Challenge of Missionary Work

“Challenge of Missionary Work,” New Era, Feb. 1972, 22

Challenge of Missionary Work

You can’t be a Mormon and not know that we are called to share the gospel with others. But our big problem as youth is how to reach out to other students. After wrestling with this issue, it became clear to everyone in our workshop that we should think in terms of missionary work for both nonmembers and inactive members; the problems in involving both groups seemed similar. Effective principles of missionary work are effective in whichever direction they are applied. However, everyone finally came to the conclusion that we should be more interested in what makes members interested in others and not in what makes nonmembers interested in us. The real question of the workshop was, How can we educate ourselves as Latter-day Saint students to extend ourselves to others in successful and satisfying ways? Everyone agreed that the question is not one of motivation. We’re all motivated. But we seem to lack the skills.

Here are the suggestions:

1. Enthusiasm is not enough—but it does carry you over the rough spots. Keep the enthusiasm.

2. Excitement is infectious. Students at the El Camino Junior College Institute of Religion were admitted to classes, social functions, and other activities on the condition that they bring a nonmember or inactive member with them—at least that was the goal toward which they worked. They soon tripled their number!

3. The most successful approaches are often creative. University of California Medical Center’s Mormon students gave out copies of the Book of Mormon to all their freshmen classmates for Christmas. Other campus groups elsewhere are planning to send New Era gift subscriptions to inactive members or to one nonmember friend of every Mormon on campus.

4. At the University of Idaho at Moscow, each class chose a student whose job it was to nag other students about bringing visitors and making sure that all newcomers felt welcome. Within a short time, no assignments were needed—performance was terrific!

5. Mormons on several campuses have asked that a practical lesson filled with practical tips be given on how to share the gospel with others, as well as counsel on how to quickly answer typical questions raised by non-Mormons. Once again, the big problem of skills seemed to be ever present, but it was decided that nothing teaches so fast as personal experience. The best way to learn is to make a start—now!