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Doctrine & Covenants – Lesson 41

“Every Member a Missionary”

Taught By Jeff Stone
November 22, 2009

Reading Assignment:
Lesson Introduction

This was lesson #2 of the day as we set a world record at break-neck paces to cover two complete lessons in one day. I think one of the best/funniest stories about missionary work is also a great way to start this lesson:

When the MTC was built in Provo, beautiful green athletic fields were planted so the missionaries would have a place to exercise. However, they were so inviting that BYU students were attracted there, and you would see BYU students out playing touch football, throwing Frisbees, etc., on the missionaries’ field. To deal with this problem, a large banner was posted, which read “Missionaries Only.” The next day, BYU students were out on the field, playing touch football and throwing Frisbees. They had posted a new banner which read, “Every member a missionary.”

The Church Takes Missionary Work Seriously

As we discussed in Lesson 40, the three-fold mission of the church is all about bringing people unto Christ. In other words, Missionary Work:

  • Proclaim The Gospel (Missionary work for those who have not heard the gospel)
  • Perfect The Saints (Missionary work for those who have received the gospel – keep them active)
  • Redeem The Dead (Missionary work for those who have passed on)

The “one-fold” mission of the church, if you will, is simple: “Come Unto Christ.” Almost as soon as the church was reorganized, the work began. In the first 20 years, the following missions were opened up:

  • England
  • Germany
  • Samoa
  • Tahiti
  • Tonga
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Turkey
  • South America
  • Iceland
  • Mexico
  • France
  • Italy
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Hawaii
  • Switzerland
  • China
  • Japan

Proclaiming the Gospel

Spencer W. KimballPresident Spencer W. Kimball said: “When I read Church history, I am amazed at the boldness of the early brethren as they went out into the world. They seemed to find a way. . . . As early as 1837 the Twelve were in England fighting Satan, in Tahiti in 1844, Australia in 1851, Iceland [in] 1853, Italy [in] 1850, and also in Switzerland, Germany, Tonga, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Czechoslovakia, China, Samoa, New Zealand, South America, France, and Hawaii in 1850. . . . Much of this early proselyting was done while the leaders were climbing the Rockies and planting the sod and starting their homes. It is faith and super faith.”

From the earliest days of the Restoration, Church leaders have sought to fulfill the commission to take the gospel to all the world. President Kimball expressed his confidence that we can continue to do so: “Somehow, … I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors. That is my faith.” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 6).

Joseph SmithThe Prophet Joseph Smith declared:

“No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

From History of the Church, 4:540.

Gordon B. HinckleyPresident Gordon B. Hinckley taught that each of us has a responsibility to bring to pass this vision of the gospel filling the earth:

“Now, what of the future? What of the years that lie ahead? It looks promising indeed. People are beginning to see us for what we are and for the values we espouse . . .

“If we will go forward, never losing sight of our goal, speaking ill of no one, living the great principles we know to be true, this cause will roll on in majesty and power to fill the earth. Doors now closed to the preaching of the gospel will be opened. The Almighty, if necessary, may have to shake the nations to humble them and cause them to listen to the servants of the living God. Whatever is needed will come to pass.

The key to the great challenges facing us and to the success of the work will be the faith of all who call themselves Latter-day Saints” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 92; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 68).

As with all lessons, the question is, what can we/should we do? The lesson points out a few things:

  1. Prepare to Serve Full-Time Missions
  2. Serve Full-Time Missions
  3. Support Full-Time Missionaries
  4. Share the Gospel Throughout our Lives

Here are a couple of quotes from the lesson regarding Full-Time Missions:

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “When I ask for more missionaries, I am not asking for more testimony-barren or unworthy missionaries. I am asking that we start earlier and train our missionaries better in every branch and every ward in the world. … Young people [should] understand that it is a great privilege to go on a mission and that they must be physically well, mentally well, spiritually well, and that ‘the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance’ [D&C 1:31]” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 7).

David B. Haight
Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve counseled: “The goal of every physically able couple in the Church, just as it is for every nineteen-year-old young man in the Church, should be to serve a mission. No finer example can be given, no finer testimony can be borne by parents to children or grandchildren, than through missionary service in their mature years” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 73; or Ensign, May 1987, 61).

Additionally, here are some thoughts on how to proclaim the gospel:

  • Set a good example for family members, neighbors, and friends.
  • Share copies of the Book of Mormon.
  • Refer names of interested people to the missionaries
  • Share your feelings about the gospel with people.
  • Invite people to Church activities, meetings, and firesides.
  • Invite people to family home evening and to neighborhood activities.
  • Invite people who are interested in genealogy to visit a Family History Center.
  • Invite people to baptismal services.

More Wisdom from President Kimball:

“It seems to me that the Lord chose his words when he said [that the gospel must go to] ‘every nation,’ ‘every land,’ ‘uttermost bounds of the earth,’ ‘every tongue,’ ‘every people,’ ‘every soul,’ ‘all the world,’ ‘many lands.’ Surely there is significance in these words! … I wonder if we are doing all we can. Are we complacent in our approach to teaching all the world? … Are we prepared to lengthen our stride? To enlarge our vision?” (Ensign, Oct. 1974, 5).

“Our great need, and our great calling, is to bring to the people of this world the candle of understanding to light their way out of obscurity and darkness and into the joy, peace, and truths of the gospel. I believe we must not weary in our well-doing. I believe it is time again to ask ourselves the question, what can I do to help take the gospel to others and to the inhabitants of the world?” (“Are We Doing All We Can?” Ensign, Feb. 1983, 5).

Supporting Full-Time Missionaries (Item #3 on the above list) leads us to the next “fold mission” of the which is . . .

Perfect The Saints

On this matter, President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “My brethren and sisters, we can let the missionaries try to do it alone, or we can help them. If they do it alone, they will knock on doors day after day and the harvest will be meager. Or as members we can assist them in finding and teaching investigators” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 107).

Nurturing new converts is our continuing responsibility

President Hinckley had a lot to say on this subject:

“Any investigator worthy of baptism becomes a convert worthy of saving (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1999, 109).

“It is not an easy thing to become a member of this Church. In most cases it involves setting aside old habits, leaving old friends and associations, and stepping into a new society which is different and somewhat demanding” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 66; or Ensign, May 1997, 47).

Every convert needs three things:
1. A friend in the Church to whom he can constantly turn, who will walk beside him, who will answer his questions, who will understand his problems.

2. An assignment. Activity is the genius of this Church. It is the process by which we grow. Faith and love for the Lord are like the muscle of my arm. If I use them, they grow stronger. If I put them in a sling, they become weaker. Every convert deserves a responsibility. …

3. Every convert must be ‘nourished by the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4). It is imperative that he or she become affiliated with a priesthood quorum or the Relief Society, the Young Women, the Young Men, the Sunday School, or the Primary. He or she must be encouraged to come to sacrament meeting” (Ensign, May 1999, 108).

The subject of Redeeming the dead is covered in Lesson 40. The bottom line is that we are responsible for Proclaiming the Gospel, Perfecting the Saints and Redeeming the Dead. Hopefully there is something in this material that will inspire us to be better missionaries.