It is the hope and prayer of all missionaries to “bring sons and daughters of God to Christ through baptism,” declared Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
During his June 25 remarks to new mission presidents and their wives Elder Andersen taught five principles to strengthen and increase convert baptisms in missions across the globe.
1. Keep your teaching and goals of finding and baptizing converts front and center, no matter where you serve.
The number of converts baptized is not dependent solely upon the missionaries and their leaders. People are more or less prone to accepting the gospel depending upon where the mission is in the world.
Still, Elder Andersen emphasized, “Wherever you are, finding and baptizing converts should be constantly in your missionaries' minds and hearts.”
2. Baptism is prominent in the doctrine of Christ.
“The Savior spoke often of baptism,” he said. “[Christ] began His earthly ministry being baptized Himself and finished His earthly ministry by commanding His apostles to 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost' ” (Matthew 28:19).
The Resurrected Christ also spoke repeatedly of baptism during His visit to the American continent.
Baptism — no matter how difficult or infrequent — “is central to our purpose, and prominent in the doctrine of Christ.”
3. Learn how to emphasize and speak of baptism with balance and permanence.
Elder Andersen said the pendulum of convert baptisms can in some missions sometimes swing out of balance. When too aggressively emphasized and promoted without proper context, the pendulum swings too far to one side and there is baptism without repentance and an overemphasis on numbers. When baptism is not emphasized enough and becomes a secondary principle, the pendulum swings too far the other way and there is often insufficient effort in finding, friendship without challenging, and a limiting of heaven’s miracles.
“What we all want is balance,” he said. “Find constantly, teach repentance, and baptize converts, as you build your mission with powerful faith and uncompromising obedience.”
4. Guard the flame of faith that missionaries can find and baptize converts, and miracles will follow.
“Miracles do change lives. I have experienced these miracles myself and I have witnessed them hundreds of times in the lives of obedient missionaries, their spirits burning with faith in Christ. Let us always protect this precious flame of faith.”
5. Lead your missionaries with Christlike love and high expectations.
“Building someone’s faith in Christ, or teaching someone how to repent and turn toward God has great merit, even if the person’s progress doesn’t result in baptism,” said Elder Andersen. “No one need feel a failure, but keep expectations high. We need not diminish the doctrine of the Lord that we are to baptize converts.”
[email protected] @JNSwensen