Missionaries must know how to teach repentance

Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.


Missionaries must be good at two things to be effective: telling the story of the Restoration and helping people repent, Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer, General Authority Seventy, said Jan. 11 at the 2017 Seminar for New MTC Presidents and Visitors’ Center Directors.

“If they don’t have those two skills, they will just put their time in and not be effective,” he added.

Elder Schwitzer drew an illustration on the board that was familiar to the missionary couples as a diagram of the Plan of Salvation, with circles representing pre-mortal existence, mortality, the spirit world, the final judgment and the three degrees of glory.

“Where on that is the Atonement?” Elder Schwitzer asked. “Where is Jesus Christ?”

He characterized the diagram as a “road map.”

“Missionaries oftentimes teach using road maps, and the gospel is not just a road map; it’s a pathway to change,” he said.

He then added elements to the drawing to teach that people come to earth to work out their salvation through the process of conversion, followed by sanctification and enduring to the end.

“Now there’s an ordinance that indicates we are becoming converted,” he said. “What is that ordinance? Baptism. There’s a set of ordinances that help us become sanctified. What are those? Aren’t they our temple covenants?”

He asked, “What is the underlying process that contributes to us accomplishing this great plan of salvation? It’s repentance, isn’t it?”

Elder Schwitzer declared, “Repentance is the gateway to accessing the Atonement of Christ and returning to Heavenly Father’s presence. That concept must be well understood by missionaries. If it is not understood, we will teach the history of the Church, we will teach the nice stories, we will teach interesting philosophies of how to live a life, but we won’t change lives. That’s why it’s so important that we help them acquire the skill of how to teach repentance.”

He said that before one can teach repentance, one must experience it in his or her own life. “This isn’t something a missionary can get from a book; they have to go through it.”

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