Tuesday, March 6, 2012
And of course a new Ward Mission Leader has been called (and his wife as a Ward-Missionary), so I'm sure they will do great and the work and wonderful things will continue to happen.
I will keep this blog open for anyone who wants to reference it, but I probably won't be adding new posts anymore. I WILL continue to check for questions and comments on this blog, so feel free to let me know if you have any questions, etc.
Monday, January 30, 2012
If you're a Ward Mission Leader, you may occasionally be asked for suggestions about possible callings for new converts in your Ward. I recently came across a great chart (on MissionaryLeaders.org) that has a list of callings and which characteristics of those particular callings might (or might not be) appropriate for some new converts.
For example, 'Sacrament Meeting Door Greeter' would be great for some new converts, because it requires Church attendance and helps them get more familiar with Ward members. On the other hand, there isn't any particular gospel-study preparation needed to do the calling and they usually wouldn't work with/learn from a more experienced Ward-member to perform the calling. Another possible downside would be that this calling could be interpreted by the new-member as unimportant (because they may feel they aren't needed as much as a teacher or leader).
Another example of a calling for a new member would be 'Assistant Primary Teacher', which would also require Church attendance (at least for the 2nd and/or 3rd hour) and would help the new member get to know some of the Ward members (other Primary teachers and Leaders, parents of students). In addition, this calling would require gospel learning (lesson preparation/participation) and would provide an opportunity for the new member to work closely with another member. A downside of this type of calling could be that it may limit the new member's participation/attendance in Sunday School and Relief Society or Priesthood meetings.
This chart isn't so much a list of 'good' and 'bad' callings (its not), but rather a list of characteristics that the callings have that you will want to consider (along with the new converts personality and abilities, of course).
It might be useful to print out and keep a copy of this chart to refer to if you should need to consider some suggestions for your new converts!
You can link to the page with this chart by clicking here: Possible Callings for New Members (you will be taken to the MissionaryLeaders.org website).
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Part of the fellowshipping process is welcoming visitors and investigators from the very beginning of their experience with the Church. Then, when an investigator has a baptism date set, it should be like a green light for Ward-Missionaries to know that they need to really get moving to help that investigator prepare for activity in the Church!
We all know the symbolism of baptism and what it represents - the death/burial/resurrection of Christ, a new beginning, an outward sign that we are making a covenant, and more. Its also important to recognize that baptism also represents the transition from investigator to new member. And that is a transition that is best made with help from the Ward- Missionaries and other Ward members.
In our experience as Ward-Missionaries, we have seen a number of people fall away from the Church immediately after being baptized. If a person chooses not to participate in the Church or keep their baptismal covenants, that is a very sad thing. Since there is so much emphasis on the need for new-member fellowshipping, its easy to feel like we could have done something more to prevent it.
In some cases, there may have been more that we could have done to help the new convert become an active member. However, the truth is that sometimes the new member might not be willing to continue with their commitments, regardless of our efforts. In every case, we need to make sure that fellowshipping by Ward-Missionaries, Ward leaders, and other Ward members is taking place and that every thing possible is being done to help the new member make a successful transition. While the choice to remain active in the Church is ultimately their responsibility, we are responsible to do everything within our capacity to help them.
We have worked hard to try to make a smoother transition for our new-members by involving the Ward members (especially Ward-Missionaries), beginning with the pre-baptism stage. Of course, I am a strong advocate that we should increase our contact with new members immediately after baptism, and there are several posts on this site that discuss post-baptism fellowshipping and retention.
Here are some of the ideas we've come up with for pre-baptism fellowshipping....
SPECIFIC THINGS THAT WE CAN DO TO HELP A BAPTISM-CANDIDATE:
- We try to become familiar with each investigator as much as possible, especially when they have a firm baptism date set
- We really want to attend at least one pre-baptism teaching appointment with the full-time missionaries so we can explain that we will begin teaching them the new-member lessons after baptism, & set up an appointment for our first lesson if possible. In our experience, some full-time missionaries are more agreeable about this than others, so if we can’t visit them with the full-time missionaries we arrange our own pre-baptism visit
- We encourage the full-time missionaries to include as many ward members in the baptism program as possible (this helps get more members to the baptism and makes a connection between the member and their ward family)
- We can make sure that baptism candidate knows what to bring to the baptism (we have a handout that we give them). The full-time missionaries sometimes forget to tell people to wear white underwear, bring a towel, etc. We’ve had a lot of people forget to bring something, even if they’ve been told, so I try to have a spare towel, hairbrush, etc in the car just in case.
- We can help put the word out about upcoming baptisms and encourage as many ward members to attend as possible (by phone, email, or announcements at church).
- We give each baptism candidate a “Welcome to the Ward” packet (preferably several days before the baptism) and encourage them to invite their friends/family to attend*
- We attend convert baptisms
- We take photos of the convert in the lobby before the baptism (with the missionaries and without) and give them framed copies of their photo as a keepsake. We also make sure they have received a copy of their baptism program.
These simple steps have made a big difference in our ability to get to know our investigators (especially those who are preparing for baptism). Any contact we have with them lets them know that we care and that we are available to help them. Without a doubt, the more comfortable a new member feels with the Ward members, the easier the transition into Ward membership will be for them and the more likely they will be to stay active.
*If you'd like more information on "Welcome to the Ward Packets", please see the "Welcome Packets" section on the right side of this page.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
This is an post that I originally wrote about a year ago, but thought it might be helpful to repost...
So, if I were to try to hug one of our Ward's full-time missionary Elders (no matter how innocent my intentions) it would create an awkward and potentially embarrassing situation for the Elder, who would have to make the choice to reject my hug (potentially offending me) or to have to break the rule because he didn't want to be rude.
I served a full-time mission as a young adult and I can relate to almost all of the items pointed out in the Ten Little Points of Missionary Etiquette article... I actually (jokingly) kept a mental list of all the platonic "hugs" that I got from male investigators, new members, branch presidents, etc. I was very serious about keeping mission rules, but sometimes it was just really awkward to reject something innocent like that from a tearful and well-meaning person (especially an elderly married man) on the day you're getting transferred.
This list isn't meant to make anyone feel bad, especially since many members do some of these things without realizing that they are either #1- against mission rules, or #2- may make the missionary feel uncomfortable. Its just meant to be a list of suggestions of things that you may not have thought about that you can do to help the full-time Elders or Sisters you work with concentrate on their work and spend less time being distracted.
Here is the list that the blog "Mormon Insights" gives, along with my comments added in red font:
1. Don't pay a compliment to one missionary without also paying a compliment to his/her nearby companion. Sometimes one missionary is very charismatic or good-looking and tends to get more attention than his/her companion, so its good to be sensitive to this.
2. When missionaries are paying a visit to your home, try your best to keep the televisions, radios, and computers off. This is so distracting when you're trying to keep the mission rules to not watch TV/movies, etc at all during your missionary service. Imagine if you were trying to avoid sweets and you went to a friend's house who had 100 cupcakes sitting on the table.
3. If missionaries are available to be invited to dinner, keep the visit under an hour. Its hard to leave when members/investigators want you to stay, but missionaries are usually taught to keep visits under an hour and they may have another appointment to get to. Every minute you keep them from their work is a minute that they could be finding someone new to teach.
4. Don't ask missionaries about their girlfriends or boyfriends back home. I know you're curious, but for someone who is trying to concentrate on the work, having people constantly bring up boyfriends/girlfriends can be hard. Especially if that significant other has recently dumped you via letter or email (happens a lot!). Imagine having people constantly bring the subject up when you're just trying to forget it.
5. When conversing with a missionary, try to keep conversations centered on Church-related or service-related issues.
6. Always respect the companionships of missionaries. Do not ask a missionary how well he or she is getting along with the assigned companion. (The missionary leadership will handle that question). Also, if they aren't getting along as a companionship or the missionary really can't stand his/her companion, they probably won't say so anyhow, which puts them in the awkward position of having to pretend that everything is peachy when they'd rather not discuss it with you.
7. Do not ask missionaries how many baptisms they have had. The number of baptisms is not an index of success. This is really an okay thing to wonder about, since we may be curious about how the missionary work is going in our area and throughout the mission. However, there are better ways to find out than to ask "How many baptisms?", which puts the focus on numbers. Here are some other ways you can ask essentially the same thing: "Have you been finding success in the area? (or "How was the work going in your last area?") or "What have been some of your favorite experiences with investigators so far?"
8. Do not expect missionaries to stay in contact with you after they have left an area or even after they have finished their mission service. Some missions have rules about whether missionaries can stay in contact with members in their former areas during the remainder of their missions. It may seem silly, but missionaries do need to focus on serving the members/investigators in their new area, so even if contact is allowed its best to keep it limited.
9. Do not call upon missionaries in Sunday School to provide scriptural support for some obscure doctrine that has been raised in class. The authority of missionaries is in missionary work, not in settling doctrinal debates. Most of the time they know the basics (thats what they study and that's what they are sent to teach), so don't assume that they are doctrinal experts.
10. Do not ask a Sister or an Elder for their first name. The first name is Sister or Elder. Period. I discovered on my mission that a lot of members think its fun to call full-time missionaries by their first name, even if its just in the member's home. They may mean well, seeing themselves as a parent-figure and wanting the missionary to feel a little more normal, but remember that the full-time missionaries go by their title for a reason - it helps them (and us) remember that they are set apart for a sacred mission)
Sunday, January 22, 2012
We have been asked by our Stake to plan a Ward activity to go along with our Ward's upcoming "Invitation Sunday" (for more information on Invitation Sunday, see the section on this topic on the right side).
Based on the needs of our Ward, we wanted to come up with an activity that met a specific criteria. We want to have an activity that is casual and fun, so non-members can come to our Church building and get to know our Ward members in a positive atmosphere. We also want it to be an activity that our Ward members would be excited to attend and truly feel comfortable inviting their non-member friends/relatives to (without fearing a surprise sermon or missionary 'ambush').
The idea that we decided on is to have a Ward "Talent (and No-Talent)" Show. I have adapted this idea from a post about a 'No-Talent Show' Ward activity that I read about on The Idea Door website, here. We changed it to a Talent AND No-Talent show for our Ward because we thought we could get more participants if we offered a choice of performing conventional or non-conventional talents.
Here is the planning sheet that we used to plan the activity - it gives a good explanation of what the activity is about....
Ward Activity Planning Sheet
Activity: Ward “Talent (and No-Talent)” Show*
Plan: Ward members volunteer to perform a talent (a regular talent or non-conventional talents) during a Ward “Talent (and No-Talent)” Show (followed by refreshments)
Examples of talents: singing, dance, musical instruments, etc
Examples of non-conventional talents: nose-whistling, packing a suitcase in 30 seconds, spinning plates, or ripping a phone book in half, etc
Purpose: Provide a fun activity that ward-members will be able to invite non-member friends/relatives to attend
Benefits: A “Talent & No-Talent” show activity is a fun way to familiarize non-member visitors with ward members in a casual atmosphere. We should have participants from all age groups (primary, youth, & adults) performing talents or non-talents. Participants may feel more excited to invite non-member friends/relatives because they (or a relative) are performing. This is an activity that can be enjoyed by performers and audience of all ages.
Display tables: We can have several display tables in the cultural hall. Some of these will have displays of non-performance talent by Ward members (paintings, crafts, etc). There will also be display table(s) near the door with Church information & pamphlets about our basic beliefs, how to learn more, etc.
Refreshments: We will ask several people in the ward who are talented in cake-decorating to each bring 1-dozen decorated cupcakes.
Things that would need to be done to pull-off a “No-Talent Show”:
Recruiting the ‘talent/no-talent’ performers (sign-up sheets, email, phone calls)
Pre-screening acts to make sure they are Church-appropriate
Arranging for an emcee
Advertising (specifically that this is a great event to invite non-members to)
Arranging the program (order of acts)
Setting up chairs and microphone
Providing refreshments at the end of the talent show
Create display tables for non-performance crafts (scrapbooking, woodworking, art, etc)
Create display tables with info about attending church & our basic beliefs, how to learn more, etc
*The term “Talent (& No-Talent) Show” isn’t meant to be demeaning to anyone. We are encouraging all types of talents and don’t want to discourage people who aren’t traditional performers. There will be no judging, prizes, or labeling of who is a ‘talent’ or a ‘no-talent’
We have also come up with a handout that will be passed out at Church on Sunday with information for Ward members. This is meant to get the word out about the “Talent (& No-Talent) Show”and to (hopefully) encourage Ward members to sign up to perform. Here is the text from the handout:
(Name of Ward here) Ward
"Talent (& No-Talent)" Show
(Date and time here)
Do you have a talent to share? We’re looking for acts to perform in the Ward Talent (& No-Talent) Show. It doesn’t matter if you’re traditionally ‘talented’ or not…There won’t be any judging - this is just for fun!
We’re looking for Ward members of all ages to do:
Conventional talents (like singing, dancing, juggling, yo-yo tricks, etc)
Non-conventional talents (like nose-whistling, packing a suitcase in 30 seconds, spinning plates, or ripping a phone book in half, etc…)
Sign-up sheets will be passed in classes on Sundays. Not a performer? Please sign up anyhow- There will also be a display table for people who want to share their non-performance talents (like painting, woodworking, scrapbooking, sewing, etc).
Even if you don’t have a talent you’d like to share, please plan to come as an audience member and BRING A FRIEND! This activity is being organized by (insert names here), please contact us for more info (insert phone number here)
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
If your ward/Stake has upcoming Christmas-related events, make sure to advertise these activities especially to your new members and less-active members. In every ward I've been in, it has been very easy to get less-active (or inactive) members to come to an activity if its Christmas-related. I believe that this is because many people (even if they aren't actively attending Church) equate the holidays with Church attendance. Going to Church at Christmas-time may be something they grew up with, even if they didn't attend Church or Church-related activities any other time of the year.
At our Ward's most recent Christmas party, we saw many people who hadn't been to Church or a Church function in 6 months or more. And a several of them brought along their non-member relatives and friends. This is a great opportunity for us to reach out and fellowship these brothers and sisters, and their friends and relatives.
Be on the lookout, also, on Christmas Day (since it falls on Sunday this year), for those less-active or inactive members who may feel inspired to attend Church BECAUSE it is Christmas. What a special opportunity for them to feel the Spirit and remember why they joined the Church in the first place!
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Merry Christmas everyone! We came up with an idea to encourage our ward members to keep sharing the gospel this Christmas season. I am in contact with many of our ward members on facebook and through an email group, so I sent this email (below) out last week. It outlines our plan for using Joy to the World "Pass-Along Cards" in Christmas cards being sent to non-member friends or relatives:
"Ward members- This Christmas season, we have come up with an idea for inviting friends and relatives to learn more about our beliefs in a very easy way. Most of you are probably familiar with the Church’s “pass along cards” (small index-size cards with a picture on one side and Church info on the other side)...
Our idea is to offer the “Joy to the World” theme pass-along cards to any ward members who would like to include them in Christmas cards they will be sending to non-members (either local or in other areas). The card would easily fit inside any Christmas card. It has a picture of Mary and baby Jesus on the front, with the words, “Joy to the World”. On the back of the card, it says, “Bring the spirit of Christmas into your home with the story of the Saviour’s birth and His life, featuring music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir” (there is a picture of the FREE “Joy to the World” DVD that is being offered, and the 800 number to call).
Please note, when people call for the DVD they are asked if they would like to learn more about the gospel, but meeting with the full-time missionaries is not required and they are trained to be very polite.
Including a “pass-along” card in with a Christmas card is a simple, easy way to offer a church-related gift and a non-aggressive opportunity for them to learn about our beliefs if they wish. You never know - there may be people on your Christmas card list who may jump at the chance for a free DVD and may be very interested in learning more about our beliefs!
I have ordered 200 “Joy to the World” pass-along cards and they will be available soon for anyone who would like to include them in some of their Christmas cards. We are providing the pass-along cards to our ward members at no charge. If you have any questions or are interested in having some of these pass-along cards to send out, please let me know (and how many you would like).
PS- The free “Joy to the World” DVDs are meant as a missionary tool for non-members, so church members are asked not to call for free DVDs. The “Joy to the World” DVD is available to purchase for $1.50 from Church Distribution if you would like to buy a copy of the movie for yourself"
Many Christmas cards that would be sent by our ward members would probably be to members in other areas/missions, but thats okay. Sharing the gospel is always a good thing, even if we don't directly see the results in our own ward. Also, even being presented with this idea gets ward members thinking - who are their non-member friends and relatives and would they be receptive to something like this?
To order pass-along cards, go to the online store at www.lds.org. They are $2.00 for a pack of 100 cards (there is no charge for shipping). Please note, it may be too late for you to order 'pass-along cards', as many people are sending out their cards in early December. Another option would be to check with your Bishopric to see if your ward has a stockpile of pass-along cards somewhere that you could have. Or, your ward's full-time missionaries might have some of these cards as well. If you do order pass-along cards and they arrive late in the month, you can always encourage members to give them to people personally (or include them in gift-baskets, etc).
I personally prefer the Joy to the World cards to the other pass-along cards that are available (because they are Christmas-themed), but you could probably use any variety of pass-along card if the Joy to the World cards aren't available to you.
Merry Christmas everyone!!!