Lesson 12: Finding People to Teach
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“Lesson 12: Finding People to Teach,” Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 12,” Missionary Preparation

12

Finding People to Teach

Introduction

Missionaries cannot share the gospel until they find someone to teach. Finding people requires exercising faith—faith to talk to people about the gospel of Jesus Christ, faith to watch for teaching opportunities, and faith that God will lead them to people who are prepared to listen. The most effective way to find people to teach is through members of the Church. All Church members, including prospective missionaries, have a personal responsibility to help find people who are ready to receive the restored gospel. Young people can prepare for full-time service by sharing the gospel now, both in person and through online resources.

Advance Preparation

Suggestions for Teaching

Developing the Faith to Find People to Teach

Explain that President Wilford Woodruff served as a missionary in England soon after he was ordained an Apostle. Display and ask students to take turns reading aloud the following account to introduce the importance of seeking the Lord’s help in finding people to teach. Have the class look for what Elder Woodruff did to find people to teach:

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Wilford Woodruff

“Elder Woodruff sought the Lord in prayer … , asking where he should go. He recounted: ‘Believing it to be my privilege and duty to know the will of the Lord upon the subject, therefore, I asked my Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ to teach me his will in this thing, and as I asked, the Lord gave, and showed me that it was his will that I should go immediately to the south of England. I conversed with brother William Benbow upon this subject, who had lived in Herefordshire and had friends still residing there, and much wished me to visit that region of country, and [he] generously proffered to accompany me to his brother’s house and pay my fare, which I readily accepted.’

“On March 4, 1840, Elder Woodruff and William Benbow arrived at the home of William’s brother John. ‘In one hour after I arrived at his house,’ recalled President Woodruff, ‘I learned why the Lord had sent me there. … I found a company of men and women, some six hundred, who had banded together under the name of United Brethren, and were laboring for the ancient order of things. They wanted the Gospel as taught by the prophets and apostles, as I did in my youth.’

“Through diligent Bible study, John Benbow and his family and friends prepared themselves to embrace the restored gospel.

“The Benbow family quickly accepted the message of the Restoration, and William returned to Staffordshire ‘after having the happy privilege of seeing his brother John Benbow, and all his household, … baptized into the new and everlasting covenant.’ Elder Woodruff stayed in the area for about eight months. He later recalled: ‘The first thirty days after I arrived in Herefordshire I baptized forty-five preachers and several hundred members. … We brought in two thousand in about eight months’ labor.’

“Referring to this experience, President Woodruff wrote: ‘The whole history of this Herefordshire mission shows the importance of listening to the still small voice of God and the revelations of the Holy Ghost. The Lord had a people there prepared for the Gospel. They were praying for light and truth, and the Lord sent me to them’” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff [2004], 90–91).

Ask students:

  • What did Elder Woodruff do to determine where to find people who were ready to receive the gospel?

  • In what ways did the Lord assist Elder Woodruff? (You might point out to students that not only did the Lord inspire Elder Woodruff to go to the south of England, but He also opened the way for Elder Woodruff to teach at John Benbow’s farm, where hundreds of men and women had been prepared to receive the restored gospel.)

  • What principle about finding people to teach was illustrated by Elder Woodruff’s story? (Student responses could be summarized by writing the following principle on the board: The Lord can help us to find people who have been prepared to accept the gospel when we pray for help, listen to the Spirit, and then act in faith.)

Ask the class to turn to page 155 in Preach My Gospel, and ask a student to read aloud the first paragraph under the heading “Developing the Faith to Find.” Then ask:

  • How does knowing that “the Lord is preparing people to receive you and the restored gospel” help motivate you to prepare to serve a mission?

Have students read the next paragraph on page 155 of Preach My Gospel, under the subheading “The Family of God.” Then ask:

  • How does the doctrine that all men and women are part of God’s family influence your feelings about finding people to teach?

  • In the quotation from Alma 31:34–35, what did Alma pray for as he prepared to preach to the Zoramites?

  • What can we learn from Alma’s prayer?

Show the video “Developing the Faith to Find” (2:55), and have students look for insights about finding people to teach. You might encourage students to take notes on what they learn.

Ask:

  • What insights about finding people to teach did the missionaries give in this video? (Students might give responses like these: Missionaries should pray for opportunities, love others and see them as God sees them, and remember that the Lord is preparing His children to receive the gospel and leading His missionaries to find them. Because God loves His children, he wants everyone to have the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel.)

  • Why is it important to act on the feelings to reach out to others and invite them to learn about the gospel?

Have students read the three paragraphs in the subsection entitled “Find Them That Will Receive You” on page 156 in Preach My Gospel. Then ask:

  • What are some challenges we may face when trying to find people to teach? (We usually do not know who is ready for the gospel. People may not immediately recognize us as the Lord’s servants. They may not realize that they are looking for the restored gospel.)

  • How does the Lord assist us in finding people to teach? (He sends the Holy Ghost to guide us.)

  • What do you think the Lord would have missionaries do when they do not see immediate results of their efforts to find people to teach?

If there are students in the class who are converts to the Church, consider inviting one or more of them to share how they came in contact with the Church and how they came to recognize that the missionaries were teaching them the truth. If there are no converts in the class, invite the students to think of a convert they know well in their family or in their ward. Consider inviting them to share how that person came to accept the gospel.

The Importance of Member Missionary Work

Display the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson and invite a student to read it aloud:

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Monson, Thomas S.

“Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work” (“Faith in the Work of Salvation” [address given at the Work of Salvation worldwide leadership broadcast, June 23, 2013]).

You might ask students questions like the following:

  • Why is it important to remember that a prophet of God has asked us to participate in member missionary work? (You may consider referring to Doctrine and Covenants 88:81, which highlights the Lord’s expectations for those who have received the gospel.)

  • Why do you think President Monson said that “now is the time” for members and missionaries to work together?

Then invite students to turn to page 160 in Preach My Gospel, and have three students take turns reading aloud the first three paragraphs under the heading “The Importance of Members.” Then ask:

  • What can be the result when members and missionaries work together to preach the gospel? (Student responses might include this principle: When members invite others to be taught and are present for the teaching, more people are baptized and remain active in the Church.)

Show the video “The Lord of the Harvest: The Adams Family” (4:41), and ask students to pay attention to what Church members did to help the Adams family receive the blessings of the gospel.

Ask:

  • What were some of the efforts that led to the Adams family receiving the blessings of the gospel?

  • What do you think motivated the members in the video to share the gospel with the Adams family?

Have students read aloud the two paragraphs in the section titled “No Effort is Wasted” in Preach My Gospel, page 170. Then consider asking questions like the following:

  • Even if people do not accept the invitation to investigate the restored gospel, why is no effort to serve and teach wasted?

  • How can a missionary maintain a healthy attitude when people choose not to investigate the gospel?

Invite students to share what they have done in the past to participate in member missionary work. Ask them to explain how they felt as they tried to share the gospel with others.

Participating in Member Missionary Work

List the following scriptures on the board, then have each student silently read one of the passages and look for the blessings promised to those who choose to participate in missionary work.

D&C 18:10, 14–16

D&C 33:6–11

D&C 100:5–6

After allowing students a few moments to review the passage they selected, ask students to explain the verses they read and share how the promised blessings might motivate them to find people to receive the gospel message. Encourage all class members to participate in this discussion. You might list students’ responses on the board next to the appropriate scripture.

Consider writing the following principle on the board: As member missionaries, we can begin now to find people for the missionaries to teach.

To help students better understand how they can participate in member missionary work, have a student read aloud the following quote from Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for counsel on how to gain confidence and courage in reaching out to others:

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Ballard, M. Russell

“Brothers and sisters, fear will be replaced with faith and confidence when members and the full-time missionaries kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless them with missionary opportunities. Then, we must demonstrate our faith and watch for opportunities to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Heavenly Father’s children, and surely those opportunities will come. These opportunities will never require a forced or a contrived response. They will flow as a natural result of our love for our brothers and sisters. Just be positive, and those whom you speak with will feel your love. They will never forget that feeling, though the timing may not be right for them to embrace the gospel. That too may change in the future when their circumstances change.

“It is impossible for us to fail when we do our best when we are on the Lord’s errand. While the outcome is a result of the exercise of one’s agency, sharing the gospel is our responsibility.

“Trust the Lord. He is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep, and His sheep know His voice; and today the voice of the Good Shepherd is your voice and my voice. And if we are not engaged, many who would hear the message of the Restoration will be passed by. Simply stated, it’s a matter of faith and action on our part. The principles are pretty simple—pray, personally and in your family, for missionary opportunities. …

“You don’t have to be an outgoing person or an eloquent, persuasive teacher. If you have an abiding love and hope within you, the Lord has promised if you ‘lift up your voices unto this people [and] speak the thoughts that [He] shall put into your hearts, … you shall not be confounded before men;

“‘[And] it shall be given you … in the very moment, what ye shall say’ (D&C 100:5–6)” (“Put Your Trust in the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 44).

Ask:

  • What did Elder Ballard suggest that members can do to develop greater confidence to introduce the gospel to others?

  • In what ways is finding people to teach a matter of faith?

Have students take a few moments to search through the list of “Ideas for Helping Members” on page 162 in Preach My Gospel and look for specific ways that members can participate in missionary work. Have students choose one or two ideas that they might use now to participate in member missionary work. Then ask:

  • Which of these ideas could you do now to invite others to hear the gospel message?

  • Why do you think some Church members hesitate to reach out to others in the ways found on this list?

Encourage students to take a few minutes to write down a few things they will do in order to find people for the missionaries to teach. Suggest to students that their plans might be more effective if they write down the names of specific nonmember friends and family members with whom they might share the gospel message. You might suggest that students include actions such as praying regularly for missionary opportunities, reaching out to speak with others about gospel topics, inviting others to worship services or other Church activities, inviting others to hear lessons from the missionaries, inviting others to read the Book of Mormon, and so on. As directed by the Spirit, you might call on a few students to share their plans with the class.

Use All Tools That God Has Prepared

Have a student read aloud the following statement by Elder L. Tom Perry (1922–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask the class to listen for how the process for finding people to teach is changing:

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Perry, L. Tom

“When I was a young missionary, we were able to speak with contacts on the street and knock on doors to share the gospel. The world has changed since that time. Now, many people are involved in the busyness of their lives. They hurry here and there, and they are often less willing to allow complete strangers to enter their homes, uninvited, to share a message of the restored gospel. Their main point of contact with others, even with close friends, is often via the Internet. The very nature of missionary work, therefore, must change if the Lord is to accomplish His work of gathering Israel ‘from the four corners of the earth’ [2 Nephi 21:12]. The missionaries are now authorized to use the Internet in their proselyting efforts. …

“As missionaries enter this new age where they will use computers in the work of the Lord, we invite the young and the old, the adults, the young adults, the youth, and the children everywhere to join with us in … sharing their gospel messages online. …

“Just as missionaries must adapt to a changing world, members must also change the way they think about missionary work. In saying this, I wish to make it clear that what we, as members, are asked to do has not changed; but the way in which we fulfill our responsibility to share the gospel must adapt to a changing world” (“Missionary Work in the Digital Age” [address given at the Work of Salvation worldwide leadership broadcast, June 23, 2013]).

Ask:

  • According to Elder Perry, why must members and missionaries begin using online resources as they share the gospel? What are the advantages of using these resources?

  • What are some of the online tools or resources that you could use to share your testimony of the gospel and invite others to learn more?

  • What are some specific ways you could use these tools to share the gospel message? (This discussion will help students identify the principle that followers of Jesus Christ can use modern technology to share their testimony of the gospel with people all over the world.)

Display the following guidelines from LDS.org, and invite a student to read aloud the first paragraph. Then call on other students to read aloud the list of guidelines for using social media. Ask the class to look for ways that this information can help them to become better at sharing the gospel online.

“Social media can be a powerful influence in the lives of those who use it. It can provide ways to express our faith in Jesus Christ and strengthen relationships. The Church encourages the use of social media so long as it supports the mission of the Church, improves relationships, and facilitates revelation among children of our Heavenly Father. Church members are encouraged to be examples of their faith at all times and in all places, including when participating in the global conversations available through social media. …

“The following are suggestions for using social media in our personal lives: …

“Be civil in your online interactions with others. Latter-day Saint teachings require members to treat others with respect, regardless of the situation.

“Express your personal witness of the restored gospel, as guided by the Spirit. Such messages should be personal; do not leave people with the impression that you speak for the Church, and do not form groups that give the impression that they officially represent or are sponsored by the Church.

“Always be an example of a follower of Christ in your interactions with others in social media. Your positive example can influence those with whom you associate. It’s wise to cease associating with those who consistently seek to drag others down and particularly those who post inappropriate material. …

“Exercise good judgment when posting to a social media site. There is no ‘delete’ button on the Internet. Images and posts can remain for many years and can be detrimental when you are seeking employment or admission to college, as well as other occasions in which your public Internet record may be reviewed. Ensure that your communications align with your commitment to take upon yourself the name of the Savior” (“Social Media Helps for Members,” LDS.org).

Ask students to share with the class their thoughts about why the suggestions on this list would be important for them to remember as they share the gospel online.

If there is enough time available, consider having a student demonstrate in class how to share videos or other materials on LDS.org or mormon.org using social media. You might have another student demonstrate how to create a profile on mormon.org.

Consider showing the video “Sharing Your Beliefs” (2:02) to help students feel confident in their ability to use technology to share their feelings and testimony of the gospel. Before showing the video, encourage students to look for the potential influence a person can have by using technology to share his or her feelings about the gospel.

After the video, ask:

  • How can technology enhance the efforts of members who desire to share the message of the gospel?

Invite students to describe how they could use technology to share their testimony with others. Conclude by sharing your testimony of the doctrines and principles taught in the lesson.

Invitations to Act

Help students begin now to find people who are ready to hear the gospel message by completing one or more of the following suggested activities:

  • Complete the items you listed during this lesson’s writing assignment in order to find people for the missionaries to teach.

  • Review the contact list on your cell phone and find a less-active member or nonmember. Call or text that person and invite him or her to join you at church this Sunday.

  • Explore the mormon.org website and explore the site’s resources, such as videos, articles, and profiles posted by members of the Church. Share a video, article, or other page with others using social media.

  • Create your own profile on mormon.org. Share your profile with others using social media.

  • Share a Mormon Messages video and your feelings about it using social media.