President's Pen 3-6-17 (Sabbath Day)

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 that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

I love ya!  Thanks for your goodness and faithful service.  Thanks for giving your all to the Lord and for your faith in the Savior and His Atonement.  His gospel is true and I know it is the plan and the only way we can return to live with the Father.  Continue to write the doctrine of Christ on your hearts as you serve with all your might and strength! 

In our district councils this past week we focused on the importance of helping our investigators join us at church and the doctrine of WHY it is so important.  As we teach repentance and baptize converts, the commitment to attend church is one that we hope will last a lifetime. 

As we teach simply, testify powerfully, invite boldly, promise blessings, and follow up, keep in mind that it is the doctrine we teach, as witnessed by the power of the Holy Ghost, that can move people towards action.  Where do we learn this… Alma 31:5 simply teaches that, “the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else…”  We also know that, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. “The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. … That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel.” (President Packer)  Of all the many things we can do, we want to make sure that the doctrine is taught simply enough so the Spirit can work within their hearts.

I attended several councils and loved the discussion on the doctrine of why we should make the Sabbath day a delight.  This is not a complete list, but here are some of the important principles that were discussed in the meetings I attended…  By attending church on Sunday I… demonstrate my faith in the Savior and His Atonement, renew my covenants by partaking of the sacrament, am moved to change and repent, am made clean and renewed, will have the Spirit to be with me, retain a remission of my sins, am sanctified and purified by the Holy Ghost, am obedient in keeping the Sabbath day holy, show a sign to God, demonstrate my love towards God, receive instruction and nurturing, give service, am fellowshipped, am connected to heaven.  A short list, but powerful!

As I thought about these key principles, I wrote down a brief lesson of what I might want to share with an investigator…  “The reasons why I attend church each week are many, and from my own experience, I want to share with you why it is so important to me.  I attend each week to show my faith in Jesus Christ and His loving Atonement.  My faith in the Savior is the foundation for the things I do and causes me to act and want to follow Him.  Attending His church, on His day, is an act of faith that He lives, knows me, and loves me.  Before the Savior’s suffering in Gethsemane, on the cross, and His resurrection, He prepared the last supper for His apostles.  We call this last supper the sacrament and it is the way we remember the Savior’s sacrifice as he paid for our sins and gave His life for us.  Of all things I do each week, attending church and partaking of the sacrament, is the most important thing I do.  By partaking of the sacrament, I am made clean and it allows me to renew my covenants and promises with God.  Those promises began as I was baptized and when I partake of the sacrament each week I am blessed to remember the Savior, to take upon His name, and keep His commandments.  When I do these things, He promises me that I will always have His Spirit to be with me.  This is the greatest gift I can receive and with the Holy Ghost in my life, I am guided, comforted, and given heavenly help and direction each day.  I know that as I repent and do my best to live the Savior’s teachings, the sacrament makes it possible for the Spirit to sanctify (makes us holy) and purify me (make us clean) so I can return to the presence of God.  I know no unclean thing can live with God and coming to church each week cleanses me so I can retain a remission of my sins.  For this reason alone, I never want to miss church, and especially a sacrament meeting.   I know that as you prepare for your baptism and that following your baptism you’ll come to know how important the sacrament is to you. 

I also attend church each week as it demonstrates my love for God as I keep His commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy.  Through my obedience and by keeping His sacred day holy, I show a sign of love and honor that I want to do His will.  I feel blessed to attend church as I know the Sabbath was given to us as a day of rest from the world and it allows me to show more gratitude for all that God has given me.  I also attend church each week as I know I need to continually learn and be invited to act and improve.  The talks and lessons given at church are reminders of how the Savior would have me live my life and what I can do to improve each day.  I am also needed at church as I am given an opportunity to serve and bless others.  Serving in the Church and on Sunday’s allows me to focus on the needs of others and by serving others I am blessed.  When I attend church I am strengthened by others who, like me, are doing the best they can to live the gospel.  This fellowship is something that gives me support and needed encouragement as I strive to remember the Savior and keep His commandments.  I want heavenly power and guidance in my life and my church attendance and all the things I’ve describe are a great blessing to me.  These are just a few of the important reasons why I choose to show my faith and attend church each Sunday.  Can you see why the Lord would have you come to Church each week?   What blessings would come to you as you attend?  Is there anything that would stop you from being with us this Sunday?  A scripture I would share that emphasizes what I have shared with you comes from the Savior Himself.  It is found in 3 Nephi 18:11 as he teaches the people about parktaking of the sacrament on His sacred day, “And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.”  I KNOW this is true and I KNOW as we attend church, partake of the sacrament, and keep his commandments I am blessed.  This is TRUE and I KNOW it will be true for you as well. 

I promise you that as you attend church each week you will have God’s Spirit with you.  You will be made clean as you repent and renew your promises to God.  You will show your obedience and a sign to God that you love Him and want to follow Him.  As you attend you will serve and bless others and receive the fellowship and support you need to make it through each week.  I know the Lord would have you attend church this week so He can bless and strengthen you.  Will you show your faith in Jesus Christ and attend church with us this Sunday?”

Think about the power that comes from the doctrine of attending church!  If we teach the need and reasons to attend church correctly and powerfully, and as the Spirit enters hearts and minds, investigators will be given a clear choice of whether or not to follow this important commandment.  We need to plan and help investigators come to church (rides, reminders, Church & Rescue etc.).  We need to involve members in the invitation and prepare the ward council to receive them as they join us.  All the preparations and plans are needed and important, but what you teach and how you teach the doctrine will have a more powerful effect upon their minds than anything else you can do!

Elders & Sisters, the invitation to attend church can’t be passive or a check list item on your teaching record.  It can’t be a passing thought as you walk out the door.  You need to lesson plan, treasure up, pray for the Spirit to be your senior companion, and then teach with power and authority.  Personalize this important principle, share scriptures that you can use as another witness, pray in faith that the Holy Ghost will move them to act as you invite them boldly and follow up.  The Sabbath day was truly given to us as a way to honor, love, and show a sign to God that we will serve and follow Him.  I invite you to teach this doctrine powerfully and simply as we invite and help others come unto Christ.  I invite you to write your own personal lesson of why weekly church attendance matters to you.  I also invite you to never miss a sacrament meeting the rest of your life! We need oil in our lamps when the bridegroom comes, your faithful church attendance and participation of the sacrament is precisely the oil you need.  In the Savior’s name these principles are true and I know they have blessed me personally.  Love ya!

President Hall