Vancouver Mission Star

This message was written by President and Sister Middleton.  It also appears in the Vancouver Star, the weekly newsletter of the Vancouver Mission.  It is sent to each companionship throughout the mission.

Canada Vancouver Mission Newsletter                                                                                                          February 27, 2005


          More and more as we see what is effective in missionary work and what is not, we realize that member referrals are infinitely more effective than any other finding method. In regard to tracting, which has been the main finding tool used by our missionaries over the last 3 decades, we would share the following observations with you:

Tracting is Relatively Ineffective, by Elder Joshua R. Haren

          “I have done much tracting in my almost 20 months as a missionary here in British Columbia. In fact for almost 8 months straight that is all that we did, all day every day. One day a few weeks ago I figured that I had knocked on close to 10,000 doors and had never seen anyone I found through tracting come remotely near baptism. You could say that my experience ruins the mathematics world wide where 1 of every 1,000 people contacted through tracting are baptized. One of the saddest things about that 8 month stretch was that for half of it I had companions who had so much faith in tracting, and they seemed shaken after so little success.

          Well, there you have it, the story of the 10,000 doors and zero baptisms.”

           Elder Haren’s observation has been made by many others as we have done inquiries of our missionaries. At a recent Zone Conference we were sitting at a table with 8 full time missionaries all of whom had  been out for  over 1 year. Someone asked for a show of hands of how many of the missionaries had seen a baptism as a result of tracting. Out of the 8 missionaries present, only 1 had seen a baptism through tracting. The observation of Elder Haren, made above, where he notes that he has knocked on 10,000 doors and has yet to see a baptism from tracting, is fairly typical of the story we hear from many other missionaries. Elder Haren underlines the inescapable fact that member referrals are critical to missionary success in British Columbia.  We urge all missionaries to tract or  “GQ” if a period of time can’t be filled with a member referral, but do try to fill each day with the teaching of non-member acquaintances of members.

Vancouver Stake Challenge – Four Referrals per Year for Every Member!

          We were privileged to attend the Vancouver Stake Conference on Easter weekend and were thrilled to learn of President Thomas Walker’s challenge to all of his stake members to bring 4 non-member acquaintances per year to the Church for a Tour or other Church activity! In essence the Vancouver Stake Mission Plan calls for a Set-A-Date covenant by every member to find and bring an acquaintance every 3 months. That goal is lofty, but is low compared to what Sister Ma of the Wa Yan Chinese Ward of the Vancouver Stake has been doing for the past 10 years – bringing a non-member acquaintance to Church every 3 weeks, on average. Once all active members in the Vancouver Stake achieve their goal of 1 referral every 3 months, and assuming that 1 in 7 goes on to baptism, the Vancouver Stake will welcome 234 baptisms per year!! Now 6 of our 7 stakes have established a non-member referral goal for every member for 3 or more referrals per year.

The Key to Members Becoming Missionaries – a Dynamic, Inviting Mission Plan

          We have urged each local leader to be sure that their ward or branch Mission Plan has the following characteristics:

1.        It should be simple and short. A lengthy or complex plan will be viewed by all the members except the one or ones who wrote it as overwhelming, and will not inspire the members to do the missionary referrals that are needed.

2.        The Plan must involve every member of the ward or branch.

3.        The Plan should have measurable goals for each member as well as for the ward or branch.

          It is appropriate for our missionaries to give input to the Mission Plan, if they’re asked. However, the Plan must be written by ward or branch members who meet in the Ward Council (or stake or district leaders), as is strongly urged in PMG.  The other feature that we feel should be part of every Mission Plan is that it should be a living document, and should be reviewed quarterly or as often as needed by all of the ward or branch leadership in Ward Council to be sure that it truly meets the needs and demands of the ward or branch. It should also urge somewhat lofty but very achievable objectives and goals for each member.

Teaching Each Member How to be a Missionary Takes Time

          Making each member a contributing member missionary will take time. For most members asking as many acquaintances as it will take to have 1 return on a Tour or other Church activity seems frightening and formidable. As leaders we must step boldly forward with enthusiasm that never slackens, to show through our example and instruction that it is not only doable but will bring great personal satisfaction. Share often the observation of our Lord Jesus Christ, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D & C 18: 15-16). Gently, lovingly, patiently and repeatedly teach members how to invite their non-member acquaintances. Most importantly help each member to develop realistic expectations – it might require that they ask 6, 8 or even 10 people before 1 joins them on a Tour or attends a Church activity with them; while 1 of every 7 who goes on a Tour becomes baptized, 6 of 7 do not; and when bringing 3 investigators per year on a Tour it might take over 2 years before a given member sees 1 of his or her referrals go on to baptism. Each member must be taught clearly what to expect, and perhaps having them attend a short class regarding member missionary techniques and expectations, as is being done by Bishop McLean in the Burnaby Ward and in several other wards and branches in British Columbia,  might be the best way to teach members how to accomplish their earthly missionary obligations. As we full-time missionaries find our days being filled more and more with the teaching of those referred by members, our growth in British Columbia will accelerate beyond our wildest dreams.

          May the Lord bless us as we proclaim His Gospel, we pray. We love each of you.


--President and Sister Middleton

Remember our mission goal:  10 Gospel contacts per day per missionary outside our usual finding and teaching duties. That includes a Gospel message to everyone you see.

“For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory.”  D & C 58: 4

We are praying for at least one baptism per companionship per transfer – more than one if you and your ward or branch is filled with faith.  Set your baptismal goal prayerfully as a companionship, a goal that will stretch your faith and missionary abilities.


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