President's Pen 7-3-17 (Invitations - Doctrines - Promises)

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 se 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!

Elders & Sisters,

I love ya!  Thanks for your goodness and desires to bless and help all men and women come unto Christ.  Your worthiness, obedience, planning, and desires to teach repentance and baptize converts are a great blessing to the people in this part of the Lord’s vineyard.  There is not an area in our mission that doesn’t have people prepared.  Believe and trust that God is directing His work and that He will give unto you success.  

The seminar for new mission presidents entering the field was held at the Provo MTC this past week.  Sister Hall and I sat in those same chairs just over two years ago and it will be considered one of the greatest highlights of my life.  For mission presidents already serving in the field, we also receive the instruction at the end of each day.  There were many wonderful talks given and I will share them with you in the weeks to come, but there was one in particular that I felt like I needed to emphasize from Elder Renlund of the Twelve.  He titled his address, “Treasuring up the Words of Life”.  I loved this as we have all embarked on a thorough study on chapter three of Preach My Gospel for the month of July.  As missionaries in the Great THSM, we will know the word of God!

As you might expect, Elder Renlund counseled the new mission presidents to make sure that missionaries were taking the time each morning to purposefully study from Preach My Gospel and the scriptures.  He cited examples of missionaries that entered a lesson hoping and expecting for it to go well, but were dismayed when the opposite was true.  He simply stated, they hadn’t taken the time to have an effective individual or companionship study.  As we know, the Spirit cannot draw from an empty well and when missionaries take a casual approach, they are seldom welcomed back and often wonder why no one ever seems to progress (members included).  He likened it to missionaries that don’t bother to go shopping on pday, only to find the fridge and cupboards bare on Tuesday, and wonder where the food is. ;)

As he delivered his address, I reflected on our missionaries and felt peace in my heart and mind that the missionaries in the Great THSM were diligently striving to treasure up each day and preparing to teach people, and not lessons.  He went on to explain that one of the ways you will know how well a missionary understands their purpose, and how well they are studying and treasuring up, will be based on the way they extend commitment invitations.  He recommended that each missionary consider the following in their personal and companionship study…

First – Begin with the commitment invitation… “Will you…” (This is what you build towards in your lesson as you increase their faith in Christ and help them act!)

All too often missionaries extend invitations, both to investigators and members alike, that are not specific, clear, and direct.  We often forget that we are representatives of the Savior and we extend the invitation on His behalf.  There can be no fear, no hesitation, no second guessing.  A successful missionary will always be found inviting.  As we invite, always consider using… The Lord/Savior/Jesus Christ would have you… (insert the invitation here).  As disciples of Christ, we invite men and women to do what the Savior wants them to do, not what we want them to do.  You will have more power in your invitations if you invite in His name.  A missionary that is treasuring up the words of eternal life will know the commitment invitations from PMG.  Did you know there are 40 plus! I triple dog dare you to count them in chapter three. ;)

Second – Understand the doctrine behind the commitment invitation.

You all know the quote from President Packer, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behaviors.” If you are unfamiliar with true doctrine, your power in teaching it will be diminished.  Consider the following doctrines… faith in the Savior and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end.  In the course of your teaching, you will invite your investigators to accept and live the doctrine of Christ.  The Savior would have you follow Him and be baptized, “Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone who holds the priesthood authority of God.”  The invitation is specific, clear, and direct, but what is the doctrine behind it?  How many scriptures could you turn to right now, without the aid of Preach My Gospel, if you needed to explain or defend why we must be baptized?  A good measure of the effectiveness of your study and what you’ve treasured up, is if you not only know the doctrine, but know where to go to find it.  

Third – Understand the promised blessings behind the commitment invitation.

Frequently missionaries extend invitations that include a promised blessing that is general, unspecific, and often times not tied to the invitation extended.  An example might be.  “Will you attend church with us this Sunday?”  Followed by, I promise you that your life will be better for it.  While this is true, a missionary that has treasured up the words of life will know specific blessings and promises the investigator can expect to receive.  If there is no incentive for an investigator to act, it will be rare that they do.  In Preach My Gospel and the scriptures, you will find mentioned many promised blessings that are specific to the invitation, doctrine, and blessings we promise they will receive.  As an example, in zone conference we recently reviewed the doctrine of repentance.  The commitment invitation was, “Will you repent and pray for forgiveness of sins?”  The doctrine of repentance we teach is that through our faith in the Savior, we change our thoughts, our beliefs, and behaviors that are not in harmony with God’s will.  We also teach that no unclean thing can return to live with God and that to receive a full remission of sins and be found spotless, we must repent, be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  We then teach an investigator how to follow a process of repentance throughout the course of their lives.  The promised blessings we extend are to feel God’s forgiveness, peace, have guilt and sorrow swept away, feel the Spirit in their lives, and prepare to meet God (pg. 62 PMG).  When we promise blessings, we need to make sure we know exactly what they are and why they will matter to the investigator.  You will find promised blessings with every doctrine in PMG!

Elders & Sisters, Elder Renlund’s counsel to us was to make sure we know how our specific, direct, and clear commitment invitations tie back to the doctrine and blessings we teach and promise.  We can improve in our teaching as we come to know these truths and we will do it as we treasure up the words of eternal life each day.  As we all study doctrines from PMG each day this month, I invite you to know the specific, clear, and direct invitations you will extend and the promised blessings available to them as they act in faith.  To measure your progress, ask yourself, can I teach this doctrine simply (2 minutes or less), do I know where to find it in scripture, and do I know what specific blessings I will promise? In the Savior’s name, I testify that treasuring up the words of eternal life is much more than casual, haphazard study, it is building a reservoir of truth you can pull from when the Spirit prompts you to speak.  I promise you that when you treasure up these words, you will have more confidence when you teach, they will be brought to your remembrance, the Spirit will bear witness of your words, and more will come unto Christ.  Study well, study purposefully, and seek to be an instrument worthy of the Lord’s help as we invite all to come unto Him.  Love ya!

President Hall