While the Lord expects each young person to do his or her own part to prepare spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially for missionary service, preparing missionaries should also be a high priority for parents and Church leaders. Parents should give special attention to helping their boys prepare to serve a full-time mission. Bishops, youth leaders, and other Church members also have an important role in helping young men and women qualify for missionary service.
The following 10 tips will help give guidance to parents and Church leaders in preparing missionaries:
- Desire: Work with young men beginning at an early age to help them develop the desire to serve a mission. One of the best ways to do this is to help them gain a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Hearing mission stories, from your own life or the experiences of others, is another powerful way to bring the spirit of missionary work. See one of my many article on motivating missionaries or check out my presentation on Gaining a Desire to Serve a Mission.
- Worthiness: Help young men and women to always remain worthy to serve a mission. Help them to know the commandments and be committed to obeying them, and pay particular attention to the law of chastity. Also help them know that the Lord is very willing to forgive when we make mistakes, and help them to understand the repentance process.
- Expectations: Teach young people what will be expected of them when they serve missions. Teach them about the mission rules and the schedule missionaries keep. Teach them about mission life and help them understand the missionary guidelines regarding personal conduct, language, dress and grooming, media, and communications to family and friends.
- Purpose: Help future missionaries to understand the doctrinal basis of missionary work and what their purpose will be as missionaries. That purpose is to: “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
- Seminary: Encourage youth to attend seminary. Seminary is available in just about every corner of the globe and will teach our youth important basic doctrines of the restored gospel and help them develop their testimony of the Savior.
- Leaders: If you are a bishop or stake president, the handbook encourages your to call youth leaders who love missionary work and will help the youth learn to love it as well. It also says to invite returned missionaries to speak about missionary work often in sacrament meetings and on other occasions.
- Service and Teaching: Provide opportunities for prospective missionaries to serve others, including serving in Church callings. Young men should serve as home teachers. The new youth curriculum also gives young men and women many opportunities to teach which will help them become better missionaries.
- Mission Prep Class: If possible, have the youth take a missionary preparation class. Most wards and stakes offer this class, and it is also taught in Institute. The main source material for the mission prep class is the scriptures, the Missionary Handbook, and Preach My Gospel. Young men and women should study these materials thoroughly as they prepare for their missions.
- Scriptures: A large part of mission preparation includes studying the gospel and gaining a personal testimony. Young people should read the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great price, and especially the Book of Mormon and have a testimony that these books contain the revealed word of God.
- Share: Encourage young people to share the gospel with their friends and family. As they open their mouth, share the gospel, and become missionaries in their everyday life, they will be blessed and see how the gospel blesses others. As you brainstorm about ways of sharing the gospel, ask them to consider their missionary DNA, and the things that they have a natural inclination to do. You may be surprised at the creative ways you can share the gospel in your unique, authentic style. As they do this, they will catch the spirit of missionary work and become great representatives of the Lord.