by Dan Erickson
While serving in Korea, one of my areas also covered an American military base. One day, one of our American members was reminiscing about his missionary experience, thinking back to how simple and easy it was to be a missionary. I went home confused and concerned because “simple” and “easy” were the furthest descriptor words I would use for what I was currently experiencing! I came to the realization that this generation of missionaries is experiencing a different culture of missionary work due to the influence of Preach My Gospel.
Prior to Preach My Gospel, missionaries would memorize discussions and approaches, and teach the gospel in a very scripted manner. Now the responsibility for tailoring the message of the gospel to each individual’s need falls completely on the missionary. With this shift in the approach to missionary work, the Lord has provided Preach My Gospel to be an extensive “users manual” to achieve success.
Imagine that you will soon embark on an expedition to find hidden treasure. There are two different approaches to this treasure expedition: 1) anxiously awaiting the trip, thinking about it a lot, but waiting until the day the expedition begins to actually look at the map, OR 2) knowing that the expedition will be exceedingly difficult, spending time well before the start of the trip studying the map, planning the best routes, and preparing and training for the difficult parts of the journey. Certainly the second approach will lead to a much more productive, happy, and successful expedition. Similarly, you prospective missionaries will be much more prepared for a happy and successful mission if you begin now to become a Preach My Gospel missionary.
Start at the beginning, and find in chapter 1 what exactly the purpose of your missionary service will be. You can begin applying the suggestions and principles for studying the gospel found in chapter 2. Even before you have your call, you can begin making lesson plans like those found in chapter 3, perhaps even tailoring your lesson to the needs of a friend. Use the tips and principles from chapter 10 when preparing to teach a Family Home Evening lesson or Home or Visiting Teaching lesson. Use chapter 5 to more thoroughly understand how to use The Book of Mormon in your teaching and in your life. Have you ever wondered how to identify the promptings of the Holy Ghost? You’ll find excellent answers in chapter 4. And you certainly don’t have to wait until you are a missionary to begin developing the Christlike attributes found in chapter 6.
If you begin studying Preach My Gospel and find that you are having difficulty understanding or relating to what is being taught in Preach My Gospel, remember that you have the luxury of nearly a decade of returned Preach My Gospel missionaries. Just ask one of them! In addition to helping you, it will give a chance to those you asked to share and remember their wonderful knowledge and experiences. Missionaries currently serving in your area can also be wonderful allies in your preparation to serve.
In addition to immersing yourself in Preach My Gospel, personal gospel study, regular church attendance, and making seminary priority will help prepare you for your missionary service. Being active in your local congregation will not only bless the lives of those you serve, but also help prepare you to serve in congregations wherever you are called to serve. Also, understanding the principles found in Preach My Gospel will be much more meaningful if built on a solid foundation of understanding the general principles of the gospel. Just as a rescuer can only save as much as he is already safe, surely we can only assist in the conversion of another only as much as we ourselves are converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is one thing to have an understanding of the principles of the gospel, but the aim of Seminary is not only to learn the principles, but more particularly to apply them in everyday situations. Similarly, as missionaries, the goal is never to just “teach a lesson,” the purpose is to teach principles in such a way that people will act. Your experiences in seminary will be valuable in your efforts to aid in the conversion process of others.
If your circumstances allow for time studying at a University prior to serving a mission, take advantage of the Church’s institute program. Like seminary, the purpose of institute is to help young adults live the principles of the gospel. Witnessing adults and peers living the gospel will allow you to testify with power that comes from personal experience about the blessings that come from living a converted life.
Preparing to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes a lot of focused effort. But any effort expended leads to great benefits in the mission field. Preach My Gospel has been compiled through revelation by inspired individuals under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It is Lord’s handbook for how His work is to be done. Working to become a Preach My Gospel missionary, whether before or during your missionary service, will help you truly serve in the most Christlike manner. Combined with your church service, personal study, and involvement in the seminary or institute program, you will find great strength as you strive to apply the principles and doctrines found in Preach My Gospel.
For more ideas on how to prepare for your mission, visit: