Preparing individuals for baptism is preparing them to enter the kingdom of God, says Elder Gong

‘Preach My Gospel’ chapter 12: Elder Gerrit W. Gong talks about the  joy of missionary work that ‘cascades through generations’

PROVO, Utah — Helping individuals prepare for baptism and confirmation allows missionaries to fulfill their missionary purpose, said Elder Gerrit W. Gong

Speaking June 22 during the 2023 Seminar for New Mission Leaders held at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, Elder Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles noted that John 3:5 records the Savior’s teaching that unless a person is born of water and of the Spirit, they cannot enter the kingdom of God.

“As we prepare people for baptism and confirmation, we are preparing them to see and enter into the kingdom of God,” Elder Gong told the new mission leaders.

“This joy cascades through generations,” he said. “It unites families eternally in the Lord. May you and your missionaries find that enduring joy as you prepare people for baptism and confirmation in every nation, kindred, tongue and people.”

During the seminar, Elder Gong was joined by a panel, including mission leaders President Justin and Sister Kristen Spencer of the Utah Salt Lake City West Mission, and three returned missionaries, Kate Reynoldson, Ethan Correa and Michael Whitney. Together they discussed “Preach My Gospel” Chapter 12: “Prepare People for Baptism and Confirmation.”

The group noted that spiritual, well-planned baptismal services bless converts, missionaries and members.

During the 2023 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on June 22, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discusses “Preach My Gospel” Chapter 12: “Prepare People for Baptism and Confirmation.” | Cody Bell, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Chapter 12 teaches that members and missionaries help people prepare for baptism and confirmation as they understand doctrine, principles and practices, he said. Elder Gong then touched on some of those principles of preparation. 

Qualifications for baptism and confirmation 

In “Preach My Gospel” Chapter 12, and Doctrine and Covenants 20:37, are found the qualifications for baptism. 

Doctrine and Covenants teaches that “all those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ … shall be received by baptism into His church.”

Elder Gong shared the qualifications for baptism found in the new “Preach My Gospel,” Chapter 12.

“As we help people prepare for baptism and confirmation,” Elder Gong said, “we gratefully witness spiritual conversion as we see … [a] broken heart and contrite spirit, taking upon themselves the name of Christ, [and] receiving the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins.”

Elder Gong continued by asking mission leaders a question: “Why is it important for a family or individual preparing for baptism and confirmation to respond appropriately to the baptismal interview questions, to receive all the missionary lessons, meet ward or branch leaders, and to attend sacrament meeting?”

Elder Gong added his insights to the panel discussion, “When people have experienced the spiritual conversion of which these qualifications are indicators, those individuals are ready to receive the sacred ordinances of baptism and confirmation,” he said. “We all rejoice on those days.”

Preparing people for and conducting baptismal interviews 

Elder Gong told the mission leaders that it is important to help individuals feel comfortable and prepared for their baptismal interview.

And how do missionaries help individuals prepare for a baptismal interview? “We help prepare people for baptismal interviews as we teach and review the baptismal interview questions in advance; as we deal with concerns or issues prior to the actual interview; teach the joy of repentance; ensure understanding of both baptism and confirmation,” said Elder Gong. 

He emphasized that “baptismal interviews should be spiritual experiences” and that the interviews should be led by the Spirit in order to be uplifting and encouraging for the individual. 

During the 2023 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on June 22, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discusses “Preach My Gospel” Chapter 12: “Prepare People for Baptism and Confirmation.” | Cody Bell, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Baptism and confirmation

“I know a sister who was discouraged and wanted to quit when she did not pass her baptismal interview,” Elder Gong told the leaders. “The missionaries buoyed her hope. Her friend in the ward said, “Don’t you remember, we are going to go to the temple together?” 

Elder Gong later met that same sister and friend when they made it to the temple together and described them as being “two joyful sisters in the gospel.”

Elder Gong asked the panel, “Did you ever need to postpone a baptism? What do missionaries do to encourage and offer hope in the Atonement of Jesus Christ when unexpected situations or challenges arise?”

After listening to answers from the panel, Elder Gong said, “Please remember, as you ask with faith and humility, the Holy Ghost will inspire and guide you and your missionaries, including in challenging or unexpected situations.” 

Preparing for the temple

A concluding point of Elder Gong’s discussion panel turned the new mission leaders towards the temple. “Please teach your missionaries to minister to new members and help new converts participate in temple blessings,” he said. 

He then asked the panel how missionaries can help new converts prepare to enter the temple, and then added: “When new converts focus on Jesus Christ, the sanctifying path of covenants with the Lord becomes real. This helps each new convert endure to the end in Jesus Christ.”

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