Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bruce R. McConkie: Missionary Extraordinaire

One of my favorite General Authorities is Elder Bruce R. McConkie. Many people think of him as a fire-breathing doctrinal scholar. I thought he was in to the scriptures because his father-in-law was President Joseph Fielding Smith but I learned later that was just his unique personality. Bruce R. McConkie met Amelia Smith while he was a university freshman and she a junior at East High School. He married her a year later after she graduated from high school on October 13, 1937.



I heard him give some pretty forceful talks at devotionals while a student at BYU for seven years. One time he spoke about born again people who thought they could be saved just by touching the dial of a radio.

My remembrance of him is as a down-to earth guy. I met him face to face for the first time at a stake conference in North Las Vegas, Nevada at the Pecos and Osage chapel shortly after my mission. I had gone in to the bathroom to use the urinal and who was standing next to me relieving himself but Elder McConkie who made some remark like "even General Authorities are human too." I shared with him my quip about the existential dilemma that no one in their right mind could imagine "I pee therefore I am." Knowing how he felt about humanists I thought he would unload on me but he just chuckled and went back to sit on the stand.

My next experience with him was walking up behind the current Church Conference Center. Several years back in the early 1980s there was a parking lot and on the top of the hill a few small buildings. I was visiting the Church Archives and I parked up near the old Deseret Gym. At five o'clock having finished my research I crossed the street by the Salt Lake Temple on the Church Family History side. I was heading up a few blocks towards the old rest home when who should appeared walking by my side but Elder Bruce R. McConkie. He had given a talk at a BYU devotional just a few weeks before about the Holy Spirit that was tough on George Pace who was teaching his students they needed to get a born again type of experience. I was working in the religion department as an assistant and had talked to Brother Pace who expressed genuine remorse about maybe being too zealous. I mentioned my conversation with Brother Pace to Elder McConkie. He reiterated his position but told me he wasn't really singling out George Pace individually that he was talking about not getting too wrapped up in extreme behavior for everyone. He mentioned he wasn't really thinking about him only when he gave the address.

I saw Elder McConkie a couple of more time in the same location and briefly chatted with him casually. He told me he liked to work out every day somewhere between five and six p.m. since he believe we all needed to keep our bodies in good shape since they were temples of God. I admired his dedication to living the Word of Wisdom. I think he told me he occasionally played handball or racketball and would swim or work out. I vaguely recall he either used a sauna or whirlpool from time to time. I asked him since he was tall if he played basketball but he laughed and said when he was younger. I just assumed he must play B-ball at the gym.

Bruce R. McConkie Missionary


I have always admired Elder McConkie. A little known facet of the man is that he was an exceptional missionary and mission president.

S. Dilworth Young says of Bruce R. McConkie as a missionary and mission president: "Bruce’s high school days were spent at the old LDS University located where the Relief Society Building and the General Church Office Building now stand. He was graduated in 1931.

Three years at the University of Utah swiftly followed. There, in the fall of 1934, came his call to the Eastern States Mission. October found him on his way.

He had read the Book of Mormon three times, had read the other standard works, and had had the long years of family discussions. He had patterned his life to the truth. He was ready when the call came.

He had all of the usual experiences a good missionary had in that mission. There were times when patience was the order. There were times when vigor should be exercised. There were times of crisis. Elder McConkie was ready for each. He enjoyed one of the splendid old-time mission presidents, President Don B. Colton....

He served as mission president of the Australia South Mission from 1961 to 1964 when it encompassed all of western and southern Australia. His work there was monumental in scope and was marked by many progressive methods that enlarged the mission’s influence. His missionaries learned from him sound doctrine and testimony. They learned determination and perseverance. They learned what it is to be humble and to hear the whispering of the Spirit. Sister McConkie was by his side in this great endeavor. It was one of the happy, rewarding periods of his life."

S. Dilworth Young also describes his involvement in stake missionary work: "In 1935 the First Council of the Seventy was charged with the organization of stake missions. A common program was organized. The mission presidents were generally chosen from local seventies quorums, and the quorum members were called out from ward work to serve as missionaries. However, the work was not given to quorums but to individual members, as the stake president felt to call them.

The First Council supervised this work until 1952, when in a meeting held in the president’s office, President David O. McKay released the First Council from this work and assigned it to President Stephen L Richards, his counselor in the First Presidency. President Richards organized a committee to handle stake mission work, to which were called Presidents Antoine R. Ivins and Bruce R. McConkie. This committee functioned under various chairmen until the mid-1960s when the stake mission presidencies were formed from three members of the local quorum council, and seventies began to be called to labor once more.

Recently President Spencer W. Kimball has appointed the quorums of seventy to be the stake mission organizations, under the presidency of all seven of the presidents. It was made clear that seventies were missionaries by virtue of their ordination and need not be set apart as such; they could be appointed teachers or finders as circumstances warranted."


Joseph Fielding Smith Visits Son-in-Law Bruce R. McConkie in Southern Australian Mission

At his memorial services 23 April 1985 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle Gordon B. Hinckley said: "During the past year, when he has not been well he has been indefatigable in his pursuit of the work of the Lord to open new areas, to strengthen the missionary service, to build the Saints, to bear solemn and sincere witness to the reality and divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and to the restoration of His work.

In October, his health began to deteriorate. Rallying strength for his final public testimony, he asked his brother Briton for a blessing. Then, on the day of the conference, he rose from his sickbed to testify of the Savior:

I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.” (Ensign, May 1985, p. 11.)"

Elder James E. Faust spoke of Bruce R. McConkie's missionary service:

When Bruce was a teenager, the family moved to Salt Lake City, where he finished high school. He served as a missionary in the eastern United States from 1934 to 1936, then earned a law degree from the University of Utah in 1939. After two years as assistant Salt Lake City attorney and city prosecutor, he spent four years as a security and intelligence officer in the army. Returning to civilian life with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, he joined the American Legion and the Reserves....

Thirty-year-old Bruce McConkie didn’t return to a legal career after the war; instead, he joined the editorial staff of the Deseret News. Less than a year later, on 10 October 1946, President George Albert Smith called him to serve in the First Council of Seventy. He held that position for twenty-six years, during which time he served three years as president of the Southern Australia Mission....

Robert J. Matthews, dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University, tells about serving as a missionary under Elder McConkie’s father in the days before Elder McConkie was a General Authority. “Oscar McConkie was a very capable man in his own right. One day we missionaries asked him a question; he thought a little while and said, ‘I don’t know the answer, but I’d like to ask my son, Bruce.’

“I asked him how old his son was; when he told me he was only thirty, I said, ‘How is it that you—-being his father, a judge, a mission president—-feel that you have to ask your son for the answer?’ He replied, ‘You just don’t know Bruce!’ ”

Years later, Brother Matthews worked with the Scriptures Publications Committee in the preparation of the new editions of the scriptures. “One of Elder McConkie’s major accomplishments on that committee,” he says, “was the individual chapter headings and section summaries. [He again read the entire standard works while doing this project.] Although I read these headings before publication, I still frequently marvel and am reimpressed with the clarity and insight wherein few words say so much.

One of Elder McConkie’s former missionaries, Robert McDougall, recalls the great impact his mission president had upon his life. A native-born Australian, he was called to serve a full-time mission in his homeland under President McConkie. “I have to admit to a great deal of apprehension the day I climbed aboard the plane to answer the call....There was no mission-home training available and I felt unprepared and very nervous.

“I will never forget the feeling of comfort I got when he met me at the airport and took me in his arms and then spent the weekend taking me everywhere he went, talking to me, teaching me, and getting me ready to serve.”

Brother McDougall remembers well Elder McConkie’s energy and sense of humor. “I remember one occasion when he invited his missionaries to a meeting at the top of a 4,000-foot mountain. The catch was that they had to walk. When they got to the top, worn, tired, and panting, they found Elder McConkie sitting fresh as a daisy, waiting for them.

“On another occasion, he called me out of the shower at 6 a.m. to ask me to gather all of the missionaries in the region for an all-day meeting. The most surprising thing about that invitation was that I was a very junior missionary and he was about 2,000 miles away at the time.

“I began to call the other missionaries to tell them about the meeting,” he remembers. “Most thought it was an April Fool’s joke, but eventually all of them, including the regional elders, assembled for the meeting.”

The missionaries waited for over an hour for their mission president to arrive, many wondering if the young elder had understood the message accurately. Just as some were ready to call the meeting a hoax, “a smiling President McConkie drove into the parking lot.

“That day we sat at his feet and were taught in vintage McConkie style, straight scripture—for seven hours.

“He started by saying he had asked us to meet to discuss one scripture. I remember to this day, more than two decades later, the exact verse because he elaborated on it, took it apart, examined every related reference and historical context for seven hours. When he had finished, we had spent the entire day on one verse. He stopped because it was obvious we couldn’t take any more, not because he had no more to give. He was just getting started.” (The Provo Herald, 21 Apr. 1985.)

Bruce R. McConkie relates the following experience from when he was mission president: "When I was a mission president in Australia, I once said to those of my missionaries in Tasmania: “Tomorrow we shall climb Mt. Wellington and hold our missionary meeting on the top. We shall there seek to commune with the Lord and partake of his Spirit.”

We made the climb, and while on top of the peak we visited a television broadcasting station. A bright young man explained to us in words I had never heard, and using principles I could not and do not understand, how the sounds and scenes of television were broadcast into the valley below.

That night, back in the city of Hobart, my two young sons and I sat before a television set that was tuned to the proper wave band, and we saw and heard and experienced what had been described to us in words.

Now I think this illustrates perfectly what is involved in the receipt of revelation and the seeing of visions. We can read about visions and revelations in the records of the past, we can study the inspired writings of people who had the fullness of the gospel in their day, but we cannot comprehend what is involved until we see and hear and experience for ourselves."

Elder McConkie served on the Executive Missionary Committee of the Church when Harold B. Lee was president and Spencer W. Kimball was the head of the committee: "The Missionary Recommendation is reviewed for completeness by the Missionary Department and is then placed with from one hundred to three hundred other recommendations to be considered at the weekly Missionary Committee meeting each Tuesday morning. The Missionary Committee of the Church is the Quorum of the Twelve. Of this number, four have been called as the Missionary Executive Committee. They are President Spencer W. Kimball, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Thomas S. Monson, and Elder Bruce R. McConkie. The First Council of the Seventy, under the direction of the Missionary Executive Committee, administers the Church’s missionary program.

Those in attendance at the Tuesday morning Missionary Committee meeting are the four members of the Twelve mentioned above and two members of the First Council of the Seventy. In this meeting each missionary recommendation is prayerfully considered, with President Kimball usually making the specific recommendation as to where each missionary might go. The meeting lasts as long as it takes to give each missionary recommendation personal consideration.

The recommendations are then sent to the President of the Church for whatever action he wishes to take. When president Harold B. Lee makes the final determination, he sends out a letter of call over his signature to the missionary."

In 1975 he was called to be over all the work in South America which he supervised for a few years at a time of dramatic growth. In 1976 Elder Thomas S. Monson became chairman with Elder McConkie as vice-chairman and Elder David B. Haight as the other member of the Executive Missionary Committee.


In 1982 he returned to Australia was the first person to turn the spade for the Sydney Australia Temple at the groundbreaking ceremony. On this occasion he said: "Elder McConkie noted that the gathering of Israel referred to in Isaiah, with mention of the mountain of the Lord’s House “ ‘in the tops of the mountains,’ is figurative language for places where temples will be built.”

“The gathering of Israel is into the stakes of Zion in the nations of the earth. This temple is a fulfillment, as far as Australia is concerned, of that prophecy of Isaiah. It is just as literal a fulfillment as the building of the temple in Salt Lake.

I cannot use language that is too emphatic. There is no way to overemphasize what we are presenting—the fact that a House of the Lord is about to rise in Australia will be the crowning event for the Church here at this time, when the blessings and ordinances of the gospel are made available."

Marvin J. Ashton a few years after Bruce R. McConkie died shared this experience with us: "Just before our esteemed, honored Apostle and special friend of Aaronic Priesthood and their leaders worldwide, Elder Bruce R. McConkie, passed away nearly four and one-half years ago, with his sweetheart and eternal companion, Amelia, at his bedside, some very significant words were shared. As Sister McConkie held his hand during his final earthly minutes, she asked, “Bruce, do you have a message for me?” Though weak and expiring, he responded in a firm voice his last words, “Carry on.”

Here was one of God’s choicest servants, who had studied, pondered, and written as extensively on the life and mission of Jesus Christ as anyone else in his time, using these two powerful words for direction and encouragement. Sister McConkie has since shared with me the great importance and strength of “carry on” as time has passed. Elder McConkie knew as a special witness the importance of, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31–32.) Salvation and exaltation are here emphasized as being based primarily upon commitment and enduring.

Enduring, or carrying on, is not just a matter of tolerating circumstances and hanging in there, but of pressing forward."

L. Aldin Porter summarized three things that he thought Elder McConkie felt were significant events in his lifetime: "On one occasion Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles listed three things which had happened in his lifetime which he said would do more than anything else for the spreading of the gospel, for the perfecting of the Saints, and for the salvation of men. The first of these three things was “the receipt of the revelation which makes the priesthood...available... without reference to race or ancestry.” The second was “the organization of the First Quorum of the Seventy as the third great council of the Church,” and the third was “the publication of the standard works...with the new teaching aids that accompany them

I also knew Elder McConkie's son Joseph Fielding McConkie who was a religion teacher at BYU. He occasionally mentioned a few things about his father or something he would say. He really love and respected him. Joseph Fielding McConkie would greet everyone by saying "How are You?" If you didn't say fine but replied good. He would always correct you by saying "There is only one good man that I know of [meaning Jesus Christ]. He was a lot like his father both in looks and temperament.

Missionary Quotes by Bruce R. McConkie

Keep all the truth and all the good that you have. Do not abandon any sound or proper principle. Do not forsake any standard of the past which is good, righteous, or true. Every truth found in every church in all the world we believe. But we also say this to all men—Come and take the added light and truth that God has restored in our day. The more truth we have, the greater is our joy here and now; the more truth we receive, the greater is our reward in eternity. This is our invitation to men [and women] of good will everywhere. (Bruce R. McConkie quoted in Russell M. Nelson, Perfection Pending and Other Favorite Discourses, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998, p. 70.)

Ten times ten thousand missionaries and more have left farm and factory, shop and store, and the halls of higher learning.--voluntarily and at their own expense--to devote three hundred thousand man years of service in preaching the gospel.

Ten times a hundred thousand and more have believed their message.

Ten times ten million and more have heard the warning voice.

But with it all, we have scarce commenced the assigned labor. We have yet to preach the gospel to the ten times two hundred million people in Russia, China, India, Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and so on.

But this we shall assuredly do, for we are on the Lord's errand; we are engaged in his work; he has decreed its over all success and triumph; and none can stay his hand. (Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1969, p. 143).

What has been done up to this point is relatively slight compared to what must yet be. We have the promise that the Church is going to be upon all the face of the earth when the Lord comes. This has not yet come to pass. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

Remember, we proclaim to the world a message, the message of the restoration. This message is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that salvation is in him, that because of his atoning sacrifice all men are raised in immortality, and those who believe and obey his laws are raised unto eternal life. This message is that in our day, primarily through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, there has been a restoration of the knowledge of Christ and the knowledge of salvation. And this message is, further, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as now constituted, is the Church and kingdom of God on earth, the one place were salvation is found, the place where men can come to learn the eternal verities in the fields of religion and salvation. (Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1965, pp. 27-28).

To preach repentance to the world, to say nothing but repentance unto this generation, is in fact an instruction to preach Jesus Christ and him crucified; it is an invitation to have faith in the Lord and to receive a remission of sins by baptism and the Holy Ghost. That is the only way that repentance operates. Repentance is not just reformation. It follows faith. It includes turning to the Lord and keeping his commandments so as to gain a remission of sins by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

We are called to labor in the fields. We are the Lord's agents. He has sent us forth to reap while the day lasts. He does not fail, nor does his word. If we do the things he expects of us, and which it is in our power to do, we shall reap the promised harvest. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

When we come into the Church, we covenant in the waters of baptism that we will do missionary work. We enter into a solemn contract with Deity that we will bear testimony of the restoration of the gospel on every appropriate occasion. We agree "to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all place" that we "may be in, even until death," (Mosiah 18:9). We are also bound by the command that the Lord has given by revelation in this day, that "It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor" (D & C 88:81). Thus we have an affirmative, positive, definite obligation resting upon us to do missionary work. This matter of carrying the gospel message to the world is not something that we can choose to do or not, if and when we may find it to be convenient. We are under covenant to do it "at all times...and in all places...even until death" (Mosiah 18:9). (Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1965, pp. 54-55).

As far as I am concerned, there is nothing I can do for the time and season of this mortal probation that is more important than to use all my strength, energy, and ability in spreading and perfecting the cause of truth and righteousness. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Think on These Things," Ensign, [January 1974]: 47).

Because the gospel is the most important thing in this or any world, because we alone have this power of God unto salvation, and because it is for all men, the Lord has commanded us to go forth. . . "in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto" us. (D&C 84:61).

His word, not to those of a former day, but to us, is: "Go ye into all the world; . . . that the testimony may go from you into all the world unto every creature." (D&C 84:62).

By his own mouth he has promised us: "Every soul who believeth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost." (D&C 84:64).

Also from his own mouth we hear this awesome truth: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, they who believe not my on your words, and are not baptized in water in my name, for the remission of their sins, that they may receive the Holy Ghost, shall be damned, and shall not come into my Father's kingdom where my Father and I am.

"And this revelation unto you, and commandment, is in force from this very hour upon all the world, and the gospel is unto all who have not received it." (D&C 84:74-74).
From what source shall the world receive the gospel? From what fountain shall they drink to receive that water which quenches eternal thirst? These words contain the Lord's answer: "Verily I say unto all those to whom the kingdom has been given--from you it must be preached unto them." (D&C 84:76).

Who carries the message of salvation to the world? Who is responsible to do missionary work? Whose voice do our Father's other children hear, inviting them to keep every true principle they now possess, but to receive the added light and knowledge that has come by the opening of the heavens in our day?
The Lord's answer is: "All those to whom the kingdom has been given." This is not a work reserved for Apostles and prophets alone. It is not restricted to seventies and those called on missions.

The genius of the heaven-sent system is that it involves all of the Saints. It will take all of us, plus the converts yet unmade, and our children and our children's children, to raise the warning voice in the ears of all of them. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Let the Word Go Forth," Ensign, [February 1985]: 72-73).

Alma tells us that we make a covenant in the waters of baptism to serve the Lord and keep his commandments. One of the express provisions of this covenant is a solemn promise on our part "to stand as witnesses of God"--meaning both the Father and the Son—"at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death." This, Alma says, is required of us, if we are to "be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that [we] may have eternal life." (Mosiah 18:9).

Being thus under covenant to testify of Christ and his gospel everywhere and at all times, as long as we breathe the breath of life, it comes as no surprise to hear the Divine Voice say to each of us:

"I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.

"Therefore, they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads." (D&C 88:81-82).

I leave with each of you the problem of determining upon whose heads their sins will rest if we fail to raise the warning voice.

To raise the warning voice is to preach the gospel; it is to set forth the plan of salvation; it is to teach that sins are remitted by baptism; it is to testify that all who believe and obey shall be saved and that those who reject and disobey shall be damned.

What a warning that is--a warning to forsake the world or suffer the desolations and plagues, both temporal and spiritual, that shall fall upon the ungodly in the coming days.

Thus it is that we--meaning every member of the kingdom who has arrived at the age of accountability--have a divinely imposed duty, a revealed responsibility, an overriding obligation to proclaim the message of the restoration to the world. it is a divine appointment, lighted as a fire by the power of the Spirit, that should burn as a holy fire in our hearts at all times.

Orson Pratt baptized one of my great grandfathers in Scotland. I thereby inherited the blessings of the gospel by being born under the covenant. Is there any way I can repay those who brought the gospel to me, except by taking it in turn to others whose souls are equally precious in the sight of Him who is no respecter of persons?

Those of us who hold the holy priesthood--all of us, elders, seventies, high priests, patriarchs, and Apostles--have an additional responsibility, because of our calls to be ministers of Christ, to go forth and preach the gospel "as with the voice of a trump." Unto all who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood this world has come from the Lord:

"And now this calling and commandment give I unto you concerning all men--

"That as many as shall" receive the gospel and the priesthood "shall be ordained and sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel among the nations. . .

And this commandment shall be given unto the elders of my church, that every man which will embrace it with singleness of heart may be ordained and sent forth, even as I have spoken." (D&C 36:1, 4-5, 7). (Bruce R. McConkie, "Let the Word Go Forth," Ensign, [February 1985]: 73).

We are indebted, each of us individually, to the missionaries who brought the gospel to us or to our ancestors; many of us owe these missionaries more than we owe anyone else. We received from them the pearl of great price. We have an obligation to discharge our debt, and one of the very best ways in which we can do this is to go forth ourselves as missionaries, or otherwise to use our talents and our means to see that others of our Father's children have the opportunity to receive that which has been restored in this day. (Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1965, p. 55).

Only an elder! Every elder in the Church holds as much priesthood as the President of the Church. No apostle can or will rise higher in eternity than the faithful elder who lives the fullness of the gospel law.

What is an elder? An elder is a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. he holds the holy Melchizedek Priesthood. he is commissioned to stand in the place and stead of his master--who is the Chief Elder--in ministering to his fellowmen. He is the Lord's agent. His appointment is to preach the gospel and perfect the Saints.

What is an elder? He is a shepherd, a shepherd serving in the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd. It is written: "And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God." (Ezekiel 34:31). It is also written, and that by Peter, the first elder in his day: "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder...

"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
"Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.
"And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." (I Pet. 5:1-4; italics added). Know this: elders, who are standing ministers in the Lord's kingdom, are appointed to feed the flock of God, to take the oversight of the flock, to be examples to the flock. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Only an Elder," Ensign, [June 1975]: 66).

What is the missionary duty of the elders quorum president? What should an elders quorum president do to be sure that every young elder is prepared for his missionary call? Young men can be taught the gospel with special reference to moral worthiness. They can be encouraged to continue to build up their mission savings account, to read the Book of Mormon and strengthen their testimonies, to learn the proselyting discussions (and perhaps be given opportunity to give them in the homes of their inactive brethren), to find investigators, to breathe and feel the spirit of missionary work; and all this should be guided and encouraged by the elders quorum president. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Only an Elder," Ensign, [June 1975]: 69).

Those brethren who are ordained elders at 18 and whose full-time missionary service is ahead of them need special attention. They have been receiving help and encouragement over the years from their bishop. Now the quorum president must step in and see that everything is done that will make them worthy, qualified, and able when the day of their call comes. Elders are needed as missionaries. The Lord wants more missionaries. Every able young man in the Church should serve a mission. Missionary service blesses the life of a young man more than any other thing could during the time and season involved. Elders quorums must become the Church agency that puts the crowning effort on getting all our able young men out on the Lord's errand, preaching his gospel, and declaring his message to his other children. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Only an Elder," Ensign, [June 1975]: 69).

This call to missionary service does not leave us any choice or option as to the course we should purchase. It is not merely a permissive invitation which allows us to spread the gospel message on a voluntary basis, or if we find it convenient to do so. The decree is mandatory. We have no choice about it, if we are to retain the favor of God. The Lord has laid upon our shoulders the obligation to spread the gospel, to raise the warning voice, to gather in the lost sheep of Israel. If we neglect to do so, we have violated our trust and failed to comply with a divine directive. (Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1965, p. 54).

We have an obligation. This is not optional. We are not just to do it or not if it is convenient. The Lord has commanded us to carry his message to the world and to be witnesses of his name. If it takes some preparation and schooling, if it takes some conditioning and teaching in order to get ourselves in a condition where we can do this effectively, then in wisdom and in judgment and in prudence we ought to undertake the conditioning and make the preparation so that when the time comes we will be financially able, and we will be spiritually prepared to go forth on the Lord's errand. (Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1965, p. 56).

If you will ponder it in your mind, you will come up, in my judgment, with the conclusion that we could bring immeasurably more people into the Church than we are now doing. We could fellowship more than we are now fellowshipping; in practice this could be five or ten or twenty times as many as we are now baptizing. Perhaps in due course it should be 24 times or 100 times as many as at present. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps To More And Better Converts," Mission Presidents' Seminar, 21 June 1975).

There is nothing in our whole church operation which is as personal as a proselyting program. A mission president must be personally involved. There is no program that ties in more firmly to the inclinations, desires, and aptitudes of a single person than the proselyting program. Missionaries will do what a mission president encourages them to do. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps To More And Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

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).

Now, how many converts should we make each year? How many people should come into the Church?

In principle--we should baptize as many people as the Church can assimilate and fellowship without causing the wild olive branches which are grafted in to overpower the tame branches and thus cause the apostasy of the whole Church as was the case in the Meridian of time. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

We are not getting the results that we ought to get. We are not getting the number of baptisms that in my judgment the Lord expects us to get. To a degree, at least, we are grinding our wheels without going forward. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

We are not getting the results we ought to get. We are not getting the numbers of baptisms that in my judgment the Lord expects us to get. To a degree, at least, we are grinding our wheels without going forward...Perhaps what is wrong is that we have not desired faith with all our hearts to bring souls into the kingdom. Perhaps we have not made up our minds that we can and will bring people into the Church. Now, very frankly, whether we gain many converts or few depends in large measure upon our frame of mind. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

We live in that day, the day when the harvest is ripe. We have deluded ourselves long enough that this is a day of gleaning only. This is not a day of gleaning but of harvest. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

President Kimball said yesterday: "As the number of missionaries’ increases and the baptisms decrease, it would suggest that something is basically wrong with our policy and our program."

Perhaps what is wrong is that we have not desired in faith with all our hearts to bring souls into the kingdom. Perhaps we have not made up our minds that we can and will bring people into the Church. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

Baptizing is a matter of attitude, and desire, and feeling. We want converts, and we never say to a missionary, "Don't baptize unless." We always say: "You can baptize; there are choice, wonderful people out there; and here is how you do it." We give them an intelligent, affirmative approach; we instruct them in how to do it; and we motivate them. Then somehow or other the Lord does the rest and they get people into the Church. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

We have to ask the Lord for help; we have to seek converts; we have to desire baptisms; we have to know that we receive according to our desires, and if we desire to get such and such a thing, and have faith in the Lord, it is going to eventuate. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

When you get into the active operation of your proselyting program, this is a concept you absolutely must have. It has been our traditional course in days past, unfortunately all too frequently, to say, 'Here is the Bible, and the Bible says this and this, and therefore the Gospel has been restored.' Well now, there is no person on earth that believes the Bible more than I do. I read it and ponder its words. I know that what is in it is true. But let me tell you, it is not the Bible that brings people into the Church; it is the Book of Mormon and latter-day revelation. We can use the Bible to lay a foundation, and to point people's attention to Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but until we get involved with latter-day revelation, the process of conversion does not begin to operate in any substantial degree in the heart of an investigator. The Lord said to Joseph Smith: 'this generation shall have my word through you...' (D&C 5:10). That is his decree. They either get it through Joseph Smith or they do not get it, and our whole perspective is: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

We have to ask the Lord for help; we have to seek converts; we have to desire baptisms; we have to know that we receive according to our desires, and if we desire to get such and such a thing, and have faith in the Lord, it is going to eventuate. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Steps to More and Better Converts," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 21 June 1975).

Our problem is not that we shall offend by too fervent testimony or make enemies by insisting on raising the warning voice. Our problem is one of personal timidity, of being afraid to stand forth boldly and testify of those things which have been revealed to us.

We are expected to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus. Only the valiant are saved. Let us remember that missionaries "who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus" shall inherit, not a celestial, but a terrestrial inheritance. Be valiant. Testify and warn the people. Teach, testify, and baptize. (Bruce R. McConkie, Harvester, South American Mission Publication, May 1963, p. 13).

Our means of travel and teaching are improving. Today we have jet planes and radio and television. Who knows what we shall have tomorrow? Whatever the scientific advances may be, they shall be used for the furtherance of the Lord's work and for the spread of truth in the earth. (Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1969, pp. 143-144).

How can we stand in the place and stead of Christ, teaching, ministering, and doing what he wants done? There is only one answer. He must tell us what to do. We must operate by revelation. We must have the Spirit. The Holy Ghost must be our companion.

Since we cannot do the will of him who sent us unless he directs us, and since that direction is given by the Spirit, it follows that we cannot succeed as missionaries unless we are guided by the Spirit. Above all things, missionaries need the Spirit of the Lord to guide them in their work. (Bruce R. McConkie, Harvester, [South American Mission Publication] January 1963, p. 6).

It goes without saying that conversion in all ages, for all peoples, is dependent upon their receipt of the Spirit. No one gets a testimony of the divinity of the Lord's work unless he gains it from the Spirit -- that is, unless it comes by the power of the Holy Ghost. But the Book of Mormon is the means, the tool, the way which has been ordained and given so that men can get their hearts and souls in a frame of mind, in a condition where they can hearken to the testimony of the Spirit. (Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1961, p. 38).

I received a letter from a returned missionary whom I shall call Elder Carnalus Luciferno, for no one in his right mind would have such a name, and my correspondent was certainly out of his mind.

His letter told me of his own conversion, of his service as a zone leader in the mission field, and of making many converts. But after returning home, as he expressed it, “I returned to my old Gentile ways.”

After thus ceasing to be a true Saint, and becoming a genuine Gentile, he met some representatives of another church who taught him that we are saved by grace, without works, simply by believing in the Lord Jesus.

Thereupon he was saved, and his letter, which he sent to many people, was an invitation to these others to believe in Christ and be saved as he was saved.

Later I said to his mission president, “Tell me about Elder Carnalus Luciferno.”

“Oh,” he said, “Elder Carnalus Luciferno was a good missionary who made many converts. But since returning home he has been excommunicated.”

“Oh,” I said, “What was his problem?”

The mission president replied, ”But he joined the Church, he was a homosexual, and we understood that since his release he has reverted to his old ways.” (Bruce R. McConkie, “What Think Ye of Salvation by Grace,” (BYU Devotional Address, 10 January 1984) in I Believe: A Retrospective of Twelve Firesides and Devotionals, Brigham Young University 1973-1985, Provo, UT: Intellectual Reserve, 2006, p. 129).

We are so wound up in programs and statistics and trends, in properties, lands and mammon, and in achieving goals that will highlight the excellence of our work, that we have ‘omitted the weightier matters of the law.’ ...However talented men may be in administrative matters; however eloquent they may be in expressing their views; however learned they may be in the worldly things—-they will be denied the sweet whisperings of the Spirit that might have been theirs unless they pay the price of studying, pondering, and praying about the scriptures.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 2 Apr. 1982, pp. 1–2.)

Few men on earth either in or out of the Church, have caught the vision of what the Book of Mormon is all about. Few are they among men who know the part it has played and will yet play in preparing the way for the coming of Him of whom it is a new witness....The Book of Mormon shall so affect men that the whole earth and all its peoples will have been influenced and governed by it....There is no greater issue ever to confront mankind in modern times than this: Is the Book of Mormon the mind and will and voice of God to all men.(The Millennial Messiah (1982), 159, 170, 179; quoted by Ezra Taft Benson, “Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Oct 2005, 60–62).

While touring a mission, I ran across a missionary who had been an all-American basketball star in college. Upon graduation from the university, he had turned down a high paying contract to play professional ball so he could go on a mission.

Another missionary told me that when he graduated from high school he was offered $30,000 a year to play professional baseball. He refused the offer so he could go on a mission.

When a young man is faced with the choice of a mission or of playing professional ball at a high salary, it takes great faith and devotion to choose the mission; but many young Latter-day Saints have made this choice.(Bruce R. McConkie, “Conference Report,” New Era, Jul 1972, 7–11).

A brilliant and highly educated young woman spoke in Berchtesgaden, Germany, to a conference of American military personnel who were members of the Church. I was there and heard her. She was a major in the army, a medical doctor, a highly respected specialist in her field. She said:

“More than anything else in the world, I wanted to serve God. But try as I might, I could not find him. The miracle of it all is that he found me. One Saturday afternoon in September 1969 I was at home in Berkeley, California, and heard my doorbell ring. There were two young men there, dressed in suits, with white shirts and ties. Their hair was neatly combed. I was so impressed with them that I said: ‘I don’t know what you’re selling, but I’ll buy it.’ One of the young men said: ‘We aren’t selling anything. We’re missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we would like to talk with you.’ I invited them to come in, and they spoke about their faith.

“This was the beginning of my testimony. I am thankful beyond words for the privilege and honor of being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The joy and peace this glad gospel has brought to my heart is heaven on earth. My testimony of this work is the most precious thing in my life, a gift from my Heavenly Father, for which I will be eternally thankful.” (Bruce R. McConkie,“Conference Tidbits,” New Era, Jul 1973, 7).

God has placed in our hands the most effective, compelling, and persuasive missionary tool ever given to any people in any age. The name of this tool is the Book of Mormon. (“The Book of Mormon,” in Conference Report, Apr. 1961, 38.).

In our day we are called to accept the gospel, to join with the saints of God, and to remain in the nation of our natural inheritance. In our day we are called to build up the kingdom at the ends of the earth, so that the revelation shall be fulfilled which says that when the Lord comes he will find “the Church of the Lamb of God … upon all the face of the earth. …” (1 Ne. 14:12.) In that day the number of the saints will be “few” as compared to the forces of evil, but they will nonetheless be established “among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.” (1 Ne. 14:11.)

And you may rest assured that when these Saints are well established, as they will be, in all parts of the earth, they will be organized into stakes of Zion. These stakes will then be the gathering places for the righteous in the various nations.

Remember it was the Lord who put us here. He sent us from his presence to be Germans and Japanese, to be Koreans and Turks, to be Russians and Brazilians. He is the one who scattered Israel and decreed that “the covenant people of the Lord” would be “upon all the face of the earth” at the day of his Second Coming. (1 Ne. 14:14.) He knows the probationary experiences we need while here in mortality. He knows who he needs to labor in all the various parts of his vineyard. What a blessed privilege it is for us to have the call that is ours and to labor in the field of our present assignment! (Bruce R. McConkie, “Konferens: A Report of the Scandinavian Area General Conference Held at Stockholm, Sweden,” Ensign, [October 1974]: 77).

It is our privilege to consecrate our time, talents, and means to build up his kingdom. We are called upon to sacrifice, in one degree or another, for the furtherance of his work. Obedience is essential to salvation; so, also, is service; and so, also, are consecration and sacrifice.

It is our privilege to raise the warning voice to our neighbors and to go on missions and offer the truths of salvation to our Father’s other children everywhere. (Bruce R. McConkie, “Obedience, Consecration, and Sacrifice,” Ensign [May 1975]: 50).

But the work of the kingdom must go forward, and the members of the Church are and shall be called upon to bear off its burdens. It is the Lord’s work and not man’s. He is the one who commands us to preach the gospel in all the world, whatever the cost. (Bruce R. McConkie, “Obedience, Consecration, and Sacrifice,” Ensign [May 1975]: 50).

Conversion always attends effective missionary work. Those brethren who are ordained elders at 18 and whose full-time missionary service is ahead of them need special attention. They have been receiving help and encouragement over the years from their bishop. Now the quorum president must step in and see that everything is done that will make them worthy, qualified, and able when the day of their call comes. Elders are needed as missionaries. The Lord wants more missionaries. Every able young man in the Church should serve a mission. Missionary service blesses the life of a young man more than any other thing could during the time and season involved. Elders quorums must become the Church agency that puts the crowning effort on getting all our able young men out on the Lord’s errand, preaching his gospel, and declaring his message to his other children. (Bruce R. McConkie, “Only an Elder,” Ensign [June 1975]: 69).

What is the missionary duty of the elders quorum president? What should an elders quorum president do to be sure that every young elder is prepared for his missionary call? Young men can be taught the gospel with special reference to moral worthiness. They can be encouraged to continue to build up their mission savings account, to read the Book of Mormon and strengthen their testimonies, to learn the proselyting discussions (and perhaps be given opportunity to give them in the homes of their inactive brethren), to find investigators, to breathe and feel the spirit of missionary work; and all this should be guided and encouraged by the elders quorum president.(Bruce R. McConkie, “Only an Elder,” Ensign [June 1975]: 69).

3 comments:

Joe.Analyst said...

Does anyone know where to find a copy (preferably PDF) of "Bruce R. McConkie, Harvester, [South American Mission Publication] February 1962"?

I'm specifically interested in the "My missionary commission" I've seen it quoted more than a few different ways. I am also very interested to read it and see what else is included in there.

mbc said...

Elder McConkie's "My Commission" was published in the January 1963 issue of The Harvester. Contact me for additional information.

mbc said...

Elder McConkie's famous missionary credo, "My Commission," was first published in the January 1963 issue of The Harvester (not the February 1962 issue). Contact me for more information.