Thursday, March 6, 2008

Counsel to LDS Mission Presidents by the Brethren

I have consulted my missionary book Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord for statements from the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles to mission presidents on their duties, responsibilities, and challenges. There is some counsel in here about members and leaders working with missionaries, not getting caught up in statistical numbers, ways of doing the work, how to increase baptism, on retention of members etc. It cuts across a wide range of subjects but it teaches us about what the LDS general authorities have instructed mission presidents over the years. I hope you find it interesting. If you want to read everything they have said go to my side bar and click on Mission Presidents.

Some of you will go to missions where there is an abundance of leadership and where the area is already organized into stakes, where you will be almost exclusively doing proselyting work, while some of you will go to missions not yet fully develop, where you will have not only the missionary work but the organizational, ecclesiastical work. You start with converts and then families and then branches and then districts and then stakes, and yours is a tremendously important work. You mission Presidents are sent out, not to make new records primarily or to build statistical towers, but to fulfill the commandment of the Lord given on the Mount of Olives to his eleven apostles: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 20 June 1975, p. 2).

We all have confidence that when we have fully prepared ourselves, the Lord will provide a way for us to take the gospel to those lands now closed to our missionaries. President Spencer W. Kimball has said, “Somehow, brethren, I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors. That is my faith.” We all share this faith. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents' Seminar, 27 June 1974).

We feel that we should now encourage stake and district Presidents in such areas of the world as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, and Mexico to work diligently for the time when their local missionaries can carry the whole missionary program in their countries, thus freeing additional missionaries to carry the gospel to lands where it is not yet firmly established. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 27-28 June 1974).

Not long ago I had the very sad experience of talking to a missionary who, before he was called into the mission field, was guilty of immorality. He did not tell his bishop or his stake president. In fact, he lied about it, and went into the mission field guilty of transgression and guilty of lying. He was not able to get the Spirit of the Lord. Finally he came to his mission president and admitted his wrong. He was very repentant and prayed to the Lord to forgive him.

As he talked to me he said, "I am prepared to be excommunicated or anything else. I just want to get back in good fellowship with the Lord and be forgiven by him. We cannot afford to waver in any way. (N. Eldon Tanner, CR A'75, Ensign, [May 1975]: 77).

Now, brethren, you have been set apart, you have received your errand from the Lord. Go to, and may God bless you and be with you. I have no fear whatever that the candle lighted in Palestine years ago will never be put out. It will shine more brightly always. This is the work of the Lord. We are doing his service. He has commanded us specifically and over and over to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, every corner of the earth, every nation, every tongue, and that includes many that we have never touched yet. We are unknown among many, many of the people of the world, and it is time now that we began to gird up our loins and go forward with a new dedication to this great work. (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 20 June 1975, p. 10).

I have a fervent hope that in our family prayers, every night and morning, and in all the prayers in our missions, whenever we pray, that we will pray that the gates may be opened and the doors be unlocked for the teaching of the gospel in these countries. I hope there would hardly ever be any prayers offered without asking the Lord to make possible our expanding into the nations of the world to teach the gospel to them. (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 20 June 1975, p. 8).

Our proselyting is geared to bring families into the Church. Salvation is a family affair. Further, we want to baptize in areas where wards and branches are already located, so the people will have a place to come and be active and associate with the Church. But we don't want to go to extremes. We want to continue to baptize husbands and wives and children alone in proper cases. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

We are sent out to teach and to testify. Now, the reason we teach is so there will be a background, a foundation, a basis, to enable people to have an intelligent opinion when we bear testimony. We teach the gospel so that receptive lays a foundation for faith. Faith cometh by hearing. We want to teach the gospel in the most intelligent way. We have found that the best way to do it is to use the standard proselyting system that all missionaries receive and are expected to learn and use. But the conversion comes when spirit speaks to spirit. If you teach the gospel, and get the right climate arranged, and then bear testimony that what you are saying is true, it strikes a responsive chord in the heart of the hearer. The conversion comes when the hearer, the investigator, bears testimony back to you, when his soul vibrates and responds to what you have said. He can't explain it, and he doesn't know why, but all of a sudden he knows that the work is true. We have got to do more testifying. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

Use the proselyting discussions. Do not devise new programs and write new handbooks. You may work on special approaches to suit your cultural circumstances but the basic presentation is the same everywhere. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

You parents can do nothing better than to send your boy on a mission. It may mean sacrifice for him and sacrifice for you, but this is a training and graduation and growth that can come in no other way. Do you want your boys to be mission presidents and stake presidents and bishops? This is the way we go toward getting those blessings. Let no boy fail to offer himself for his mission. (Spencer W. Kimball, La Paz Bolivia Area Conference, 3 March 1977, p. 23).

Millions of people have spoken of Paul and Peter and James and John. You new mission Presidents are to be trusted now with these many precious souls, local and foreign and it will be your privilege to lead these numerous missionaries to the fountain of truth unsullied, unfolded in the majesty of light and splendor from the opening heavens in all the simplicity of its nature. (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, June 1977).

The young man who goes into the world preaching the gospel of peace loses himself and saves himself. Missionary work is one of the great miracles of our time. A transformation comes into the lives of boys.

Under the leadership of good mission presidents, they subject themselves to the discipline of the mission field, and that in itself becomes a remarkable blessing. They establish habits of work. They discover the values of life that are most important. They develop in their hearts a fervent testimony that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. They develop a new and wonderful sense of the meaning of the priesthood. The future of the Church will be so much the stronger by reason of the missionary service of our young men because of the tremendous strength with which they will return to carry out their activities in life, including service in the Church. A mission is not an expense. It is a great investment. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Regional Representatives Seminar, 5 April 1985; Ensign, [May 1985]: 96-97).

Through the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord proclaimed to John and Peter Whitmer, "The thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people that you may bring souls unto me (D&C 15:6)." Your greatest desire, as newly called mission Presidents, should be to bring souls unto him, converted souls taught by excellent missionaries in your field of labor. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 25 June 1986).

Missionaries are engaged in the greatest work in all the world--saving the souls of our Father in Heaven's children. They have been called by inspiration and revelation at this time for a sacred and holy purpose. They are serving exactly where the Lord wants them, for them, they are in the best mission of the Church, they cannot fail in this work, and they have been called to succeed and succeed they will. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 25 June 1986).

The faith and devotion of our members in that nation have not gone unnoticed by God. The excellent service of other General Authorities, Regional Representatives, and mission presidents has been of inestimable help. The understanding cooperation of government leaders is most appreciated. Assignments have been made to the first ten missionaries from the German Democratic Republic to serve abroad; and just three days ago, on Thursday, March 30, the first full-time missionary representatives in exactly fifty years entered the German Democratic Republic. Their mission president was there to greet them. The long period of preparation is past. The future of the Church unfolds. Thanks be to God. (Thomas S. Monson, “Thanks Be to God,” Ensign, [May 1989]: 50).

The Missionary Department employs six former mission presidents who are on 24-hour-a-day call to serve mission presidents and their missionaries. They respond immediately with the resources of the Church to assure the well-being of missionaries and their families.

When a problem occurs, such as the recent unrest in Colombia, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, through the able leadership of the General Authority Area Presidencies, monitor conditions daily and even hourly, if necessary.

Be assured that the safety and protection of missionaries always is a paramount concern. At the same time, however, the Church cannot retreat from areas of the world that are in turmoil unless absolutely necessary. Brothers and sisters, the charge from the Lord to "go ye therefore, and teach all nations" is a difficult one to fulfill. (Matthew 28:19). (M. Russell Ballard, CR O'89, Ensign, [November 1989]: 34).

No mission will rise to its greatest potential unless the members and the missionaries work cooperatively together. Missionary problems almost vanish when every missionary is successful. (Thomas S. Monson, [Mission Presidents’ Seminar], Church News, (30 June 1990): 3).

The message you carry is a precious and wonderful message. There is no greater message in all the world than this of which you bear testimony. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Mission Presidents' Seminar, Church News, 3 July 1999).

Even when someone rejects the message, missionaries need to learn to have a positive attitude because the message is still true whether it is accepted or not. Now I know that tracting isn’t very efficient, but I think it is good for the soul of the missionaries.

Your missionaries should recognize that you are all witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ and that there is nothing more powerful than your own personal witness. I believe we must be prepared for more converts coming into the Church than we have ever had before. Perhaps it may not happen in every country. But in the main, the harvest will increase. The Church is being brought out of the wilderness “clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners” (D&C 5:14). (James E. Faust, “First Presidency Trains Mission Presidents,” Ensign, [September 1999]: 76).

Missionary work will never be what it might be without the help of the members. Stake presidents need to feel some responsibility and ownership of missionary work. The stake president is the one who has the presiding priesthood keys over both the members and nonmembers in his stake. The missionaries are his helpers. (James E. Faust, “First Presidency Trains Mission Presidents,” Ensign, [September 1999]: 76).

Home teaching is part of today’s plan to rescue. When it was introduced by President David O. McKay to all of the General Authorities, he counseled: “Home teaching is one of our most urgent and most rewarding opportunities to nurture and inspire, to counsel and direct our Father’s children. … [It] is a divine service, a divine call. It is our duty as Home Teachers to carry the divine spirit into every home and heart.”

In certain areas where adequate Melchizedek Priesthood strength is missing, stake presidents and bishops, coordinating with the mission president, may use full-time missionaries to visit less-active and part-member families. Not only does this rekindle the missionary spirit in the home, but it also provides an ideal opportunity for quality referrals to be obtained. (Thomas S. Monson, “Stand in Your Appointed Place,” Liahona, [May 2003]: 54).

When I was a mission president in Toronto, Canada, we knew that investigators worry about the changes that are going to come into their lives. We had a practice of supplying teams of members to help the missionaries. For example, the missionaries are working with a Catholic family (and that was the majority faith in our area). About midway through the set of discussions they could call on Brother and Sister Anthony Belfiglio. They had been Catholics. They’d joined the Church and were a great help to the missionaries. When the missionaries had borne their testimony, Brother and Sister Belfiglio would say, “We know what you’re going through. We were in the same position, but when we heard the truth and realized that a prophet was on the earth at this time, there was no question what we must do, and we never looked back and we’ve never been sorry.” It buttressed the testimony of the missionaries. (Thomas S. Monson, “The Five M’s of Missionary Work,” New Era [March 2007]: 44-45).

Let us all press on confidently in this work as we look forward to the glorious promises ahead. Through our faithfulness all that God has promised will be fulfilled! (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 20 June 1980).

I hope you have enjoyed this series on mission presidents. I have just a couple of more posts to go to conclude it. Let me know if it is helpful. Did you learn anything about what mission president do?


dr di said...

Thank you for all that you do. Your blog is wonderful. I appreciate the volume and quality of the information you have collected and shared.

Dr. B said...

I appreciate your comment. I seldom get anyone to comment. I also was excited to see that you and your husband are serving in the West India Mission. I am adding your blog site to my mission president sidebar. Please check out the other mission president sites. I think what you are doing has some merit but I know others like to know what you as a mission president's wife and a mission president does. It raises the bar to have a slight inkling of the dynamics of serving.Your blog site makes a unique contribution also to the bloggernacle.