Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Bishop's Responsibility in Calling Couple Missionaries

One of the bishops responsibilities is to see that the three-fold mission of the church is taking place. The Three-Fold Mission of the Church is: 1. Proclaim the Gospel; 2. Perfect the Saints; 3. Redeem the Dead. Bishops need to consider ways of proclaiming the gospel. There are two major areas of concentration in LDS wards which is member missionary work in the ward itself, and missionary work church-wide.

Couples can serve missions in their own ward without going to an exotic place to serve. There are many opportunities to serve in a ward beside traditional means. Couple missionaries can offer aid in family history, humanitarian efforts, or in standard proselyting efforts. Couples are needed throughout the world as there is a shortage of couple missionaries in missions throughout the church. The Bishops responsibility it to find couples that are in a position financially to help out.

Robert D. Hales instructed bishops to work closely with couples going out on church-wide missions: "Now, may I extend a challenge to bishops and branch presidents throughout the world? Over the next six months, would it be possible for each of you to consider recommending one or more missionary couples beyond those presently planning to serve? Your greatest resource in meeting this challenge will be those senior members of your ward who have already served missions. In my own ward, an inspired bishop called a special meeting of prospective and returned missionary couples. As we bore our testimonies of sacrifice and service, the Spirit witnessed to us all that a call to serve is indeed a call to “know the richness of [the Lord’s] blessing[s].”

I’ve heard of a stake president who has arranged a senior missionary class to inspire prospective missionary couples and help them prepare to serve. Priesthood leaders, as you prayerfully seek to encourage full-time missionary service, remember that when a couple is called, they not only help accomplish the work of the Lord throughout the world; they plant a seed of service in their families that will blossom for generations to come. I continue to be grateful for the influence of my parents, who served as couple missionaries in England and set an example for their posterity.

Now, to you prospective missionary couples, please do not wait for your bishop to meet with you about serving a mission! Go to him. Share your feelings. Where missionary service is concerned, the Lord expects us to express our desires. As we do, we can trust that the same Spirit that prompts us to seek a mission call will inspire a prophet to call us to the right assignment.

And there are so many calls! There are calls to teach the gospel to those who desire to receive the truth, including to youth in the Church Educational System; calls to work in welfare and humanitarian service; in temples; in family history centers, mission offices, and historic sites; calls to “do the greatest good unto thy fellow beings, and... promote the glory of him who is your Lord."

Bishops need to be aggressive in identifying potential couples for missionary service. He should informally call in couples of retirement age and ascertain their family and life situations. If he determines a couple can go he needs to call them in and officially extend a calling. Many couples will accept. Even when a couple turns him down he needs to follow-up as life situations change.

There are different ways of finding out about the availability of a couple. Bishops need to develop strategies for overcoming barriers that keep couples from serving. Many people have fears that seem real to the reluctant couple. I wonder if there are specific ways of helping such couples get over their fears? I also wonder if a few bishops are not direct in inviting couples in their wards to serve? I have lived in wards where no couples were serving inside or outside of the ward even though there were several eligible couples. Many times people are waiting for the bishop to ask since we have a culture of being called to positions.

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