Try filling in the blanks in the following quote using the words: MEMBER & MISSIONARY (I listed the words in alphabetical order so that you won’t try and do that “Princess Bride” thing where the guy tries to figure out which cup has the poison… No cheaters!).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, “Asking every member to be a ___________ is not nearly as crucial as asking every member to be a ___________.”
So, what do ya think? I know what we typically hear a lot, and that may be why you chose what you did. Or perhaps as you thought about it you realized what Elder Holland is really getting at. The easiest way to figure out the correct answer is to “do the math!”
What do I mean by, “do the math”? Well, what I mean is with roughly 66,000 missionaries serving currently (an increase of about 10,000 in the last year) and a world population of 7 Billion +, each missionary would have responsibility for ~106,000 people. Not very good odds.
Now if we use the same world population and use the members of the church (7,000,000,000/14,000,000) we get a ratio of ~5oo people for each member of the church to influence. Now those odds are pretty good!
When Junior, a young man in a small Florida branch, decided he didn’t want to be alone in his belief in Christ, he invited a friend. One friend joined, then another, and another….
You may be thinking that you are right on your guess now, but we are not done yet (well, we are with the math…). Here is Elder Holland’s quote in context:
“A young returned missionary sister from Hong Kong told me recently that when she and her companion asked an investigator if she believed in God, the woman replied, “I didn’t until I met a member of your church and observed how she lived.” What exemplary missionary work! Asking every member to be a missionary is not nearly as crucial as asking every member to be a member! Thank you for living the gospel.” (“‘Witnesses unto Me’,” Ensign, May 2001)
Now, why on earth would Elder Holland say that when it seems to contradict so much of what has been said in the past?
We know what it means to be a MEMBER MISSIONARY. “Member missionary” sounds great (and the challenge has been extended frequently by prophets of God), but one of the fundamental problems is the psychology behind the phraseology There is a lot of baggage and responsibility that comes with the word “missionary”. This can be very intimidating for members–especially those who never served a full-time mission. But if we ask every member to be a MEMBER, well, that doesn’t sound hard at all–no extra baggage, no added responsibility. We are just asking a member to do what they should already be doing.
So, what does it mean to be a MEMBER MEMBER. Well, Elder Holland said that one way we do it is by simply “living the gospel.” Perhaps one of the best places to look for information on how to be a MEMBER MEMBER that is “living the gospel” is to study Mosiah 18:7-11. Think about it, isn’t that exactly what Ammon did? He didn’t start out in typical “missionary mode”. What did he do? He did exactly what any member of the church could, and should do. He wasn’t able to be a MISSIONARY until he fulfilled his responsibility as a MEMBER first.
All of this is why I refer to Alma 17-19 as the M.T.C chapters. Not because it stands for Missionary Training Center in this case, but rather MEMBER TRAINING CHAPTERS. Ammon is the perfect model for how a good MEMBER MEMBER can make all the difference in the world by just “LIVING THE GOSPEL.” As you read Alma 19 you will be able to see the Ripple Effect of ONE MEMBER MEMBER easily affecting hundreds of other people.
You can do that, right? You can be a “lively member” of the church (see D&C 92:2) each and every day. You can influence the lives of many more that 500 people in a short matter of time by just living up to the covenants you made at baptism. You don’t need a badge on your shirt because you already wear His name on your heart! Think of what Ammon did in Alma 17-19, then liken it to your own station in life, and GO BE A MEMBER MEMBER!
A priest finds out his friend has been hospitalized with cancer. His testimony and Christlike example lead her to a knowledge of the truth.