Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered the closing remarks at the 2017 New Mission Presidents Seminar.
He began by sharing highlights from the “many outstanding teachings” presented by more than a dozen General Authorities and general Church auxiliary leaders during the four-day seminar. “All have been inspired, edifying and valuable for missionaries and mission leaders,” he said.
He made special mention of the teaching to focus on older youth and single adults. He added that we should “work with the members to fellowship and retain them,” calling that “very fruitful member missionary work.”
Much has been said during the seminar about the purpose of missionary work: To teach repentance and baptize converts.
“But,” he asked, “converts to what?
“To Jesus Christ our Savior and our Redeemer, to His doctrine, to His restored gospel, to His authority, and to His name.
“Conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel should precede conversion to and membership in His Church.
“Teach that to your missionaries,” he counseled. “Teach them to seek conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel. Conversion to membership in His Church will follow, and if it does not, we will still have blessed their lives.”
Elder Oaks emphasized President Thomas S. Monson’s charge for members and missionaries to come together, adding, “The first and essential step in working with members is a close and cooperative relationship with stake presidents and districts presidents. You and your missionaries should cultivate that relationship.”
It is essential that members and missionaries pray for help in the work. It is their shared duty to find people to teach.
Much of the administration of a mission can be delegated, he said. But the mission president’s most effective use of his time is to spend it working with individual missionaries or small groups of missionaries to help them be better servants of the Lord.
“And how he teaches them to use their time can magnify missionary work immeasurably.”
Elder Oaks said missionaries need to understand how special it is to be “set apart” for their calling. They are set apart as servants of the Lord. They should never take their “setting apart” for granted. Their calling truly sets them apart from the rest of the world.