Elder Uchtdorf teaches importance of unity between missionaries and Church members

‘Preach My Gospel’ chapter 13: New mission leaders are ‘fellow servants’ with general authorities, local leaders and everyday members, explains Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Joseph Smith was only 23 and Oliver Cowdery only 22 when John the Baptist appeared to them in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and conferred the Aaronic Priesthood on them.

The 1829 event might have seemed astounding to Joseph and Oliver, who were poor, humble and otherwise insignificant by worldly standards. But John the Baptist addressed them as “my fellow servants.” 

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recounted the story on Friday, June 23, during the 2023 Seminar for New Mission Leaders at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. 

He said the new mission leaders are also “fellow servants” — with John the Baptist, with Peter, James and John, with the living Apostles and with everyday Church members all over the world.

“We may have different assignments, but it is not a different work,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “We all serve one Master, Jesus Christ, and it is all one work — His work.”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the Seminar for New Mission Leaders at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on June 23, 2023. | Cody Bell, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

This “important truth” laid the foundation for Elder Uchtdorf’s talk, which focused on uniting members and leaders with local missionaries as they all engage in missionary work.

The topic came from Chapter 13 of the second edition of “Preach My Gospel,” titled “United with Leaders and Members to Establish the Church.”

Elder Uchtdorf said Church leaders have known for many years that the most effective missionaries are those who involve members and leaders. However, missionaries “too often” approach their work like salespeople, resulting in shallow, temporary relationships.

But missionaries are disciples of Christ and the extended arm of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he taught. 

If missionaries see ward members and leaders as fellow servants, “then there is no limit to the good you can accomplish together, and it will leave an impression of sacred memories on the hearts of your missionaries and members,” Elder Uchtdorf said.

Unity among ‘fellow servants’

Elder Uchtdorf taught that unity is a powerful testimony of the Savior’s influence. Jesus Christ brought together Jews and Gentiles, publicans and fishermen, men and women; today, He can bring together full-time missionaries and Church members.

“Perhaps more people in the world would gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and His Church if they saw more unity among us as members of His Church and as His disciples and authorized servants,” Elder Uchtdorf said.

Unity doesn’t mean everyone sees things the same way, he continued; it means everyone is looking towards Jesus Christ.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks at the Seminar for New Mission Leaders at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on June 23, 2023.  | Cody Bell, La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días

“We are one, not because of where we’ve been but where we are striving to go, not because of who we are but who we seek to become,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “The challenges of establishing the Savior’s Church require multiple perspectives, ... but all of them with an eye single to God’s glory.”

Unity doesn’t necessarily look the same all over the world, Elder Uchtdorf clarified. In some places, the Church is well established and members have years of Church service experience. But in other areas, the Church is relatively new, with many leaders who are new members.

In all places, however, the local members and leaders are fellow servants with the missionaries.

“They love the Savior and want to serve Him. Your missionaries will learn from members, and members will learn from your missionaries,” Elder Uchtdorf said.

He counseled new mission leaders to rely on both personal revelation and revelation from leaders in their areas. Because each missionary and leader receives only a piece of the needed revelation, it’s vital that everyone works together.

“Imagine how much more can be accomplished — how many more of God’s children could be gathered and blessed — when God’s revelation to members, to stake and ward leaders, is united with the revelation He is giving to the missionaries,” Elder Uchtdorf said.

Missionaries can build unity with ward members in a variety of ways, he said, such as inviting youth to study or teach with them, sitting in ward council meetings so their mission plans can complement the ward mission plan, and working alongside members when service opportunities arise.

Elder Uchtdorf emphasized that establishing the Church doesn’t mean just baptizing new converts and strengthening new members. It means helping all members keep their covenants, supporting them in their service efforts and teaching full-time missionaries how to counsel with other fellow servants.

All of these things happen most effectively when missionaries, members, leaders and the angels of heaven work together as fellow servants, Elder Uchtdorf concluded.

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