Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Be a Friend

My younger brother got home from his mission last week. He served in Frankfurt, Germany-- the land of our ancestors, and he very obviously grew (spiritually and physically).

He described the work in Germany as difficult because of the lack of support from members. The Germans are a very private, NOT very outgoing, stay-in-my-comfort-zone sort. My brother said that if they were going to bring an investigator to church, they'd have to call like 20 people the night before to give them a heads-up and ask them just to say hi to the investigator. And on Sunday, still no one would.

This shocked me! How sad for these new investigators! To not feel welcome or meet a potential friend! It can be a culture-shock for people to come into a brand-new church, why wouldn't anyone want that culture to appear friendly and inviting?

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“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).
I will be the first to admit that I am not a great member missionary. I have never given a Book of Mormon to my mail carrier, I don't bear my testimony to the grocery checker. I really don't interact closely with anyone who is not a member of our Church. My friends are members, my daughter is too young to make her own friends, I don't work, and I don't even know my neighbors. Even if I did, I'm not a brave person in that way.

But this aspect of member-missionary work-- nurturing new converts, being a friend-- that is something I can do! And it is an important way to support the full-time missionaries in your area.

Pres. Hinckley also taught:
  • “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).

I may not hand out a lot of pass-along cards, but I say hello and introduce myself to every investigator the missionaries bring to church. I also ask them about themselves, how they found the missionaries, etc. I'm not trying to be their BFF, but I try so hard to be a friendly face and make them feel important by letting them know that I noticed them and am interested in their story.

The next step? Keep doing it! Say hi again the next time they come to church, and the next and the next and the next...

Another way to support the full-time missionaries? Feed them! A home-cooked meal is always appreciated and they can help you in your own missionary efforts.

Whatever they may be. :-)

3 comments:

  1. Great post! I teach the investigator class during Sunday School (which is just the Gospel Essentials class). I love missionary work, but am always nervous to share the gospel with other people. Now I get to interact with the investigators each week and it has been a huge blessing. I feel braver than before and now I share the gospel whenever I get the opportunity.

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  2. Yay for Adam being home--- I know I've said it a bunch!

    I totally need to be a better member missionary. We do feed the missionaries once a month and just that alone helps our resolve to be better missionaries.

    I had a missionary moment today when I got my haircut; the stylist asked me about the church and I got to tell her--- it was pretty cool and not as scary as one would think!

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  3. Yeah, I feel bad for not knowing my neighbors very well. They all seem nice but I don't feel like I can just start telling them about my church. Even though this is Texas and people are friendly, I still feel like people have a huge guard up. They freak out about the smallest things. (Probably due to the media and all the crazy things that are happening nowadays.) I don't even answer my door anymore because no one comes over unless they are a sales person. Anyone else will call first.
    Anyway, I like that you can find a way to be a better member missionary. None of us can do the job alone, and neither can the missionaries.

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