missionary lesson

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missionary lesson

Post by Stayforthedip » 27 Feb 2017, 13:03

Yesterday we had a lesson based on a GC talk that was basically on being a better member missionary. Since I am still struggling to want to be at church myself, I definitely am not going to go do missionary work. So it was a hard lesson to try and participate in and still be respectful. I made one short comment about how we should be authentic and sincere and that will be most effective. Afterwards, I thought of an analogy that I wish I could have shared.

Before class I heard a couple of women discussing a diet book. One women was asking for advice and so the other offered up this book as a suggestion.

Now imagine if these two women were friends or just neighbors and one had been on this diet and lost a bunch of weight and loved the book. Then she looked over at the other woman and decided this was really what she needed in her life. So the woman goes to the other one and testifies of the effectiveness of this book and diet and lifestyle and tells her how much happier she will be if she makes all these big life changes. Will that be very warmly received? Not a chance!

Here is how I view missionary work. If someone seeks the church out, by all means welcome and teach and include. But lets not go chasing people down just because something is working for us.

I told my husband about this and he pointed out that this is Clayton Christensen's thought too---you have to have people come to you. Give them chances to ask questions and know you are open, but don't shove it into them.

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Re: missionary lesson

Post by DarkJedi » 27 Feb 2017, 13:36

This is my view as well. I'm not about to go out and give away a BoM because the sister missionaries challenged me to do so. If someone asks me for one, I'll give them one (and that has happened before). I will answer their questions if they ask. I will not say "Here's a really good book that changed my life, you should read it." (The book did not change my life, BTW, although I do think it is a good book.) My own conversion was due in large part to the example a member set. He never once brought up the church.

Side note: The sisters did come over for dinner last week and I fumed about it for a couple days. We have the missionaries about once a month or so, alternating between elders and sisters (but we actually live in the sisters' area). I rarely have an issue with the elders, they come, are respectful, thank us for dinner, leave some benign spiritual thought (usually a favorite scripture) and leave with the brownies or cookies we made them. On the other hand the sisters have often bothered me (my wife recognizes when a companionship has bothered me and will wait to invite sisters over until after these two are gone - she has her good qualities). So last week the sisters' spiritual thought was part of the restoration discussion that relates the First Vision and I think they really did it to give the green sister an opportunity to practice. I don't particularly like being used as a practice, but this was brief - I just would have rather they were more open about what they were doing though. So the senior sister started off with asking why we needed the restoration. DW gave some Primary answer and then the sister looked at me and I answered that I didn't think the gospel needed to be restored (notice the careful wording) so she was asking the wrong person. It set her back a split second and she turned the discussion over to her comp who recited part of the FV (PoGP version of course) from memory. I'm sure it was very moving. Then the senior sister pulled out a BoM and challenged us to give it away with some great promises that I didn't really pay attention to. I had not said a word since my pithy response, my wife took the BoM and said she'd try. I don't know where it is, but I do know she hasn't had any opportunity to give it away (such things are strictly forbidden at her workplace and she hasn't been anywhere else besides church and her mother's house). As they were leaving they said "see you Sunday' to which I responded I didn't plan to be there because I like to go to other churches some Sundays (I was going to another ward, but my wife left it alone as well). I just can't help myself sometimes when I feel treated like a subservient child by a child. Why they can't live and let live I don't know. End rant.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: missionary lesson

Post by Always Thinking » 27 Feb 2017, 14:34

I have told my husband that I think I'd be able to actually get certain inactive people to church now if they:
1. Are the type of person who has a struggling testimony and feel alone in that.
2. Want to come back to church but don't feel like they fit in.

I think my strategy wouldn't be very church appropriate. But basically, I'd ask them why they had been inactive, if they were comfortable sharing with me. Then if it was because of a struggling testimony, I'd let them know about my struggles as well and empathize with how hard it is to go to church when you feel like the only one with large doubts. I'd let them know if they ever do feel like they want to come back, that they aren't the only doubter and if they want someone to sit by, they can always sit by me.
Of course, if I did that, I don't think I'd be able to do it if I had my VTing companion with me ;) But to me, it would be very comforting if someone from the ward told me they also had large doubts and that they also struggled to be at church. It wouldn't feel so lonely and like I'm the only one questioning things internally during class. I think if people want to be at church, but just aren't there because they feel like some sort of outcast, that with the situation I'm in, I'd be able to help them feel welcome.
I just found it ironic that I would be better (hypothetically) at helping specific inactive members come back to church than I was when I was TBM because now I understand the ones who aren't active because of a struggling testimony. I'm definitely not in a place where I'd push anyone to come though, I think the church is only right for certain people so if people don't want to go, they shouldn't feel pressured to

Edit to add: I could be wrong about this actually working, but in my head it makes sense. Idk how I'd even attempt to put it into practice, though
Last edited by Always Thinking on 27 Feb 2017, 17:04, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: missionary lesson

Post by Heber13 » 27 Feb 2017, 15:11

I like the "diet book" analogy. I think it applies. I mean, it is kind of offensive to go to someone else and say..."you really need this book if you're going to change".

3 things help deliver a good missionary message:
1. Tact (say it the right way)
2. Timing (say it at the right time to be received well)
3. Dosage (only give them what they can digest)

I find the approach is better received when I follow the advice of James Campbell...
Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief, better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery.
- Joseph Campbell
be happy to show others what you like and what interests you...and be ready to openly share when the questions come up...but there is nothing wrong with having friendly and neighborly discussions with interests in our lives...then let things unfold as they ask about it and show interest.

On the other hand, what works for me doesn't always work for everyone else. Other bold missionaries will sometimes offend people, but also may find a person who needs that boldness. My way may be too timid for some, and may miss opportunities. Dunno.

The essence of missionary work is love.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: missionary lesson

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 Feb 2017, 15:23

I like it.

I talk naturally about faith and religion (like many non-Mormons do) and see who is interested in a deeper conversation. I would rather plant seeds, generally, and see what grows than try to plant and harvest simultaneously.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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Re: missionary lesson

Post by squarepeg » 01 Mar 2017, 07:26

First of all, what a great username!

Why do we need lessons on missionary work? The diet book metaphor is perfect. If we have found something that enriches our lives and makes us happier and healthier, it will show in everything that we do, and the majority of people with whom we associate will notice and comment and/or ask questions, and we will share with them all about the thing that has changed our lives for the better. It seems like there shouldn't be a need for lessons and talks directing us to do missionary work. That work should be happening by default. If we're not getting enough converts, isn't the problem either that the Gospel isn't as life-changing or impactful as it needs to be in order to garner interest, or that the membership doesn't associate closely or frequently enough with the larger community?

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Re: missionary lesson

Post by Stayforthedip » 01 Mar 2017, 10:29

or that the membership doesn't associate closely or frequently enough with the larger community?
Square--I think you are so right about this. Even (or maybe especially) in places where Mormons are a very tiny minority, we can be a very insular group. Ironically, as a step away from the church (mostly mentally) and move more into the larger community, I have more opportunities to share the gospel. But, that's not something I feel comfortable doing now...

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Re: missionary lesson

Post by mom3 » 01 Mar 2017, 12:04

In my life I try to preach the gospel where ever I go. Often times that place is where I go to church.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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Re: missionary lesson

Post by nibbler » 02 Mar 2017, 06:31

Stayforthedip wrote:Since I am still struggling to want to be at church myself, I definitely am not going to go do missionary work.
I know the feeling. I was called to be the ward mission leader post crisis. I did what I could. I can look back on that time with only a few insignificant regrets. Several converts were baptized and there were many that truly needed the church. Yes there were a few that I feel were pressured into joining the church, but from the missionary's perspective they were saving people's eternal souls so I give even the strong arm tactics a pass.

I absolutely love the analogy. Thanks for sharing it here. It will be heard by more people. ;)
Stayforthedip wrote:I told my husband about this and he pointed out that this is Clayton Christensen's thought too---you have to have people come to you. Give them chances to ask questions and know you are open, but don't shove it into them.
Back in the day I taught Christensen's Seven Lessons on Sharing the Gospel. I remember liking his approach. The typical program for sharing the gospel at the time was to make a list of people and pray about which one you'd pull the gospel sharing equivalent of telling a person you have a crush on that you liked them more than a friend. Anxiety, being super nervous, and wanting anything other than to do it. Christensen called out that method directly as being ineffectual and a waste of time (for him). His seven suggestions were (paraphrased):
1) You don't have to be someone's friend.
2) You can't tell who is and isn't prepared to hear the gospel.
3) Trust the missionaries.
4) People have a need to serve, invite them to our various service efforts.
5) Success is in the invitation, not in whether someone accepts the invitation (that was the big takeaway).
6) Set a deadline, put pressure on yourself and god to meet a goal.
7) When we're busy doing church stuff god will provide.

I don't remember much about having people come to you, in fact that article had many examples of putting yourself out there, but that article was from 2005, things have likely changed.
DarkJedi wrote:Side note: [snipped]
Stone cold. :P

I've had better experiences with the sister missionaries in my area. The sisters do a better job of presenting themselves as real people whereas the elders are all business. I think a part of it is because our elders are zone leaders or something. There is such a thing as being too straight arrow with the rules and expectations of the mission.
It is the end of the world. Surely you could be allowed a few carnal thoughts.
― Connie Willis

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