Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » How to Be a Missionary, 1936 (2 of 2)

How to Be a Missionary, 1936 (2 of 2)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 19, 2008

The missionary of 1936 went forth with encouragement to use his individual talents in ways that, in my experience, were encouraged in theory but not actually supported in practice in my missionary generation. This lesson from the 1936 missionary prep Sunday School class suggests ways individual talents might be used, and outlines the resources available to the modern missionary. And with it, yes, Keepapitchinin is publishing yet another book list! Whoo-hooo!

Missionary Tools

A well stocked mind, an understanding of the Gospel, pleasant gentlemanly behavior, genuine interest in others’ welfare, and a strong desire to be a worthy messenger of eternal truth, are necessary assets of the successful missionary. The mind that directs the use of the tool is always greater than the tool itself. Yet tools the missionary must have to perform his work to the full satisfaction of all concerned. Every missionary should know his tools, if he expects to do effective work in the mission field.

The Missionary’s Own Tools

There are some tools, so to speak, that the missionary brings with him into the mission field.

For example, he may sing well, and with other elders may form a quartette, which in turn may be invited as has often been the case, to sing at meetings, over the radio or at other places. While the number of contracts made may not be numerous, the performance itself affects many, allays prejudice, and prepares the ground for future sowing.

Another group may know how to play musical instruments in such a manner as to secure public invitation and approval.

Others yet may have a ready pen, which may be used in furnishing the newspapers with articles or news notes – a most effective type of publicity, or others may secure access to the microphone and deliver carefully prepared addresses over the radio.

There are innumerable ways in which the “tools” of the missionary brings with him into the mission field may be used to advance the cause of the Church.

The Standard Church Works

The Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price are the primary printed tools of the missionary. Every missionary should have these books within easy reach at all times, and should become familiar with them. All other Church literature is based upon these standard Church works. The fundamental sources of gospel doctrine were discussed in last year’s course of study, in Dr. Talmage’s Articles of Faith.


Short printed statements of perhaps a thousand to fifteen hundred words on Gospel subjects are ordinarily called tracts. A large number of tracts are available to the missionary. They should be chosen and used to serve the needs of those who receive them. A person familiar with the Bible would best be supplied with a tract quoting liberally from the Bible, while this would not be the wise approach to a person unfamiliar with the Holy Scriptures. It must always be remembered that wise teaching begins on the level of the student, – then the teacher may lead him into greater heights.

A list of the available tracts accompanies this lesson. Tracts are furnished the missionary free of charge.


When a person has become interested in the message of the missionary, and has read a tract or two, he may desire to read a fuller exposition of the gospel or some of its principles. Pamphlets are such amplified statements of gospel doctrine, practice and history. Some very interesting and useful pamphlets are published by the Church. A list of those most available follows this lesson. A small charge is made for the pamphlets used by the missionary. In most cases the interested friends prefer to pay the pamphlet cost of a few pennies.


Books are larger and more formal treatises on Gospel subjects. As an interested friend continues his investigation, he will call for books to help him. The Church is fortunate in having a series of books to serve the needs of the mission. A partial list is appended. the missionary should advise his friends to read the literature of the Church. The Book of Mormon is a great missionary; the selected revelations from the Doctrine and covenants known as Latter-day Revelation are of deep interest to all sincere investigators, – and the Pearl of Great Price is always a mine of precious truth for those who are just becoming acquainted with the doctrinal wealth of the restored Gospel.

Films and Lectures

The films and lectures spoken of in the preceding lesson are most valuable tools for the missionary. The projector is inexpensive, within the reach of all, it is small and may be carried about easily. The films are furnished at cost or without cost, and as has been said, a picture is always appealing.

The accompanying lectures have been carefully prepared, and make the work of the demonstration easy.

Other Helps

In every mission other helps are found for the use of the missionary. Elders should feel free to write to their mission presidents about the helps needed. Sometimes field experience suggests means for carrying on the work of the Lord to better advantage. Such suggestions should be passed on promptly to the president of the Mission.

Classified Missionary Literature

A large number of publications are available for missionary use. it is the purpose of this series of lessons to become acquainted with some of these interesting tracts, pamphlets and books.

The following classified list includes the publications most commonly used in the mission field. They are equally valuable at home and would be useful additions to any Latter-day Saint library.

[Note: “Zion’s Printing & Pub. Co.” referred to in the following list was the press located at Independence, Missouri, headquarters of the Central States Mission, which printed Liahona: The Elders’ Journal and many of the other mission-related publications for all of the North American missions.]

Apostasy: –

1. Rays of Living Light No. 6, by Charles W. Penrose. 8 pages. Zion’s Printing & Pub. Co.

2. Why Mormonism No. 1, by B.H. Roberts. 16 pages. Zions.

3. My Reasons for Joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by Bryce Thomas. 32 pages. Zions. (Excellent).

4. The Reign of Antichrist, by J.M. Sjodahl. 137 pages. Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City. (Pictures of the falling away of the primitive Church and the setting up of new doctrines. Relates crimes committed in the name of Christianity.)

5. Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, by B.H. Roberts. 449 pages. Deseret Book Co.

6. The Great Apostasy, by James E. Talmage. 124 pages. (To be given to those who desire further information. Good for missionaries and advanced investigators.) Zions.

7. The Right Relationship of Church and State, by A.W. Ivins. 21 pages. Zions. (The Catholic Church in Mexico. A true picture of an apostate church in action. Very good.)

Authority: –

1. Rays of Living Light No. 4, by C.W. Penrose. 8 pages. Zions. Note: – Authority is fundamental to the existence of the Latter-day Saint Church. You will find it discussed in practically all the Mormon literature when the Restoration and the Principles of the Gospel are explained.

Baptism: –

1. Rays of Living Light No. 3, by C.W. Penrose. 8 pages. Zions.

2. Baptism, the Birth of Water and Spirit, by Orson F. Whitney. 16 pages. (Good for those who are converted but do not see the necessity of baptism. A most excellent tract for procrastinators.)

3. Is Baptism Essential to Salvation? and

4. Baptism, How and by Whom Administered. Zions. Note: – Baptism is discussed in most tracts and pamphlets dealing with the first principles of the Gospel.

Book of Mormon: –

1. Reference Sheet. 1 page. (Should go with each Book of Mormon.)

2. Two Lectures, by James E. Talmage; 32 pages. Zions. (Very good for prospective readers of the Book of Mormon.

3. Why I Believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God, by W.A. Morton. 32 pages. Zions. (An inspirational pamphlet. Highly recommended.)

4. Rays of Living Light No. 8. 8 pages. Zions.

5. Manuscript Found; Solomon Spaulding Story

6. Suggestions for Book of Mormon Lecture, by David A. Smith. 106 pages. Zions. (Indian traditions and archaeological material supporting the Book of Mormon claims.)

7. Indian Legends, by James W. Lesueur. 339 pages. Zions.

8. Seven Claims of the Book of Mormon, by John A. Widtsoe and F.S. Harris, Jr. 198 pages. Zions.

Church History: –

1. Joseph Smith Tells His Own Story. 24 pages. Zions. (The best we have of his life. It is brief. Very good for investigators.)

2. Divine Mission of Joseph Smith, by John a. Widtsoe. 21 pages. Zions. (Shows Joseph Smith as a great Restorer. The language is plain and clear. Excellent to show the fine character of the Prophet.)

3. Brigham Young, the Man and Leader, by Preston Nibley. 16 pages. Zions. (Interesting style. Story form. Highly recommended.)

4. Mormonism, Its Origin and History, by B.H. Roberts. 78 pages. Zions. (Treats the subject in a philosophical way, including both doctrine and history. Good for non-members who are interested in the Church.)

5. A Brief History of the Church, by Edward H. Anderson. 245 pages. Zions. (Written from the Mormon point of view.)

6. Essentials in Chuch History, by Joseph Fielding Smith. 655 pages. Deseret Book Co.

Doctrines of the Church: –

Note: – Tracts and pamphlets that cover the whole subject.

1. Mormon Doctrine Plain and Simple, by C.W. Penrose. 63 pages. Zions. (Excellent book for investigators who have already read considerable. Deals with the First Principles, the Plan of Salvation, Restoration, Marriage, Degrees of Glory and Exaltation. Very Good.)

2. Why I am a Mormon, by Charles W. Penrose. 16 pages. Zions. (Very good.)

3. Strength of the Mormon Position, by Orson F. Whitney. 48 pages. Zions. (In a very interesting way the author makes the strength of Mormonism clear by strikingly bringing out its strong points.)

4. Voice of Warning, by Parley P. Pratt. 120 pages. Zions. (Excellent material. Can be given at any time.)

5. Mr. Durant of Salt Lake City, by Ben E. Rich. 127 pages. Zions. (In conversational form. Interesting.)

6. Life’s Greatest Questions, by D.M. McAllister. 31 pages. Zions. (What am I? Why am I here? After Death, What?)

7. Latter Day Revelation. 175 pages. (Selections form the Doctrine and Covenants. Very useful for missionaries.)

8. Articles of Faith, by James E. Talmage. 529 pages. (All missionaries should have it.)

9. Philosophical Basis of Mormonism, by James E. Talmage. 32 pages. Zions. (Students will appreciate this.)

10. What is Mormonism, by John A. Widtsoe. 68 pages. Zions. (Excellent; appeals to practical minded.)

11. What Mormons Believe by Charles W. Penrose. 16 pages. Zions.

Economics: –

1. The Law of Tithing, by Stephen L. Richards. 8 pages. Zions. (Very clear and logical. Highly recommended.)

2. The Lord’s Tenth, by James E. Talmage. 16 pages. Zions. (Exposition of the law of tithing as practiced in ancient times, and today.)

3. Fast Day and Fast Offerings, by Charles A. Callis. 4 pages. Zions. (Good to be given with the “Law of Tithing.”)

Marriage: –

1. The Marriage Institution, by James E. Talmage. 18 pages. Zions. (Gives the Mormon point of view of marriage.)

2. Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage, by Joseph Fielding Smith. 94 pages. Zions. (A controversy with R.C. Evans of the Reorganized Church.)

Mormons: –

1. What Others Say, compiled by John A. Widtsoe. 32 pages. Zions. (An excellent book. Can be given at any time to explain what non-members say about the Mormons.)

2. The Truth About the Mormons (Brief – Similar to What Others Say.) 4 pages. Zions.

3. Facts for Thinkers, by Joseph A. McRae. Zions. (General statement of principles.)

4. Rays of Living Light No. 12, by Charles W. Penrose. 8 pages. Zions.

Missionary Literature: –

Note: – Literature especially profitable for missionaries to read.

1. Elders’ Manual. 64 pages. Zions. (Necessary for all missionaries.)

2. Tracts and Tracting, by John A. Widtsoe. 21 pages. Zions. (All missionaries should read.)

3. On Tracting, by B.H. Roberts. 22 pages. Zions.

4. The book that Has Helped Most in Business, by Bruce Barton. 13 pages. Deseret Book Co.

5. The Successful Missionary, by John A. Widtsoe. 77 pages. Zions. (You should read.)

6. Do Men Believe what Their Church Prescribes, by Rulon S. Howells. 158 pages. Deseret Book Co. (A brief, but clear summary of the beliefs of the different churches.)

7. Missionary Themes, by Nephi Jensen. Three books of 168 pages each. Deseret Book Co.

8. Are We of Israel, by George Reynolds. 135 pages. Zions. (The book is divided into two parts, the second part dealing with the “Book of Abraham.” This second part is especially good for investigators.)

9. Rational Theology, by John A. Widtsoe. 190 pages.

10. In Search of Truth, by John A. Widtsoe. 120 pages.

11. Program of the Church, by John A. Widtsoe. 283 pages.

Personality of God: –

1. Why Mormonism, No. 2, by B.H. Roberts. 16 pages. Zions. (Good for the investigator – Gives reasons and Bible references.)

2. The Lord Hath Spoken, No. 2, by B.H. Roberts. 8 pages. Zions.

Revelation, Need of: –

1. The Lord Hath Spoken, No. 1, by B.H. Roberts. 8 pages. Zions.

2. Rays of Living Light Nos. 3 and 9, by Charles W. Penrose. 8 pages. Zions.



  1. Quite interesting. One thing I notice in these lessons is the older philosophy of proselyting (pre-A.R. Dyer) in which the missionaries and investigators study gospel doctrines for months before baptism.

    Some of the listed literature looks like it would be fun to read.

    Comment by Steve C. — September 19, 2008 @ 7:35 am

  2. I still haven’t read it, but I keep meaning to look up Mr. Durant of Salt Lake City because my grandmother mentioned its being a favorite of her family in pre-World War I Alabama.

    Steve, name a couple of the items that look especially fun to you. I can probably find them and either write a review or publish some interesting excerpts in a future post. The writings of an earlier day really work for me to help see the gospel and the world the way earlier generations did!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 19, 2008 @ 8:05 am

  3. I like the category of “Classified” Mission Literature. From time to time, we were accused of working for the CIA or FBI, usually by children and at about the same frequency that children would ask us if we knew Michael Jordan. (“Yeah, sure kid.”)

    I would also like to see some of the books. Indian Legends? Blood Atonement? Rational Theology? A Brief History of the Church (in 245 pages)?

    Great list and a very interesting contrast to previous lists of books from other decades.

    Comment by Researcher — September 19, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

  4. Researcher: I think those books would be interesting. Add to the list, Solomon Spalding.

    Ardis: I agree. It is interesting and enlightening to see how previous generations viewed the gospel.

    Fun stuff.

    Comment by Steve C. — September 19, 2008 @ 2:01 pm

  5. I’ve added links to scans of some of the requested books. The others … well, you might want to click somewhere else really fast, because I’m about to vent …

    I’ve always unreservedly praised the LDS Archives and Library for the professionalism of their staffs and the way they all will do just about anything to help patrons find the answers they need. And I’ve many times explained that you can get just about anything you need at the Archives, that they aren’t anywhere close to being as restricted as so many people assume.

    However, the Library is taking a giant step backwards in accessibility, and it’s driving me up a wall. Nearly every day — at least four times a week — I go to the catalog, find an item I want, and jot down the call number for the copy that is shown to be in the Main Stacks … then go to the shelves and discover that the book is, in fact, NOT THERE!!! They have been weeding what must be thousands of old books from the shelves, not throwing them away but putting them in storage. The explanation they give is that they are preparing to move to the new building, and there is less room there for open stacks than we have in the old building, so they are culling the collection to make it fit the new space.

    I ask you, what in #&@*! would you build a new library with a lesser capacity than the old library??? And if you’re short of space, why do you leave multiple sets of old-fashioned secular fiction on the shelves — junk that if somebody wanted they would find at Googlebooks or the public library, but would never get in a car and drive to the church history library expecting to find? I mean really, how many copies of Sinbad or The Old Curiosity Shop do you really need to keep in the open stacks of the CHURCH HISTORY library, especially when it means that keeping multiple copies of that junk displaces actual books of actual CHURCH HISTORY??

    They have 37 — count ’em, 37 — copies of Charles Penrose’s Mormon Doctrine listed in the catalog (various editions, various printings, various languages), but is ANY SINGLE ONE of them available on the open stacks so that I can copy from it at 5c per page? No, not a one. You can’t even find the microfiche copy in the drawers, so scrambled have the microfiche drawers become ever since the Church turned refiling of those things over to the willing-but-incapable hands of volunteer missionaries who can’t make sense out of the call numbers.

    The library staff claims this isn’t a problem because I can order down a copy from closed stacks, and even request photocopies. Sure. I can order it, then either spend $100 of my time transcribing the parts I need, or else pay 25c per page and wait for a couple of weeks for the staff to make copies. I love you, dear Readers, but not to the tune of paying five times more than necessary to make copies of materials to help in writing blog posts.

    Anyway, that’s lead up to telling you that although many, many copies of Manuscript Found are listed in the library catalog, including one that SHOULD be in the open stacks, I cannot get to it BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN WEEDED BECAUSE THEY BUILT A TINIER LIBRARY THAN THE ONE WE ARE NOW USING. And it makes me crazy.

    End of rant, until Monday, when I go to find the next book I need and discover it has been senselessly WEEDED.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 19, 2008 @ 3:16 pm

  6. Um, thanks, Ardis. I’ll take a look at the links to those books, um, later, probably Monday since THE KIDS ARE BACK IN SCHOOL! (As of today; not that I’m excited or anything.)

    Would you say that you’re a little miffed at your changing work environment? :-)

    Call numbers? What are those?

    I remember asking a sweet old volunteer in the Family History Library where the folios were kept and he gave me a pitying look and took the slip of paper I’d written the call number on and led me right into the regular stacks, explaining all the while how to find call numbers. I was not amused at the time.

    Comment by Researcher — September 19, 2008 @ 3:23 pm

  7. Awesome rant, Ardis.

    Comment by Steve Evans — September 19, 2008 @ 3:23 pm

  8. Hmm, I thought greater public access was one goal of the new library.

    Library fact sheet item:

    Access: The public will be able to access some historical materials in a large open library area, while other materials will be located in archival storage rooms and brought to a reading room upon patron request.


    Access: The public will be able to access fewer historical materials in a smaller open library area, while more materials will be located in archival storage rooms and brought to a reading room upon patron request.

    Comment by Justin — September 19, 2008 @ 4:03 pm

  9. “Bear ye one another’s burdens.” Galations 6:2

    Maybe not what Paul had in mind, but I feel surprisingly relieved to have unloaded that … despite, perhaps, having slightly terrified Researcher, slightly awed Steve, and sending Justin scurrying to document this instance of Newspeak. Yes, Justin, you have accurately translated the newsroom doubletalk.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 19, 2008 @ 4:33 pm

  10. BTW, BYU’s RSC’s edition of Manuscript Found can be read here.

    Comment by Justin — September 19, 2008 @ 6:51 pm

  11. …and the Deseret News’s 1886 edition.

    Comment by Justin — September 19, 2008 @ 7:04 pm

  12. Thank you, Justin. It seemed like a book that should have been online somewhere, but I didn’t find it by googling.

    And who needs the library’s old closed stacks stuff, anyway?

    (Me, that’s who.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 19, 2008 @ 7:06 pm

  13. Ardis,
    Not only are things not on the shelves,but the acquisitions dept doesn’t even want some historical items. Last year I had two large Primary scrapbooks (that all of the early primary organizations were asked to keep) from my ward that were in danger of being destroyed. There were snapshots of every Primary class and teacher, all identified, for years and years. There was a day book with the minutes of the Primary organization in the ward,and several years of minutes. They were wonderful historical records.

    One of the archivist informed me that the person over acquisitions didn’t want any of that type of record anymore, and I would be better off to find a local repository to place them in. So I did!!

    Comment by Maurine Ward — September 19, 2008 @ 10:17 pm

  14. Ouch! They have only one chance for material like that, and it’s gone forever. What a loss to the whole church who, in the future, might need that record for an illustration of how Primary worked, but won’t be able to find it in a local repository (or in the local dump, where somebody else might have placed it after having been turned down by the Archives).

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 20, 2008 @ 7:09 am

  15. Ardis, have I mentioned how much I love it when you rant? Articulate, precise, impassioned. Fine ranting indeed!

    Comment by Jami — September 20, 2008 @ 9:52 am

  16. Ardis, have you considered creating your own “local repository” and sending out calls to send YOU any of these old records that nobody else wants? I have some old socks if you are willing to expand your collection to more than just important documents.

    Comment by Ray — September 20, 2008 @ 12:32 pm

  17. Oh, and I agree with Jami. Epic rant.

    Comment by Ray — September 20, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

  18. Ray, my repository has branch offices in hampers, trash cans, and dumpsters all over the world. Feel free to deposit your old socks in the most convenient! :)

    Old paper connected with Mormon history is handled only by my central headquarters — please ship direct.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 20, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

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