I just came across a 460 page ebook called, The Law of the Harvest: Practical Principles of Effective Missionary Work written by David G. Stewart, Jr., MD. You can freely download it as a PDF file or even read it online in HTML using the following links:
These links come from Stewart’s web site, www.cumorah.com. The ebook is broken into three sections:
Section I: Trends in LDS Church Growth
The growth, activity, inactivity, retention and other statistics from this section of the book are sobering. Apparently, as a church, we’ve been delusional in our thinking about these topics. If you read nothing else from the book, read this section.
Section II: Church Growth Solutions
This section discusses strategies, lots of them, on how to incorporate what the author has found to be effective missionary work/programs, including member-missionary work. I stress that there is a lot of information here, but for those who like practical approaches, this section might be just what they need. The principles espoused are grounded in the scriptures, so, although I favor a more anarchic approach to all things, including missionary work, I think this section may be of great use for many saints. Not only does Stewart explain what works, but also what doesn’t work, including the current, ineffective Church programs that are adding to the problems.
Section III: Principles of Leadership
As the title indicates, this section is directed to the leaders and what changes they can/should make or what to emphasize or de-emphasize in order to create an effective missionary effort. I applaud his efforts, but counseling the leaders what they should do will fall on deaf ears. Nevertheless, as new leaders often come from non-leaders (members), members who read this section can properly prepare themselves in the case that they ever do become leaders, so his strategy has merit.
Is this the same guy?
I recall being contacted by someone after being released from my mission. He was amassing missionary information to determine and compile the most effective missionary techniques for use by the church. He heard about me through my mission web site because I had sent in some tips I had used on my mission for use by missionaries going to the mission I served in and the my mission web site webmaster actually published them. I don’t recall the name of the individual, but I suspect it is the same guy.
I have not, yet, read through the entire ebook. I’ve so far read the first section and have skimmed over the second and third sections. The ebook is long and contains a lot of information. But, based upon what I’ve read so far, simple downloading it, printing out copies and handing it out to members who are interested in more effective missionary techniques (or even just a single copy to the ward mission leader) may be enough to rekindle the missionary fire in people’s hearts and turn the tide around. At the very least, the first section will awaken us out of our delusional state, thinking that “all is well in Zion.” That is necessary before appropriate changes can be made. If people don’t think anything is broken, nothing gets fixed.
All in all, I give this book the LDS Anarchist grade of five A’s (AAAAA), which signifies an outstanding publication, and encourage all those interested in missionary work or in the actual state of church growth to download it, read it, apply it and pass it on. I’d be interested in knowing what others think of his findings and for those who have applied his techniques, what success they have had.
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