Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Friday, November 10, 2017

“Every Member a Missionary

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From the earliest days of the Restoration, Church leaders have sought to fulfill the commission to take the gospel to all the world.  Though early missionary work was confined to the United States and Canada, it quickly spread overseas when Heber C. Kimball was called to preside over the British Mission in 1837. From that time on, the work has continued to spread throughout the world.
  • Early missions were formed in the following lands (Church Almanac, pp426-427):
    • Britain:  1837
    • Society Islands:  1844
    • Wales:  1845
    • Scandinavia:  1850
    • France:  1850
    • Italy: 1850
    • Switzerland:  1850
    • Sandwich Islands:  1850
    • Australia:  1851
    • East India:  1851
    • Malta:  1852
    • Germany:  1852
    • South Africa:  1853
Many foreign missions were established during the time when pioneers were still migrating to Utah and the Saints were building a new civilization in the west. Without question, the work of sharing the gospel must continue whenever and wherever it is possible.  The early saints were strong in conviction and service to the Lord, it is a great lesson for us in our day to learn and to follow.

Even so, President Kimball expressed his confidence that we can continue this great effort just as the early saints did “Somehow, … I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors. That is my faith” (Ensign, Oct. 1974, 7)   If we are faithful and do all we can do putting forth all of our efforts, the Lord will do the rest and provide a way

In our time, our day we surely see that this is true.  Many doors have been opened giving the opportunity to spread the gospel in ways that we would have never even dreamed of just a decade ago.  People in tiny countries sit it huts on dirt floors reading the Book of Mormon on tablets and phones in their own language.  Surely we can see how the Lord has opened many doors to see that the message is received by mankind.  

Coming forth out of obscurity
This year’s course of study ,in the Gospel Doctrine Class, has shown how the Church began as a small group of people who were little known. The Church has now grown to include members in almost every country of the world. This dramatic increase in membership and visibility would have been difficult to comprehend during the Church’s early days of struggle, persecution, and poverty. But the Lord revealed the marvelous destiny of His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

The Doctrine and Covenants given through His prophet Jospeh is an enormous teacher in doctrine and essentials of the gospel.  It also teaches us about the destiny of the Church as a whole.  

 D&C 1:30Those called by God to lead His Church would have power to bring it forth out of obscurity.
And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually

D&C 65:1–6. The gospel will roll forth until it has filled the whole earth. Those who receive it will be prepared for the Second Coming of the Savior

Hearken, and lo, a voice as of one sent down from on high, who is mighty and powerful, whose going forth is unto the ends of the earth, yea, whose voice is unto men—Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
2 The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.
3 Yea, a voice crying—Prepare ye the way of the Lord, prepare ye the supper of the Lamb, make ready for the Bridegroom.
4 Pray unto the Lord, call upon his holy name, make known his wonderful works among the people.
5 Call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth.
6 Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come, that thou, O God, mayest be glorified in heaven so on earth, that thine enemies may be subdued; for thine is the honor, power and glory, forever and ever. Amen.  

D&C 109:72–74.  The Church will fill the whole earth. It will come out of the wilderness and “shine forth … clear as the sun."

72 Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth; that the kingdom, which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth;
73 That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners;
74 And be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that thy glory may fill the earth;

In the Old Testament Isaiah tells us: And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday   Isaiah 58:10

In 1834, Joseph Smith prophesied, “Brethren, . . . you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it. . . . It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 2007)

He then declared, “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540)

In what ways is the Church coming out of obscurity throughout the world?

In His preface to the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said that His Church should come “out of obscurity and out of darkness.”1 Obscurity for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830 undoubtedly meant many things, but among them it meant beginning with just six members in a log cabin in upper-state New York. For the first years of its existence, the limited size of the Church would indeed place it in relative obscurity.

Yet from the Church’s earliest periods, the communication vehicles of the day have been used to promote the gospel—print, radio and television, and movies, internet. Today, these and other communication vehicles are being used to bring the Church “out of obscurity and out of darkness.”

Latter-day prophets have challenged us to take the gospel to all the world
One important way the Church moves forward throughout the world is through the missionary efforts of each member. Latter-day prophets have challenged us to make greater efforts to share the gospel as member missionaries and as full-time missionaries.  In the recent stake conference for the southwest, just last week 11/5/2017 one of the topics stressed by Elder D Todd Christopherson was the same as President David O. McKay became well known for “Every member a missionary.” Like in times past, we are being strongly encouraged at this time to serve, with missions, new converts, and each other by being a missionary in whatever capacity we can.  

In 1952, in an effort to increase the effectiveness of full-time missionaries, the first official proselyting plan was sent to missionaries throughout the world. It was titled A Systematic Program for Teaching the Gospel. It included seven missionary discussions that emphasized teaching by the Spirit and taught clearly the nature of the Godhead, the plan of salvation, the Apostasy and Restoration, and the importance of the Book of Mormon. The number of people converted to the Church throughout the world increased dramatically.

In 1961 Church leaders convened the first seminar for all mission presidents, who were taught to encourage families to fellowship their friends and neighbors and then have these people taught by missionaries in their homes. A language training program for newly called missionaries was established in 1961, and later a missionary training center was constructed.

During President McKay’s administration, the seeds for the growth of the Church in Asia were planted by Church members serving in the armed forces. A young private from American Fork, Utah, serving in South Korea, noticed that United States soldiers who met Korean civilians made the Koreans jump aside off the path while the soldiers passed by. The young Church member, in contrast, moved aside and let the Koreans use the paths. He also made an effort to learn their names and greeted them pleasantly as he passed by. One day he entered the mess hall with five of his friends. The line to get the food was very long, so he waited at a table for a time. Soon a Korean worker appeared with a tray of food. Pointing to the one stripe on his arm, the soldier said, “You can’t serve me. I’m only a private.” The Korean replied, “I serve you. You Number One Christian.”17
By 1967 missionaries and servicemen had been so effective in teaching the gospel in Korea that the Book of Mormon was translated into the Korean language and stakes and wards soon dotted that land.

Missionaries also had great success in Japan. After World War II, Church members in Japan had infrequent contact with Church representatives for several years. But Latter-day Saint servicemen stationed in Japan after the war helped the Church to grow stronger. In 1945, Tatsui Sato was impressed by Latter-day Saint servicemen who declined to drink tea, and he asked them questions that led to his baptism and the baptisms of several of his family members the following year. Elliot Richards baptized Tatsui, and Boyd K. Packer, a serviceman who would later become a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, baptized Sister Sato. The Sato home served as the place where many Japanese people first heard the message of the restored gospel. Soon Latter-day Saint missionaries who had fought against the Japanese during World War II were opening Japanese cities to missionary work.

While the Church presence in the Philippines can also be traced to the efforts of American servicemen and others after World War II, the strong growth of the Church began there in 1961. A young Filipino woman who was not a member of the Church heard about the Book of Mormon and met several Latter-day Saints. As a result, she felt impressed to approach government officials with whom she was acquainted to ask that approval be given for Latter-day Saint missionaries to come to the Philippines. The approval was given and just months later, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve rededicated the country for missionary work.

As a result of the Church’s dramatic growth during the 1950s, President McKay announced the priesthood correlation program. A committee, chaired by Elder Harold B. Lee of the Quorum of the Twelve, was assigned to conduct a thorough, prayerful study of all Church programs to see how well they met the Church’s most important objectives. In 1961, with First Presidency approval, Elder Lee announced that policies would be developed to govern the planning, writing, and implementation of all Church curriculum materials. Many of these materials had previously been developed by the Church’s auxiliary organizations. This new direction would avoid unnecessary duplication of programs and lesson materials so that the gospel could be more effectively taught to members of all ages and languages in a worldwide Church.

The Church also made other changes in order to more effectively correlate all programs and activities—including welfare, missionary, and family history work—to better accomplish the Church’s mission. Home teaching, which had been part of the Church since the time of Joseph Smith, was reemphasized in the 1960s as a way to help care for the spiritual and temporal needs of all Church members. Meetinghouse libraries were established to enhance teaching, and a teacher development program was also put in place. In 1971 the Church began publishing three English-language magazines under General Authority supervision: the Friend for children, the New Era for young people, and the Ensign for adults. At about this same time, the Church unified its foreign language magazines that had previously been published independently by various missions. One magazine is now translated into many languages and sent to Church members throughout the world. (Our Heritage, pages 116–17)

Lengthen Our Stride
After President McKay, President Spencer W. Kimball called on Church members to lengthen their stride in missionary service. He asked Church members to pray that the doors of nations would be opened to the preaching of the gospel and to increase the number of prepared missionaries so we could enter those doors.

A man who knew much about pain and suffering, Spencer W. Kimball, the senior member of the Twelve, was sustained as President of the Church after President Lee died. Most of his vocal cords had been removed because of cancer, and he spoke in a quiet, husky voice that Latter-day Saints came to love. Known for his humility, his commitment, his ability to work, and his personal slogan, “Do It,” President Kimball thrust in his sickle with all his might.

Spencer W. Kimball’s first address as President was to the Church’s regional representatives, and it was memorable for everyone who attended. A participant in the meeting recalled that only moments after the talk began, “we became alert to an astonishing spiritual presence, and we realized that we were listening to something unusual, powerful, different. … It was as if he were drawing back the curtains which covered the purpose of the Almighty and inviting us to view with him the destiny of the gospel and the vision of its ministry.”

President Kimball showed the leaders “how the Church was not fully living in the faithfulness that the Lord expects of His people, and that, to a certain degree, we had settled into a spirit of complacency and satisfaction with things as they were. It was at that moment that he sounded the now famous slogan, ‘We must lengthen our stride.’” He admonished his audience to increase their commitment to proclaiming the gospel to the nations of the earth. He also called for a large increase in the number of missionaries who could serve in their own countries. At the conclusion of the sermon, President Ezra Taft Benson declared, “Truly, there is a prophet in Israel.”  (Our Heritage, page 125)

President Kimball’s vision of how missionary work would move across the earth is now coming to pass. 

The worldwide statistics of the church as of today 11/9/2017:  There are more than 70,000 full-time missionaries are serving missions with 422 Missions and 15 Missionary Training Centers.  Total church membership as of the writing of this blog on 11/9/2017 is 15,882,417 with 30,304 congregations.  189 countries are receiving humanitarian aid with 10,238 welfare service missionaries. There are 157 temples currently constructed with more coming. The Church has 4 universities and colleges, 404,270 enrolled seminary students, and 357,760 institute students enrolled and there are 138 countries with family history centers, and 5003 family history centers.

The breakdown looks like this:  

In North America:
Total membership is 9,164,419 there are 191 missions, 2811 family history centers, 18, 164 congregations, and 107 temples

In South America: 
Total membership is 3,969,757.  There are 94 missions, 937 family history centers, 5527 congregations, and 17 temples.  

Europe:  total membership 511,491, 44 missions, 767 family history centers, 1452 congregations, and 12 temples.

Asia:  total membership is 1,132,501, there are 42 missions, 328 family history centers, 1982 congregations and 8 temples.  

Oceania (Pacific):  total membership is 541,968 with 18 missions, 328 family history centers, 1243 congregations, and 10 temples.

Africa: total membership is  539,524 with 31 missions, 274 family history centers, 1792 congregations and 3 temples.  

In addition to this President Gordon B. Hinckley taught that each of us has a responsibility to bring to pass this vision of the gospel filling the earth:

“Now, what of the future? What of the years that lie ahead? It looks promising indeed. People are beginning to see us for what we are and for the values we espouse. …
“If we will go forward, never losing sight of our goal, speaking ill of no one, living the great principles we know to be true, this cause will roll on in majesty and power to fill the earth. Doors now closed to the preaching of the gospel will be opened. The Almighty, if necessary, may have to shake the nations to humble them and cause them to listen to the servants of the living God. Whatever is needed will come to pass.  “The key to the great challenges facing us and to the success of the work will be the faith of all who call themselves Latter-day Saints” (Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 92; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 68)

“Every member a missionary.”

What is our responsibility to share the gospel?

D&C 1:4–5  And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days. 5 And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them

D&C 88:81 Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.

What can each of us do to assist in missionary work?

Prepare  ourselves, our children and youth to serve full-time missions: President Spencer W. Kimball said: “When I ask for more missionaries, I am not asking for more testimony-barren or unworthy missionaries. I am asking that we start earlier and train our missionaries better in every branch and every ward in the world. … Young people [should] understand that it is a great privilege to go on a mission and that they must be physically well, mentally well, spiritually well, and that ‘the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance’ [D&C 1:31]” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 7)

As parents, leaders and teachers we should teach ourselves, our children and youth and other members to be worthy and ready for a mission call at the proper time, share mission experiences, teach of the joys and blessings of missionary work, tell conversion stories of your own or of ancestors or friends, start missionary funds and teach how to work hard.  

Serve full-time missions?  All worthy, able young men ages 19 through 25 should serve full-time missions. Full-time missionary service is a priesthood responsibility for these young men. Women ages 21 and older may also be recommended to serve full-time missions if they desire. Older couples are also encouraged to serve missions when they are able to do so. 

Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve counseled: “The goal of every physically able couple in the Church, just as it is for every nineteen-year-old young man in the Church, should be to serve a mission. No finer example can be given, no finer testimony can be borne by parents to children or grandchildren, than through missionary service in their mature years” (Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 73; or Ensign, May 1987, 61)

Support full-time missionaries:  Remember them in prayers, write encouraging letters, and contribute to the ward or branch missionary fund or the General Missionary Fund. We can support missionaries who are serving in our area by helping them find and teach investigators and by giving other assistance.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “My brethren and sisters, we can let the missionaries try to do it alone, or we can help them. If they do it alone, they will knock on doors day after day and the harvest will be meager. Or as members we can assist them in finding and teaching investigators” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 107)

Share the gospel throughout our lives: What are some ways we can share the gospel with others as part of our daily lives?

Set a good example for family members, neighbors, and friends.
Share copies of the Book of Mormon.
Refer names of interested people to the missionaries.
Share your feelings about the gospel with people.
Invite people to Church activities, meetings, and firesides.
Invite people to family home evening and to neighborhood activities.
Invite people who are interested in genealogy to visit a Family History Center.
Invite people to baptismal services.

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “It seems to me that the Lord chose his words when he said [that the gospel must go to] ‘every nation,’ ‘every land,’ ‘uttermost bounds of the earth,’ ‘every tongue,’ ‘every people,’ ‘every soul,’ ‘all the world,’ ‘many lands.’ Surely there is significance in these words! … I wonder if we are doing all we can. Are we complacent in our approach to teaching all the world? … Are we prepared to lengthen our stride? To enlarge our vision?” (Ensign, Oct. 1974, 5)

President Kimball also said: “Our great need, and our great calling, is to bring to the people of this world the candle of understanding to light their way out of obscurity and darkness and into the joy, peace, and truths of the gospel. I believe we must not weary in our well-doing. I believe it is time again to ask ourselves the question, what can I do to help take the gospel to others and to the inhabitants of the world?” (“Are We Doing All We Can?” Ensign, Feb. 1983, 5)

Nurturing new converts is our continuing responsibility

Any investigator worthy of baptism becomes a convert worthy of saving” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1999, 109)

Each year, hundreds of thousands of converts are brought into the Church. These new members need to be nurtured and strengthened by all of us. "It is not an easy thing to become a member of this Church. In most cases it involves setting aside old habits, leaving old friends and associations, and stepping into a new society which is different and somewhat demanding” (Gordon B Hinkley Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 66; or Ensign, May 1997, 47)

President Hinckley taught that “every convert needs three things:

A friend in the Church to whom he can constantly turn, who will walk beside him, who will answer his questions, who will understand his problems.

An assignment. Activity is the genius of this Church. It is the process by which we grow. Faith and love for the Lord are like the muscle of my arm. If I use them, they grow stronger. If I put them in a sling, they become weaker. Every convert deserves a responsibility. …

Every convert must be ‘nourished by the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4). It is imperative that he or she become affiliated with a priesthood quorum or the Relief Society, the Young Women, the Young Men, the Sunday School, or the Primary. He or she must be encouraged to come to sacrament meeting” (Ensign, May 1999, 108)


The Lord is guiding His Church and opening the way for the gospel to be taken to all the earth. It is our duty, our responsibility to lengthen our stride, prepare full time missionaries, prepare ourselves to serve missions and or share and help in the best way that we can.  We need to strengthen and encourage new members as well as members who may be failing, these are the last days.  It is imperative that we ourselves immolate Christ, and teach, and serve as he would, as he does that all mankind might be saved.

 Out of Obscurity
 Out of Obscurity BYU
Conference Report
Our Heritage
Mormon Newsroom Stats
Church History Vol 4

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