terms. Probably retention work with less actives, or fellowship is better.

  10. There has been a considerable shift in the activities of LDS missionaries into more fellowshipping tasks and less focus on giving discussions and doing baptisms.

    As a metter of fact there may be a new unwritten directive that has instructed the missionaries to gather up the non/less active members and bring them back to the fold.

    Having had conversations with *many* missionaries (specifically from the unique perspective of an ‘investigator’) I have have many anecdotal evidences of such a directive.

    It seems that the push from the Head Office (at least in areas where mambers are in abundance) is to have less of a focus on baptisms and more of a focus on bringing the baptised back to church.

    This, to me, would be necessary specifically in area like Mexico where less than one in five people who are baptised, attend church afterward.

  11. Rick,

    I tend to agree with servicing the need that the church has with reactivation.

    What I don’t understand is why we don’t act through the proper priesthood channels.

    I also don’t understand why we are calling reactivation work, missionary work. It confuses the members. They think they are fulfilling that mission of the church when they are not.

    Our young, full-time missionaries are nothing but cheep labor made available as a resource to a ward / stake / area. Sure, if we need to, I guess we can use that resource where our need is greatest.

    But to me, letting the missionary arm of the church spearhead our reactivation efforts is like having the primary presidency take over responsibility for the young mens program… it doesn’t make sense.

  12. My family stopped attending Church 5 months ago when we moved to a new ward in a new stake. When we first arrived two families from the new ward stopped by to welcome us to the ward. We were polite to them.

    Since that time, we have had a young man stop by and tell us he was assigned to be our home teacher and some sister sends my wife the monthly “letter” for VT. A 15 year old boy called several times for our son to attend YM.

    Today the Jevohah Witness stopped by for the second time since we moved here. They were once again not interested in sharing their religion since we did not speak Spanish.

    A Christian group stopped by tonight singing Christmas carols and they were really nice until I was not interested in buying their music CD’s.

    The monthly VT letter arrived today from the unknown sister which the message in it was kinda strange.

    Three groups pretending to represent Christ made some kind of contact with us today and not one of them was interesed in us.

    I wonder if I would have let any of them talk with us if they had simply asked if they could share a message with us.

    Side note – the EQ President from our old ward also moved to the same ward we are in and he is now an EQ councilor in the new ward and he has made no effort to see why we no longer attend. The YM P from the old ward also moved to the new ward and used to HT us. Even helped us move to the new house.

    The reason I mentioned them is that I would have allowed either of these two men to ask why we stopped attending.

    Do you think you should be assigned to care about someone?

    What happened to caring about your fellow man especially during the Christmas season?

    It makes me wonder if there is anything worthwhile with religion.

  13. “It makes me wonder if there is anything worthwhile with religion.”

    Sure there’s stuff that’s worthwhile in religion.

    It’s just not exclusive to religion.

  14. I should have made sure it was clearer. What I was thinking is this-what are we becoming when we only care about others if have been assigned to care as oppossed to caring just because we do.

    Being assigned seems to be the opposite of what religion is supposed to do for you.

  15. I think that says more about some twisted definition of the word ‘care’ than it does about people in general.

    Most people only care about people who are in their ‘focus’, for lack of a better word.

    The only difference is, is that the church assigns you someone to focus on.

    It is a very rare instance when you find someone who is actively pursuing people to whom to give assistance.

    Just my take on caring in general.

    I’m not big on the assigned friends concept either, George.

  16. If I was in either your current or former ward, I would probably care as much about you as you did about me.

    If you made no effort to introduce yourself at church (hard to do when you don’t show up) or dont show any sort of interest in some casual chit-chat I may try to start with you, I’d probably give up on you in about 3 seconds.

    You may not like the minimalistic effort being given to you by the young man or the VT letter, but if you’re not willing to respond to those small gestures, then I’d probably assume that you are even less interested in a more significant attempt.

    I’d say the ball is in your court now.

  17. JM said: “You may not like the minimalistic effort being given to you by the young man or the VT letter, but if you’re not willing to respond to those small gestures, then I’d probably assume that you are even less interested in a more significant attempt.”

    Interest was lost in attending Church when I finally realized the local leaders are not the inspired men of God they claim to be.

    It is a simple case of too little too late. Perhaps a year ago as I was strugling with being rejected due to my advance age (over 50), perhaps things would be different but I doubt it since the LDS church is really for married 30 year olds with children and teenagers.

    This far easy to find a convert than to heal those wounded.

  18. Hi,

    My name is Stephen Thomas and I am an Elders quorum president and I served my mission in Melbourne Australia. I just happened to stumble across this blog, so I hope that you do not mind my comments.

    To the person who wrote at the top about not having people for the missionaries, I have prayed intently a number of times and every time I have been able to find someone interested in the gospel, and every time I did not think I had contact with people who might interested. If you pray consistently enough the Lord will put someone in your path, the Lord wants to see people join the church.

    One of my friends is currently being taught by the missionaries in my home, and is preparing for baptism in the near future. It works. Reactivation is just as important and as members there is a great need for fellowship of these people. There is absolutely no difference in baptisms and reactivation, they are both bringing souls to Christ, unfortunately reactivation is not always focused on as much as it should in missionary work. In addition to this, in many missions in the U.S. part members families make up the majority of baptisms, that means one spouse being reactivated, much of the time, and the other spouse being baptized. Reactivation and Missionary work, work great together.

    Success in missionary work depends so much on a willing ward or branch because without the members’ help, many baptisms just result in a bigger burden on the ward as the inactive list piles higher and higher. It’s no wonder that the activity level outside of Utah and Idaho is below forty percent in most areas. If the ward can get involved and fellowship everyone less active and nonmember alike, I guarantee that this social assimilation into the church will result in greater baptisms of families being completed: part member, inactives coming back and nonmembers joining. The church will grow all the way around.

  19. Stephen, social assimilation only applies to missionary work where members are in the majority. In areas with less membership, social infiltration is the term used for missionaries.

    The other question you have to ask yourself is,”Why does this work for me, but not other members who have done the same things?”

    Many other members have followed all the steps you’ve outlined. Are they just less worthy? Do you have super powers that other members do not?

    When I see statements like “If you pray consistently enough” or “willing ward” it sounds like you’re judging other members who have been less successful than you; if indeed you have actually been this successful and this is not simply a rah-rah speech. ;)

  20. This is Stephen again. I apologize for the delay. I did not mean for it to sound like I just pray, and every time I get someone on my door waiting to hear the gospel. I think to praying and setting a date may be about timing, sometimes we are sowing and sometimes we are reaping. I do not think we should quite sharing the gospel just because we are not immediately having success. In the scriptures, people were talked to by the Lord’s servants whether people thought they would recieve it or not. Everyone should recieve a chance to hear the gospel. Just because someone does not recieve it now, does not mean it did not make a difference considering on average, it takes seven good contacts for people to join. As a we sow abundantly, we reap abundantly. As we sow sparringly, we reap sparingly.The cumorahproject.com is a great website for this subject if you feel inclined.
    I can understand the need for inactive work to be under the responsibility of the priesthood quorums, because that is the responsibility of the priesthood leaders. Let me also emphasize the point again that the inactive work and missionary work go hand in hand. Especially in parts of the world where the church is not church. Unless people are in Utah, Idaho, Arizona and a few other places. Most inactives either have a nonmember spouse, or nonmember children of baptism age. The majority of people that join the church are single, and usually the ones that go inactive, leave before they get married, or end up marrying a nonmember while they were active. Statistacally, around the world most inactives do not raise their children LDS, contrary to many peoples belief. This can be a combined effort, with the priesthood or relief society, working with the member, and fellowshipping the nonmember and the missionaries working with the nonmembers. When are the members and missioanries going to work together to build up the church, instead of compamentalizing everything so much.
    Let me also clarify on the word social assimilitation. I think that when President Hinkley has stated that every new convert should have a social network, whereever they are converted in the world, this is social assimiliation. Let me also emphasize that the Church has an retention level as of seven years ago, I do not know what it is now, of 25-40%, depending on where in the world they are baptized. Much of this has to do with hyperbaptism, get converts in to the water and get them out. Many of the missions that pump out the greatest number of baptisms, also have the lowest retention. They baptise too much for their wards and branches to support. On the other hand, the seventh day adventist baptise over 700,000 people a year, and retain over 80% of those around the world. This is because their conversion takes several months, and they are very well assimilated into their church units. This is ironic, considering our church has so much more to offer, it being the whole truth. Just some thoughts.

  21. “it takes seven good contacts for people to join”

    Sorry for being the guy weighing the average way up to seven. I can’t even count the number of contacts I’ve had and I still haven’t joined.

    “Most inactives either have a nonmember spouse, or nonmember children of baptism age”
    “The majority of people that join the church are single”
    “most inactives do not raise their children LDS”

    Do you have any references for all of these ‘statistics’ you’re throwing around, or are you just making it up as you go along? :)

  22. rick said: “Do you have any references for all of these ’statistics’ you’re throwing around, or are you just making it up as you go along?”

    It might be what he has observed where he lives or what he has heard.

    I read the replies from this time last year and find it amazing how little things have changed from then till now for me.

  23. It looks to me that he is talking about the entire church with the exception of “Utah, Idaho, Arizona and a few other places.”

  24. rick,

    Once upon a calling ago, I cited the same statistic and was questioned on it. I called the missionary department and asked if there was a source for this statistic. I was told that the missioary department did a study sometime in the late 80’s. The study revealed that of all the converts sampled, on average they were formally contacted / approached about the church seven times.

    I asked for a copy of the study. He couldn’t find it and wasn’t really that excited to go find it for me.

  25. “in the late 80’s”

    That would have been at the height of growth for the church in recent years – I wonder what the ratio is like now. And what the name of the study was, for that matter.

  26. Perhaps some GA gave a talk to SP’s,or new MP’s and the
    number 7 took on a life all its own and was treated as fact. Perhaps this is another case of Mormon legends versus fact.

  27. You probably not still commenting on this important subject of member missionary work, but I do have something to comment as a returned missionary.
    Members invite, missionaries teach. As a now full-time member-missionary since I left my mission I’ve been focusing on inviting people to hear the gospel and being an example. Last week I invited my non-member cousin I only knew for a week to church and she came to church and really felt the spirit.
    Yesterday, I was walking to the temple and talked to 1 less-active, a non-member who wants to go to the temple and the visitor center, and a non-member whose younger brother is taking the lessons and encouraged her with my testimonies that what the missionaries teach is true.
    In preach my gospel, chapter 11, it teaches us how to invite/commit people. Will you read and study this chapter so that you may know how to be an effective inviting member-missionary? I know you will come closer to the Lord because of your faith to serve.

  28. I had the opportunity to serve my mission in B.C. at the time “Sally” posted the original comment. Based on what I saw then and also what I have seen in my own ward since returning, I believe there is no one single answer to ameliorating member missionary work.

    The conclusion I made in returning from B.C. is that it takes the gospel to share the gospel. As an individual (and family) if you want to share the gospel, then you have to do the drill: daily scripture study, daily prayer, attend Church, family home evening etc.

    Another aspect of sharing the gospel comes from the unit itself. Is the Bishop leading the unit with a vision of how the gospel should be shared. Is it front and center in his mind? Do the quorum and auxiliary leaders prayerfully sustain the plan? Are the quorums and auxilaries in a capacity to retain new members and newly activated members? Do members understand that success is sharing the gospel, and keep sharing the gospel, no matter what decision the invitee makes?

    Finally, I’ll share this with you. I am finding it easier to share the gospel when I consider that the purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to offer the blessings of the atonement, death and ressurection of Jesus Christ to all people, regardless of how they are classified. Even the most active, temple-sealed family still needs to receive more of the gospel. I can’t explain why, but when I think about what the Church really stands for, then I feel that I can will (eventulaly) find those prepared to receive the gospel. It also strengthens my ability to home teach and fellowship anyone and everyone.

    For me, having the proper perspective is key.

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