PROVO, Utah — When Heber C. Kimball — the first full-time mission president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — was called to preach the gospel in England, he felt inadequate: “I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work.”
Yet because of his faith and obedience, “these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty,” he wrote. “... I felt that the cause of truth, the gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.”
Heber C. Kimball understood his missionary purpose, and it empowered his missionary service.
When missionaries understand their purpose, said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “missionaries and members are blessed, and the Church is established and strengthened. ... It impacts everything they do. They are much more successful in finding, teaching and baptizing.”
Elder Cook spoke during the 2023 Seminar for New Mission Leaders at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Thursday, June 22. Addressing the new leaders alongside other Prophets, Apostles and Church leaders about the creation of a second edition of “Preach My Gospel,” Elder Cook focused on Chapter 1, titled “Fulfill Your Missionary Purpose.”
“There has been an enormous missionary effort since the commencement of ‘Preach My Gospel,’” said Elder Cook. The last two decades, for instance, saw more than 4,900,000 missionary convert baptisms into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After Church President Russell M. Nelson encouraged worthy, able young adults during April 2022 general conference to serve missions, the number of missionaries grew from then-57,000 to 67,800 early this month, Elder Cook explained.
“One of the reasons for the missionary success is the clearly defined purpose set forth in the scriptures and Chapter 1 of ‘Preach My Gospel.’”
The new manual defines a missionary’s purpose from the start of the first chapter: “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
Although this purpose remains the same from the first edition of “Preach My Gospel,” the new manual “shifts the emphasis from learning what your purpose is as a missionary to fulfilling that purpose,” said Elder Cook.
Fulfilling one’s missionary purpose
“Our missionary purpose is not just one of the 88 keys on a piano that is occasionally played,” said Elder Cook. “It is a major chord in a compelling melody that needs to be played continuously every day if we are to remain in harmony with our purpose as set forth in the doctrine of Christ.”
He continued: “Individuals who know their purpose in whatever they are doing, including missionary work, are able to decide what should take priority in their lives at a specific time to accomplish their purpose.”
Elder Cook encouraged listeners to prayerfully and frequently study Doctrine and Covenants 112, a chapter about both the authority and the responsibilities of representatives of Christ. Missionaries passionate about their purpose, he said, “will be inspired, uplifted and motivated to accomplish the work to gather Israel.”
Those who engage in missionary work, not just missionaries, are called to be witnesses of Christ.
“This sacred responsibility is not just for a select few,” said Elder Cook, “but for all who have made covenants with God and seek to follow His Son. It is a joy and a privilege to participate in this great work, and we must do so with humility, faith and love.”
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have approved every aspect of “Preach My Gospel,” second edition, said Elder Cook. “They have determined that even in a world that is rapidly changing, our missionary purpose remains the same: to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.”
Key topics in Chapter 1
“Preach My Gospel” Chapter 1, said Elder Cook, highlights several key truths in a missionary’s purpose, such as the following:
- A missionary calling gives authority, and keeping covenants gives spiritual power.
- Helping others receive the blessings of eternal life is central to a missionary’s purpose.
- Success is defined by desire and commitment, not the number of people taught or leadership positions held.
- Missionaries should focus on Christ instead of comparing themselves with others.
The chapter also elaborates on the following topics:
- A missionary’s role in building up the Lord’s Church.
- How to support members in their efforts to love, share and invite.
- What it means to be successful as a missionary.
- The role of a missionary’s talents and gifts in his or her service.
- How to turn to the Lord for strength during times of discouragement.
Elder Cook said, “May we all strive to be true disciples of Jesus Christ, sharing His gospel with all those we come in contact with and bringing the blessings of His love and grace to all the world.”