HOW TO USE THIS BLOG: Since this blog covers various Ward Mission subjects, I've made it easier to find exactly what you're looking for by grouping posts together by topic. On the right side of this page (above the photo of the shaking hands), you'll find the list of topics you can click on to find the information you're looking for

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Did you have a comment?

I am so thrilled that this humble little blog has received over 3,200 page views, and has 17 followers! A little while ago, I was pondering how strange it is that I have written over 50 posts, but have never received one comment from a follower or guest viewer. Hmmmmm....could it be that no one is ABLE to comment when I have comments blocked in the blog settings?!?!?

I sincerely apologize if you have wanted to comment in the past and haven't been able to do so - all of this time I didn't realize that comments were not being allowed. I have corrected the settings and comments are now allowed on all of my blog posts. I also welcome your suggestions on any blog post topics that you'd like to see, questions that you may have, and any ward-missionary/member-missionary ideas that you'd like to share. If you're on Facebook, you can also comment or ask questions on the "Awesome ward missionaries" fan page!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Full-time Missionary Etiquette for Members

I came across a blog post called, Ten Little Points of Missionary Etiquette on the 'Mormon Insights' blog...This is a list of suggestions of things that we as members can do (or not do) to avoid unknowingly putting the full-time missionaries in awkward situations. For example, most people know that missionaries are required to keep "arm's-length" distance from people of the opposite sex, but many members don't feel like that counts if they're much older or if the missionary is about to be transferrd - especially if they've worked closely with the missionary. Really, the rules apply to everyone...this prevents Elders and Sisters from needing to make constant judgement calls about who its ok to hug and who its not.

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 this 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 on the day you're getting transferred.

This list isn't meant to make anyone feel bad, as 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)

Invitation Sunday - New Ideas

Our Stake has "Invitation Sunday" (sometimes called "Missionary Sunday") once or twice a year, and the next one is coming up in March. This is meant to be a special opportunity for ward members to invite their nonmember friends/relatives to Church on a Sunday that is specially geared toward visitors. We provide invitations for ward members to give to their friends (see other posts in the "Invitation Sunday" category, at right, for invitation ideas). This is organized by the Stake and Bishopric. Normally we have Sacrament speakers (usually ward missionaries and full-time missionaries) who are assigned to give talks on gospel basics, and sometimes a special missionary presentation is planned for Sunday School as well.

Today in our ward mission correlation meeting we discussed some ways that we might be better able to help our members to invite their friends this year. If your ward has "Invitation Sundays" these are some suggestions that may help you. Even if you don't have a specific Sunday geared toward inviting non-members, its important to help encourage members to invite their friends whenever appropriate, and some of these ideas (or the principles behind them) could work any week of the year!

Here are some of the ideas we came up with:
  • Incorporate explaining how to invite friends/relatives to church into the new-member discussions (Newer members may not be sure how to approach their friends, and they are a great source of non-member friends/relatives...).
  • If you have new members who have already completed the new-member discussions, consider having the ward missionaries or full-time missionaries make a special visit to these members for a special lesson on how to invite friends/relatives to church.
  • Make sure to include the youth and primary children, provide invitations to them as well.
  • Advertise the "Invitation Sunday" well in advance of the planned event. Submit information for bulletins, newsletters, or programs that are appropriate in your Ward. You may also consider having it announced in Relief Society and Priesthood meetings, Primary, Young Womens meetings, and maybe even Sacrament meeting (if approved by your Bishop). Posters on display tables and/or bulletin boards may also be appropriate.
  • Now available through the LDS online store (on the official Church website, are "I'm a Mormon" cards. These have a space for a personal message and/or a printed label sticker (for if you want to pre-print the address and date/meeting time). Look for this item in the Ward Mission section, in the "Whats New" section, or search for "I'm a Mormon" in the online store's search box. These come in a box of 500 (10 styles) for $10.00 (free shipping). See photo, below. For other ideas on invitations, see my other posts in the "Invitation Sunday" category, at right)