Sharing the gospel should be a natural part of life as a Latter-day Saint. As the Church grows, more and more people will ask questions, and it will be easier to respond with confidence if we pay attention to some basic principles.
One of those principles, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaches, is that the gift of discernment operates best when we are listening. So while talking about the Church, remember that it may help to ask clarifying questions and to do as much listening as we do talking. With that principle in mind, here are seven simple suggestions:
1. LIVE YOUR RELIGION. A Latter-day Saint’s life is his or her best sermon. Our conversations ought to be open, genuine, and engaged in with a spirit of kindness. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are most believable when our actions are in harmony with our beliefs.
2. ESTABLISH A FOUNDATION. Rather than responding to random questions, it might be helpful to establish a foundation—explain that we embrace Jesus Christ as our Savior and accept the Bible’s teachings, but believe that theChristian world departed from basic truths, and so Christ needed to restore His Church.
3. CONNECT THE DOTS. Try to discern the gospel principle at the heart of aquestion, and connect the answer back to the Savior. We do not need complicated, sophisticated arguments when the principles we try to live by come from the Son of God.
4. SHARE EXPERIENCES. Answering questions is not about reciting memorized answers. Sharing genuine, personal experiences can invite the Spirit to bear witness and carry the message into the listener’s heart.
5. UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE. The same conversation isn’t going to work for everyone—we all have different backgrounds. And remember that a casual question doesn’t require a half-hour lecture as a reply. Be sensitive to interest, comfort, and level of understanding. Signal that sensitivity so that those who are curious can feel at ease.
6. USE RESOURCES. The Church has created online resources that can be helpful for members to share with those who have questions. Church magazines are available online and in print, and items available at distribution centers may be helpful. Sharing a copy of the Book of Mormon may also be appropriate. You can also create an online profile on Mormon.org.
7. BE A FORCE FOR GOOD. Members of the Church can help clear up misconceptions and increase understanding of who we are and what we believe. People may see differences between what they believe and what Latter-day Saints believe, but they may also find common ground on which to build better relationships.