Helping investigators progress towards baptism

How can we help our missionaries and members teach in a way that helps a larger portion of our investigators gain testimonies?

Committing to Commitments
This true story helps you see that when investigators stop progressing towards baptism, it often is because they don’t know how to pray, how to study the scriptures, and how to keep the Sabbath day holy.  In other words, it is quite possible that an investigator’s stumbling is not the fault of the investigator. It is our fault for not properly teaching them the how-tos.

Everyday Missionaries
The middle section of this book addresses the challenge of helping investigators to resolutely more forward toward baptism. This section includes the story of Brian Carpenter, as well as other suggestions.

Praying With Your Feet
A wonderful talk given by President Russell Hancock of the Menlo Park CA stake that describes different ways in which we can develop testimonies. It is great for investigators, missionaries and members.

Do you have any suggestions for making our baptismal services more inspiring?

1. Read the last page of the booklet, “Leading a Great Ward Mission.”  It lists the basics.

2. With the generosity of a leader in the Boston area, the Boston mission developed a portable open house — a set of panels that can easily be set up in the foyer of an LDS building. During the “down times” during baptismal services — waiting for things to start, waiting for the new convert to change clothing after being baptized; and after the service has ended — the members and missionaries can introduce the church to people who attended the service who have not yet been baptized. If you are interested in how to build these panels for your stake or mission, send us an email, and we’ll do our best to help.

3. The following is condensed from a story in the “The Mission of the Wilmington Ward” case study:

    During a stake training meeting when the leaders puzzled about how to inspire more members to share the gospel, Wilmington Ward Primary President Nancy Bittner spoke up.  “Let me tell you what we did for our son Daniel’s baptism.  He turned eight two months ago.  We printed invitations to the baptismal service, and the missionaries delivered them to ten of the families of Daniel’s friends – just saying on the doorstep that the Bittners had asked them to deliver these invitations.  Eight of them came to the baptismal service.  

    “The missionaries then welcomed everyone at the door at the service – because they would recognize those that they had visited.  Instead of asking Daniel’s grandmother to give the talk about baptism, we had Daniel give the talk. He explained for his friends and their parents what baptism means in our church. I’m not exaggerating: Daniel gave a great talk. We practiced it, of course. But the parents of his friends were just stunned that Daniel could articulate so clearly why we are baptized at age eight.

    “A few days after the baptism the missionaries went back to each friend’s home, to thank them for coming, and asked, ‘Do you have any questions about what you saw or heard that we could help you with?’  Two of the families had questions and invited them in, and one began taking the discussions.”

    The baptism of an 8-year old from an active member family can be a wonderful missionary opportunity.  The ward mission leader should be deeply involved in the planning. There are two constituent groups at nearly every baptism. The first are members of family and the ward. The second are non-member friends and family. If the family plans ahead, there can often be more non-members than members at the service. It can be a great missionary opportunity, if designed well.

    Two many baptismal services for 8-year olds start ten minutes late. While the members enjoy this time to talk with their friends in the ward, the non-members sit awkwardly but silently, not knowing whether this is going to be a party or a Mormon “coming of age” ceremony.  

    While the typical talks given at a child’s baptism are typically aimed at them, think about how powerful it could be for a child to think through and prepare a talk about why he or she has decided to enter the waters of baptism.  They would remember far more about this experience and so could others..

    The 10-15 minutes that pass while the child and father change into dry clothes and blow-dry their hair should also be filled with meaningful teaching.