Mission Callings
Chapter 10: Teach to Build Faith in Jesus Christ

“Chapter 10: Teach to Build Faith in Jesus Christ,” Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ (2023)

“Chapter 10,” Preach My Gospel

Sermon on the Mount, by Harry Anderson

Chapter 10

Teach to Build Faith in Jesus Christ

Consider This

  • How can I teach by the Spirit?

  • How can I teach from the scriptures?

  • How should I share my testimony when teaching?

  • How can I plan and adjust my teaching to meet people’s needs?

  • How can I ask better questions and be a better listener?

  • How can I help people find answers to their questions and receive guidance and strength?

You are called to teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as will receive you. Teaching is central to everything you do. As you rely on the Lord for help, He has promised:

“And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).

Pray, study, and practice to improve your teaching ability. Apply the principles in this chapter and in other chapters of this book. Earnestly seek the gift of teaching so you can bless others and glorify God. The Lord will help you teach with power and authority as you diligently seek Him and learn His word.

Seek to Teach as the Savior Taught

During His earthly ministry, Jesus “went about … teaching … , preaching … , and healing” (Matthew 4:23). He taught in many settings—in synagogues, in homes, and on the road. He taught in large gatherings and in private conversations. Some of His most powerful interactions were very brief or in unusual settings. He taught through His actions as well as His words.

The Savior taught each person according to his or her unique needs. For example, when serving a paralyzed man, He forgave his sins and healed him (see Mark 2:1–12). When ministering to a woman who had committed adultery, He protected her and invited her to sin no more (see John 8:2–11). When speaking with a rich man who desired eternal life, He “loved him” despite the young man’s refusal to accept His invitation to follow Him (Mark 10:21; see verses 17–21).

You can improve your teaching by learning how the Savior taught. For example, He loved the Father and those He taught. He was prayerful. He taught from the scriptures. He prepared spiritually. He asked inspired questions. He invited people to act in faith. He likened gospel principles to everyday life.

Seeking to teach as the Savior taught is a lifelong pursuit. It will come to you line upon line as you follow Him (see 2 Nephi 28:30; Ether 12:41).

“Seek to Obtain My Word”

To teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, you need to know its basic doctrine and principles. You also need spiritual knowledge and confirmation of gospel truths. The Lord said, “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word.”

To “obtain” the Lord’s word means to study it and let it sink deep in your heart. As you make this effort, He promised, “Then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:21).

person marking scriptures

The Lord also said to “treasure up in your minds continually the words of life” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:85). Treasuring up the Lord’s words will increase your knowledge and strengthen your testimony. Your desire and ability to teach the gospel will likewise increase. (See Jacob 4:6–7; Alma 32:27–42; 36:26; 37:8–9.)

Prayerfully obtain and treasure up the Lord’s word by studying the scriptures, the words of living prophets, and the lessons in chapter 3.

Teach by the Spirit

The gospel of Jesus Christ is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). For that reason, the message of the Restoration of the gospel needs to be taught by divine power—the power of the Holy Ghost.

It is important that you develop teaching skills. It is also important that you learn the doctrine and principles you teach. However, when teaching spiritual truths, you do not rely primarily on your own abilities and knowledge.

Spiritual truths are taught by the power of the Holy Ghost. The Lord said, “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:14; see also Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–14, 17–22).

What It Means to Teach by the Spirit

When you teach by the Spirit, you pray to have the power of the Holy Ghost in your teaching. You also pray that people will receive truths by the Spirit. People may be persuaded of some truths, but to be converted, they need to have experiences with the Spirit (see Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3).

Prepare yourself to be an instrument through whom the Spirit can teach. Think of the Holy Ghost as your companion in teaching.

Rely on the Spirit to help you know what to say. He will bring the doctrine you have studied to your remembrance. He will help you plan and adjust what you teach according to a person’s needs.

When you teach by the Spirit, He will carry your message unto people’s hearts. He will confirm your message when you bear your testimony. You and those who receive what you teach by the Spirit will be edified, understand one another, and rejoice together. (See 2 Nephi 33:1; Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–22.)

President Ezra Taft Benson

“The Spirit is the most important single element in this work. With the Spirit magnifying your call, you can do miracles for the Lord in the mission field. Without the Spirit, you will never succeed regardless of your talent and ability” (Ezra Taft Benson, seminar for new mission presidents, June 25, 1986).

The Promise of Your Calling

You have been called and set apart “to preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:14). At times you may feel nervous or inadequate. Perhaps you worry that you do not know enough or that you do not have enough experience.

Your Heavenly Father, who knows you perfectly, called you because of what you can offer as a committed follower of Jesus Christ. He will not forsake you. Trust that the Spirit will magnify your abilities and will teach the truth to those who are receptive.

Elder Neil L. Andersen

Elder Neil L. Andersen said: “As I contemplated the challenge of a mission, I felt very inadequate and unprepared. I remember praying, ‘Heavenly Father, how can I serve a mission when I know so little?’ I believed in the Church, but I felt my spiritual knowledge was very limited. As I prayed, the feeling came: ‘You don’t know everything, but you know enough!’ That reassurance gave me the courage to take the next step into the mission field” (“You Know Enough,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 13).

Invite the Spirit as You Begin Teaching

The first few moments with people are very important. Be genuine and respectful. Show sincere interest and love. Seek to earn their trust. One way to earn trust is when people feel the Spirit with you.

Ask a few simple questions to help you understand their background and their expectations about your visits. Listen carefully.

Before you begin, invite all who are present to join in the lesson. Encourage them to remove distractions so the Spirit of the Lord can be felt.

Explain that you would like to begin and end each lesson with prayer. Offer to give the opening prayer. Pray simply and sincerely that God will bless the people you are teaching in every aspect of their lives. Pray that they can feel the truth of what you will teach. Remember that the “fervent prayer of a righteous [person] availeth much” (James 5:16).

Have faith in the converting power of the Holy Ghost. As guided by the Spirit, you may express thoughts such as the following as you begin teaching:

  • God is our loving Heavenly Father. We are all brothers and sisters. He wants us to experience joy.

  • We all have challenges and struggles. No matter what you are going through, Jesus Christ and His teachings can help you. He can help you find peace, hope, healing, and happiness. Jesus can help you have greater strength for life’s challenges.

  • We all make mistakes, which can create feelings of guilt, shame, and regret. These feelings will go away only as we repent and seek God’s forgiveness. Only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ can we be fully healed from our sins.

  • We will be guides so you can learn the truth of our message for yourselves. We will invite you to do some things, such as reading, praying, and attending church. Our role is to help you act on these invitations and explain the blessings you can receive. Please ask questions.

  • We have been called by a prophet of God to share what we know. We know that our message is true.

  • We will teach you how to make covenants, or special promises, with God. These covenants will connect you to God and allow you to receive joy, strength, and special promises from Him.

  • You will learn how to make changes in your life and follow Jesus Christ and His teachings. One essential teaching of Jesus Christ, and the first covenant we make, is to follow His example and be baptized by proper authority (see John 3:5; Doctrine and Covenants 22).

missionaries praying

Before teaching a lesson, give a simple overview of what you will teach. Help people see how it will have relevance to them. For example, you might say, “We are here to share the message that Jesus Christ has established His Church on the earth today and has called living prophets to guide us.” Or you might say, “We are here to help you know that God loves you and has a plan for your happiness.”

All people will benefit as they accept and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father may have blessed the people you find with valuable spiritual preparation (see Alma 16:16–17).

Inviting the Spirit and sharing truth in the first meeting will help people recognize you as servants of the Lord.

Personal or Companion Study

Use the suggestions in this section to practice different ways to begin a lesson.

Use the Scriptures

The standard works of the Church are your basic sources for teaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many reasons why it is vital to use the scriptures as the basis for your teaching. For example:

By using the scriptures in your teaching, you can help others begin to study the scriptures on their own. As your love for the scriptures is evident, they will be encouraged to study. Show how studying the scriptures will help them learn the gospel and feel God’s love. Give examples of how the scriptures can help them find answers to their questions and receive guidance and strength.

Devote yourself to studying the scriptures so you can teach from them effectively (see chapter 2). Your ability to teach from the scriptures will improve as you study them every day, both personally and with your companion.

Help people develop faith in Jesus Christ through studying the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon. The following suggestions may help.

group studying scriptures

Introduce the Scripture

Briefly describe the background of the passage. The following examples show some ways to introduce a scripture:

  • “In Joseph Smith’s history, Joseph tells us in his own words what happened as he went into the grove to pray. He said, ‘I saw a pillar of light …’”

  • “In this passage, the prophet Alma is teaching people who are poor to exercise their faith in the word of God. He compares the word of God to a seed that can be planted in our hearts. Will you begin reading verse … ?”

Read the Passage

Read the verses aloud or ask the person you are teaching to read aloud. Be sensitive to those who struggle to read. If a passage is difficult for them to understand, read with them and explain as needed. Define any difficult words or phrases. Or give them a simpler passage to read. Invite them to look for particular points in the passage.

Apply the Scriptures

Nephi said, “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23). To “liken” means to apply the scriptures to your life.

Liken the scriptures to those you teach by showing how the stories and principles are relevant to them personally. For example:

  • “Like you, the people of Alma had heavy burdens, almost more than they could bear. But as they exercised faith and prayed, God strengthened them so they could endure the challenges. Then He delivered them from their trials. Just as He did with these people, I know God will help you in your trials as you …” (See Mosiah 24.)

  • “Alma’s instruction to the people at the Waters of Mormon applies to us today. John, are you willing to … ?” (See Mosiah 18.)

Teach people how to “liken” the scriptures on their own. Discovering personal applications will help them apply and experience the power of the word of God.

Invite and Help People to Read on Their Own

The people you teach need to read the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, to gain a testimony of the truth. By effectively using the scriptures in your teaching, you can help people begin to study the scriptures on their own.

After each visit, suggest specific chapters or verses for them to read. Suggest questions for them to consider as they read. Encourage them to study the scriptures daily on their own and with their families. You might also ask members to read with them between lessons.

Before beginning the next lesson, follow up by discussing what you invited people to read. As needed, help them understand and “liken” these scriptures. Encourage them to record their thoughts and questions.

When you help people read, understand, and apply the scriptures—especially the Book of Mormon—they will have spiritual experiences with the word of God. They will be more likely to read on their own and make the scriptures an important part of their lives.

missionaries teaching family

Help People Access the Scriptures

The scriptures and the words of living prophets are available in more ways and more languages than ever before. Learn what print and digital options are available to the people you teach. Help people access the scriptures in ways that match their needs and preferences. Consider the following:

  • Ask people which language they would like to read or listen to the scriptures in.

  • Those who struggle to read, or who struggle to understand what they read, may benefit from reading aloud together or listening to audio recordings. These are available through free Church apps and websites.

  • If a person has a digital device, help him or her access the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon app and Gospel Library are free and easy to share.

  • If using text, chat, or email, send links or images of scriptures. When teaching in video chat, consider sharing your screen so you can read verses together.

  • Help people access the words of the living prophets.

Personal or Companion Study

Make sure you and your companion have the updated scriptures resources on your phone, including the Book of Mormon app and the Gospel Library.

Select one of the following scripture passages: title page of the Book of Mormon; 3 Nephi 11; Moroni 10:3–8; John 17:3; Romans 8:16–17; 1 Corinthians 15:29; James 1:5; 1 Peter 3:19–20; Amos 3:7.

Determine how you would:

  • Introduce the passage.

  • Provide background and context.

  • Read the passage and explain its meaning.

  • Explain difficult words.

  • Help those you teach apply it in their lives.

Scripture Study

Why is it important to teach from the scriptures?

Share Your Testimony

A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. To share your testimony is to give a simple, direct declaration of knowledge or belief about a gospel truth. Sharing your testimony adds your personal witness to the truths you have taught from the scriptures.

Sharing your testimony is a powerful way to invite the Spirit and help others feel His influence. One of the missions of the Holy Ghost is to testify of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He often fulfills this in companionship with you as you bear testimony.

A powerful testimony does not depend on eloquence or the volume of your voice—but on the conviction and sincerity of your heart. Be careful not to rush or dramatize your testimony. Give people a chance to feel the Holy Ghost bear witness to them that what you have taught is true.

Your testimony may be as simple as “Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer” or “I have learned for myself that the Book of Mormon is true.” You could also share a brief experience about how you gained this testimony.

When you teach, share your testimony as you feel prompted, not just at the end. When your companion is teaching, share your testimony to provide a second witness of what he or she has taught.

Share your testimony that the principle you are teaching will bless the person’s life if he or she will follow it. Tell how living the principle has blessed your life. Your sincere testimony will help create an environment for people to feel the Holy Ghost confirm truth.

Personal Study

The following scripture passages are examples of bearing testimony. Consider the questions as you read each scripture. Record your answers in your study journal.

Scripture Study

What do the following scriptures teach about the principles and promises of bearing testimony?

Plan and Adjust Your Teaching to Meet Needs

Each person you teach is unique. Seek to understand his or her spiritual interests, needs, and concerns. Ask questions and listen carefully. Although you may not fully understand the person’s needs, remember that Heavenly Father does. He will guide you through the Holy Ghost.

missionaries teaching couple

Let the Spirit Guide the Order of the Lessons

Let the Spirit guide the order in which you teach the lessons. You have the flexibility to teach the lessons in the order that is best for the needs, questions, and circumstances of those you teach.

Occasionally you might combine principles from different lessons to address a person’s needs and interests. See the following three examples.

Yuki found you online and is asking why her friends in the Church do not smoke or drink. You might teach her about the blessings of commandments by using the following sections from chapter 3:

Samuel doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere. You might teach him about his identity and his place in God’s family by using the following sections from chapter 3:

Tatyana has studied many religions and wants to know what makes the Church different. You might teach her about the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ by using the following sections from chapter 3:

Heavenly Father knows His children, so seek inspiration to make these decisions as you prepare to teach. Pray for the gift of discernment as you decide what to teach. Pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that come to you.

family reading scriptures

Allow Time for People to Apply What They Are Learning

When you teach, allow time for people to apply what they are learning (see 3 Nephi 17:2–3). Look for appropriate ways to support them in keeping their commitments. Focus on helping them with actions that will build a foundation of faith, such as praying, reading, and attending church. This will enable them to keep additional commitments.

As you plan and teach, be sensitive about how much new information you share. A primary objective of your teaching is to help a person build faith in Jesus Christ so it leads to repentance. Your objective is not to see how much information you can dispense.

Teach at a pace that is appropriate for the person. Ask questions and listen carefully so you understand how well he or she is learning and applying what you are teaching.

The truths you teach, coupled with the power of the Holy Ghost, can influence people to exercise their agency in ways that build their faith in Christ. As they exercise faith in the Lord by applying what they learn, they will come to know by the Spirit that the gospel is true.

Use a Variety of Teaching Opportunities

Teaching opportunities take many forms, such as in-person visits, video chats, phone calls, text messages, and social media.

Respect People’s Time

Keep your teaching simple and brief. People are more likely to meet with you when you respect their time and requests. Ask how much time they have for the visit. Start and end any conversation at the agreed time, whether teaching in person or online. Be aware that in some places, phone calls or video chats can be expensive.

You will need multiple meetings to teach the principles in one lesson. Typically a teaching visit should not be longer than 30 minutes, and you can teach a person in as few as 5 minutes. Adjust your teaching according to people’s time.

Use Technology Wisely

You have many opportunities to teach people using technology. Some people prefer the convenience or privacy of interacting through electronic means. Even people you visit in person can benefit from additional support through technology. Discuss the resources available to communicate. Then follow up and stay connected. Allow each person’s preferences to guide your interactions.

Technology such as video calls can be especially helpful for teaching people who have busy schedules or live far away. Sometimes it is easier for members to participate in a lesson via technology.

Help Younger Learners

During the Savior’s ministry, He told His disciples, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). When you teach children, adjust your approach and message to meet their needs. Help them learn the gospel by discussing things that are familiar to them. Ensure that they understand what you are teaching.

Scripture Study

Read Doctrine and Covenants 84:85. What does it mean to be given “that portion that shall be meted unto every man”? How can you apply this in your teaching?

What has the Lord promised faithful missionaries about knowing what to say?

Teach with Your Companion in Unity

The Lord said, “Ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:6). He also charges you and your companion to “be one” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27). Your teaching will be more powerful and interesting if you and your companion work in unity. Alternate giving brief portions of the lessons.

During companion study, discuss and practice how you will teach so you can be united. Prepare how you will work together when teaching people online. Follow the safeguards for using technology, outlined in chapter 2.

missionaries teaching man

When your companion is teaching, pray for, listen to, and look at him or her. Support your companion by offering a second witness to the truths he or she has taught (see Alma 12:1). Follow your impressions when the Spirit prompts you to say something.

Be sincerely interested in the people you teach. Listen to them. Maintain eye contact when they or you are speaking. Carefully observe their responses, and listen for spiritual promptings.

Invite Members to Participate

Invite members to help you teach and support the people you are working with. This may happen in person or virtually. During the weekly coordination meeting, counsel with ward leaders about who could help.

When members participate in teaching and fellowshipping, they can add insights and make connections as friends. They will feel the joy of missionary work.

Invite Members to Help You Teach

Before lessons, plan with members how to work together. You could use a text message or brief phone call to confirm what you will be teaching, who will pray, who will lead the conversation, and other details.

Members’ primary role in lessons is to offer sincere testimony, share brief personal experiences, and develop a relationship with those being taught. You might ask members to share how they were able to learn, accept, and live a particular principle in the lesson. If they are converts, invite them to share how they decided to join the Church.

When members refer someone, ask them to participate in the teaching. Members may be more involved in these situations. Counsel with them about how they would like to participate.

Consider how using technology to teach with members might be appropriate. Technology allows members to join you without the time commitment that an in-person visit requires.

In the weekly coordination meeting, plan with ward leaders to have a member participate in as many lessons as possible (see chapter 13). Consider asking new members to help you teach.

Personal or Companion Study

Imagine that you have an appointment to teach a lesson to a family in a member’s home. Discuss how you would involve each of the following members in helping you teach:

  • A ward missionary who recently returned from a full-time mission

  • A priest

  • A new member

  • The elders quorum or Relief Society president

Invite Members to Give Support

Members can also give valuable support to people between teaching visits. They can text, read scriptures together, invite people to their homes or to activities, or invite them to sit together at church. They can answer questions and show what their lives are like as members of the Church. Their life experience and perspective can help them relate with people in ways that are sometimes very different from how missionaries relate.

Counsel with members about ways you can work together to support people outside of teaching visits.

Teach for Understanding

Teach the gospel of Jesus Christ so people will understand it. Study the scriptures and the lessons so you can teach clearly from them. The more clearly you teach, the better the opportunity for the Holy Ghost to testify of truth.

Ask questions to help people think about what you have taught. Then listen to see if they understand and accept it.

Part of teaching for understanding is to explain words, phrases, and ideas. You can improve your ability to teach the gospel by:

  • Understanding the words you use.

  • Defining words that others may not understand.

  • Asking people questions like “Would you share with us your understanding of what we just explained?” or “Would you be willing to summarize what we talked about?”

As you teach the doctrine in chapter 3, note any words, phrases, and ideas that people might not understand. Define these by using the resources in the Gospel Library, such as the Guide to the Scriptures, the Bible Dictionary, and Gospel Topics.

Keep your teaching simple and brief. Keep it focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ, building understanding of basic doctrine and principles. Help people seek the understanding that comes from the Holy Ghost. As they gain this understanding, they will come to believe the message of the gospel.

Scripture Study

Why should we explain doctrine carefully?

How do we learn? Why is it important to teach information gradually?

Why is plainness important?

What can you learn from the following verses about how God communicates with His children?

Ask Questions

The Savior asked questions that invited people to think and feel deeply about the truths He taught. His questions prompted soul searching and commitment.

Good questions are also important in your teaching. They will help you understand people’s interests, concerns, and questions. Good questions can invite the Spirit and help people learn.

Ask Inspired Questions

Seek the guidance of the Spirit in asking good questions. The right questions at the right times can help people learn the gospel and feel the Spirit.

Inspired questions and sincere listening will help people be more comfortable talking openly and sharing their feelings. This can help them discover a growing testimony. They will also be more comfortable asking you questions when they do not understand something or have a concern.

The following table shows some principles of asking inspired questions, along with some examples.

Principles and Examples of Inspired Questions



Ask questions that help people feel the Spirit.

  • Can you share an experience when you felt God’s influence in your life?

  • How have you felt God’s love for you?

Ask questions that are simple and easy to understand.

  • What have you learned about Jesus Christ from this scripture?

Ask questions that help people think about what you are teaching.

  • How is this similar to what you already believe? How is it different?

Ask questions that help you know how well people understand what you are teaching.

  • What questions do you have about what we have taught today?

  • How would you summarize our conversation today?

Ask questions that help people share what they are feeling.

  • How has Jesus Christ helped you in your life?

  • What was most important to you from what we talked about today?

Ask questions that show love and concern.

  • How can we help you?

Ask questions that help people apply what they learn.

  • What can we learn from this scripture?

  • How can this scripture help you in your life?

  • As we have talked, what have you felt impressed to do from what you have learned?

Companion Study

Review your lesson plan from a recent lesson you have taught. Write one question for each of the major principles outlined in your plan.

Review your questions to see if they are in harmony with the principles in this section.

Next, answer each question as though you were someone being taught.

Share your questions with your companion. Together, evaluate and improve your questions.

Personal or Companion Study

People you are teaching might encounter the following experiences:

  • They have a spiritual experience while reading the Book of Mormon.

  • Coworkers regularly make fun of spiritual things.

  • Family members are strong members of another church.

  • Friends believe that “the Mormons” are not Christians.

Think of a question you would ask to learn more about each of these situations. Write these questions in your study journal. Discuss with your companion how you might improve the questions you wrote.

Avoid Ineffective or Excessive Questions

Try not to ask questions that:

  • Have obvious answers.

  • Might embarrass someone if he or she does not know the answer.

  • Include more than one idea.

  • Pertain to doctrine you have not yet taught.

  • Do not have a clear purpose.

  • Are excessive.

  • Are prying or could irritate and offend people.

Following are examples of less-effective questions:

  • Who was the first prophet? (The person might not know the answer.)

  • How will keeping our bodies pure help us have the Spirit and show that we are willing to follow a prophet of God? (There is more than one idea.)

  • Is it important to know about God’s commandments? (This is a yes-no question, and the answer is obvious.)

  • What is something we can do every day that will help us feel close to God? (This is a vague question looking for a specific answer: pray.)

  • Who was the next prophet after Noah? (The person might not know the answer, and the question is not important for your message.)

  • Do you understand what I am saying? (The person might feel like you are talking down to him or her.)

Personal or Companion Study

Consider the needs of someone you are teaching. Discuss how he or she might answer your questions. Plan some questions to ask that follow the guidelines in this section. Discuss how these questions could invite the Spirit and help the person learn the gospel.


When you listen carefully to others, you understand them better. When they know that their thoughts and feelings are important to you, they are more likely to be receptive to your teachings, share personal experiences, and make commitments.

As you listen, you will gain insight into how to adapt your teaching to their needs and interests. You will have a better understanding of which gospel truths would be most beneficial to them.

Especially listen for the whisperings of the Spirit. When others share their feelings, the Holy Ghost may prompt you with thoughts or ideas. The Spirit can also help you understand what others are trying to express.

missionaries talking to family

Listen with Genuine Caring

Listening takes effort and genuine caring. While others talk, make sure you are concentrating on what they are saying. Avoid the tendency to be planning what you will say.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught: “More important than speaking is listening. These people are not lifeless objects disguised as a baptismal statistic. … Ask these friends what matters most to them. What do they cherish, and what do they hold dear? And then listen. If the setting is right you might ask what their fears are, what they yearn for, or what they feel is missing in their lives. I promise you that something in what they say will always highlight a truth of the gospel about which you can bear testimony and about which you can then offer more. … If we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder what to say. It will be given to us—by the Spirit and by our friends” (“Witnesses unto Me,” Ensign, May 2001, 15).

Observe Unspoken Messages

People also communicate through their body language. Notice the way they sit, their facial expressions, what they do with their hands, their tone of voice, and where they are looking. Observing these unspoken messages can help you understand the feelings of those you teach.

Also be aware of your own body language. Send a message of interest and enthusiasm by listening sincerely.

Allow People Time to Think and Respond

The Savior often asked questions that required time for a person to respond. When you ask a question, pause to give the person a chance to think and respond. Do not be afraid of silence. People often need time to think about and reply to questions or to express what they are feeling.

You might pause after asking a question, after sharing a spiritual experience, or when people are having difficulty expressing themselves. Be sure to give them time to complete their thoughts before you respond. Do not interrupt while they are talking.

Respond with Empathy

When a person answers a question, begin your response by expressing empathy if appropriate. Empathy shows that you genuinely care. Refrain from jumping to conclusions, immediately offering solutions, or appearing to have all the answers.

Confirm That You Understand What People Say

When seeking to understand what a person is saying, ask to make sure you understand. For example, you might ask, “So what you are saying is . Is that right?” or “If I understand correctly, you are feeling that .” When you are not sure if you understand, ask the person for clarification.

Navigate Challenging Interactions

You will help people most by teaching them the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some people may want to do most of the talking. Sometimes people simply need someone to listen compassionately to their struggles and feelings. Other people may seek to dominate or argue.

Learn to manage such situations tactfully and with love. You may be able to adapt your teaching to address something a person shared. Or you may need to politely say that you would like to discuss their concern at another time. The Spirit can help you know how to respond in challenging situations.

Help People Feel Comfortable Sharing True Feelings

To avoid embarrassment, some people will answer questions the way they think you want them to answer rather than share their true feelings. Seek to develop a relationship that allows them to be comfortable sharing their true feelings with you.

Understanding and connecting with people will allow you to help them, meet their interests and needs, and express the Savior’s love to them. Create a relationship of trust by being honest with them, maintaining an appropriate missionary relationship, and showing respect.

Personal or Companion Study

Reflect on how well you are listening to others. Write answers in your study journal to the questions below. Or discuss them with your companion.

A = Never true of me, B = Sometimes true of me, C = Usually true of me, D = Always true of me

  • When others talk to me, I think of similar experiences I can share instead of listening carefully.

  • When others tell me about their feelings, I try to put myself in their position to see how I would feel.

  • When I teach people, I think about what I am going to say or teach next.

  • I get frustrated when people talk a lot.

  • I struggle to follow or understand what others are trying to tell me.

  • My mind often wanders while my companion is teaching.

  • I get upset if someone is talking to me and others cut in or distract my attention.

  • I receive spiritual promptings to say or do something, but I ignore them.

Help People Find Answers to Their Questions and Concerns

Make an earnest effort to address people’s questions and help them resolve their concerns. However, it is not your responsibility to answer every question. Ultimately, people must resolve their questions and concerns for themselves.

Realize that not all questions and concerns can be completely answered. Some answers become clearer with time. Others have not yet been revealed. Focus on building a firm foundation of the basic, essential truths of the gospel. This foundation will help you and those you teach press forward with patience and faith when there are unanswered or difficult questions.

Some principles for answering questions are outlined in this section.

Jesus and Samaritan Woman At The Well

Understand the Concern

Some of what you teach people might seem difficult or unfamiliar to them. If people have questions or concerns, first seek to understand them clearly. Sometimes people’s concerns are like an iceberg. Only a small part is visible above the surface. These concerns can be complex. Pray for the gift of discernment, and follow the Spirit in how you respond. Heavenly Father knows the hearts and experiences of all people (the complete iceberg). He will help you know what is best for each person.

Often concerns are more social than doctrinal. For example, some people might fear opposition from family members if they join the Church. Or they might fear rejection from their friends at work.

Seek to understand the source of the concern by asking questions and listening. Did the concern arise because the person does not have a spiritual confirmation of the truth of the Restoration? Did it arise because the person does not want to commit to living a gospel principle? Knowing the root of their concern will help you know whether to focus on testimony or commitment.

Use the Scriptures, Especially the Book of Mormon, to Help Answer Questions

Show people how the truths in the scriptures can help answer their questions and address their concerns. (See “The Book of Mormon Addresses Questions of the Soul” in chapter 5.) When people seek inspiration by studying and applying the scriptures, they will increase their capacity to hear and follow the Lord. Their faith in Him will increase. With increased faith will come testimony, repentance, and the ordinance of baptism.

President Henry B. Eyring

“Sometimes I go to the scriptures for doctrine. Sometimes I go to the scriptures for instruction. I go with a question, and the question usually is ‘What would God have me do?’ or ‘What would He have me feel?’ Invariably I find new ideas, thoughts I have never had before, and I receive inspiration and instruction and answers to my questions” (Henry B. Eyring, in “A Discussion on Scripture Study,” Ensign, July 2005, 22).

It can be helpful to explain that much of our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ comes from what has been revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith and those who succeeded him. Questions about the truthfulness of the gospel can be resolved by gaining a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Reading and praying about the Book of Mormon is a vital way to gain this testimony.

Help people focus on strengthening their faith in Jesus Christ. Reading and praying about the Book of Mormon is an important way to strengthen their faith.

Invite People to Act in Faith

As people develop and strengthen their testimony of the restored gospel, they will be able to address their questions and concerns from a foundation of faith. As they act in faith on the truths they believe, they will be able to gain testimonies of other gospel truths.

Some ways to act in faith include:

  • Praying often and with real intent for inspiration and guidance.

  • Studying the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon.

  • Attending church.

Companion Study

Choose one invitation to extend when you teach a lesson. Then identify concerns that might keep someone from accepting the invitation or keeping the commitment. Discuss and practice how you can help people work to resolve their concerns.

Personal or Companion Study

In your study journal, write how you would refer to Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon to respond to the following concerns:

  • “I don’t believe that God speaks to people anymore.”

  • “I believe that I can worship God in my own way rather than through an organized religion.”

  • “Why should I give up drinking wine with my meals if I join your church?”

  • “Why do I need religion?”

Leave Something to Study and Pray About

At the end of each teaching visit, give people something to study, ponder, and pray about to prepare for the next meeting. Reading, praying, and pondering between teaching visits invites the influence of the Holy Ghost into their lives.

You might invite people to read specific chapters in the Book of Mormon. Or you might encourage them to use Church resources, such as Gospel Library, to find answers to questions, learn about a topic, or watch a video. This can become an opening topic of discussion the next time you meet.

person studying scriptures

Avoid giving people too much to do, especially if you have short, frequent teaching interactions with them.

Personal or Companion Study

Consider each person you are scheduled to teach this week. What chapters in the Book of Mormon will be most helpful to them? What other resources would benefit them? Record what you intend to provide for each person. Also record what you will do to follow up during your next visit.

Helping People with Addictions

You can help people who are struggling to overcome addiction by lovingly discussing their struggles, supporting them, and connecting them with resources. You might encourage them to attend one of the Church’s addiction recovery support groups. These groups may meet in person or online. (See AddictionRecovery.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.) Encourage them to use the resources in the “Addiction” section of Life Help in the Gospel Library.

Local Church leaders and members can also provide support. Some people with addictions may need professional medical and mental health treatment.

Here are a few suggestions for how you can support people struggling to overcome addiction:

  • Reinforce their efforts to come unto Christ. Help them see that their efforts to recover and heal are recognized and valued by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Teach them that they can be strengthened through the Savior and His Atonement. He fully recognizes the intent of their heart to do good.

  • Pray for them in your personal prayers, and pray with them. As appropriate, encourage them to seek a priesthood blessing from local priesthood leaders.

  • Continue teaching them the gospel of Jesus Christ. Teach them that Heavenly Father, the Savior, and the Holy Ghost love them and want their success.

  • Encourage them to attend church regularly and develop friendships with members.

  • Be positive and supportive, especially if they relapse.

Jesus reaching out to woman

Addiction is difficult to overcome, and relapses can happen. Church leaders and members should not be shocked by this. They should show love, not judgment.

A new member who stops attending church may have returned to an old addiction and may be feeling unworthy and discouraged. An immediate visit giving encouragement and support can help. Members should show in word and action that the Church is a place where the love of Christ can be found (see 3 Nephi 18:32).

Personal or Companion Study

Think of someone you are teaching or a new or returning member who is trying to overcome an addiction. Review “Faith in Jesus Christ” and “Repentance” from “The Gospel of Jesus Christ” lesson in chapter 3.

  • What could you teach this person from that lesson and from this chapter that could help him or her?

  • Create a lesson plan to help this person.

Teaching People Who Do Not Have a Christian Background

Some of the people you teach may not have a Christian background or may not believe in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. However, many of these people have beliefs, practices, and places they hold sacred. It is essential that you show respect for their religious beliefs and traditions.

Help Them Understand Who God Is

You may wonder how you should adjust your teaching for people who do not have a Christian background. The principles that help a person build faith are the same in all cultures. Help people gain a correct understanding of God and the divine mission of Jesus Christ. The best way for them to learn these truths is by having personal spiritual experiences. Some ways you can help them have these experiences are outlined below:

  • Teach that God is our Heavenly Father, and He loves us. We are His children. Invite them to seek that witness for themselves.

  • Teach about the plan of salvation.

  • Teach that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

  • Bear sincere testimony of the gospel, including how you feel Heavenly Father’s love and why you choose to follow Jesus Christ.

  • Invite them to offer simple, heartfelt prayers—with you and on their own.

  • Invite them to read the Book of Mormon daily—with you and on their own.

  • Invite them to attend church.

  • Introduce them to members of the Church who can explain how they came to believe in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

  • Invite them to keep the commandments.

Most people desire to have a greater connection with God and to find purpose and meaning in life. Help them see how they are children of a loving Father in Heaven and how He has a plan for them. For example, you might begin by saying something like the following:

God is our Father in Heaven, and He loves us. We are His children. We lived with Him before we were born. Because we are all His children, we are all brothers and sisters. He desires us to return to Him. Because of His love for us, He has provided a way for us to return to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Adapt Your Teaching as Needed

Many converts from non-Christian backgrounds say that they did not understand much of what the missionaries were teaching. However, they felt the Spirit and wanted to do what the missionaries asked. Do all you can to help people understand the doctrine of the gospel. Be patient and supportive. It may take time for people to learn to identify and express their feelings. You may need to adjust the pace and depth of your teaching to help them.

The following suggestions may help as you prepare to teach people who do not have a Christian background:

  • Understand what spiritual need or interest prompts them to meet with you.

  • Provide simple overviews and reviews for each lesson.

  • Ask them to tell you what they understand and what they have experienced.

  • Define essential words and principles. People may not be familiar with many of the words you use as you teach.

  • Return to a previously taught lesson to teach the doctrine more clearly. This may be necessary any time during the teaching process.

  • Identify invitations that you could extend to help people experience the blessings of the gospel.

Listed below are some resources in Gospel Library that you might use to help those without a Christian background:

Personal or Companion Study

If possible, identify a convert who did not have a Christian background before meeting with the missionaries. Arrange to meet and ask about his or her conversion experience. For example, you might ask the person about:

  • What led him or her to believe in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

  • What the experience of praying for the first time was like.

  • What it was like the first time he or she felt an answer to prayer.

  • The role of the scriptures in his or her conversion.

  • What it was like to attend church.

Write what you learn in your study journal.

Consider inviting the person to help you teach someone who does not have a Christian background.

Ideas for Study and Application

Personal Study

  • Assume you are placed in the following situations. How might you use the principles and skills in this chapter to help these people progress? Plan how you would apply them in each situation.

    • Someone who has been preparing for baptism tells you that he or she no longer wants to meet with you.

    • You are meeting for the seventh time with a person who has been taught by several missionaries over a two-year period. There have been few if any signs of progress.

  • Select one of the missionary lessons. Identify one or two scripture passages from each main principle. Practice teaching from those passages as outlined in the “Use the Scriptures” section of this chapter.

Companion Study and Companion Exchange

  • Read the account of Ammon and King Lamoni in Alma 18–19 and the account of Aaron in Alma 22:4–18. As you read, identify and describe how Ammon and Aaron:

    • Followed the Spirit and taught with love.

    • Began to teach.

    • Adapted their teaching to meet needs.

    • Bore testimony.

    • Used the scriptures.

    • Asked questions, listened, and helped those they taught to resolve their concerns.

    • Encouraged those they taught to make commitments.

    Discuss how their service and teaching impacted King Lamoni, his father, and Abish.

District Council, Zone Conferences, and Mission Leadership Council

  • Invite members or those currently being taught to your meeting. Explain to the group that you want missionaries to improve their ability to share their important message. Select a lesson and a skill. Have the missionaries teach the person or people the lesson you have selected for 20 minutes, focusing on the skill you have identified. Have them switch who they teach after 20 minutes. After the missionaries have taught, bring the group together. Have the person or people tell the missionaries what was most effective and one way they can improve.

  • Show video examples of missionaries teaching or contacting people. Select a skill and discuss how well the missionaries applied the principles for that skill.

  • Select a skill, and identify doctrine or scripture passages that support it. Teach the doctrinal foundation of the skill to the missionaries.

Mission Leaders and Mission Counselors

  • Occasionally accompany missionaries as they teach. Plan how you can participate in the teaching.

  • Encourage local leaders to participate with missionaries in their teaching visits.

  • Demonstrate and help missionaries practice one of the teaching skills described in this chapter, such as asking good questions and listening.

  • Demonstrate the effective use of scriptures when teaching missionaries in zone conferences, mission leadership council, and interviews. Do the same when you teach with them.

  • Help missionaries understand the scriptures and develop a love for them. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland counseled mission leaders:

    “Make a love for the word of God absolutely central to your mission culture. … Make familiarity with the revelations and regular use of the standard works one of the chief characteristics of your missionaries for the rest of their lives.

    “When you teach your missionaries—and that is all the time—teach them from the scriptures. Let them see where you get your strength and inspiration. Teach them to love and depend on those accumulated revelations.

    “[My] mission president taught from the Book of Mormon and [other] scriptures every time we were in his presence, or so it seemed. Personal interviews were laced with scripture. Outlines for … meetings were drawn from the standard works. …

    “We didn’t know it at the time, but our president was arming us on the right hand and on the left, exhorting us with all the energy of his soul and with all the faculty he possessed to hold fast to the iron rod in order that we would never perish [see 1 Nephi 15:23–25]” (“The Power of the Scriptures” seminar for new mission leaders, June 25, 2022).