Matthew Reier, IRI
The missionary purpose is “to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end” (Preach My Gospel, p. 1).
Speaking June 22 during the 2014 Seminar for New Mission Presidents, Elder David F. Evans told new mission leaders, “In the Church today, missionaries, working with members, labor for the salvation of the souls of men both before and after baptism. Today, we work with members in member missionary work. We work to retain new members and reactivate less-active members. We work to connect temple and family history work to our efforts in finding, retaining, reactivating and enduring. And we labor diligently to increase our ability to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ in a manner that can be understood in the hearts of those we teach.”
Elder Evans, a member of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Missionary Department, spoke about baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.
“Baptism is the gate by which one enters the Church, but it is not the end,” he said.
He spoke of helping new and returning members to retain and deepen their faith and keep living the gospel so that they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and the remission of their sins.
“Our entire labor is to help our Father’s children return safely to Him as sealed eternal families. As the Lord’s missionaries, we must feel the same urgency to help retain new converts and reactivate those who have fallen away as we do to bring into the waters of baptism those who have never had the gospel. ... .
He spoke of President Monson's announcement during the October 2012 general conference that the missionary age would be lowered to 18 for qualified young men and 19 for young women who have a desire to serve. On the day of the announcement, Elder Evans said, there were 58,500 missionaries. Today, there are nearly 86,000 missionaries, and the numbers continue to grow. “Because of President Monson’s announcement, the Church has fundamentally changed, and as far as we can see, there will always be more missionaries than there were before the age change. Last year at this time, 58 new missions were created. These missions were not created to handle the surge of missionaries. Rather, they were created to handle the number of missionaries who would be serving after the initial wave of missionaries comes home.”
He said that members and missionaries must labor together in the Lord’s work.
He noted that the Lord’s Church is governed through councils at every level. “Full expression from all participants is invited in council settings, unifying the efforts of both male and female council members, and that a new leadership calling has been established in missions. "This calling is the ‘sister training leader.’ They serve as a vital part of mission leadership, and they are members of and participate in the mission leadership council. Presidents, as you hold these monthly council meetings, please ensure that your wife, assistants to the president, zone leaders, and sister training leaders all participate, and that the contribution of each is valued and recognized.”
Elder Evans spoke of the increasing use of technology and digital devices to help missionaries in their work.
“As we move forward into the digital age, we must remember that our message of the Savior, the Restoration, the Book of Mormon and living prophets remains the same. We will have some new tools to be used to further His work, but we must always remember that traditional proselyting methods should not be set aside, but should continue to be a key part of missionary work."