The Unauthorized Investigator's Guide to
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints

Resolving Concerns

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 understand it.

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.

Help 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" information.

  • When they don't understand what the missionaries told them.

  • When they have heard of "unusual doctrines or practices that they find hard to accept, such as polygamy." (Missionary Guide, p. 134)

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.

It 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. 134)

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.


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