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Elder Cook shares 3 ways to help establish and build up the Church


PROVO, Utah — Heber C. Kimball became the first full-time mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day in 1837, when he was called by Joseph Smith to serve in England.

As Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared Elder Kimball’s story with the newest group of mission leaders on Thursday, June 23, at the Provo Missionary Training Center, he read journal entries that recorded Elder Kimball’s feelings at the time.

Elder Kimball wrote how he felt he had a “stammering tongue” and was “altogether unfit for such a work.” But he came to peace with the calling, writing, “The moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, … I felt that the cause of truth, the gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.”

Missionaries for generations have felt great emotion at the time of their calls to share the doctrine and principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, said Elder Cook.

He read from Doctrine and Covenants 31:7, “I will establish a church by your hand,” and underscored that the Savior is speaking about how He will be the one to establish the Church and that He will involve His faithful followers in that work.

Read more talk summaries and see photos from the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders here

While there are many ways to be involved in establishing and building up the Church, Elder Cook focused on three.

1. Invite through the Spirit to keep commitments

Based on what he has seen, Elder Cook said members and missionaries are getting better at loving others and sharing the gospel with them. But, he said, inviting those who are taught and loved isn’t happening enough.

“As we invite people to commit to obey a specific commandment, we would do well to teach the blessings — the happiness and joy — they will receive by living the commandment,” Elder Cook said.

“If those being taught keep their commitments, they will later keep their covenants.”

Mission presidents and their wives listen to messages shared at the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders in the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Mission presidents and their wives listen to messages shared at the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders in the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

2. Work together among members, leaders and missionaries

When members, leaders and missionaries work together, they build each other’s faith, develop future leaders of the Church and bring more people to the Savior through baptism, said Elder Cook.

“For the past three months, for the first time in over 20 years, baptisms resulting from member referrals are more numerous than baptisms of those who were found strictly by missionary efforts,” he said.

“As wonderful as this is, we are still barely scratching the surface of what will happen as ever more members and missionaries partner in sharing the gospel.”

Elder Cook encouraged engagement of ward or branch leaders with missionaries through weekly missionary coordinating meetings.

“This weekly, brief and informal meeting is held to coordinate efforts to share the gospel and strengthen new and returning members. It is the perfect place to ensure ward leaders and full-time missionaries are working towards the same goals regarding individuals.”

For those members and leaders who feel overwhelmed at the thought of engaging in missionary work, Elder Cook suggested a starting point.

“Chapter 23 in the new General Handbook, titled ‘Sharing the Gospel and Strengthening New and Returning Members,’ will allow local leaders and youth to assist in missionary work and give them the confidence they need.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addresses mission leaders during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addresses mission leaders during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

3. Prepare missionaries to serve as fathers and mothers and Church teachers and leaders

Looking at the history of the Church, Elder Cook said, “The primary spiritual growth and preparation for both parenthood and leadership in the Church has been provided by missionary service.

“Each generation has needed substantial numbers of young missionaries who would respond to the call to serve and who were tutored, taught and inspired by consecrated, experienced, spiritually prepared leaders like you,” he said.

The work missionaries engage in is not patterned after any business model, Elder Cook said.

“Missionaries are not worldly salesmen, and [mission presidents] are not marketing executives. Missionaries need to understand why they were called and who they serve.”

After learning and understanding why they are called, Elder Cook said, missionaries also need to learn the best ways to teach and testify.

“Memorizing lessons is not as effective in preparing missionaries for missionary work or life as treasuring up doctrine and teaching from the heart in their own words.

“Missionaries need to focus on the needs of those they teach and serve,” he said. “Remember, if they focus on their own future, they will not become what they need to become. But as they develop Christlike attributes, learn to serve, and teach and follow the Spirit, they will be prepared for the future.”

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