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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fellowshipping New Converts - 13 Easy Ideas That Any Member Can Use!

President Gordon B. Hinckley placed a heavy emphasis on convert retention for many years. He repeatedly taught that the involvement of ward members is vitally important to helping a converts remain active in the Church after baptism. Full-time missionaries come and go, but ward members (especially ward missionaries) are a constant that converts should be able to rely on for continuing encouragement, support, and friendship.

"I am hopeful that a great effort will go forward throughout the Church, throughout the world, to retain every convert who comes into the Church. This is serious business. There is no point in doing missionary work unless we hold on to the fruits of that effort. The two must be inseparable. You have people in your wards who can be friends to every convert. They can listen to them, guide them, answer their questions, and be there to help in all circumstances and in all conditions" (Gordon B. Hinckley, "Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionar Service," Ensign, Nov 1997)

We know that we should be doing something to help our new converts remain active, but what exactly are we supposed to do?

Imagine learning that a long-time friend from your high school (who you haven't seen in many years) will soon be moving into your town. Think of the ways that you might offer to help and how you could help make your friend's family feel welcome. What would you do for your friend? Help them move into their new house? Bring them dinner or treats? Maybe you could show them around town - take them to the school their children will be attending, tell them which grocery stores are best, or help them find the nearest branch of the bank they will use? Would you be willing to introduce them to people in the neighborhood or maybe host a "welcome" BBQ for them? Even after the initial move-in, you would probably continue to check on them from time to time, to see how they were handling unpacking and offering additional help, if needed. None of these things would seem out of the ordinary for one friend to do for another.

The same principles can be applied when member missionaries help new converts make their transition into active membership in the ward. Similar to the scenario of having a high school friend move into the area, we can help the new member get "settled" in their Church "home" by showing kindness, helping them learn the ropes, and introducing them to other members in the ward. Like any friend, we simply want to help them "get settled."

Here are 13 examples of low-stress ways that any member can help a convert feel welcome in the "Ward Family"
  • Attend convert baptisms and congratulate the new member(s)
  • Offer a ride to a Church activity
  • Ask them to help with planning a Church project or activity
  • Make sure that they know about upcoming ward/stake meetings & activities
  • Invite them over for dinner and/or Family Home Evening
  • Make sure they understand a unique term/concept that comes up in announcements or during a class (like "Girls Camp" or "Food Storage")
  • Learn the names of everyone in their family and greet them by name
  • If they miss Church, give them a call to see if everything is okay
  • Send them a birthday card
  • Contact the ward missionaries or full-time missionaries and ask if you can come with them when they have a "new member discussion"
  • Say hello to them at Church
  • Sit with them in class or at an activity
  • Take them a loaf of bread or cookies to say, "welcome to the ward"

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