Mission leaders and missionaries will “have help from Him whose Church this is” as they use technology to further the eternally important work of salvation, said Elder David A. Bednar on June 24.
“Today we have considered both the possibilities and the perils of digital devices and other technologies in the work of proclaiming the gospel,” said Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “ ‘For such a time as this’ (Esther 4:14) we have been called and set apart, to use the potent power of these inspired tools to take full advantage of the untold possibilities and to overcome the limitless perils.”
Speaking at the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents, Elder Bednar addressed the theme, “They Should Proclaim These Things Unto the World” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:18).
Latter-day Saints today are blessed to live, learn, and serve in a distinctive dispensation, even the dispensation of the fulness of times, said Elder Bednar.
An important aspect of the fulness that is available in this season is a miraculous progression of innovations, inventions, and technologies that have enabled and accelerated the work of salvation, he said.
“All of these advancements are part of the Lord hastening His work in the latter days,” he declared.
Advancements in past decades in transportation, communication, and information technologies are the fulfillment of prophetic pronouncements from past generations and dispensations, he said.
Elder Bednar explained that in 2013 the First Presidency and Quourm of the Twelve Apostles approved the use of the Internet and other technologies for missionary learning, teaching, and proselytizing activities. A test program was started with mobile devices. In 2014 and 2015 the test program was extended. “We continue today to learn and improve our effectiveness with the use of these technological innovations in the work of proclaiming the gospel.”
Technology provides a multitude of powerful channels through which Latter-day Saints can proclaim “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2) and “preach repentance unto the people” (Doctrine and Covenants 44:3), said Elder Bednar. “The rising generation is especially well prepared to hear and learn about the restored gospel through these means of communication.”
Young people today have never known a world without personal computers, digital devices and social media, said Elder Bednar.
“Most young people today use extensively a wide variety of digital technologies,” he said. “Before their missions, they used social media to gather and share information and to communicate with family and friends. They literally carried and used mobile devices everywhere they went. Many have learned to use these technological tools worthily. Unfortunately, some others have not.”
Part of the responsibility of a mission president and his wife is to help missionaries learn how to use technology for righteous purposes and to appropriately appreciate the enormous potential of these tools to hasten the Lord’s work. To help them accomplish this important objective, the Church has prepared two booklets: “Safeguards for Using Technology,” and “Mission President Resources: Safeguards for Using Technology.”
Elder Bednar told the new leaders that the experience of many missionaries with technology before their missions was unstructured, compulsive, and time consuming. “Digital and mobile devices surely will change in terms of usage, size, and power — but they are not going away. Almost all missionaries have access to technology on a regular basis in their service. We have a responsibility to help them learn to use these digital tools appropriately now and for the rest of their lives.”
Missionaries will one day leave the spiritual seclusion and security of the mission field, he said. “We have a duty to help this rising generation learn that the only filter that successfully can overcome and avoid evil resides in the heart and mind of a faithful disciple of Christ. Only the companionship of the Holy Ghost can fortify sufficiently against ‘the fiery darts of the wicked’ ” (Ephesians 6:16).
Elder Bednar emphasized to the new mission presidents: “Please do not fear technology. Please do not take counsel from your fears. Embrace these inspired tools. Learn to use them to proclaim the gospel. Help your missionaries develop safe and appropriate lifelong technology habits that will enable them to chase darkness away.”
Elder Bednar said he is sure that fears about the pitfalls and problems of cars, telephones, ballpoint pens and perhaps copy machines were voiced by some mission presidents and their companions as these innovations were incorporated into missionary work. “Some abuses always will occur, but we should not allow a fear of mistakes to hold us back from receiving the great blessings these tools can provide.”
Together, he added, “we will continue to learn about the effective uses of technology in proselyting. We will be blessed and prospered as we implement this important development in the work of proclaiming the gospel.”
As young people learn and apply correct principles, they increasingly will become enabled to govern themselves, he added. “As you encourage elders and sisters to righteously exercise moral agency and become agents who act in accordance with the doctrine of Christ rather than objects that merely are acted upon, they will discover by inspiration the many ways these tools can be used to move forward the work of salvation.”
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