Saturday, February 2, 2008

LDS Ward Mission Leader's Responsibilities

I served as a ward mission leader in the Calexico California Ward. At that time my calling was a stake calling. In my calling we were very successful at baptizing several new members during the time I served in 1999. One of the programs that made this possible was using the full-time missionaries as home teacher. We had nearly five hundred members on the ward membership record that were unaccounted for. In the PEC the bishop would assign the missionaries thirty people a month to find and teach. Most of the group were less active members with many being part member families with older children. The missionaries being assigned to this group gave us a double reward the people were home taught or removed from the rolls if unfounded and many new members were baptized increasing the membership of our ward.

Another program we used was to have priesthood leaders go out every Wednesday night. All priesthood leaders would come to the chapel where we would exchange with the missionaries or go out with the bishop and his counselors to the less active. We had dozens of gospel conversations that lead to the missionaries teaching and baptizing many people. Between the two approaches we revitalized our ward. The area which used to be referred to by missionaries as the Rock of Gibraltar became the hottest area having over 70 baptisms in a year, almost as many as the whole mission combined. Our missionaries became known for their challenging and testifying and baptizing abilities. Missionary leaders were developed in our area where before we had missionaries who taught serving in our area was a punishment.

I googled ward mission leaders and looked up information on LDS.Org to see what I could find out about being a ward mission leader. This is what I found.

In March 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley disbanded stake missions, with the bishop and ward taking over the missionary, activation and retention responsibilities.

In Preach My Gospel it says: "A high councilor is assigned by the stake presidency to promote missionary, retention, and activation work in the stake. He regularly reports the progress of his work to the stake presidency. He also ensures that ward mission leaders are properly trained in their duties, including the preparation of a ward mission plan.

The bishop is responsible for missionary, retention, and activation efforts in his ward. His personal participation and leadership are essential. To help accomplish this work, the bishop calls a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder to serve as a ward mission leader. He also calls a sufficient number of ward missionaries to meet the needs in the ward.

The bishop uses the priesthood executive committee and the ward council to coordinate missionary, retention, and activation efforts. He gives direction to developing and carrying out a ward mission plan. (Preach my Gospel: A guide to missionary service. Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve, 2004, pp. 217-218).

In 2002 ward mission leaders were placed under the ward rather than the stake: "In an effort to bolster member missionary and fellowshipping efforts, the First Presidency recently dissolved stake missions and instructed bishops and branch presidents to directly oversee all missionary and retention responsibilities in their units. By dissolving stake missions, the responsibility and accountability for missionary work now rests with individual wards and branches.

The callings of ward mission leader and ward missionary will now be extended on a ward level rather than a stake level, under the direction of the bishop or branch president. Ward mission leaders will report directly to the bishop rather than a stake leader and will continue to coordinate the missionary efforts of the unit.

Ward missionaries will continue to prepare people to be taught the gospel, fellowship investigators and new members, teach new-member discussions, and encourage members. Callings are no longer issued for a specified term of service, and ward missionaries no longer wear nametags."

Dallin H. Oaks commented on this change: "The priesthood executive committee—presided over by the bishop, who is assisted by the ward mission leader—functions as the ward missionary committee, and the ward council plays a major role in promoting and coordinating efforts to share the gospel in the ward. In these and other meetings, such as the quorum and auxiliary meetings, the efforts of the members and the needs of investigators and new members can be discussed, plans can be made, and progress can be reported." President Hinckley’s advises: “Now, to you bishops who hold your ward council meetings, a discussion of the status of converts in that meeting may be the most important business you will conduct."

The LDS Church officially says:: "The ward mission leader helps the priesthood executive committee develop and implement the ward mission plan. He also has the following responsibilities:

He prepares agenda items on missionary work and retention for priesthood executive committee and ward council meetings. He reports on the progress of specific investigators and new members in these meetings. He also reviews the Progress Record form.

He conducts the weekly missionary coordination meeting (see "Missionary Coordination Meeting," below).

He makes sure that following baptism, the first four missionary lessons are retaught and that lesson 5 is taught (see Preach My Gospel, 29–88). He also provides priesthood and auxiliary leaders with regular reports of new members who need a Church responsibility.

He directs the work of the ward missionaries and instructs them. Under the direction of the bishop, he arranges for members to participate with the full-time missionaries as they teach investigators (see "Teaching, Baptizing, and Confirming Investigators," above).

He organizes convert baptismal services in cooperation with the full-time missionaries, and he may conduct these services if assigned by the bishopric."

Also the ward mission leader holds a weekly correlation meeting: "The ward mission leader plans and conducts a weekly missionary coordination meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to coordinate the missionary, retention, and activation efforts of the full-time missionaries and ward members. This meeting is attended by the full-time missionaries (where available), the ward missionaries, an assistant from the high priests group leadership, and a counselor from both the elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies.

In this meeting the ward mission leader reviews in detail the progress of each person listed on the Progress Record form. He coordinates visits and teaching appointments with investigators, new members, and less-active members.

Support for full-time missionaries, including transportation and meals, is coordinated in this meeting.

This meeting is also used to plan baptismal services after consultation with the bishopric."

A First Presidency Letter: Implementing the Bishop’s Responsibility for Ward Missionary Work on 28 March 2002 says: "Under the direction of the bishop, the ward mission leader, who is a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, coordinates the work of the ward missionaries with priesthood leaders, auxiliary leaders, and members. He also coordinates with the full-time missionaries, including arranging for members to be present, whenever possible, when investigators are taught, especially the last few lessons. He also organizes convert baptismal services in the ward, in cooperation with the full-time missionaries. A member of the bishopric or the ward mission leader usually conducts these services.

The ward mission leader proposes agenda items on missionary work and retention for priesthood executive committee and ward council meetings, including discussion of specific individuals. He ensures that new converts receive the attention they need, including being taught the discussions for new members by ward missionaries (or the full-time missionaries, where needed) and the home teachers."

M. Russell Ballard says ward mission leaders should use the ward council effectively: "Thus the missionary work of priesthood and auxiliary leaders should be coordinated by the ward mission leader and the bishop through the ward council. And by doing so, converts will be fully active members in their wards."

In 2004 Adam C. Olson in "Wards Finding Success in Missionary Work" said: "The ward mission leader is responsible for assisting the bishop with missionary work. Regular but brief meetings keep Joseph Ranseth, as ward mission leader, up to date on those whom the full-time missionaries are teaching and what support the investigators need from members. Joseph takes that information to the ward’s regular council meeting, where the bishop makes assignments to meet those needs. Because Joseph keeps an updated form with names, contact information, and action items, the discussion doesn’t take long. Ward leaders also plan and coordinate gospel-sharing activities, and that information is relayed back to the full-time missionaries. Enthusiastic ward and branch missionaries help the work run smoothly."

In the 2007 Ensign, R. Val Johnson describes some innovative things being done by Michael Mulholland, a ward mission leader in Vancouver, British Columbia. Brother Mulholland meets with each family in the ward and helps them develop their own family mission plans. "The plans consist of goals and approaches that each family decides work."

"In wards where member missionary work is successful, bishops emphasize it in priesthood executive committee (PEC), ward council, and priesthood and Relief Society meetings. They delegate assignments and with the ward leadership track the progress of investigators and less-active members.

One of the more successful aspects of many ward mission plans is a member missionary class to which the bishop calls six or eight members at a time. A ward or full-time missionary teaches the class. The text is Preach My Gospel, and topics include the doctrine behind missionary work, self-motivation, and practical approaches. Class members enjoy sharing personal missionary experiences and role-playing."

President Gordon B. Hinckley in a 2002 Leadership Training Meeting said: "Missionary work is more than two young men giving a memorized presentation to investigators. It is more than baptizing. It is a fourfold endeavor that concerns the missionaries, yes, and also ward members, bishops, the ward mission leader, and the entire Church organization. This fourfold effort includes (1) finding investigators, (2) teaching by the Spirit, (3) baptizing worthy converts, and (4) strengthening new and less-active members."

Since my earlier post on tips for being a good ward mission leader. I have found the site of a guy who is posting weekly on his experiences as a ward mission leader. Check out actobeytrust for a weekly update on his challenges.

A person or persons in New England calling themselves MissionaryLeaders.Org has put some out a few case studies and templates for developing a ward mission plan and a professional booklet on A Guide for Becoming a Great Ward Mission Leader. The booklet is professionally written with some good suggestions.

A good ward mission leader will work with the bishop in completing the Convert Action Checklist. New members should be monitored by the ward mission leader to make their assimilation in to the ward successful. A successful tool for use by ward mission leaders are the Pass Along Cards. Good ward mission leaders should keep a large supply on hand to disseminate to members.
Ward mission leaders need to follow-up on them and assign either himself or ward missionaries to teach people who want to know more.

A ward in the California Eldorado Stake described their experience with the cards: "Our ward prepared Easter baskets for members to give to their neighbors. Each basket contained a picture of Christ, a copy of ‘The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,’ a copy of the family proclamation, and a Lamb of God pass-along card. We also put some candy in each of them. Ward members were invited to give them to their neighbors. The demand was so great we had to substitute Easter bags for baskets. We did 70 bags and quickly ran out of them! Each Sunday for several months, ward members told about their experiences, and the ward mission leader followed up. We saw an awakening to the value of the pass-along cards among the members."


nuttynewburns said...

I am Dewayne Newburn from
Mobile Alabama
I was just put in as a ward mission leader in our ward/ branch
Our ward was combined from 2 wards into one and it is actually the size of a branch
I got the ward mission leader book and all it has is tabs not even blank pages in it
we have had very poor leader ship with missionary work far from their mind
I do not even have a leadership book
I could go on for days about things but I will not
I am commenting to thank you for your blog
It has been since 1994 that I was on a mission in Idaho
lots has changed
and I do not know when I will have the proper books
Thank you so much for your insight and listing the policy and procedures
I know many times you write a blog and wonder if it will ever make a difference
I can tell you if nothing else you have made a difference for me

and I am about to Rock this Branch
we have a lot of potential
10% hometeaching
80% inactive
lots of work but lots of potential.

Thanks again

1 said...

Hello I am trying to control what is posted under my name when you google my name. Not thinking I put too much personal information in this response.
Thank you