Thursday, April 9, 2009

OYM: Open Your Mouth

There is a new phrase creeping in to the Mormon lexicon Open Your Mouth (OYM). The most obvious way of doing missionary work for a full-time missionary or a member is to open your mouth (OYM). It is such an obvious thing to do that most of us give it little thought. Since we give it little thought we often forget to even do it. The term though is beginning to gather mainstream usage as it has appeared among popular youth speakers and among our youth. Even a few older people are starting to recognize its usage.

This phrase OYM has come in to vogue lately with missionaries and members opining on it. I am surprised a general authority haven't jumped on the terminology usage bandwagon. John Bytheway has picked up on it and has used it since 2004 in one of his publications. You can tell that it has caught on as a term among young people and is just beginning to pick up steam with older members. The phrase OYM or open your mouth has recently come in to vogue and is the politically correct phase used today instead of older terms that weren't as pithy.

We didn't use the term until the last five or ten years. Just to show my age thirty years ago we used the term GQ or Golden Question, which was to ask a person "What Do You Know About the Mormon Church?" and "Would You Like to Know More?" when I was a missionary. Franklin D. Richards, a former member of the Seventy, came up with the approach of asking random people on the street these questions. Missionaries in the Canada Toronto Mission under M. Russell Ballard all wore golden question buttons which was a yellow button with a big black question mark on it. When a person saw it and inquired what it meant in such places as buses and subways you were to ask them the two questions. Today it is much more informal and missionaries don't have buttons but they still go around stopping passer-bys on busy street corners or in other public places and asking them if they would like to know about the church. Despite the fact that it takes talking to a lot of people to get a referral or two it is still one of the best ways for missionaries to get leads.

A blogger Brandy A. Lee offers up her rationale for why to Open Your Mouth:
Open your mouth

Your attendance here today is step one in the journey. This is just one of the ways Heavenly Father is helping to prepare you to be a tool in his kingdom. The next step is to open your mouth. Through his prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord has declared, “thou must open thy mouth at all times, declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing” (D&C 28:16).

Does this mean that every word that comes from your mouth needs to be scripture? No. Perhaps understanding the word “gospel” will shed some light on what I mean. In Greek, the words gospel means good news. With the sound of rejoicing, we should be sharing the good news we have in our lives. President Boyd K. Packer taught:

Oh, if I could teach you this one principle: a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that “leap of faith,” as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two.

It is one thing to receive a witness from what you have read or what another has said; and that is a necessary beginning. It is quite another to have the Spirit confirm to you in your bosom that what you have testified is true. Can you not see that it will be supplied as you share it? As you give that which you have, there is a replacement, with increase!

To speak out is the test of your faith” (The Quest for Spiritual Knowledge, 1982).

A simple “hello” may be all someone needs in order to felt the love of Christ that day; or perhaps sharing a pass-along card with someone. Elder Bednar taught us that members are the full-time finders and the missionaries are the full-time teachers. You don’t need to have a vast knowledge about the gospel in order to share it. All you need is to open your mouth and the Lord will do the rest. “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:34).

Your Heavenly Father has made a promise to you saying, “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man” (D&C 84:85).

The Lord has made a promise to you that if you will study your scriptures, he will fill your mouth with the words someone needs to hear. Preparation invites revelation. Preparation will lead you to those who are ready to hear and accept the gospel. It is a promise as sure as I am standing here. “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D&C 82:10).
I ran across a different application of the Open Your Mouth approach when I read a high council member from Brunswick, Georgia's description of how he as a member opened his mouth and converted a man years earlier. From opening his mouth to that one friend he learned that the most critical thing a member could do in helping bring others in to the church was simply to open their mouth.

The transcript of his successful approach is described on the Coming to Christ blog:

There is nothing I am aware of that is quite as thrilling as sharing the Gospel with someone and witnessing the sanctifying and testifying power of the Holy Ghost as it moves in their life. As they come to know THE PLAN outlined by prophets, ancient and modern, and outlined skillfully by the missionaries they are taking part in the proclamation of the Gospel as recipients. Following their understanding and acceptance of Gospel light their conversion leads them to desire the same joy they have received to be shared with others. Every baptized member of the Church shares the burden, the joyful burden of passing the “good news” on. We covenant to do so.

In the first year of my career in the US Air Force I met, became friends with, fellowshipped, and ultimately baptized my friend Tim Kemper.

When I retired from the Air Force in 2006 I took a job with a government contractor as a rescue swimmer. At the end of November of 2008 I received a promotion and job transfer to the Kingsland area.

On the 4th Monday of December 2008 Elder Matt Kemper, Tim’s oldest son was transferred into the Kingsland Ward.

When I heard in the fall of 08 that Matt had been called to the Florida Jacksonville Mission I had no idea what a special reunion the Lord had in mind.

For me this was a literal fulfillment of the scripture found in Ecclesiastes 11 verse 1:

CAST thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

This tender mercy was realized 22 years after it was set in motion by the conversion of Tim and his subsequent sealing to Karrie in the Seattle Temple a year later. It all came about because I invited my friend to “come and see”. I opened my mouth.

It gives me cause to marvel at where Tim and his family have been and how their lives are altered for the better FOREVER. It was and is one of the great blessings of my life to have been a part of the conversion of Tim.

Are there any “Tims” in your life?

Which of your friends do you not like well enough to share “the most beautiful thing ever” with?

Which of your friends doesn’t deserve to know about the Gospel?

You and I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our friends and associates in the here and now and for generations that lie ahead. We must make and take opportunities to share the gospel.

If you’re not sure how to get started, get with the missionaries, ask the Ward Mission leader, and certainly pray to know how to “open your mouth”.

I counsel you Priesthood brethren to seek opportunities to go out with the full time missionaries instead of what I have seen commonly done: a few key brethren being the sole trade-off partners. You will learn from and enjoy fellowshipping with the Elders, they will learn from and enjoy your company too. Meanwhile your very presence will give an added dimension to the powerful message they have been called and set apart to deliver to God’s elect, wherever they may be found.

You and I are not called to contend, to banter or bash about opinion or even doctrine, or to give some Gospel “hard sell”. We are called to

… [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Let me repeat what I said earlier:

The ideal situation is when members invite others to be taught and are present for the teaching. When members do this, more people are baptized and remain active in the Church. Association with members is important because it softens people’s hearts and often leads them to investigate the restored gospel. This often means that they are brought into the circle of friends of Church members, including active and less-active members, recent converts, and part-member families.

I guess OYM is just too simple that is why millions of members just didn't realize they are doing it. Now that we have a term "open your mouth" people will become more conscious of the process. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance the author points out that the very act of naming something gives you power over something. I hope it picks up usage more across the pulpit and other places in the church. My pointing it out to you is a way of doing my part in inculcating us of a new way of describing Mormon missionary work. I hope more members will open your mouth as now you know why you should be talking and have a way of describing what you should be doing with friends and acquaintances. I am sure that is one of the reasons so few members share the gospel with others. They just didn't know what to call what they were doing.

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