During the short time since they've been distributed, the new missionary pass-along cards are proving to help members feel more comfortable with sharing the gospel. And as a result of greater member participation, missionary referrals are increasing.
"They are called pass-along cards," said Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy, "because they are designed for members to pass along as a gift. This new missionary effort makes it easier for members to become involved in missionary work. During a trial period in 10 missions in 1999, the cards proved to be a simple, yet effective means of overcoming barriers that can inhibit gospel conversations.
"The offer of a free gift often piques interest and creates a friendly setting where gospel principles can be explained," said Elder Tingey, executive director of the missionary department.
The cards are beautifully printed with a gloss finish. One depicts the Savior greeting Mary in the garden following His Resurrection. On the reverse side is an offer for a free video titled, The Lamb of God.
The second card depicts the well-known Arnold Friberg painting of the Savior descending to the inhabitants of the Americas as recorded in 3 Nephi. This card offers a free copy of the Book of Mormon.
The cards are small enough to carry in a shirt pocket or a purse, and can be easily distributed by members and missionaries to their friends and others they meet during the course of the day. Since February, thousands of cards have been distributed to all stakes and missions in North America. President David L. Garner of the Vancouver Washington Stake shared the pass-along cards with a group of census takers who asked to use the stake center for a training session.
"I have had a very cordial response," he said. "I haven't had anyone refuse." He's also given them to friends and people he meets on airplanes and in other settings.
"From my perspective, when you want to talk to someone, the pressure is greatly reduced if you have something you put in their hands that is not difficult to understand and is not something they have to answer for. You can just get into a few minutes conversation, and you are out again. I think the pass-along cards are going to be great."
Because he was involved in the trial period, President Joseph F. Cannon of the Bay City Texas Stake has lengthy experience in using the pass-along cards. He has seen good response from the cards. He likes to have missionaries deliver the cards.
"I gave the missionaries a card to deliver as an Easter greeting about two weeks ago," he said. "I called the family and told them the missionaries were coming. The missionaries were received very graciously. They only planned to stay a few minutes but stayed almost an hour.
"I followed up with a phone call, and learned they had ordered the video." He said that after the family has seen the video, if there is further interest, he will visit them with another Church video.
"They are great cards. We ought to use them."
Veldon E. Messick of the Sugarland 1st Ward, Houston Texas South Stake, has given cards to his friends.
"One of these families wanted to hear more about the gospel," he said. When missionaries deliver the card, the non-members can become acquainted with them.
"The multiple contacts are making a difference. The non-members realize that the missionaries are nothing to fear."
The process to receive the free video or Book of Mormon, explained Elder Tingey, is to call the toll-free telephone number on the reverse side of the card. Callers will be asked by a missionary in the Church's referral center in Provo, Utah, whether they prefer to have the free gift delivered by two personal representatives of the Church, or whether they wish to receive it by mail.
If personal representatives are requested, the mission office nearest the request is notified by E-mail. Missionaries are then promptly sent. When they deliver the gift, they offer to give an hour presentation about the Church. Callers receive their gift within 24 hours of their request.
Those not wishing a personal visit may request their gift be sent by mail. "We have packaged and mailed hundreds and thousands of these books and videos," Elder Tingey said.
Since February, 2,000 cards have been sent to each stake, and 10,000 cards to each mission in North America. "Stake presidents should take advantage of the opportunities these cards create," said Elder Tingey. "If members will seriously and enthusiastically share these cards, I have no doubt they will get good results," Elder Tingey said.