- Today we have many resources to share the gospel that were not available in earlier generations. We have TV, the internet, and social media channels. We have many valuable messages to introduce the restored gospel. We have the prominence of the Church in many nations. We have a greatly increased number of missionaries. But are we using all these resources to maximum effect? I believe most of us would say no. We desire to be more effective in fulfilling our divinely appointed responsibility to proclaim the restored gospel in all the world.
He notes three things that we can all do to share the gospel.
- There are three things all members can do to help share the gospel, regardless of the circumstances in which they live and work. All of us should do all of these.
- First, we can all pray for desire to help with this vital part of the work of salvation. All efforts begin with desire.
- Second, we can keep the commandments ourselves. Faithful, obedient members are the most persuasive witnesses of the truth and value of the restored gospel. Even more important, faithful members will always have the Savior’s Spirit to be with them to guide them as they seek to participate in the great work of sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Third, we can pray for inspiration on what we can do in our individual circumstances to share the gospel with others. This is different than praying for the missionaries or praying for what others can do. We should pray for what we can do personally. When we pray, we should remember that prayers for this kind of inspiration will be answered if accompanied by a commitment—something the scriptures call “real intent” or “full purpose of heart.” Pray with a commitment to act upon the inspiration you receive, promising the Lord that if He will inspire you to speak to someone about the gospel, you will do it.
Elder Oaks notes that we should not be the judges of if someone is ready to hear the gospel or not. We should be seeking to know God's will with those we come in contact with. He knows who is prepared for hearing about His gospel.
- We should never set ourselves up as judges of who is ready and who is not. The Lord knows the hearts of all of His children, and if we pray for inspiration, He will help us find persons He knows to be “in a preparation to hear the word.”
He speaks about what success in missionary work looks like.
- Success in sharing the gospel is inviting people with love and genuine intent to help them, no matter what their response.
Elder Oaks lists 7 things we can do to share the gospel more effectively.
- We need to remember “that people learn when they’re ready to learn, not when we’re ready to teach them.” What we are interested in, like the important additional doctrinal teachings in the restored Church, usually isn’t what others are interested in. Others typically want the results of the doctrine, not the doctrine. As they observe or experience the effects of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, they feel the Spirit and begin to be interested in the doctrine. They may also be interested when they are seeking more happiness, closeness to God, or a better understanding of the purpose of life. Therefore, we must carefully and prayerfully seek discernment on how to inquire about others’ interest to learn more. This will depend on various things, such as another person’s current circumstances and our relationship with him or her. This is a good subject to discuss in councils, quorums, and Relief Societies.
- As we speak to others, we need to remember that an invitation to learn more about Jesus Christ and His gospel is preferable to an invitation to learn more about our Church. We want people to be converted to the gospel. That is the great role of the Book of Mormon. Feelings about our Church follow conversion to Jesus Christ; they do not precede it. Many who are suspicious of churches nevertheless have a love for the Savior. Put first things first.
- When we seek to introduce people to the restored gospel, we should do this in ways that are authentic and in loving concern for the individual. This happens when we are trying to help others with problems they have identified or when we are working with them in community service activities, such as relieving suffering, caring for the poor and needy, or enhancing the quality of life of others.
- Our efforts to share the gospel should not be limited to our circle of friends and associates. During the Olympics we learned of an LDS taxi driver in Rio de Janeiro who carried copies of the Book of Mormon in seven different languages and gave one to whoever would receive them. He called himself the “cab driving missionary.” He said, “The streets of Rio de Janeiro … are [my] mission field.” Clayton M. Christensen, who has impressive experience as a member missionary, states that “over the past twenty years, we have observed no correlation between the depth of a relationship and the probability that a person will be interested in learning about the gospel.”
- Ward bishoprics can plan a special sacrament meeting to which members are urged to bring interested persons. Ward members will be less hesitant to bring their acquaintances to such a meeting because they will be more assured that the content of the meeting will be well planned to enlist interest and represent the Church well.
- There are many other opportunities to share the gospel. For example, just this summer I received a happy letter from a new member who learned about the restored gospel when an old classmate phoned her to inquire about an illness she was experiencing. She wrote: “I was enlightened by the way he presented himself to me. After [a] few months of learning from the missionaries, I was baptized. My life has improved since then.” We all know many whose lives would be improved by the restored gospel. Are we reaching out to them?
- Our young members’ fascination and expertise with social media gives them unique opportunities to reach out to interest others in the gospel. Describing the Savior’s appearance to the Nephites, Mormon writes, “He did teach and minister unto the children … , and he did loose their tongues … that they could utter.” Today I suppose we would say “loose their [thumbs] that they could utter.” Go to it, youth!
Finally, Elder Oaks shares his testimony of the restored gospel with all the world.
- I testify of Jesus Christ, who is the Light and Life of the World. His restored gospel lights our way in mortality. His Atonement gives us the assurance of life after death and the strength to persist toward immortality. And His Atonement gives us the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins and, under God’s glorious plan of salvation, to qualify for eternal life, “the greatest of all the gifts of God.”
Sharing the gospel is a responsibility of all disciples of Jesus Christ. How we identify those opportunities is vital to the success that we have. We have opportunities to speak to people about the church throughout our days. I find it easiest to talk about why I live my life the way I do as a way to open the door for discussing the gospel. I work with several people who have different lifestyles than I do. They comment many times that I am more of a family man who spends his time finding happiness with his kids. This provides a good opportunity to talk about the happiness that my family brings into my life, how my choices are created from my desire to nurture those relationships, and how my source of true happiness in my life is based on a foundation of religion that gives me direction and hope for my kids future. I would encourage you to look for normal conversations to have with others. I have conversations all the time with people about their religious beliefs, I can't imagine that having one with me would damage or hurt the friendships I enjoy with them.