Clayton Christensen hopes 'The Power of Everyday Missionaries' spurs discussion about member missionary work

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 26 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

“Third, people only learn when they’re ready to learn, not when we are ready to teach them. The insight there is we need to know the questions on their mind that they’ve not been able to get good answers to, and that then helps you determine what they are interested in. Then you can help them answer their own question.”

In the second part of the book, Christensen describes various ways to help investigators progress toward baptism and a life of committed membership.

“When an investigator stops making progress, sometimes they are not interested in what they are learning, but most of the time they drop out because they don’t know how to progress,” he said. “It’s an odd thing, but very true.”

Christensen has observed many investigators struggle because they don’t understand how to pray, study the scriptures for answers, or they don’t grasp how to keep the sabbath day holy.

“We assume people know how to do these things,” Christensen said.

Oscar Pike recently served as president of the California Arcadia Mission and is a faculty member at BYU. He recently considered some of Christensen’s member missionary ideas and gave a positive review. He especially liked the title.

“I like the phrase ‘everyday missionaries,’” Pike said. “Effective member missionaries see sharing the gospel as part of who they are, a natural extension of their everyday lives.”

Larry and Lisa Laycock returned from presiding over the Chile Santiago East Mission last July. Larry Laycock also endorsed several of Christensen’s ideas and even added a few suggestions from his own experience.

“Everyone can share a story or experience about how the gospel has blessed their life. If you carry that in your heart, and are willing to share it, people will naturally be drawn to the gospel message because it’s filled with joy,” Laycock said. “Of course, the best missionary work is a living example and being happy, showing the gospel really does exist within us.”

At one point in the book, Christensen talks about using the Internet as a missionary tool. Laycock illustrated the truth of that concept by relating how his wife kept a blog during their mission, and when an 8.8-magnitude earthquake rattled the country, she typed an email to family and close friends that described their remarkable experiences and how the Lord protected their missionaries. Before long, the email had zipped around the world and was published in the LDS Church News.

“Information can go viral,” Laycock said. “We need to be careful. Everything we say should accurately reflect what the brethren and scriptures teach us.”

A few people have already seen the book and experimented with the ideas, Christensen said, and they have found success in sharing the gospel, which makes him happy.

Ultimately, Christensen hopes the ideas in the book are shared and discussed by member missionaries. He doesn’t claim to have all the answers — he just wants to get people talking. Readers are invited visit the book’s website, www.everydaymissionaries.org, to share their thoughts, ideas, impressions and experiences.

“I think this is one reason why the Lord invented the Internet — so members can teach one another how to succeed in assignments the Lord has given us, and to give us opportunities to inspire and bear testimony in a horizontal way,” Christensen said. “Hopefully, little by little, the book can become a mechanism by which the members of the church teach themselves and each other how to be great missionaries.”

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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