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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Should I keep calling?

We have several new members (who haven't completed their new member lessons within their first year of membership) who hadn't been returning our calls for 2 or 3 months. I finally decided to stop calling these people for a while. This was partly because it wasn't getting anywhere, and partly because I suspected that if I kept calling them (when they clearly didn't want to talk to me) they would get increasing annoyed with me and/or the Church. I did continue to send them our monthly new member newsletter, I just stopped calling to try to set up appointments to visit them for a while.

Its now been several months since I stopped calling these particular people, so I felt like it was an appropriate time to take some sort of action. After prayerfully considering each person and their circumstances, I called some of the people. I had to leave voice messages, so I simply said that I wanted to speak with them about something and did not mention the new member lessons at all.

I was happy to get a return phone call today, and I sincerely apologized that I had not been in contact lately. I explained that there was a reason I had stopped calling (I explained that it was because I hadn't heard back from them in a long time, so I felt like maybe I was being a bother). I said that I didn't want them to think that I didn't care or that I'd forgotten them, because I care about them a lot. It was well received and went very well overall.

For those people who I didn't feel like I should call, I am going to send out a short letter. I got the idea from this from a sales article I happened to read recently. The article was about how to "make sales" even when people aren't returning your phone calls. The basic idea was to send a letter with a note that the person can return to you to let you know their intentions. Here is my version, which is specific to this circumstance:

Hello, just a quick note - If you're wondering why I haven't called you lately, to be honest, its because I'd been leaving voice messages for several weeks, but I wasn't getting any response. I started to worry that maybe I was being a pest. I didn't want to come across as pushy if you were too busy, or just not interested in meeting.

I didn't want you to think that I don't care or that I don't want to meet with you. Exactly the opposite, I care about you a lot and would be really happy to be able to teach you your remaining new member lessons.

I'm just not sure what the situation is if I don't hear from you, so I'm hesitant to keep calling. I've included a sheet that you can fill out and send back to me in a stamped envelope (also included). I know you're busy, so I was thinking that this might be an easy way for you to let me know whether or not you'd like to have the rest of your new member lessons at this time. If you'd rather just call or message me on facebook instead, thats fine, too. I hope you can get back to me- I just don't want to make you feel uncomfortable or annoyed if there is any reason you don't want me to call...


(and here is the note I will include)

To help me understand if you would like me to continue to try to contact you at this time or not, please check the box that best fits your situation:

o I'm swamped right now! Try to call me again after a couple of weeks.

o Don't quit trying. I do want to meet with you, I'm just hard to get a hold of.

o I'm have family/personal issues that are preventing me from meeting with you at my home, but I would like to meet with you at a different home or at another place like a restaurant.

o Don't call me, I've got personal reasons why I can't meet with you right now, but I'll call you soon when I am able to meet.

o I'm not interested in having the rest of my new member lessons at this time, please don't contact me for a while.

Return this sheet to me in the envelope provided (or, if you prefer, you can just call me at ___-___-____)

Thanks so much,

You may notice that I left out more negative choices (such as "I hate you, never call me again," or "Take my name off your Church records"). I tried to keep it positive and encourage the best possible response. Even if a person chooses the "I'm not interested in having the rest of my new member lessons at this time, please don't contact me for a while" option, I've still tried to word it in a positive way and I've left it open so that I can still contact them again "in a while." Of course, they might write in their own option, or just not respond at all, but at this point I would rather know something than just keep wondering where they stand.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teaching ward members to be member missionaries

As outlined in the new handbook, one of the responsibilities of ward missionaries is to teach the members of the ward to do member missionary work. One way we do this is by example, but I've been feeling lately that example isn't enough. We need to teach and encourage them as well. We've been talking about how specifically to do that, and we've mostly come up with a lot of things we don't want to do or aren't able to do at this time.

Our full-time missionaries need people to teach, and all of our ward convert baptisms over the past 2 years have been the result of tracting or baptisms from part-member families. NO regular member referrals. We need to work on that, and I'm sure most wards have similar needs.

The handbook mentions visiting the home of members to encourage them, so I've been thinking a lot about how we can do that and what we would say when we got there.

Here is what I came up with last night. I haven't had our ward mission leader (my husband, currently at work) approve this yet, but this was the idea I had and some of you might find it helpful, even if we don't end up using it.

I want to add that many people find it useful to use the 'set a date' program, and that is definitely something that has been popular and used frequently for many years. I personally prefer to avoid that program, or at the very least using the term "set a date program" because I feel that when people hear that phrase they instantly start thinking up excuses why they can't or won't "set a date" to have someone prepared to be baptized. Personally, as soon as I hear the words "set a..." coming out of someone's mouth, I immediately think, "Oh no, here we go again". I realize that this is probably not the best attitude to have, but I have heard it so many times and I personally have never seen anything come of it over the years, as a member or a full-time missionary. I have always found being naturally gospel-sharing to be more effective than a program. Programs like this always seem to be forced and number-focused, and that feels very unnatural to me. That said, if I am asked by a leader to "set a date,:" I do, but it is definitely not my preferred method and it isn't what I prefer to teach others to do, if I have my choice. That is my personal opinion.
But I digress...

I would like to visit the homes of 10 ward members (prayerfully selected) before the end of the month and challenge them to do at least 1 minute of member missionary work during the following month. I've created a handout that explains what we are asking, and lists 5 simple ideas for things that they can do to help with new convert retention and missionary work. I've purposely selected 5 things that require very little time or effort and are fairly "non-scary" to most (some are 'easier' than others). I've also included the approximate time-commitment required, sort of tongue-in-cheek because people always say they "don't have time" to do missionary work. Here is the handout:

If every member of our ward spends just

1 minute on missionary work this month, it will go a long way toward helping

new converts stay active and finding new people for the full-time missionaries to teach!

Will YOU commit to help? Here are some great ideas of simple (& non-scary)

things you can do that require no more than

1 extra minute of your time...

__ As you do your visiting teaching/home teaching visits this month, make a special effort to befriend any less-active or new-convert members on your route. Extra time commitment required: 0 (you're already going to visit teach/home teach anyhow!)

__ Introduce yourself to at least one new visitor, investigator, or new convert at church (or at an activity) every week. Bonus awesomeness points for sitting with them! Extra time commitment required: 1 minute per week

__ Invite a new convert (and their family, if applicable) over for a family dinner or family home evening this month. Extra time commitment required: less than 1 minute to invite (you're already having dinner or FHE anyhow!)

__ Invite a non-member (friend or relative) to the next church activity that they would be interested in. Extra time commitment required: less than 1 minute to invite (you're already going to the activity anyhow!)

__ Invite a non-member (friend or relative) to your home for a special family home evening with the full-time missionaries. Explain that as part of your family night, the Elders will be teaching everyone a short gospel lesson (please give the full-time missionaries plenty of notice so that they can prepare and arrange their schedule). Extra time commitment required: less than 1 minute to invite (you're already having FHE anyhow!)

If you can commit to doing at least one of these simple actions this month, post this sheet where you will see it as a reminder!

If you need contact info for a new convert, or if we can help you in any way,

please give us a call-

(insert names and phone numbers of ward mission leader and/or ward-missionaries here)

You may have noticed that I didn't ask people to give away a Book of Mormon or a pass-along card, engage in a gospel conversation, invite a friend to Church, etc. These are the usual things that we would normally ask ward members to do, but they are also much more intimidating. I wanted to start by asking people to commit to do things that they would actually feel comfortable doing, and therefore more likely to actually DO. Once they start having their own positive missionary experiences, they will be more likely to want to do more in the future. You have to start somewhere!