Wednesday, 12 November 2014

What is a Missionary?

Merriam-Webster defines being a missionary as follows:
“1mis·sion·ary noun \ˈmi-shə-ˌner-ē\
: a person who is sent to a foreign country to do religious work (such as to convince people to join a religion or to help people who are sick, poor, etc.)”

I find this answer somewhat curious. Even in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, people think that the missionaries are the people who go from door-to-door, finding people to preach to, teaching them, and baptising them. Yes, it does fulfil a role, but this (predominantly) is the role of a Full-time Missionary.

Let’s get nit-picky with words and their definitions. A Full-time Missionary is someone who spends his/her time teaching the Gospel, exclusively. Usually, they are sent to a foreign country, but sometimes not. These are the people who go knocking on doors, handing out Scriptures, teach the Gospel, and encourage baptism. This is what most people see when they think of missionary work.

A famous Baptist preacher said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”

How does this influence our understanding of what a missionary is? Does this mean that it is every Christian’s responsibility to spread the word of God? Does this mean that every Christian needs to go on a mission “to a foreign country to do religious work”?

Let’s consider 1 Peter 3:15 (KJV):
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

A Church publication, True to the Faith, states:
“Missionary work includes helping and supporting those who join the Church.”

So what does this mean? It means we need to be ready to answer for our beliefs at all time; our testimony needs to be intact. It means that we spread the Gospel most effectively when sharing our testimonies with others. We become missionaries by so doing, and helping those who join the Church. So, no, we don’t need to go on a mission “to a foreign country to do religious work” to be a missionary. We can do this at home. In fact, we should be doing this at home.

Joseph Smith once said, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.”

The Church has been continuously reminded, “Every member a missionary.”

“The Lord's Church has always been a missionary church.”

I mean, it’s the first promise we make as we enter into the waters of baptism; to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. We, therefore, are all missionaries – if we hold true to our covenants… if we truly love Jesus Christ.

In the Church there are various missionary titles, all working towards the same common goal – to build the Kingdom of God. We have the Full-time Missionaries (who serve for 18 to 24 months where service is actually key), as previously mention, but we also have Member Missionaries. What are Member Missionaries? This is everyone who has been baptised and confirmed as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our duty is make friends, look after, look out for, share with and teach. We assist the missionaries as best as we can and share our testimonies with our friends. We do Family History and then go to the Temple to do work for our dead. We visit the sick, the poor, and the orphans. We teach our children and live as righteous examples for others to follow. We keep the commandments. And this makes us missionaries, even Member Missionaries.

In addition to the Church’s Full-time Missionary program is the Church-Service Missionary program. This is a part-time effort for a period of 6 to 24 months wherein assistance is given to many Church departments and operations such as media, employment, mission offices, addiction recovery, family history, and much much more. This requires more work to assisting secular and spiritual wellbeing.

Then we have Ward Missionaries. They do what Member Missionaries should be doing, prepare investigators for the missionaries, assist missionaries when requested with service, tracting and teaching, encourage members to seek out missionary opportunities, and fellowship. They’re basically ragdolls for the Ward Mission Leader, Full-time Missionaries, Bishop and Ward in general. Act under directions and forgo requests.

This brings you to me. I am a Member Missionary and a Ward Missionary. I, personally, don’t see the difference, as I continued doing the exact same thing when I was called and set apart… except maybe a few extra meetings. But hey, I love it. I get to spend time with missionaries and members, teach new people, live some of the missionary life at home, and do the Lord’s work. I am grateful to have been chosen, even if I’m the only Ward Missionary doing anything.

I will always remember the times out with Elder Tew, Elder Mukurati, Elder Day, Elder Carpenter, Elder Pulley, Elder Mead, Elder McAllister, Elder Harmaans, Elder McNeish, Elder Melese, Elder Martin, Elder Broadhead, and all the other missionaries whose names I’ve forgotten; I remember the lessons, I remember the discussions.

It is my testimony that the Lord expects us to live His Gospel and share His message. It is my testimony that we are all missionaries, and oh what joy that brings. Our Heavenly Father loves us all and, if we love Him, why not share His message and do His work? This Gospel brings us such joy, so it is only natural that we are willing to share it with all those around us.

If you are ever Iinterested in meeting with missionaries, you can visit There you are able to find missionaries near you and uncover answers to questions you may have.

Merriam-Webster, 2014. missionary. [Online] Available at:, n.d. A Missionary Church. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 12 November 2014].

2011. Chapter 28: Missionary Service: A Holy Calling, a Glorious Work. In: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, p. 327.

Spurgeon, C. H., 1873. A Sermon and a Reminiscence. s.l., Sword and Trowel.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2004. True to the Faith. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

No comments:

Post a Comment