If missionary work doesn’t always feel natural to you, then you’re in good company. Sometimes it feels awkward to bring up the gospel with close friends or neighbors because of the fear that you’ll be turned down or a desire to not come across as “pushy.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. In Clayton M. Christensen’s book The Power of Everyday Missionaries, he writes that instead of approaching missionary work by telling others that they need the Church, we can let them know that “the Church needs you.”
Because the truth is, we do—the Church needs those who want to offer their talents, perspectives, and expertise to bless our communities, no matter their religious beliefs. It’s just important that they know that no matter what, their friendship comes first. So if they aren’t interested in participating in whatever we invite them to, we can let them know that it’s perfectly OK and nothing about our relationship will change.
So here’s a list of ideas of how we can do missionary work by asking those not of our faith or who haven’t been to church in a while to help with our callings. We hope that these ideas will spark some of your own and bring more unity in our communities as we serve one another.
- Have you been asked to coordinate the bread for sacrament meeting each week? Rather than buying bread from the store, mix it up sometime and ask a friend who isn’t a member and who likes to bake to help you make a loaf instead. This will give you the opportunity to talk about the sacrament and what the gospel means to you in a natural way. Plus, if you’re not a fan of baking, you’ll learn a new skill! (Read about this idea in Everyday Missionaries.)
- If you have a friend who is the ultimate party planner, try reaching out to them when you’re asked to help with the next ward party. Whether they’re into decorations, music, or have food ideas galore, their input could add just the right pizzazz to your party needs.
- Everyone likes to feel like people have an interest in what they do for a career. So for your next Young Women or Young Men activity, call up some friends or acquaintances in your neighborhood who aren’t members and ask them to talk about their professions with the youth. This will not only bless the young people in your ward but will also strengthen relationships between you and your neighbors. (Read about how this kind of activity went with a group of priests in Everyday Missionaries.)
- Next time a Relief Society activity involves sewing, look outside your ward list and see if you have any experts in your neighborhood who’d love to contribute. You might want to enlist their help in planning a stake activity that involves sewing. Or you could ask them to contribute to a project and simply drop it off on your doorstep when they’re done.
- Speaking of Relief Society, maybe it’s up to you to coordinate meals for members of your ward who are in need. Consider reaching out to someone in your area who hasn’t been involved in the Church but who loves to cook and would be happy to make a meal for someone in need.
- Many of us know someone who loves to spend time outside beautifying their yard. Next time you are in charge of organizing a service project to clean up a neighbor’s yard or a baseball field for young single adult activities, call or shoot a text to that individual and see if they’d be interested in joining.
- Musical numbers can make all the difference in sacrament meetings, and sometimes participants can be hard to find in your own ward. Have a friend who can sing or play an instrument, but isn’t a member or hasn’t been to church in a while? Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask them to do a musical number—it gives your friend an opportunity to perform, and both your friend and your congregation will feel the Spirit as they do.
- If your ward is putting together a service project like humanitarian kits and you’re heading up the project, you don’t have to do it by yourself. Divide and conquer your shopping list with someone you know who has an interest in humanitarian projects, or ask if they can come with you to make your trip more fun. They might also be interested in helping to assemble the kits the day the activity takes place.
- Do you know someone who is devout in another faith? Consider creating an activity for the youth that can help them learn about other religions and asking your friend to teach them about their beliefs. It might also be nice if that friend can take you inside their church so the youth can see what other places of worship are like. Or it might be fun to bring the youth in your ward to another faith’s activity so they can get to know people of other religions more personally.
- Perhaps you’re a Primary teacher and there’s someone in your neighborhood who you feel could contribute to one of your lessons. Invite them to help you teach your class one Sunday. (Read more about this experience in Everyday Missionaries.)
- Maybe you were just called to coach Young Women’s basketball or you’re supposed to organize a volleyball or baseball team in your ward. Why not get a little help from someone who has a passion for sports? It could be just the outlet they are looking for, and maybe their talents will bring your team what it needs to finally beat that rival ward.
- Sometimes being the Primary chorister can be a big job, and making each week creative can be tricky. But this can also be the perfect opportunity to be a missionary. Simply ask a friend who’s musical to come in and help you teach a song when the occasion calls for it. They could accompany a number you’re rehearsing with an instrument, help you teach a round, or assist with props. Or maybe there’s a song that your Primary is learning where the principles remind you of your friend. Ask them to share why those principles matter to them in their own life so the song can make more of an impression on your Primary kids.
- Are you on the activities committee and you know a technology whiz? Invite him or her to teach a class one night to your ward with tips and tricks that all adults could benefit from learning. Plus, with all their expertise, it will probably be the sleekest presentation you’ll ever see in your ward.
- A holiday is coming up, and as a member of the service committee, you need some flower arrangements to make the chapel look extra beautiful. See if there’s someone you know with an artistic eye or a love of flowers who would be happy to help you with decorating or even do some flower arranging for the special occasion.
- You know when something in your house stops working or your car breaks down, and you wish you knew how to fix it without having to struggle through a YouTube video? If there’s a handyman (or woman) in your neighborhood and you’re part of a Relief Society or elders quorum presidency, see if they’d like to teach members of your ward about some common problems you might run into in your household and how to fix them. They’ll likely be happy for the opportunity to share their skills, and next time you’ll be able to skip that YouTube video!
- Let’s say your Relief Society wants to hold a spring social outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather and foster friendships, and you’re in charge. Consider suggesting the backyard of a neighbor who might enjoy the opportunity to host because they have a beautiful space for the activity but who otherwise might not have much interaction with the Church. Everyone who attends will get to enjoy the surroundings, but more importantly, they’ll be able to become closer friends with this neighbor.
- If you know of someone with a passion for camping, see if they can help out with whatever camping activities your ward might be doing that year. Whether they’re a pro at Dutch oven dinners, love setting up tents, have gear that they’d be happy to lend, or love organizing camping trips, there’s sure to be a way they could pitch in.
Whether you choose to follow these ideas or you’ve been inspired to be an everyday missionary in another way, remember that, as Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said, “Wherever you are on this earth, there are plenty of opportunities to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” So do whatever feels most natural to you—just remember to follow the Spirit, and everything else will fall into place.
Clayton's expertise as an innovator kicked in, and he set out with friends and family members to find a more effective approach to member missionary work. Their refreshing perspectives are presented in this book, which includes inspiring, unusual stories that demonstrate the effectiveness of the ideas. Chances are, you'll discover you're already doing a lot of the things mentioned, and with just a little tweak here and there, you'll be sharing the gospel naturally as part of your everyday interactions. Along the way, you'll feel the deep joy that comes from helping others discover the most precious blessing in the world: the gospel of Jesus Christ.