The following was originally written by Benjamin White for LDSmissionaries.com.
Have you ever wondered how a manual in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gets put together? Especially one that has impacted missionary work for the last decade? The history of how Preach My Gospel was assembled is as fascinating as missionary work is inspiring. Here are the highlights:
President Gordon B. Hinckley was concerned about some of the trends occurring in missionary work in the late 1990’s.
Those worries can be grouped into 4 categories:
1) Convert Retention
2) Returned Missionary Retention
3) Number of Baptisms
4) Quality of Missionary Teaching
Members of the missionary department went to work to see what could be done to address these concerns. The most revealing of their discoveries was the scripted format of the missionary discussions. These lessons often lead to a heavy reliance upon memorization as the primary vehicle for presenting the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Missionary Guide, which was produced to accompany the 1986 missionary lessons, outlined a number of important missionary skills. However, an overemphasis on these skills and over-dependence on memorization led to a quenching of the Holy Spirit.
With direction from President Boyd K. Packer and Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Jeffrey R. Holland, additional committees were formed to explore changes in the missionary program of the Church. They felt a need for missionaries to rely more heavily upon the Holy Ghost in all areas of missionary work instead of a memorized script. The official green light from the First Presidency of the Church came on November 1, 2000 to evaluate and determine if the missionary discussions should be rewritten.
Read White’s full article at ldsmissionaries.com.