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Elder Dallin H. Oaks: 'Sharing the Restored Gospel'

Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke of ideas for sharing the gospel “that will work everywhere, from the newest units to the most established, from cultures now receptive to the gospel of Jesus Christ to cultures and nations that are increasingly hostile to religion.”

“I want to speak of ideas that you can use with persons who are committed believers in Jesus Christ as well as with persons who have never heard His name, with persons who are satisfied with their current lives as well as with persons who are desperately seeking to improve themselves,” said Elder Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Saturday afternoon session of general conference.

He gave three things that every member can do and emphasized, “All of us should do all of these.”

He said, “First, we can all pray for desire to help with this vital part of the work of salvation. All efforts begin with desire.

“Second, we can keep the commandments ourselves. … Faithful members will always have His Spirit to be with them, to guide them as they seek to participate in the great work of sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Third, we can pray for inspiration on what we can do in our individual circumstances to share the gospel with others.”

He added, “This is different than praying for the missionaries or praying for what others can do. We should pray for what we can do, personally.”

One should never set oneself up as a judge of who is or is not ready to receive the gospel, Elder Oaks said. “The Lord knows the hearts of all of His children, and if we pray for inspiration, He will help us find persons He knows to be “in a preparation to hear the word” (Alma 32:6).

Elder Oaks gave other things Church members can do to share the gospel effectively: First, he said, “We need to remember that 'people learn when they are ready to learn, not when we are ready to teach them,'” he said, quoting words from author Clayton M. Christensen.

“Others typically want the results of the doctrine, not the doctrine,” Elder Oaks noted. “As they observe or experience the effects of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, they feel the Spirit and begin to be interested in the doctrine.”

Second, “As we speak to others, we need to remember that an invitation to learn more about Jesus Christ and His gospel is preferable to an invitation to learn more about our Church.” He added, “Feelings about our Church follow conversion to Jesus Christ; they do not precede it.”

Third, “When we seek to introduce people to the restored gospel, we should do this in ways that are authentic in loving concern for the individual. This happens when we are trying to help others with problems they have identified, or when we are working with them in community service activities.”

Fourth, “Our efforts to share the gospel should not be limited to our circle of friends and associates.” He told of a taxi driver in Rio de Janeiro who carried copies of the Book of Mormon in seven languages to hand out to those who would receive them.

Fifth, “Ward bishoprics can plan a special sacrament meeting to which members are urged to bring interested persons. Ward members will be less hesitant to bring their acquaintances to such a meeting because they will be more assured that the content of the meeting will be well planned to enlist interest and represent the Church well.”

Sixth, “There are many opportunities to share the gospel. … We all know many whose lives would be improved by the restored gospel. Are we reaching out to them?"

Seventh, “Our young members’ fascination and expertise with social media give them unique opportunities to reach out to interest others in the gospel.”

Elder Oaks affirmed, “Sharing the gospel is not a burden but a joy. What we call ‘member missionary work’ is not a program but an attitude of love and outreach to help those around us. It is also an opportunity to witness how we feel about the restored gospel of our Savior.”

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