A recent study showed that about half of the members of the Church have been baptized since 1978. And, as the Lord hastens the work on the earth, we see more and more converts joining the Church. Priesthood leaders have found that new converts participating in temple and family history work are much more likely to remain active members. Working with your priesthood leaders you can be inspired to know how to best invite and engage your ward’s or stake’s new converts in finding their ancestors and preparing them for sacred temple ordinances.
Sometimes a new convert is introduced to family history center by the full-time missionaries. In some missions, missionaries are using family history to introduce investigators to the Church. These investigators begin their journey to the temple before they are even baptized! Missionaries always work under the direction of the mission president. But, as a director, you can support missionary efforts and train missionaries in family history when requested by the mission president. You can prepare your family history center to be available and ready to help when the investigators come in. A trained, warm, welcoming, and knowledgeable staff can do much to help a visitor feel successful and comfortable.
Directors find that friendships are made and strengthened between new converts and ward members as they participate in family history together. Often pairing a home or visiting teacher, a relief society president, or priesthood quorum leader with a new convert strengthens the new convert and the member! They work together in preparing their ancestors for sacred temple ordinances. When possible, these same friends join the new convert in their first trips to the temple. Directors coordinate their efforts with ward councils and bishops as inspired friendships are encouraged. These same principles apply to helping returning members into full activity. Encourage the new convert, returning members, and active members to share their experiences with their families. They can teach others with their fresh enthusiasm for family history and temple work!
Some family history centers are setting aside specific evenings each month for new converts. Invitations coordinated through the ward council and missionaries are extended to the new convert. The My Family Booklet can be very helpful in assisting new members with gathering information, photos. and stories about their ancestors. The booklet can be completed online or in paper format. See https://familysearch.org/campaign/myfamily. These convert nights support the new member in building relationships of trust with the ward members. Be sure to do activities which will lead to the new convert finishing the evening with a printed Family Ordinance Request. Having that paper in hand provides inspiration to plan and prepare for a first temple experience.
As a family history center director you can be key to helping bishops and missionaries with new convert experiences in family history and temple work. A love for family is universal and most people respond eagerly to invitations to come and learn more about their own family. Open your hearts and your doors to motivating new converts and returning members into a path of full activity in the Church. As members turn their hearts to finding their ancestors, taking those ancestors’ names to the temple, and then teaching their families about their experience your wards and stakes will be blessed.