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Wise missionaries keep ‘multiple lines in the water,’ teaches Elder Gong

Mission leaders accustomed to seeing Elder Gerrit W. Gong in a dark suit coat were likely surprised to spot him on Saturday, June 25, sporting a fishing vest and wide-brimmed cap.

And instead of a customary business satchel, the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was carrying several fishing rods.

But Elder Gong was not playing “hooky” from the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders. His fishing gear was an apt reminder that missionaries are wise to keep “multiple lines in the water” in their inspired efforts to find people to teach.

In a memorable presentation imbued with humor and straightforward instruction on finding investigators, Elder Gong shared a number of sketches that included a group of young returned missionaries and a returned mission president and companion, all of whom were selected because of their success in missionary finding. 

Elder Gerrit W. Gong dons a fishing vest and a wide-brimmed cap during his June 25, 2022, presentation at the 2022 New Mission Leaders Seminar.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong dons a fishing vest and a wide-brimmed cap during his June 25, 2022, presentation at the 2022 New Mission Leaders Seminar.

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

As “Preach My Gospel” teaches, nothing happens in missionary work until missionaries find somebody to teach.

“Presidents and sisters,” taught Elder Gong, “very successful missionaries everywhere use four key principles to find by the Spirit ‘at all times and in all places’.”

Principle 1: Each missionary keeps multiple lines in the water.

“Varied lines in different places find more effectively than one line in one place,” he said.  “Lines in the water are more effective than lines dangling above the water.”

Principle 2: Balance your finding mix.

Multiple lines in the water” does not mean more missionaries in the same place. “Multiple lines” means different ways, sources, even locations and times of day. Each companionship is finding the Lord’s elect all the time. 

Principle 3: Mission Finding Summary. 

“Your ‘Mission Finding Summary’ shows which mixes of finding methods are working best. Let your area mission specialist help you,” said Elder Gong.

Principle 4: Adapt to your mission and missionaries. 

In the first sketch, Craig and Gayle Teuscher, who served as mission leaders in the New York New York City Mission, played the familiar roles of leaders in a Mission Leadership Council identifying good information to inspire finding.

The young “missionaries” participating in the council sketch reported to President and Sister Teuscher that they were enjoying success in finding people to teach by working closely with youth leaders in their assigned wards, joining the members in volunteer service efforts and effectively using social media.

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

Another missionary spoke of the value of utilizing the Area Book to find would-be investigators.

Elder Gong asked the Teuschers how they are inspiring their missionaries to “find by the Spirit.”

“Many of our best contacts come from people we are currently teaching,” observed President Teuscher. “Our missionaries constantly ask those they know who else might be interested. Those individuals are much more likely to be taught and baptized than people found randomly by knocking on doors.

“Of course, when we involve members in finding, our teaching and baptizing rates are even higher.”

A good mix of “finding practices” increases the effectiveness of the missionaries, taught Elder Gong.

“Help your missionaries adapt to local circumstances, social and cultural practices, their individual strengths, time of day, even weather,” he said. “Teach your missionaries to pray and ask continuously, ‘How do we find the people who are prepared here and now?’ ‘And how can we partner with members to help make that happen?’” 

Subsequent sketches demonstrated the finding power of utilizing social media, partnering with local members to serve those in need and working closely with local leaders to identify individuals who might be open to the message of the gospel.

“Christlike service is a normal and natural expression of love and community. It’s its own ‘line in the water’,” said Elder Gong.

Another sketch demonstrated the importance of mission leaders allowing young missionaries to seek the Lord’s help on their own to find inspired solutions to finding people to teach.

“Sometimes the best thing President Teuscher and I can do is simply stay out of the way and let the Spirit speak directly to the elders and sisters,” said Sister Teuscher.

Missionaries can also instruct and lift one another by sharing their “finding” success stories.

In one sketch, Elder Gong played the role of a man sitting on a train. The missionaries asked if they could share a message about Jesus Christ with him. He politely declined — but responded positively when the elders asked if he knew someone who would be open to listening to their message.

“Keeping multiple lines in the water, these good elders turned rejection into opportunity,” said Elder Gong at the conclusion of the sketch. “They used good inspiration.”

The sketches also taught the importance of following the Savior’s example and utilizing “good nets” in the missionaries’ finding efforts.

In some parts of the world, finding people is relatively easy. But it takes intentional, organized effort to find people ready to receive Christ’s gospel. That’s where “good nets” come in, he taught.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong shares a presentation focusing on finding people to teach on June 25, 2022, at the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong shares a presentation focusing on finding people to teach on June 25, 2022, at the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders.

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

“Woven together, ‘multiple lines’ become strong ‘nets’,” said Elder Gong. “Internet supports finding and teaching. Fellowshipping networks connect new friends and members, valuable resources for future finding. Tenets of faith help us act and receive promised blessings. Local congregations are a safety net for those entering the covenant path.

“All these ‘nets’ help missionaries focus on their end goal.”

In closing, Elder Gong promised the mission leaders that they will receive divine guidance as they adapt proven principles of inspired finding.

“I promise the Holy Ghost will inspire you, if I may say it, line upon line,” he said. “I promise your balanced multi-line finding successes will open the way for teaching and baptizing. I promise you and your missionaries will see miracles.”

The men and women gathered for the new mission leaders seminar, he added, have all answered the Lord’s call to become “fishers of men and women” and to find and invite all to come unto Him.

“[Jesus Christ] promises that — as you do so by His Spirit, one by one and many by many — you will find and testify of ‘miracles of fishes’ in our day, and for generations to come.”

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