“We invite, they commit, we follow up,” taken from Chapter 11 of the guide to missionary work, Preach My Gospel, was the basis of the talk given by Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, during the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast that emanated Jan. 20, from Salt Lake City.
“Faith in Jesus Christ is a principle of action and the first principle of the gospel of Christ,” Bishop Waddell said.
He told the elders and sisters their role is “to help others exercise faith in Jesus Christ unto repentance, in order to experience the miracle of conversion. You do this not just by ‘sharing an important message’ but by inviting them to act rather than being acted upon, and thus become agents rather than objects.”
Hearing the missionaries’ message, even understanding it, is not an exercise of one’s faith and does not lead to conversion, he remarked. “It may provide some motivation, but without your invitation, they are not likely to act and exercise their agency. That invitation to act generally includes the question, ‘Will you?’ but it involves much more.”
He spoke of the steps in a “commitment invitation” pattern taught in Preach My Gospel.
“First, your invitation to act must be ‘specific, direct and clear,’” he said. “You can leave no doubt as to what you are asking them to do so that, as they commit to act, there will be no confusion as to what is expected.”
The second step, he said, is to promise blessings. “As the Lord’s authorized representative, share the blessings that you’ve experienced, do not hesitate to promise the blessings that He has promised.”
He said the third step “is to boldly testify of the truthfulness of what you have taught. As they feel the Spirit that accompanies your sincere testimony, their commitment to act will be strengthened.”
The account in 1 Kings 17 about Elijah and the widow of Zerephath demonstrates each of the three steps and the result of an effective commitment invitation, Bishop Waddell said.
“Rather than explain that, as a prophet, he would provide her with all the food she needed. Elijah knew, as you do, that the Lord could bless her far more than he could, and that blessings she needed would come only through the exercise of faith,” he explained. “His role, as yours, was to invite her to act — to become an agent rather than an object — and thus qualify for the blessings she and her son sorely needed.”