1. Actually be a friend. How many non-member friends do you have? How much time do you spend (outside of work) with non-members? Do you invite non-members to social gatherings, and are you invited to them?
When I went to BYU, I had no opportunities to meet non-members. All of my classmates were Mormon. All of my co-workers- were Mormon. All of my neighbors? Mormon. Doctors? Cashiers? Mechanics? All Mormon. Our solution was to move away from BYU. Cut the umbilical cord. It is not a sin.
You should have non-member friends. Missionary work is less effective with strangers. And you will always benefit from friends. You will always be happier with more friends than with less.
2. Invite people to dinner or dessert or barbecues or game nights. Imagine if you did not have ward activities or friends through church. How would you make friends? You would invite people to dinner or dessert or barbecues or game nights.
It should not be weird to have people in your home who don’t live there. Pick up clutter and clean regularly, so you would not feel hesitant about inviting someone over. (I’m writing this sitting in a very cluttered house. I would currently feel hesitant about inviting someone over. There are enough reasons to hesitate in missionary work, and this is one you can easily eliminate. And it is a low-stress way to be a member missionary. When you squirm during missionary work talks, just say to yourself, “I clean my house; I’m ready to invite someone over whenever I see the opportunity.” If you don’t clean your house, and don’t feel like you can do any of these suggestions, know that raising children is missionary work.
3. Be a good neighbor. Mormons know how to do this. Never underestimate the power of yard work service projects and gifts of baked goods. It is super common in the church, and sometimes it feels a little trite, but it is not common out of the church, and if it is from your heart, it will touch their heart.
When you make cookies, give a plate away. When you see a neighbor doing something, offer to help. They might say no. But they won’t forget you offered. Also, people typically turn down help because they aren’t sure the person offering it is sincere, or they think you might resent helping them. After several offers, maybe they will take you up on it.
Also, ask them for help. They will feel like you owe them one, and maybe they will feel more like accepting your help in the future. And then you have a friendship.
4. Be yourself- if gospel topics don’t come up, they don’t come up. I’ve watched some role-playing in missionary classes, and they are good for simulating that fear and inoculating against it. But they create some unrealistic expectations. It makes you think that every conversation with a non-member must be wrenched into a gospel conversation. Not every one does. When you are a full-time missionary, yeah, most conversations probably need to turn into gospel conversations. But not so for member missionaries.
5. Be yourself- if a gospel topic came up, a gospel topic came up. Don’t pass up the opportunity to teach, testify, and invite. In other words, share information about the topic at hand, say how you know it is good or true, then invite them to learn more.
Teach. I recommend role-playing at family home evening. This is because it reveals gaps in gospel knowledge. In class settings, there are other people to answer. In study settings, there are infinite resources to turn to. When you are on the (pretended) spot, it becomes clear what you need to study. Role playing is uncomfortable, but it is much more comfortable the real thing. Role playing will help you prepare.
Testify. You should have a testimony of each principle in the gospel. A very easy and systematic way of doing this is while preparing for church meetings. You can usually always figure out the lesson coming up, and when studying that topic, pray to know that that specific principle is true. Not only can you share that testimony in class (You don’t have to start with, “I’d like to bear my testimony” and end with “In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.” Instead, something simple like, “I know that the scriptures come from God.”) you can also be ready to testify of that principle, again simply, in gospel conversations.
Invite. Not all invitations are to meet with the missionaries. Others include invitations to upcoming church activities, go to church itself, tour a church building, come to family home evening, have Sunday dinner, walk around temple grounds, watch the Joseph Smith movie, watch Mormon messages, download the Bible Videos app, download the Book of Mormon app, accept a copy of the Book of Mormon, or watch a conference talk on the subject. Those all vary in scary-factor. The easiest for me is telling them about Mormon.org. It is easy and effective.
An even better idea is giving them a pass along card with the website on it. Too scary? The first step is carrying them in your wallet or purse. You can’t give them out if you don’t have them. Don’t pressure yourself into “giving them all out before the end of this sentence.” Baby steps. Just carry them.
6. Create a Mormon.org profile. Then you can give out a pass along card with the URL written on it. I have mine memorized. It is mormon.org/me/1kr2. Memorizing the address has been a huge blessing. When you want to send someone to the website, you don’t have time to sign into Mormon.org, find your profile, find the URL, email it to them… the moment will have passed. Memorize your address. It’s not hard.
The profile itself was not easy to create. I had to fill out the form several times, because there would be a server error and it of course had not saved my entries. Then I had to wait a long time for my content to be approved. Then I had to fix some things because it was not approved the first time. (One of my links was broken and I didn’t use a real picture of me.) So. Hit “save” often, type your answers to questions in a word processor first.
Now, I have answered 17 of their suggested frequently asked questions. (When you answer more than that, you can comment on this blog post and get everyone’s kudos.) Because I have kept my profile updated and actually have interesting content on there, I am motivated to share my profile with others.
Here’s a baby step. Even if you don’t share it with others, it is on the website. People can navigate to your answers. Odds are that someone has read at least one of my 17 answers. Those odds increase because the Lord is guiding His elect to find His fold. What if mine was the right question at the right time? This is missionary work that you can do in the comfort of your own home, at your own pace, without anybody staring at you.
8. Work with full-time missionaries. Invite them over to dinner often to get to know them, to make yourself and your children feel comfortable around them, to have lots of “hey, I’m feeding the missionaries next week and will definitely have extra food, would you like to join us?” moments, but most importantly, to make yourself feel guilty about never referring your friends to them.
9. Talk to investigators. You have to talk to someone at church. Why not make friends with the people at church who need your friendship most? You can be that one person who an investigator knows, and consequently make it more likely for them to return.
10. Actually refer people to the missionaries. If you ponder and pray about how to invite your friends to meet with the missionaries, you will figure something out.
When you refer people to missionaries, and when they see you with their investigators, they might ask you to go on splits to visit them. Go. It’s awesome.
9. Be content to plant seeds. If nobody ever accepts your help or friendship, if no gospel topics ever come up, if no invitations are accepted, if none of your investigators ever get baptized, you have not failed. Continue to be a good friend. Years from now they will say, “I knew a Mormon once. She was the best neighbor I ever had.”