Since the administration of President David O. McKay the Church has espoused the theme "Every Member a Missionary."
The theme was developed during a solemn assembly held at the temple in Logan, Utah, on Sept. 21, 1953. President McKay had just returned from an extensive European tour that had reinforced his desires for the internationalization of the Church.
As he spoke in the Logan Temple he emphasized the need for every member of the Church to share the gospel so that the gospel message could be spread far and wide.
He continued in other settings to stress the missionary responsibilities of each member, and then during the April 1955 general conference convened a special missionary meeting, the theme of which was "The Field Is White and Ready to Harvest." He spoke of the advancements in transportation and communication that made the dissemination of the gospel much easier, but asserted that the real harvest of souls would come through the individual efforts of the saints with the inspiration of the Lord. "Upon you and a million others who are members of the Church," he said, "rests the responsibility of declaring unto the world the divine Sonship of the Lord."
The theme of "Every Member a Missionary" was introduced to the membership of the Church at large in a session of general conference on April 6, 1959.
President McKay never lost sight of his goal for more member missionary work. During the last general priesthood meeting before his death he declared:
"The responsibility of the Church is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith, but not only to preach it and proclaim it by word and by distribution of literature but more than anything else, to live the gospel in our homes, and in our business dealings, have faith and testimony in our hearts, and radiate it wherever we go.
"Brethren, there is nothing that can stop the progress of truth except our weaknesses or failure to do our duty.
"God bless the missionary cause, not merely to increase our membership, which will follow inevitably, but also to declare the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the divinity of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Upon you, my fellow workers, and the millions of members of the Church, rests the responsibility of declaring to the world the divinity and divine Sonship of Jesus Christ." (General Priesthood Meeting Oct. 4, 1969.)
Prophets since then have continued to advocate the importance of member missionary work.
President Spencer W. Kimball said at the Fiji Area Conference in 1976:
"You know that President McKay established the rule, 'Every Member a Missionary.' But I wish we could re-establish that in the hearts of all the members of the Church all over the world, every member. If a person is old enough to be a member, he is old enough to be a missionary; and he doesn't need to be set apart especially for that calling. He can just go out and proselyte and bring people to the Church."
President Gordon B. Hinckley stressed this theme when he said: "Great and magnificent as is the work of the missionaries who have been set apart I am convinced that we have a far greater force for teaching the gospel to the world in the membership of the Church "every man a missionary!' " (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 366.)
We do indeed have the capacity to teach others, and with the help of the Lord we can reach out to those who are ready to receive the truth.
Perhaps the admonition of the Apostle Paul to his beloved associate Timothy can serve as a pattern for us as we strive to bring the gospel to others:
" . . . be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Tim. 4:12.)
We can exemplify gospel truths in the words and language we use, in the tone of our conversations with others, in sincere acts of charity and kindness, by having the Spirit with us always by exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and by living pure and wholesome lives in this troubled world.
As we do this others will notice us and will see the peace that we have in our lives, for it is a peace that will not be in their lives. As they seek for true peace in their lives we can stand ready to teach them.
We are, and will always be, missionaries as members of the Church. As we live exemplary lives we will not then allow our fear or weakness to deter us from sharing eternal truths with others.