If you’ve met one missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints you’ve met them all, right?
If they’re different at home, they’re different in the field.
Some are bold and extraordinarily well-spoken. Some are shy, quiet, and reserved, but they teach with power when the moment comes.
Some elders and sisters will tell bishops, ward mission leaders, and members exactly what they need to progress the Lord’s marvelous work in their corner of His Vineyard.
Others are less vocal and perhaps instead of publicly pressing, they pray privately for our efforts.
But while each mission is unique and cultural and demographic differences are stark from one country to another, one thing is consistent.
The missionaries desperately want your help!
Here are seven things they would love for us to do, but might not ask.
1. Learn investigators names and pray for them!
Imagine if every member of the ward was praying every day by name for those being visited by the full-time missionaries. How would we see those people differently when they walk into our congregations on Sunday? If the missionaries are praying for these people daily — and they are — so can we.
2. Sit by their investigators.
Far too often missionaries are the ones waiting by the church door for their friends to arrive. The missionaries are hoping we will see those greetings and interrupt their conversations. Nothing makes a missionary happier than for a member to come up and say, “Oh, hello! Introduce me to your friend!” And then to figuratively and perhaps sometimes even literally put their arm around that person and find them a place to sit.
We’ve all known new members who even years after their baptisms are still sitting with the full-time missionaries every week and not with other members of their ward family. That can change, but we can’t wait for someone else to make a move. Treat them like family by inviting them to join your family.
3. Connect with investigators on social media.
Search out the people missionaries are teaching and send them a message. You can do this even before you’ve met them. “Hi, Mary! My name is Penny and I’m the Relief Society president of our congregation. (That means I lead our wonderful women’s organization.) I’ve heard such great things and I can’t wait to meet you!”
The worst possible outcome is the new friend won’t recognize your name and may not respond to your message. But when you do see them face-to-face, they’ll know you cared about them before you were formally introduced.
4. Visit investigator homes without the missionaries.
This might sound counterintuitive because missionaries are endlessly hunting for members to attend lessons with them. That’s important and, when possible, it makes a massive difference when members and missionaries teach side-by-side in someone’s living room. But if you want to make a real impact and demonstrate your genuine love, stop by on your own sometime with a plate of cookies, or last week’s program from sacrament meeting so they know what to expect, or an invitation to the upcoming potluck. You don’t even have to tell the missionaries you’re going, but imagine how they’ll react when they find out you stopped by.
5. Introduce the missionaries to your restaurant server.
Many of us at some point have taken the missionaries out for a meal. Have you ever thought of introducing them to your server? The conversation might be as simple as this.
“Deborah, you’ve been great! Thanks! Also, do you mind if I ask if you’ve ever met missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? This is Elders Hansen and Smith. They’re currently working in our area and sharing a very special message about Jesus Christ and His gospel. Would you be interested in a visit sometime? Or joining us on Sunday? Or meeting us at our chapel for a tour any day of the week?”
Keep it brief and naturally be respectful of their time, but don’t be surprised if they take you up on the offer. Or, at the very least, they’ll know just how important your faith is to you.
6. Show up at baptisms!
It might be tempting if you’re not in a leadership calling or if you haven’t had a chance to meet an investigator to not feel the need to attend. Imagine how it feels for missionaries to spend months or weeks to help prepare someone for baptism only to have a handful of people show up on that wonderful afternoon. Pay attention when baptisms are announced and make it a priority in your family to support them. The baptism is a day no one ever forgets. Nothing helps someone feel like they’re a member of our church family than when the family actually shows up.
7. Express love!
Missionaries long for the approval and love of ward members. Express gratitude for their sacrifice and service every time you see them. Drop donuts on their doorsteps. Have cookies delivered. Leave notes on their windshield or sticky note their apartment door. Send their family a text or email telling them how wonderful their sons and daughters are. The more you love and trust them, the more they will love and trust you.
Curious whether your missionaries are really interested in having you tackle one of the items from this list? Just ask them. Then prepare to roll up your sleeves and get busy.
The marvelous work awaits.