“Missionary Service, Activation, Temple Work Emphasized in Conference Leadership Meetings,” Ensign, May 1984, 99–101
Regional Representatives in a Friday, April 6, all-day seminar, and Regional Representatives and stake presidents in a Friday, April 6, evening leadership meeting received similar counsel from General Authorities—forceful encouragement to accelerate the Church’s missionary work, increase their labors in activation, and motivate Church members to participate more often in the blessings of temple attendance.
But as leaders work with the Saints, “there is much more to be achieved than statistical improvement,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley in his morning address to Regional Representatives.
“Such improvement is, of course, desirable, and must be worked for. But, more importantly, we should be concerned with the spiritual dimension of our people and the enlargement of this dimension. There is a tendency in all of us to ask for better statistical performance. There is a tendency to impose quotas, behind which usually lies imposition of pressure to achieve improved statistics. In the work of the Lord there is a more appropriate motivation than pressure. There is the motivation that comes of true conversion.
“When there throbs in the heart of an individual Latter-day Saint a great and vital testimony of the truth of this work, he will be found doing his duty in the Church. He will be found in his sacrament meetings. He will be found in his priesthood meetings. He will be found paying his honest tithes and offerings. He will be doing his home teaching. He will be found in attendance at the temple as frequently as his circumstances will permit. He will have within him a great desire to share the gospel with others. He will be found strengthening and lifting his brethren and sisters. It is conversion that makes the difference,” said President Hinckley.
“In all that we do we must cultivate faith. Increased faith is the touchstone to improved church performance,” he said.
Concerning missionary work, President Hinckley said that our need “entails an enlarged missionary force and a greater awareness of missionary opportunity on the part of our people generally.”
Missionary service “not only yields converts to the restored gospel,” he said, “but it also brings blessings of inestimable worth into the lives of those who give such service.
“As the missionary teaches the doctrine of salvation to others, he blesses his own life,” said President Hinckley.
Concerning activation, he said: “I want to assure you first that the work is growing stronger. There never was a time in my life, and that now spans almost three quarters of a century, when there has been such evidence of faith on the part of our people. Things are getting better. But there is so very much yet to be done. We still have substantial numbers of men and women who fail to partake of the great and marvelous blessings of activity in the Church. I am convinced that they deny themselves these blessings simply because they are not converted to the truth of the gospel. It is important that we share with these Church members those same great moving truths of conversion that we share with those who are not members of the Church.”
Concerning temple work, President Hinckley said: “We are building temples on a scale never before experienced in all of the history of the Church. I know that the power of the Lord was acting upon President Kimball when he moved so affirmatively in the direction of constructing new temples. Over a period of three years we will have dedicated eighteen new Houses of the Lord. What a tremendous thing that is! These are smaller temples than were built in earlier years, but they are much more efficient in the use of space to accomplish the ordinance work that takes place therein. They are not monuments of grandeur; they are, rather, sacred houses of God in which his eternal work may be performed as efficaciously and as beneficially as that done in any temple built at any time.
“These sacred buildings have great capacity. More and more they are being conveniently located so that the people may use them.
“The duty of temple work has been laid upon this people. But it is more than a duty. It is a blessing. I am satisfied that if our people would attend the temple more, there would be less selfishness in their lives. There would be less absence of love in their relationships. There would be more fidelity on the part of husbands and wives. There would be more love and peace and happiness in the homes of our people. There would come into the minds of the Latter-day Saints an increased awareness of their relationship to God our Eternal Father and of the need to work a little harder at the matter of living as sons and daughters of God.
While the temples are generally busy, there is not a temple in the entire Church that cannot accommodate many more than are now using these beautiful and dedicated facilities.
“People should go to the temple for the right reason, and that reason comes of conversion to the gospel and an acceptance of their responsibility to assist our Father in Heaven in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of his sons and daughters,” said President Hinckley.
Also speaking to the Regional Representatives was President Ezra Taft Benson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve.
President Benson said: “We need more prepared missionaries. We desire every family to be prepared for emergencies. We want to see more of our brethren receive the blessings of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the temple.
“One year ago this April we introduced to you a program for activating elders and prospective elders. We have undertaken a mission to reclaim our brethren who have temporarily lost sight of their eternal goals. Our primary goal is to save souls,” he said.
“When we bring fathers back into activity, we bring them and their families happiness in this life, to say nothing about the eternal blessings that are opened up to them. My heart goes out to those men, heads of families, who are inactive, prospective elders.
“Brethren,” said President Benson to the Regional Representatives, “our hope and prayer is that you will see this activation effort as more than just a temporary program. We hope that when this period of our Church history is recorded, it will be said that this marked a time when many wandering and lost souls were reclaimed by the Church of God.”
Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Quorum of the Twelve discussed the challenges facing Aaronic Priesthood leaders and youth. He then reviewed steps for successfully working with Aaronic Priesthood-age youth.
“We need to do a better job of letting our youth know we care,” he said. “We’re not talking about boys, we’re talking about future husbands, fathers, grandfathers, patriarchs to their own families. Let’s put a good foundation beneath our young people,” said Elder Monson.
“The floodwaters of immorality and irresponsibility and dishonesty lap at the very moorings of our individual lives, and if we do not safeguard those moorings, and if we don’t have deeply entrenched foundations to withstand these eroding influences, we are going to be in difficulty,” he counseled.
Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke on principles of priesthood government with reference to the calling of missionaries.
“If there is any best way for a young member of the Church to gain an in-depth knowledge of the gospel, it is to serve a mission. A mission is a near-perfect combination of study and application of the principles of the gospel as one learns them. Nothing can compare with it,” said Elder Packer.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke “of the obligation the Lord has laid upon us” to preach the gospel “to every creature upon the face of the whole earth.”
He said that “underlying this divine commission are certain eternal verities. The chief among them” are that “salvation is in Christ,” that “the Lord has in these last days restored the fulness of his everlasting gospel, through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, Jr.,” and that the Lord “has set up upon the earth, for the last time, his church and kingdom, the Church that administers the gospel and thereby makes salvation available” to all mankind.
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke on perfecting the Saints through self-reliance and service to others. He discussed assignments to the Regional Representatives regarding this important topic.
Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke on member activation. He summarized some of the guiding principles of activation:
“First, priesthood and auxiliary leaders must have a determination to set activation guidelines in motion.
“Second, they must have faith that the activation of men and women and families is possible.
“Third, the individual or family must be taught the gospel, either in their own homes or by attending a temple preparation seminar.
“Fourth, and most importantly, leaders [and members involved] need to qualify themselves to obtain the companionship of the Holy Ghost to assist them in touching the lives of the inactive members,” said Elder Haight.
Elder James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke on strengthening seventies quorums. “The seventies quorums provide leadership in reaching out to our nonmember neighbors. An effective seventies quorum can strengthen the elders quorum and the entire ward by providing a continual flow of new converts, who provide new sparkle and, with proper fellowshipping, become the future priesthood leaders. Indeed, as President Kimball once said, ‘If there were no converts, the Church would shrivel and die on the vine.’” (Ensign, Oct. 1974, p. 4.)
In the evening leadership meeting that was attended by both Regional Representatives and stake presidents, Church leaders heard again counsel on these important emphases.
President Gordon B. Hinckley noted that “every man and woman in the Church, especially every man and every woman who has been to the House of the Lord, has a sacred and compelling responsibility for the growth and the success of the Church, as much so, in his or her sphere of activity, as do the General Authorities in their sphere of activity.
“Each of us is a watchman on the tower. The Church will be the stronger or the weaker according to the strength or weakness of its individual members. That is why it is so important that we move forward those programs which come of inspiration and which are designed to strengthen the faith, the testimony, and the manner of living of the individual members of the Church.
The Church will not fail, although some of its members may fail. It has been established in this dispensation for the last time, and it will never fail. As it touches for good the lives of its people, and as they embrace its truths and apply them in their everyday living, the cause will be strengthened and the people will be blessed,” said President Hinckley.
Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke on the welfare program, its principles and purposes. “All of us throughout the Church have caught the spirit of President Spencer W. Kimball’s counsel when he emphasized the importance of our giving a generous fast offering,” said Elder Monson.
“We have a keen responsibility to care for the poor and the needy. Welfare is not restricted to a farm. Welfare is only encompassed or restricted by our vision and by our understanding and by our inspiration,” he said.
Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve called for Church leaders to find time to study the gospel. “It is so important that every member, particularly every leader, know the gospel. Now, while it is not easy to find time to study the gospel, it is necessary and it is possible,” he said.
“What we need is a revival of the basic principles in the lives of all Latter-day Saints. The true essence of priesthood administration is not in procedure, it is in principles and doctrines,” he said.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of the “rising generation of Church members and the need for them to obtain their full conversion.
“If we wish to help the youth of the Church,” he said, “the best thing we can do is to help their parents. This is why the challenges of activation of more of our adults and preparing more of our youth are so tightly intertwined.
“This rising generation is the first generation to be reared in a time when society’s other institutions, previously supportive of certain moral standards, have largely been neutralized, or worse, secularized. This rising generation, basically shorn of such external support systems, must therefore believe because of the Word and behave because they believe.
“As we all know, current film, music, art, and theatre too often promote drugs, alcohol, pornography, and promiscuity. Now, Brethren, this is not simply a temporary tidal wave which, ere long, will pass. It is the wave-tossed secular sea itself, and it will not subside until He comes and all the winds and waves once again obey His will. Hence, this is not a time for busy or preoccupied parents to leave our youth unloved, unattended, or untaught,” said Elder Maxwell.
Bishop Victor L. Brown, Presiding Bishop of the Church, discussed the law of the fast and fast offerings. “Fast offerings,” he said, “become the financial base for caring for the poor.
“I think when we are as affluent as many are, we ought to be very generous in our fast offerings.
“This method of caring for the poor is the Lord’s way. The faithfulness of the members in paying generous fast offerings will accomplish His purposes in this important phase of the work,” said Bishop Brown.
At the morning Regional Representatives Seminar was announced the calling of the following brethren to serve as Regional Representatives: Dallas N. Archibald of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Melvin T. Bowler of St. George, Utah; E. Eugene Callens of Ruston, Louisiana; Clinton D. Davis of San Diego, California; Leroy A. Drechsel of Salt Lake City, Utah; Clayter F. Forsgren of Rexburg, Idaho; Eduardo A. Lamartine of Villa Alemana, Chile; John M. Madsen of Sandy, Utah; Richard H. Madsen of Salt Lake City, Utah; O. Don Ostler of Salt Lake City, Utah; Harold W. Richmond of Plano, Texas; Lowell Sherratt, Jr., of Brigham City, Utah; Max L. Willis of Mesa, Arizona; and Patrick Chung Hei of Hong Kong.