By Elder Robert J. Dudfield
Attending Sacrament meeting each week provides us with the opportunity to reflect on covenants we have made as we partake of the sacred emblems, and in doing so, become renewed The ordinance of the sacrament makes this the most sacred and important meeting in the Church. Elder Dallin H. Oaks remarked, “When we consciously and sincerely renew our baptismal covenants and as we partake of the sacrament, we renew our qualification for the promise that we may always have His Spirit with us”. This is why one of the Area Goals focusses on increasing the numbers of members attending this sacred meeting.
With this promise in mind, the question arises on how we increase our sacrament meeting attendance? Increases occur in four different ways.
- Family sizes increasing through new births
- New member move ins
- Convert baptisms
- Reactivation efforts
First - Family sizes increasing through new births
The doctrine of the family was made clear to Adam & Eve when they were commanded to go forth and multiply. The doctrine of the family is just as important for us today.
Elder Neil L Andersen stated, “When to have a child, and how many children to have are private decisions to be made between a husband and wife, and the Lord. These are sacred decisions—decisions that should be made with sincere prayer and acted on with great faith”.
Raising children in the gospel, with regular sacrament meeting attendance provides opportunities for them to learn about the Saviour and His love for each of us.
Second - New member move-ins
On a recent stake conference assignment in Brisbane Australia, a member approached me mistaking me for the Stake President. He informed me that he and his family were relocating from overseas and had identified the area we were meeting at as the general area that he would like to relocate his family. He then said something that really resonated with me. “Our family consists of YSA, youth and primary children. Which of your units could we be of most service to? This will help us with determining where to live”. You could sense that this family understood that as they put the Lord first, blessings would follow.
Third - Convert Baptisms
In the 2013 Mission President Seminar, President Monson stated, “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.” The explosion of social media now provides opportunities as never before to share the gospel in a non-threatening way.
President Hinckley declared, “The full-time missionaries may do the actual teaching, but the member, wherever possible, will back up that teaching with the offering of his home to carry on this missionary service”.
At times I have caught myself praying that the missionaries will find people to teach. As I reflected on that statement I have realised that first and foremost it is my responsibility to find people for the missionaries to teach. As we pray for finding opportunities, the challenge is to be sensitive to the impressions of the Spirit so that we can identify when such opportunities occur and then act, rather than letting the chance pass by, wondering what happened). As Elder Pearson reminded us in the Area Presidency Broadcast in February 2014, “there are three kinds of people; those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what’s happening”. The Lord provides opportunities for us to make things happen!
After all, missionaries have been set apart to teach the gospel, having been authorised by a prophet of God. When we work together as members and missionaries in this sacred work, responding to the call from a living prophet, we see miracles appear before our very eyes!
Fourth - Reactivation efforts
Many reactivation efforts are occurring throughout the Pacific Area as members and missionaries work together reaching out to rescue. There are countless stories of members being reactivated after being away from church for many years, but as they are returning to fellowship with the saints they are bringing other non-member family members and friends back with them!
In a rescue visit I was personally involved in, the Bishop, a full-time missionary & I visited the home of a less active sister. The appointment had been made a week prior to our visit, and it became evident when we arrived at their home that the Spirit had been preparing them. The non-member husband greeted us at the door, and before we had a chance to say anything he stated that he knew why we were there. A little surprised by his comment we enquired about what he thought the purpose of the visit was. “You are going to invite me to be baptised” he quickly explained. Before we had a chance
to respond, he further explained “as I have been preparing for your visit I have felt impressed that now is the time for me to be baptised!” Imagine our surprise at this unexpected welcome.
It was a wonderful visit with this family. Inspired invitations were offered in the spirit of love and challenges were accepted. His wife returned to Church, and he and his three children were baptised. The last time I saw this family was when I witnessed the most magnificent sight of husband and wife, kneeling around the holy altar at the temple with their three children dressed in white, sealed as an eternal family. What a glorious sight, all because a prompting was received, appointments for the visit were made, and an inspired invitation extended. When we focus our efforts and priorities on the Saviour, motivated by love, miracles occur. Who needs an ordinance? Here was one family who were blessed through the ordinances of the gospel, and in doing so, allowed the power of God to be manifest in their lives.
President Hinckley declared, “We thank the Lord, whose cause this is, for the marvellous growth now being experienced. The strengthening faith of the people is evident in increased sacrament meeting attendance, in temple attendance…which becomes an expression of their love for the Lord and of His generous blessings”.
The Lord is hastening His work, and increasing our sacrament meeting attendance is evidence of united efforts in hastening the work of salvation together. As He hastens His work, may each of us hasten our work also. As we continue to increase the number of members attending sacrament meetings throughout the Pacific, may each sacrament meeting may be a spiritual experience strengthening faith and testimony as we focus on the Saviour and His glorious Gospel.
- Elder Dallin H Oaks, October 1996 General Conference, “Always Have His Spirit”
- Elder Neil L Andersen, October 2011 - ‘Children’
- President Thomas S Monson – 2013 Mission President Seminar
- President Gordon B Hinckley, (From a satellite broadcast given at the Salt Lake Tabernacle 21 February 1999)
- Elder Kevin W. Pearson, Area Presidency Broadcast, February 2014
- President Gordon B Hinckley, (April 1983 General Conference – “He slumbers not, nor sleeps”)
- Handbook 2, meetings in the church, 18.2.2