Credit: Photo courtesy of Paul Moffat
Credit: Photo courtesy of Paul Moffat
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
In late 2004, President Dean R. Burgess was serving as a counselor in the Young Men general presidency when he attended the formal introduction meeting of the Preach My Gospel missionary guide.
As a former mission president, he immediately recognized the power of the 230-page manual for the Church’s growing missionary force. As a youth leader charged with developing Aaronic Priesthood holders across the globe, he rejoiced at its potential to change lives.
More than a decade has passed — yet his enthusiasm for Preach My Gospel only grows.
“It is a wonderful and inspired tool,” said President Burgess, who now presides over the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. “Every section of Preach My Gospel has a profound message that teaches the doctrine of Christ.”
The manual was designed primarily to assist full-time missionaries realize new levels of personal conversion even as they taught others through the Spirit and the converting words of the scriptures. Some say it’s the most dynamic new element of missionary instruction since the first missionary discussions were introduced in the 1930s.
“Preach My Gospel is intended to help you be a better prepared, more spiritually mature missionary and more persuasive teacher,” declared the First Presidency in the book’s introductory page. “We challenge you to rise to a new sense of commitment to assist our Heavenly Father in His glorious work.”
President Burgess and others who work closely with missionary work view Preach My Gospel as one of the primary resources in the day-to-day life and duties of young elders, young sisters and senior missionary couples. Its teachings are studied and shared as an inspired supplement to the Book of Mormon and other scriptures.
At the recent seminar for new Missionary Training Center presidents and directors of visitors’ centers and historic sites, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson anchored her instruction to the 6th chapter of Preach My Gospel — “How Do I Develop Christlike Attributes?” The guidance found in the manual, she said, helps missionaries of all backgrounds become better representatives of Christ by becoming more like Christ.
Of course, personal conversion, developing Christlike attributes and effectively teaching others the doctrine of Christ are not the sole claim of full-time missionaries. Since its 2004 publication, members worldwide have embraced Preach My Gospel. It has become a staple in many priesthood quorum, Young Women and seminary classes. Mothers and fathers use it in family home evening. Individuals ponder and pray over its simple yet profound teachings.
“Preach My Gospel has caused me to talk to more people more frequently about the gospel,” said Paul Moffat, a financial advisor from Las Vegas, Nevada. “It has helped me teach others like the Savior would. It’s powerful and it changes lives.”
Brother Moffat has also witnessed the manual’s influence in the lives of young men and young women preparing for full-time missionary service. Each week, he and his wife, Kathryn, teach a Preach My Gospel class to mission-bound youth from the Las Vegas Nevada South Stake.
The manual, he said, goes far beyond the ins-and-outs of missionary instruction. “We have found Preach My Gospel helps draw the youth unto Christ. It helps them become a missionary right now.”
When young people study, say, the 3rd chapter — “What Do I Study and Teach? — they develop their own understanding of Christ’s doctrines. They learn how to teach those doctrines to others, said Brother Moffat.
Las Vegas Nevada South Stake President Lou Richards told the Church News that Preach My Gospel has been a game changer in his stake’s missionary preparation efforts.
“The youth are able to use the same materials in their daily lives that they will be using in the mission field,” he said. “That’s a real advantage for new missionaries. Their [teaching tools] are not something foreign when they enter the MTC.”
President Richards said Preach My Gospel also helps users of all ages and backgrounds to discover and develop their own testimonies through the “journaling” aspects of the manual. That allows them to take ownership of the doctrine. As they write about elements of the guide in their journals, they recognize personal connections and convictions to the principles and truths they teach as missionaries.
Despite its prevalent use throughout the Church, missionary leaders such as President Burgess believe the power of Preach My Gospel is only beginning to be realized.
“We invite the missionaries to study it every day, along with the Book of Mormon and other scriptures,” he said. “We encourage them to use it to teach the doctrines of Christ in their talks and their meetings.”
The Lord’s charge to “preach my gospel” is given to all. The manual entitled with that divine call is an essential tool for all who seek Christ’s doctrine, develop His attributes and share His gospel.
“Preach My Gospel,” said President Burgess, “is simply an amazing tool for every member of the Church.”