Thursday, February 5, 2015

Double the Active Membership

(This is a talk I gave in Malta at the Malta Branch Conference.  We introduced the area goals and talked about ways to achieve them.)

Double the Active Membership
Malta Branch Conference
January 25, 2015

One of the three major goals of the Area Presidency this year is to double the active membership in our wards and branches of the church.  That means instead of 30 people attending Sacrament Meeting, there should be 60 people attending Sacrament Meeting on a weekly basis.  It’s not enough to have record-breaking attendance one week and then go back to the bare minimum the next week.  We as members of the church need to make it a priority to do everything within our power to invite everyone we know to come to church.  That might be new investigators or helping someone who has gone inactive return into full activity in the church.

The Area Presidency has given us three suggestions to help us achieve the goal of doubling our active attendance.

a.              Bring a friend
b.              Invite friends to learn in our homes
c.               Focus weekly ward council on how to help our new friends

That sounds like a very difficult task if we each feel obligated to double the size of the Malta Branch.  When you break it down and realize each person only needs to be responsible for one new person, that makes it much easier.

My guess is we all have a friend we have thought about inviting to attend church with us, but are too afraid to ask them.  Now is the time to ask them.  If they choose to come, it could be the greatest blessing of their lives.  If they say no, that’s okay, too.  At least you will receive the blessings of trying. 

Invite your friends to learn about the gospel in your home.  It’s a safe, warm, friendly place.  All you have to do is invite your friends and the missionaries will do all the work.  They have been called of God for that very reason and they are good at what they do. 

Every week the ward council should focus on how to help new investigators and new converts.  We all have a responsibility to care for them and teach them, and the ward council can help us by giving guidance and direction to let us know if there are specific areas that require our assistance.  We can accomplish a lot by just being a friend and being willing to answer questions.  New members have lots of doubts and unanswered questions.  They often find themselves in a religion far different  from what they are used to.  They have lots of questions and things they don’t understand.  They still make mistakes.  We all do, but we learn from them and progress.  We can help them understand this.

In 1999, President Hinckley in a satellite broadcast given at the Salt Lake Tabernacle said:

            “Last year there were approximately 300,000 convert baptisms throughout the Church.  This is tremendously significant.  This is the equivalent of 120 new stakes of  2,500 members each.  Think of that:  120 new stakes in a single year!  It is wonderful.  But it is not enough.  am not being unrealistic when I say that with concerted effort, with recognition of the duty which falls upon each of us as members of the Church, and with sincere prayer to the Lord for help, we could double that number.”

Brothers and sisters, with your help we can achieve that goal.  Many of us are timid about inviting others to find out more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It shouldn’t be that way.  Why should we shrink from telling anyone about the blessings available through membership in this marvelous church?  Why should we fear inviting others to Come Unto Christ and partake of life eternal?

We should be proud of our religion and not ashamed of it.  The Apostle Paul wrote:

            “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.”  (2 Timothy 1:8)          

It is not just the responsibility of missionaries to Bring Others Unto Christ.  It is our responsibility, too.

President Hinckley said:

            “The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the responsibility alone of the missionaries.  They succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found.”

            “Let there be cultivated an awareness in every  member’s heart of his own potential for bringing others to a knowledge of the truth.  Let him work at it.  Let him pray with great earnestness about it.  Let each member pray, as did Alma of old:

                        “O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing [others] again unto thee in Christ.

                        “Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.”  (Alma 31:34-35)

President Hinckley went on to say:

            “Now, 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.”            

President Kimball 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?”  (Ensign, Oct 1974)

There are many ways we can share the gospel with others.  To name just a few we can:

1.              Set a good example for family members, friends, and neighbors.
2.              Tell others about the Book of Mormon and share a copy with them or ask the missionaries to deliver a copy to them.
3.              Give names of potential investigators to the missionaries.
4.              Tell others why you live the way you do and about your religion.
5.              Invite people to church activities, meetings, and firesides.
6.              Invite family and friends to Family Home Evening.
7.              Talk to people about Family History ad introduce them to the ward Family History Specialist.
8.              Invite people to a baptismal.

As we attempt to double the membership of the ward, we will undoubtedly find that our own lives will improve.  When we are reaching out to others and setting a good example for them, we will find ourselves being more cautious about what we do and what we say.  We will not want to do anything to deter others from gaining a testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

We will find that the Lord will bless us as we are engaged in this very important goal of doubling membership in the Church and He will assist us in finding those who are prepared to hear about the gospel of Jesus Christ that has been restored upon the earth.

The Prophet Joseph Smith 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)

We can’t stop the work so we may as well be part of the army that goes forth helping to accomplish the purposes of God and receiving the blessings that go with that effort.

In D&C 18:15-16 it says:

            “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

            “And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”

It is my prayer that each of us will do our part to double the active membership in this unique Malta Branch.  As I look out at you, I see that each of you has the light of Christ in your eyes.  Each of you has unique talents that can help bless the life of someone else.  The Lord said:

            “Even as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  (Matthew 25:40)

I have faith in you.  I believe you are equal to the challenge.  God bless you as you work to do your part in His Hastening of the Work by doubling the active membership of the Malta Branch.

God lives.  He loves you.  I love you, too.


(Quotes were taken from Doctrine and Covenants and Church History:  Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual [1999], Lesson 41:  “Every member a Missionary” and a talk given by President Gordon B. Hinckley entitled “Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999)

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