The prophetic pronouncement lowering the age for missionary service, and the enthusiastic response of our young people, have many of us re-contemplating our role in sharing the gospel, pondering anew the story of the restoration, and asking ourselves how we might tell the story most effectively.
In the book Latter Days (written with the curious outsider firmly in mind), author Coke Newell tells “the story” in its entirety, covering both doctrine and history with a reporter’s clarity and a storyteller’s panache.
He begins . . .
He could have done something simple, like refuse to go to church or argue that the preacher was boring. After all, he was just a fourteen-year-old boy, and everyone would have understood . . . But no.
Drawn to the gospel in his late teens by doctrine that, among other things, preached “the biggest heaven and the littlest hell,” Brother Newell adds an Epilogue to the book in which he beautifully describes the “offering” which is missionary work.
Be lifted by more from Latter Days.
Institutionally, we are not about to try proving our faith to anyone. Instead, our approach is fairly basic, tending to serve both the erudite, the illiterate, and everyone else in between:
Teach the basic message.
Ask the person to pray about it.
From the perspective of both sides of the experience, even the best Latter-day Saint missionaries do not convert anyone. Their God does. Our God. Our Father whom we left so long ago. Only he can speak to that ancient, engraved code, the premortal identity, the DNA of deity.
Thus, we teach of families that can be forever, and whet appetites by showing families that work here and now. We teach a concept of salvation generous enough to find a place for Jews and Gentiles, babies and Buddhists, sinners and saints, preachers and practicers. We remind burdened, abandoned, disconsolate humans of who they are, where they’ve been, and where they can possibly go. And then we explain it in an entirely new light, a light that goes all the way back. All the way to the beginning.
We tell them God is really alive, that we are his children, that he loves us and wants us back. And then we back off and leave it up to the person to determine how badly he or she wants to know if what we’ve said is true.
More information about the book Latter Days.