I have been a member of the Mormon Church for 12 years and have a strong testimony of the gospel, but am terrified of sharing it with non-members. No one in my family is a member of the Church and the few times the subject has come up they get pretty hostile. I have also found that when I try to discuss the Church with other non-members I get flustered and end up sounding like I don’t know what I’m talking about. According to my Patriarchal blessing I’m of the tribe of Ephraim and have a responsibility to help spread the gospel, but when I try I fail miserably. People will ask me questions about things I just don’t know, or refuse to accept my answers when I do know. My attempts often end up in an argument, which of course just chases the Spirit away. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but it seems as if most people I have a chance to talk to either just don’t want to hear it or refuse to believe anything I say that contradicts what they’ve already heard. I’ve gotten to the point of being afraid to try, but then I feel guilty because I know the Lord wants us to at least try to share the gospel with others. Do you have any tips for me? I’m not looking to convert anyone, but I’d like to be able to at least plant the seed without it turning into an argument or making me look like I don’t know what I’m talking about.
Meredith, from Phoenix, Arizona
The gospel is shared much more effectively by our actions than by our words. If you demonstrate a happy, confident attitude and at the same time live a completely exemplary life, people will want to know what makes you so happy, and you will find it easy to answer their questions.
If your family members are hostile when you talk about the Church, don’t bring it up. As you know, a hostile atmosphere is not a teaching atmosphere. Again, your example may be the most effective teacher to family members.
When talking about the Church to non-members, the best approach may be in not trying to teach gospel principles, but by inviting those who are curious to meet with the missionaries either at your home or at their home with you present. And that invitation should come as a response to any statement or question about the Church. So, you don’t share the gospel by trying to give one of the missionary discussions, but by inviting others to listen to the missionaries, when interest is shown in the Church. There are, an addition, at least two positive things you could do to influence non-members to become more interested in the gospel. One, always have with you one or more Books of Mormon. You might start out by planning to give one Book of Mormon away each week. The approach that you would use in giving the books away would of course vary with the circumstance, but you could tell them how much the book means to you, and how it has influenced your life, or you might explain some things about the book to any friend that you would like to share it with. The other effective thing that you could do would be to pray for those that you would like to see receive the gospel. Prayer is a very effective tool to enlist the Father’s aid in your quest to “bring people unto Christ.”