Missionary work on the Internet has come of age!
Meridian Magazine and Gospel Ideals International are announcing a gathering place for anyone who wants to become an Internet member-missionary. Do you have a website, blog, Facebook or Twitter account, or any other Internet presence? If you don’t would you like to learn more about how to do it and how to use these new technologies to spread the gospel? Become part of the army of LDS Internet missionaries and help us take the gospel message to every nation, kindred, tongue and people!
Have you ever yearned to shout the gospel message from the rooftops? Have you ever considered what is located on your rooftop or some other access point in your house? The Internet!
Never in the history of the world has there been such a powerful distribution tool for moving content in a matter of seconds to millions of people! Alma once lamented his inability to broadcast the gospel message to the ends of the earth. If he only had the “trump of God,” he said, he would proclaim the gospel message as if he were an angel.[i]
Alma had the message, but he lacked the vehicle. Today we have that vehicle—the Internet. This marvelous technology certainly qualifies as a trump of God. By means of the Internet, we can literally broadcast Alma’s voice—and other prophets’ voices—to the ends of the earth.
Prophecy about the Future of Missionary Work
In 1974, President Spencer W. Kimball issued an amazing prophecy about the technology driving the gospel message.
Technology will help spread the gospel. We need to enlarge our field of operation.… The Lord will lay in our hand inventions which we can scarcely conceive whereby we will be able to bring the gospel to the peoples of the world…. I have faith that the Lord will open doors when we have done everything in our power. I believe that the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse….We shall use the inventions the Lord has given us to awaken interest and acquaint people of the world with the truths, to ease their prejudices and give them a general knowledge. We shall need to answer specific questions, and perhaps that can be done by two-way radio and TV perfected to a point beyond our present imagination. It is conceivable that such a program greatly perfected could be multiplied ten thousand times in ten thousand tongues and dialects in ten thousand places far and near…. Tens of thousands of young missionaries endowed with the power from on high will follow up the proselyting.[ii]
“Two-way radio…TV perfected!” What did the Internet and related technologies look like to the prophet’s mind in 1974?
Missionary Work 2.0: Using the Internet as a Missionary Tool
The potential of the Internet as a missionary tool is unequalled in the earth’s history. As an experiment, we chose 158 terms from True to the Faith and queried Google for monthly searches on those terms. The number was an astonishing 418 million searches per month…just in English, just on Google! Factor in Yahoo, MSN and other searches, and the number increases by at least 15%. Of course, that number grows exponentially when translations are considered.
Clearly, hundreds of millions of people are searching for gospel answers, but only in few cases do they find LDS content. By placing informational and inspirational content within reach of searchers, a certain percentage of them will read, view, and respond, thus creating a constant flow of investigator leads for LDS missionaries.
In a 1976 Conference address, Elder David B. Haight taught: “Do you realize that missionaries baptize about one person for every 1,000 homes they tract? These same missionaries will baptize 600 people for every 1,000 who are taught in the homes of members….” Plainly, missionaries are much more successful when contacts are qualified.
Our survey of former mission presidents verifies Elder Haight’s figures. We discovered that on the average a companionship will contact 100 people per month through door-to-door tracting. At that rate, on the average, a typical companionship would need to tract for ten months to find someone who would accept baptism. On the other hand, the Internet is a way to strategically place content where people are searching for information. By choosing to read our content then choosing to request more information, the investigator qualifies him- or herself before the missionaries arrive.
President Gordon B. Hinckley caught the Internet/technology vision, too. He said, “The Lord has inspired skilled men and women in developing new technologies which we can use to our great advantage in moving forward this sacred work.”[iii]
We Have Our Work Cut Out For Us
A few months ago, we conducted a quick survey of search positions of a few terms. To our dismay, we discovered that LDS content for these terms was miniscule to non-existent. Consider the following samples:
With the hundreds of thousands of LDS people who have blogs or Facebook pages, we should be able to do better!
What is the Internet MTC?
The Internet MTC is an independent project of Gospel Ideals International, a non-profit organization dedicated to broadcasting the gospel message via the Internet. Our partners in this project are Meridian Magazine.com and Customer Hook Inc, an expert Internet marketing company in Lehi, Utah. At the Internet MTC, we form a community of LDS Internet users and technicians and teach them how to become LDS Internet member-missionaries.
You can help! If you have a website, blog (even if it is general subject), Facebook, Twitter or other Internet presence, or if you have a special skill or technology, we invite you to join us. And please invite your friends so that we can form a vast international army of Internet missionaries! Our purpose is to teach and share with you Internet marketing principles, powerful tools, and technologies so that investigator leads flow to Mormon.org, where interested parties can learn about the Church, chat with the missionaries or request missionary visits. We make Internet missionary work simple so you become an instant expert!
How important is this? Here is what Elder Ballard said:
The emergence of New Media is facilitating a world-wide conversation on almost every subject including religion, and nearly everyone can participate….
Conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches….
The challenge is that there are too many people participating in conversation about the Church for our Church personnel to converse with and respond to individually. We cannot answer every question, satisfy every inquiry, and respond to every inaccuracy that exists….some who seek answers want them to come directly from a member of the Church, like each one of you….
May I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the New Media, to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration. Most of you already know that if you have access to the Internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true.
Elder Nelson concurred:
[The Internet] is the way people get their information now-a-days. When the Lord called his Twelve Apostles, he called them to send them throughout the world and preach of him. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. In those days they could talk to a few people, here and there. In our time, we’ve had radio, television and now we have the Internet. The Internet is a very excellent way of promoting the word of God. We have confidence in this medium. We know it will appeal to a lot of people. We take seriously the responsibility that we have.[v]
What Do I Do Now?
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!
1. Join the Internet MTC as a new member. It is free and your contact information is always safe.
2. Tell us about yourself. List your Internet presences, i.e. website, blog, Facebook, Twitter or other.
3. Tell ALL your LDS friends to join! Help us recruit an army of international Internet member-missionaries!
Does This Project Work?
Yes! Just read these comments:
Thanks once again. Between the insights I gained from your website, the Elders that came to my door, and others in the congregation, I’m sure to be on the road to baptism in no time. The people of the church need to be reminded of the great work they’re doing. Surely the church is living up to its name by doing God’s work. The openness of the church and their willingness to share information freely is a testament of Jesus Christ in itself.—Dave
In your response to the question ” Will mortal children be born in the Millennium” you quoted from “Doctrine and Covenants 101:30-31” what is this source? By the way I thought your answer was right on. We have been studying the book of Revelation at our church. —Bro. Dennis Winn, Pastor, Baptist Church
I do not belong to the Mormon Church…I am 40 years old with no religious background to speak of. With somewhat of a checkered past–divorce, etc. My question is: Would I be out of place to think of converting to the Mormon Church, being that I am middle aged and having lived a less than honorable life up to this point?—Shawn
I am really impressed by the service you offer to so many people around the world…What if millions of people would be enabled to have theirs questions answered in their own language? If you choose to start such a translation project, I could help to translate the answers into German —Lennart, Stadthagen, Lower Saxony, Germany
Our Call to Action
Speaking to the Lighted Candle Society, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:
The promoters of darkness often seem to have direct access to the media microphone. …Surely the most powerful way to counter darkness is to fill the world with light…. Is it not part of our work as sons and daughters of God to encourage creative efforts that dispel darkness and replace it with light? … We must support, encourage, and finance that which is positive and life-affirming, art and beauty—in short, truth—that encourages people to come out of the darkness into the light.[vi]
What Else is on the Horizon?
The Internet MTC is just one of several missionary projects the Meridian Magazine and Gospel Ideals have partnered to develop. In the near future, we will announce Mormon Subjects, which will become the home for Meridian’s 24,000 archived articles. Each of these articles will become unique websites residing within master websites. Mormon Subjects is projected to reach hundreds of thousands of searchers every month. Additionally, we will be inviting LDS writers to contribute gospel-specific or lifestyle-relevant content to Mormon Subjects, which will then be placed in additional websites.
Because Meridian Magazine is so large and dynamic, we feel that we can create tens of thousands of mini-websites within the Meridian framework and consistently launch our content to prominence in search results. Consequently, millions of searchers will eventually see our content, and a significant number will choose to read it. Imagine the impact on missionary work!
Where Do We Start?
We must create our team: You! Please help us launch this project that has been eight years in the making. By heeding the General Authorities’ call to action, we can use the Internet to defend the truth, teach the gospel, duplicate our positive efforts, and support the missionaries throughout the world. We at Meridian Magazine and Gospel Ideals International invite you to join us as we create one of the largest missionary tools in that the world has ever known!
Larry Barkdull is the president of the Gospel Ideals International, which owns and produces the Internet MTC. He is also the author of The Three Pillars of Zion, one of the most definitive works on the subject of Zion. Click here for a free sample.
[i] Alma 29:1-2.
[ii] Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 587-88.
[iii] Russell M. Nelson, quoting Gordon B. Hinckley, “A New Harvest Time,” Ensign, May 1998, unpublished statement, 29 Sept. 1997.
[iv] M. Russell Ballard, “Using New Media to Support the Work of the Church.” Speech given at Brigham Young University-Hawaii’s graduation ceremony, December 15, 2007.
[vi] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Let There Be Light,” Talk give to the Lighted Candle Society May 3, 2006.