Becoming a Preach My Gospel Member

I was in the audience at the MTC when Elder David A. Bednar delivered his address on Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary. Now that I've been home from my mission for two years, I’m finding new ways to apply those same principles into my discipleship. Preach My Gospel is not just for missionaries. As long as missionaries are the only ones in the Church using Preach My Gospel, the Lord cannot hasten his work to reach all of his children.

Because the Lord needs all of us—leaders, missionaries, and members—to hasten the work, he needs all of us to be serious in that participation. He needs all of us to understand the part we play, and how to perform in it with exactness. Obtaining that vision is not possible, especially not for those who have never served a mission, without Preach My Gospel.

Every Member a Preach My Gospel Member

Elder Bednar defines what it means to be a Preach My Gospel missionary in his talk. I realized in my personal study that I could liken it unto myself, and apply it in the context of being a Preach My Gospel member. The following outline are portions of his talk I have taken and modified only in their application, to be used by any member of the Church.

Our Purpose: Identical to that of the Full-time Missionaries

A Preach My Gospel member is a servant of the Lord, by virtue of his or her baptismal covenant, who proclaims the Savior's everlasting and restored gospel in His way. (See Mosiah 18: 9)

“Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end” (Preach My Gospel, 1).

We do not have the calling, keys, or authority to teach the gospel. Our calling is to find and prepare others for the missionaries to teach. (1 Peter 3: 15; James 5: 19-20)

Requirements to Become Preach My Gospel Members:

  1. Understand that they serve and represent Jesus Christ.
  2. Are worthy.
  3. Treasure up (and testify of) words of eternal life
  4. Understand the Holy Ghost is the ultimate and true testifier
  5.  Understand testifying is more than talking and (story)telling

Understanding We Serve Jesus Christ

Preach My Gospel members know and understand whom they represent, why they serve, and what they are to do. Members are called to serve beside those properly set apart “by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof” (Articles of Faith 1:5). In this sacred calling, we are servants and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. We pledged in the waters of baptism our willingness to take upon ourselves His name. We pray to our Heavenly Father in His name. By virtue of the holy priesthood, the brethren perform saving ordinances and bless in His name. And as members, we bear witness of His name and of the reality, divinity, and mission of Christ to our kindred, nation, tongue, and people. We become the “voice of warning,” (D&C 38: 41) "prepar[ing] the way” before all men to receive his called and appointed servants. (Matthew 3: 3)

We love the Lord. We serve Him. We follow Him. We represent Him.

...As disciples of the Redeemer, we testify of the fundamental doctrines and principles of His restored gospel simply and clearly. We do not present personal opinions or speculation. We do not dwell upon the unknowable mysteries in our personal study or in lessons with investigators. We proclaim and testify of simple restored truth in the Lord’s way and by the power of His Spirit.

Preach My Gospel members understand that the responsibility to represent the Savior and to bear testimony of Him never ends. There will never come a day for an honorable release as a member missionary... A release as a full-time missionary is a call to serve as a lifelong missionary. And Preach My Gospel members honor, always, this sacred obligation.

Are Worthy

We are called to declare His restored and everlasting gospel.

We cannot be stained with the spots of the world and bear powerful, convincing testimony of the Savior of the World.

We cannot invite others to overcome the bondage of sin if we ourselves are entangled in sin. 

We cannot testify of repentance if we ourselves have not learned to repent properly and completely.
We can testify only of that which we are striving to become.

Treasure up (and Testify of) the Words of Eternal Life

Testifying of the words of eternal life requires more than merely studying or memorizing, just as “feasting upon the word of Christ” is more than simply sampling or snacking. Treasuring up and testifying suggests to me focusing and working, exploring and absorbing, pondering and praying, applying and learning, valuing and appreciating, and enjoying and relishing.

As representatives of the Savior, you and I have the ongoing responsibility to work diligently and to implant in our hearts and minds the fundamental doctrines and principles of the restored gospel, especially from the Book of Mormon...the Spirit can work with and through us only if we give Him something with which to work. He cannot help us remember things we have not learned.

The Holy Ghost is the Ultimate and True Testifier

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead, and He is the witness of all truth and the ultimate and true testifier. We should always remember that the Spirit of the Lord can enter into an investigator’s heart, when invited through sincere desire and faithfulness, and confirm the truthfulness of the doctrines we preach and the principles he or she is endeavoring to learn and live...

As members, one of our most important roles is to invite investigators to exercise their moral agency and act in accordance with the teachings of the Savior. Making and keeping spiritual commitments, such as meeting with the missionaries, praying for a witness of the truth, studying and praying about the Book of Mormon, attending Church meetings, require an investigator to exercise faith, to act, and to change.

This work is never about me and it is never about you. We need to do all in our power to fulfill our member missionary responsibility and simultaneously “get out of the way” so the Holy Ghost can perform His sacred function and work. In fact, anything you or I do as representatives of the Savior that knowingly and intentionally draws attention to self—in the messages we present, in the methods we use, or in our personal demeanor and appearance—is a form of priestcraft that inhibits the teaching effectiveness of the Holy Ghost.

Understand that Testifying is More than Talking or (Story) Telling

We do not merely recite or present memorized messages about gospel topics. We invite seekers of truth to experience the mighty change of heart. We understand that talking and telling alone are not bearing testimony.

Preaching the gospel the Lord’s way includes observing and listening and discerning as prerequisites to talking. The sequence of these four interrelated processes is significant. Please note that active observing and listening precede discerning and that observing, listening, and discerning come before speaking. Employing this pattern enables members to identify and testify to the needs of investigators...

Many of us have learned to testify without conscientiously observing, listening, or discerning. We simply talk and tell stories. Members who talk without observing, listening, and discerning do not bear testimony of true principles. Rather, they talk to themselves in front of investigators.

You Can Do This!

If I had the wish of my heart, I would take a few moments with each of you individually. I would shake your hand, draw you close, look you in the eyes, and say, “You can do this! The Lord you represent and serve knows you can do this. I know you can do this. And as His servant, I promise you will have His help. Please remember always that with His help and in His strength, you can do this!”

* * *

I know that Elder Bednar is an apostle of the Lord. The Church of Jesus Christ has been restored on the earth today. The mandate Christ gave to his apostles to "go ye into all the earth" remains in force, and each of us can be a part of that great work. I know the Lord is hastening his work, and we can each be a part of it. For those of us who are not missionaries, it's starts with simple testimonies. As we reflect on how each of us can bare powerful testimony, God can do his miracles through us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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