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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sharing vs. Telling

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we get a lot of flack for sending missionaries out into predominantly Christian places and even trying to 'convert' everyone we meet.  Today in church we talked about missionary work and I just wanted to clarify a few things for any of my readers who may not be familiar with our church.  These are my beliefs, but I do try to found them in the scriptures and the words of our Latter-day prophets.

We as members of the church are asked to share the gospel with all the world.  It is part of the covenants we make when we are baptised that we will tell the people around us about the 'good news.'  I know sometimes we can be a little over zealous or not even say anything at all, but the truth of the matter is that we love the gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings that we have because of modern day revelation as well as personal revelation.

Time and time again our leaders have counseled us to share the gospel with our friends and neighbors.  This isn't because the church wants to increase its numbers but because we should want to share the joy we have with the people we care about the most.  Sometimes our way of sharing becomes more like telling and that can come off as a negative influence.  We ask that you pardon us and know that we really want you to accept what we believe because it really has made us happy and we want everyone to be happy too.

In Relief Society (this is a meeting where all the sisters in the congregation meet together for a lesson) we talked about ways to share the gospel.  Some of the suggestions made were:

  • Mention it in your everyday conversations.  Don't be afraid to tell your friends and neighbors and family that you went to church that day and what you might have learned.  Don't be afraid to talk about your trials with your friends and how you have gained answers through the scriptures, hymns, prayer or attending church meetings or activities.  We never know who might be in need of the answer we got and who might even be able to bless us with an answer from their own experiences.  We live in a world where sharing can work so much better than just telling.
  • Pray for opportunities to share the gospel.  This can also mean to pray for opportunities to find truth.
  • Invite friends and neighbors and family members to activities, special occasions and firesides.  It could be a friend of the friend you invited who is touched by the spirit and chooses to learn more.
  • Participate in the community.  When we are willing to give back to our community and give willingly people will notice.  Many times during times of natural disaster the people receiving aid mention that the first two groups to respond besides the Red Cross are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Mormons.  (We are one and the same.)
  • This brings me to the last point I'll mention today.  Don't be afraid to explain to others that the name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Mormon is a nickname given to us when the church was first organized because we read The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ. (This is a great introduction to the Book of Mormon.)  We like to use our official name because that is who we represent.
One lady in our meeting made the comment that she tells people she knows that she is a Mormon and if they ever have any questions to feel free and ask.  She won't be offended.  I thought this was a great piece of advice.  If we have questions about a company like Apple we don't talk to Dell people we call the Apple store.  It should be the same for people who have questions about our church and religion.  Go to the source and that source is the members: me.

I find that I need to remember that when I share the gospel I don't just tell people about it and walk away.  I need to share.  When we share it encourages conversations, questions and curiosity.  Who knows the person I could be talking to might just believe exactly the same as I do, they just don't know it yet.

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