Do you remember the Work of Salvation broadcast where Elder L. Tom Perry made the historic announcement that missionaries would be using Facebook, iPads, and other means to share the gospel? He also mentioned that missionaries would start doing chapel tours to help people learn about the Church. It’s a great way for ward mission leaders and full-time missionaries to give a personal tour or host a member missionary focused activity. But how do missionaries and members do this? Hopefully this article will help. To watch the video of Elder Perry, click here.
The church tour is a seriously underused tool to teach the gospel! But where do you start? Of course, you’re not just going to sit around the church all day and wait for people to show up. There are many ways to promote this. For one, you could use it as a street contacting conversation point, or even place signs and flyers in the surrounding area. For those investigators who live close to a chapel, you can invite them to visit the church building to learn more about our meetings. You can also start teaching lessons on a regular basis in the church building to help your investigators associate feeling the Spirit with going to church rather than just “feeling good” at home.
How do you set up the building for a tour if you’ve never done this before? When you do the tour, make sure to schedule it for a day when the church will be empty so there will be no distractions from the lesson. Be sure to check with the building coordinator and reserve the building for that night in advance just in case an auxiliary decides to throw a party at the last minute. Make sure to clean all rooms where you will tour and turn on the lights in the hallways.
There are a few key rooms in the church building that would be good to tour. Each of these rooms do not have to be used depending on the needs of your investigator, though each room can be used to teach key doctrines. As with everything missionaries teach, it is important to remember thatthe focus on the lesson is centered on Jesus Christ. The tour should take around the same time as a regular lesson. A good tour lasts around 30 minutes but no longer than 45 minutes.
1) Relief Society Room
In many Relief society rooms, there are pictures of temples and other framed documents like “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” that you can focus on. Here you can briefly talk about the importance of the family and the covenants that can be made as families and individuals in temples. If your investigator brings up controversial topics such as women and the priesthood, you could address the importance of women in the Church in leadership positions and also as faithful and devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
2) Primary Room
If your investigator does not have children you may want to skip this room while still comment on it in passing. You can also use the room to teach a principle of your lesson or to ask and answer questions.
From experience I would suggest to use this room regardless of whether or not your investigator has children or is a child. If you do want to use this room in the tour, you could take a few different approaches. Most Primary rooms have a picture of the Savior with little children. You may want to explain that we are all children of God and how He loves each one of us because He is our Father. For another example, you may also want to use Mosiah 3:19 or Matthew 18:3 to explain that unless we become as little children we cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
If your investigators are coming to church but their children are not, it would be a great idea to encourage them to bring their children to Primary class so their children can form friendships with children in the ward and also to help their children learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
3) Sunday School Room
Of course, you don’t want your investigators to just go to sacrament meeting then leave. You want them to feel the Spirit more, to learn, and to create friendships through attending their other classes. For those who are not attending these meetings, this is a great room to visit. Locate the room where Gospel Principles is held and direct them there. Focus on explaining why we go to classes rather than just telling them to go because it’s a good idea.
When asked what the most important thing is that missionaries could teach, one general authority once said, “Teach the Atonement. Teach the Atonement. Teach the Atonement!” The Spirit always testifies to the truthfulness and divinity of Christ’s Atonement when the environment is right. As Preach My Gospel says in Chapter 11, Keeping Commitments, “When you testify, you help create an environment for investigators to feel the Holy Ghost confirming your witness of the truth. This prepares them to accept the commitments you will extend.” The chapel is the perfect place to teach with power and authority.
The best way to do this is to reverently enter the chapel and lead your investigators to the sacrament table. If you already have the sacrament table set up when you walk in, it will have a powerful effect during teaching. Teach about the Atonement briefly and ask your investigators if they would like to have that in their lives. Then teach them about the covenants they make at baptism, reading the sacrament prayers from Moroni 4-5 or other sources. Teach them about the sacrament and how it is the way we renew those covenants and feel the love of Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father each and every week.
At some point during this part of the tour, this is when you want to invite your investigators to make a commitment. You could invite them to be baptized, or for less active members, to come to church to take the sacrament.
After the tour is over, walk your investigators to the exit, thank them for giving you the opportunity to do a tour, ask if you can schedule another lesson, then end with a prayer. This is a good transition to end the lesson.
These places can be used to teach certain points of doctrine, but are not essential to the tour.
1) Baptismal Font
If the person you are teaching is not baptized, you may want to go to this room during the tour as the Spirit directs. It is best to do go here near the end of the tour but before the chapel.
What should you teach here if the sacrament table is the highlight of the tour? You could explain what baptism is and what it does for us using John 3:5, but reserve the explanation of the covenants until you are explainingthe sacrament. The baptismal covenant is best to be explained while talking about the sacrament in the chapel because the Spirit is the strongest there. You may want to make reference to the Atonement and then head to the chapel to explain it in more detail. Focus on the importance on the sacrament and that baptism is the way to fully access the blessings of the Atonement.
2) Young Women room
This room isn’t necessary for a good tour, however if you are teaching a youth age investigator, this room is definitely worth a visit. But why the Young Women room specifically? It is usually decorated more than the room where the Young Men do their meetings, and it is a great place to explain some of the non-Sunday activities. You may give examples of some activities take place to excite your investigator to come.
3) Cultural Hall
If your investigators are into activities, you could invite them to play church basketball or participate in other activities. You could also use this room to set up props or pictures on easels to help you teach, though it would be best to keep most of the teaching to the other rooms.
4) Bishop’s office
If you would like to teach your investigators about tithing, you could take them to thebishop’s office and show them how to fill out a tithing slip. This is best done another time than the chapel tour as not to detract from the message taught. It can also be done after sacrament meeting, and is a great way to introduce them to the bishop.