The Law of the Harvest: a reality check

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:

The Law of the Harvest (PDF)

The Law of the Harvest (HTML)

These links come from Stewart’s web site, 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.

Previous Preaching the Gospel article: The real meaning of the promise in Moroni 10: 3-5

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  1. what4anarchy, please download and read this book when you get a chance. I’d like to discuss it with you later.

  2. LDS Anarchist — Regarding Section 1, it is my understanding that generations X & Y have an inactivity rate of greater than 90%. Personally, I believe we are in the “calling out” of Revelation 18, so that we mete out double to the whore and the church what wrath she has filled to the word. (“Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.”)

    Like Malachi says in chapter 2:

    8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.
    9 Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.

    The Church is being made corrupt so that it can stand as an example of what not to be and what not to do, and the youth are being called out so as not to share in her plagues. The covenant of cleansing is with the Priests, and I think this is why the youth are so inactive: they see the Church for what she truly is (it is the “old timers” who are oblivious).

    I do believe the Lord’s Church is a house of order, and I believe that the priesthood will play an important role in redeeming the Church, so it will be interesting to see how everything plays out in our lifetimes.

  3. Sorry, typo:

    so that we mete out double … what wrath she has filled to the world

  4. I walked into a Seventh Day Adventist church/school yesterday. It was the first time I’d ever been in one of their buildings. Everything Stewart said about their buildings is true. The atmosphere was inviting, like walking into someone’s cozy home. Religious images and sayings were on the walls and in the classrooms and the classrooms also had a comfortable feeling to them, like you wanted to be in them. There were tables with signs set up saying, “Take one,” and various different magazines and pamphlets spread out where you could select whichever one you wanted or one of each, if so desired. There were lots to choose from. Walking in the entrance I was greeted by a large edition Bible on a podium, where you could go up and read from it. The few people there acted as if the building was their second home. The contrast between that building and our largely sanitized, bare, and non-inviting meetinghouses was sharp. Stewart is right. We need to re-examine everything we are doing and what other religions are doing and incorporate every superior thing we find into our church.

  5. I agree that we should make our buildings more inviting. Some buildings I’ve been in are definitely not inviting – sometimes quite the opposite. Just remember that we are different from other churches – in fact, we are the only true church – so we shouldn’t dress our churches like other churches too much. Make them inviting but don’t put up crosses and such :p.

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