President's Pen 12-12-16 (Plan to Teach)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

Elders & Sisters,

We love ya!  Only a few short weeks until Christmas and now is the time to be talking to everyone you see!  Be a light and #LIGHTtheWORLD in every interaction you have.  We can follow the Savior’s perfect example as we do what He did!

A topic we often address is the need to teach people and not lessons.  At times in our missionary service we can fall into comfortable patterns and become more focused on getting through the lessons, than making sure we address the needs of those we teach.  There are 42 celestial traditions (principles) in the five missionary lessons (see the teaching record) and all are vitally important for our investigators to understand, but it is not a race to get through them.  Our lessons should always be focused on our purpose as we invite others come unto Christ.  Each lesson is an opportunity to increase faith in the Savior, as we teach the doctrine, and help increase the desire for men and women to keep commitments, live commandments, and make covenants.

Before each and every lesson you and your companion should ask, “What is the goal or the outcome we desire as we teach this lesson?”  In most cases your goal will be to teach a principle, that will lead them to act, prepare to meet the baptismal requirements, and help them begin to feel the miracle of conversion as the Spirit teaches to their hearts and minds.  If our purpose is well understood and lived, the Spirit can guide and direct our teaching to meet their needs, answer their questions/concerns, and leave them wanting to learn more.  No two lessons should ever be the same if we plan to teach people instead of lessons. 

Preach My Gospel (pgs. 19-21) gives us wonderful counsel on the creation of effective lesson plans that each of you should follow.  You and your companion should specifically plan to teach lessons that meet the needs of those you teach, and that begins as you weekly and nightly plan.  All things are created spiritually before they are created physically and your planning and companion study are a must as you spiritually prepare to teach.  The spirit of revelation (feelings to the heart and thoughts to the mind) comes as you study things out in your mind and a lack of preparation will be evident in your teaching if you haven’t done your part. 

When you don’t prepare the way you should the following will be evident in your teaching…

·         The companionship will be more interested in getting through the lesson instead of making sure that the principles taught are understood.  (Not every principle has to be taught in a lesson – go at the right pace, be mindful of time, understanding, interest, and participation on the part of the investigator)

·         There will be little to no interaction or involvement with the investigator, few questions asked, inadequate listening, too much material covered, and ineffective invitations extended.  (We’ll teach at them instead of teaching with them.)

·         The lesson will feel scripted and rote and won’t be taught with the power or authority that you’ve been given.  

·         The companionship won’t teach in unity, one companion will dominate, poor transitions between principles, and a lost opportunity for the Spirit to be the true teacher. 

·         A lack of charity and love will be felt towards those you have been called to serve and bless.    

·         One and done lessons that never lead to a second lesson being taught.

None of the above are desirable, and of course our great missionaries would never even consider just showing up without a goal and plan to bless and help someone come unto Christ.  What I do see great missionaries doing in our mission looks like the following…

·         The missionary purpose is clearly understood and the reason why we teach lessons is always top of mind (The Doctrine of Christ).

·         Personal and companionship study are focused on the missionary library and directed towards helping people come unto Christ.

·         A lesson plan that includes: (see pg. 20 PMG)

o    Desired goal/objective – what faith based action or result we desire from the investigator, less active, member, part-member, potential, etc.

o    The doctrine to be taught – what principle(s) we will share and help them apply.

o    The baptismal questions – the qualifications for baptism are top of mind.

o    The commitment/invitations that will be extended – the specific, bold, direct, and clear “Will you…” questions that will be asked.

o    The scriptures that will be shared – the relevant Book of Mormon/Bible verses that will be shared. (BREAD)

o    The inspired questions that will be pondered and asked as prompted – the opportunity to seek for understanding and listen to needs.

o    The examples or personal experiences that will be shared – the opportunity to personally testify of the doctrines taught.

§  The points above will be reviewed in nightly planning and written down and role played in companionship study.

·         Missionaries plan for members to be present and when possible, lessons are planned to be taught in members’ homes.

o    Missionaries are proactive in identifying member friends that can support and bless the investigator in the learning and conversion process.

·         Missionaries plan to use the tools and resources that add to the goal of the lesson taught.

o    Pamphlets are used and become a source of preparation for the lesson plan, interaction with the investigators, and follow up tool for all involved.

o    Church videos are identified, text messages are prepared and sent following the lesson that add to what was taught.

·         Missionaries use the TTIPF skills as they prepare to teach.

o    TEACH simply

o    TESTIFY with personal conviction

o    INVITE boldly, specifically, and clearly (Why, What, & Obstacles)

o    PROMISE BLESSINGs specific to the principle being taught

o    FOLLOW UP with positive daily interaction on invitations extended

Elders & Sisters, we are taught in the Doctrine in Covenants that we are to teach the gospel by the Spirit, and our planning and preparation allow us to become instruments in the Lord’s hands.  My invitation to you is to review how well you are planning for each lesson in your missionary efforts to teach members, investigators, less actives, part members, new converts, and anyone else not included in this short list.  Every lesson should have an objective in mind, with a clear invitation to act and follow the Savior.  Is it in your planner and is there evidence you are being thoughtful about teaching people and not lessons? Be a profitable servant and do all you can to make sure every lesson is one that focuses on individual needs.  You are disciples of Jesus Christ and you have been called to declare His word, among this people, that they might have everlasting life.  Love ya!

Mission Update

We have had a white Christmas so far this month as 24 souls have entered the waters of baptism to receive a remission of their sins.  We are so grateful for the blessings that come as we are able to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all that will hear.  Let’s help them all enjoy the blessings of the temple and prepare them to take their own family names.  Love ya!

President Hall