Discover the Concern
This is another decent chapter of the Missionary Guide. At any
time in the Commitment Pattern process an investigator might develop a
concern that will prevent him or her from progressing. In the sales
world, this is usually called an "objection" rather than a "concern", but
it is essentially the same thing. In sales, when somebody has an
objection he usually don't clearly explain why he doesn't want to buy.
Rather, he makes an objection that he thinks sounds good. It is the salesman's job to
sense this and dig deeper and figure out the real objection.
It is the same thing with the missionaries. When you
have a concern that prevents you from progressing, They will ask some
probing questions to find out exactly what the problem is. When they
think they understand your concern, they will restate it, and ask if they
Discuss the Concern
After the missionaries feel that they understand your concern, they
will try to discuss it with you. They'll want to let you know that
your concern hasn't damaged your relationship, and will try to get a
solution to come out of your mouth rather than theirs. They will try
to lead you to discover the solution yourself. They'll ask you what
you think you should do about your concern, and will then gently lead you
in an exploration of that scenario. They might hint about another
way to handle your concern--one that they like better--and ask you
questions to get you to explore that scenario.
Resolve the Concern
The Missionary Guide gives three scenarios when the
investigator isn't going to be able to resolve the concern on his own and
will need some more direct instruction or guidance. They are:
When the investigator has "wrong or incomplete"
When they don't understand what the missionaries told
When they have heard of "unusual doctrines or practices
that they find hard to accept, such as polygamy." (Missionary Guide,
The missionary is instructed to clear up the
misunderstandings and explain the "unfamiliar ideas' and help the
investigator know what he needs to do to resolve his or her concern, by
using his own experience, examples, and the scriptures.
goes on to say,
Encourage the investigators to gain a testimony of the
Book of Mormon. This is a powerful way to help them resolve
difficult concerns. When they learn that the Book of Mormon is true,
they can accept other gospel truths, as well. (Missionary Guide, p.
If they have to fall back on the Book of Mormon like that,
they are in a pretty desperate position--the
Book of Mormon disproves the LDS Church.
I don't have a
problem with the way missionaries are taught to resolve concerns per se,
but this does illustrate some problems I do have with the whole discussion
process: "unusual doctrines and practices" aren't taught to the
investigators. If an investigator is to learn about them, it is his
responsibility to search them out. Second, the Missionary Guide
tells the missionaries to rely upon their own experience, examples, and
what is in the scriptures to resolve concerns relating to "unusual
doctrines and practices." But the missionaries
aren't even allowed to read books
that explain polygamy in any detail. Is it any wonder that
missionaries usually explain polygamy by saying something like "it was a
system designed for nothing other than to take care of widows and their
children?" The church must take full responsibility for the false
information that its missionaries spread regarding polygamy--the church
goes out of its way to disempowers them from teaching the truth about it.
Perhaps the point of this is that the leaders of the church know that the
church is easier to believe if you are ignorant about it. Belief in
the church by the missionaries is best achieved when they can't read the
truth about polygamy, and conversion by investigators is best achieved
when they receive misinformation from the ignorant missionaries. I
realize my words are harsh on this point, but that's the way I see it.