I love to share the gospel. I enjoy posting links to Mormon Messages and “I’m a Mormon” ads on my personal Facebook page. I love to talk to people about Christ, and the scriptures.
Maybe it’s because I was raised in the Evangelical south, maybe it’s because my father is a convert, maybe it’s because I am not a very private person and I really like to talk. Whatever the reason, I have rarely experienced fear in talking about the gospel.
I was really grateful for Elder L. Tom Perry’s talk at General Conference. He seemed to lay out – in no uncertain terms – how we should be sharing the gospel.
“First, we must be bold in our declaration of Jesus Christ.”
Growing up I had a lot of really close friends who were very religious Christians, and I think that it was their example of testifying of Christ that I follow in being “bold” in my declaration of Jesus Christ. My Evangelical Christian friends were always proclaiming Christ (both with their actions and with their words). I specifically remember in high school participating in “See You at the Pole” where a group of students came early to school and joined hands around the flagpole in front of our public school and took turns praying, whether in our hearts or out loud. It was a really interesting experience for me, since I was one of only six LDS students at my school (my younger sister being another of the six). I was so impressed that so many students were unashamed to be there, praying in front of the school. Certainly I am sure there were students there who were maybe there to “be seen” – but I knew several of the students there personally, and I knew that they had great faith in Christ, and believed in God.
“We declare our belief in Jesus Christ and accept Him as our Savior. He willbless us and guide us in all of our efforts. As we labor here in mortality,He will strengthen us and bring us peace in time of trials. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints walk by faith in Him whose Church it is.”
“Second, be righteous examples to others.”
Again, growing up, I was able to join with the righteous example of my fellow Christians, even though they were of other faiths. My friends used clean language, they kept themselves morally pure, they were quick to help and serve, they were honest, trustworthy, responsible teenagers. They lived the gospel of Jesus Christ. They truly acted as Jesus would have them act.
I have noticed the scripture from 1 Timothy 4:12 has been quoted several times in the last two or three conferences. “But be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we need to let our lives be proof of our faith in Jesus Christ.
My sister and I babysat a lot when we were younger. Usually we would tend for the same families – whoever was available would take the job. We mostly worked for families in the ward. One summer, however, I had a daily job tending for one of my dad’s coworkers, and my sister occasionally helped out. They also had a friend who we would occasionally sit for. This friend emailed my dad one day and said, “Those girls are so happy and cheerful, and so responsible! What’s their secret?” or something (I’m paraphrasing). We were able to share with that family that we are so happy because of our knowledge of the gospel. We were also able to share with them the doctrine of eternal families. They had an older daughter who had passed away several years before we met them, and we gave them pamphlets and the video “The Road Home.”
Jocelyn blogged about this exact thing the other day - "Why Mormons Smile So Much”. If we have a testimony of Christ and have really received the Spirit, we can’t help but smile! The gospel is a “plan of happiness” – hence the smiling.
“Next, speak up about the Church.”
I was blessed to be able to speak freely about religion with my friends. They didn’t fully understand the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, and I was probably not very good at explaining things for them. However, our conversations were usually “two way” – as Elder Perry has suggested they be, “When our professional and personal associates inquire about our religious beliefs, they are inviting us to share who we are and what we believe…Your associates are not inviting you to teach, preach, expound, or exhort. Engage them in a two-way conversation—share something about your religious beliefs but also ask them about their beliefs. Gauge the level of interest by the questions they ask. If they are asking a lot of questions, focus the conversation on answering those questions. Always remember that it is better for them to ask than for you to tell.”
I think that many people are uncomfortable talking to Mormons about their religion because they are worried that we’re going to go all “missionary” on them. If we would simply answer their questions and even ask questions about their faith, we would be able to be much more effective in sharing the gospel. I had a recent experience where I was able to ask question about Job’s Daughters, a program sponsored by the Free Masons that is similar to Boy Scouts. It was a really great opportunity to get to know more about what my friend was involved in, spiritually. We never talked much about the Church, since I was the one asking questions about a program she participated in, but showing interest in the beliefs of another person can build bridges that they may feel comfortable crossing in the future. This friend happens to know more about the Church than your average person, but perhaps now she will come to me when she has questions about the Church, and I can answer them for her.
If you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and you haven’t already, I encourage you to go to Mormon.org and create your profile (you will need your membership number which is on your temple recommend, or you can get it from your ward membership clerk). If you aren’t a member, I encourage you to go to Mormon.org and browse through the profiles of other members there, and the answers to FAQs posted on the site by members of the Church.
I recommend Elder Perry’s talk as required reading material for every member of the Church – especially those who are either afraid to share the gospel, or those who scare people off when they are trying to share the gospel.
How do you share the gospel with your friends? Do you have a two-way conversation about faith and religion? Do you ask your friends questions about their faith? Are you an “example of the believers”? How do you declare Jesus Christ?