I have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints all my life. I also served as a full-time missionary for the church in Brazil for two years. As such, it has been my privilege to see others become acquainted with and join the church.
How to Join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
- Request to meet the missionaries by filling out the form at ComeUntoChrist.org
- Take the missionary lessons. There are approximately 5 lessons.
- Live the commandments as presented by the missionaries
- Attend worship services on Sundays
- Truly repent of your sins and misdeeds, and willingly follow Jesus Christ
- Be baptized and confirmed a member of the church
Those are the procedural steps, and I include them because many people wonder what the process is like, but obviously, the most important steps are the work you do in your own heart.
First Steps: How to initially become acquainted with the church
Idea #1 for getting in touch with the church – Attend worship service on Sunday
For some reason, it can feel very intimidating to go to church for the first time. Having attended congregations of the church all around the world, I can absolutely promise you that if you just show up on Sunday morning, walk in the church and stop the first person you see to say “Hey, I’ve never been to this church before. Can you show me how to attend the worship service?” You’ll receive the most welcome greeting you have in your whole life. Seriously, it’s that easy.
Read my guide on how to visit The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for the first time so you’re totally comfortable and know what to do.
Idea #2 for getting in touch with the church – Text, call, or email me or my wife
If just going to church unannounced sounds intimidating, please reach out to me personally. You could text, call or email me. My name is Jim and my email address is [email protected] and my phone number is 208.477.9332. Shoot me a text or call me and I’ll be very happy to chat with you even if you live nowhere near me. Just say you’ve been reading my blog and want to find out more about the church.
I’d be happy to talk with you, answer any questions, etc. My wife, Emily, also would love to talk with you if you’d prefer to chat with a woman (plus, she’s prettier than I am). Her number is 208.963.2980.
I know, kinda weird to include our cell numbers in a blog post, but we absolutely love the gospel and would be happy to talk to anyone about it.
Idea #3 for getting in touch with the church – Request a missionary visit
Another option is to go to the church’s official website for people learning about the church. Just put your information in the form to request a visit from the missionaries. When you do that, in the next couple days you’ll get a call or visit from two missionaries from the church. They are usually young (early 20’s) and they dedicate all their time to teaching people about their church. Their visit is free and they will never ask for donations. They just want to help.
When the missionaries come to visit, they’ll usually stay for under an hour and will get to know you and share a message about Jesus Christ.
Idea #4 for getting in touch with the church – Talk to a friend
If you have ever known a member of our church, simply reach out to them. Even if you didn’t know them well or it’s been a while since you’ve seen them, just send a message. Members of the church are NOT shy about sharing our beliefs when we know someone wants to know more.
Second, Meet With the Missionaries
After you’ve initially come into contact with the church through one of the methods above, it’s time for you to actually start learning about Jesus Christ and His church.
The missionaries are the best way to learn about the church. Whether you showed up on Sunday and started talking to people, texted me, or talked to a friend to get started, eventually you should meet the missionaries.
The missionaries are the designated spokespeople for the church to present the gospel to new people. When they visit with you, they’ll share God’s plan of salvation–why we’re here on earth, what happens before death, and how exactly we’re all sons and daughters of God.
When I was a missionary, I loved seeing individuals and families learning the gospel principles for the first time. The picture below is the Abreu family that I met.
I first visited their home as a missionary. They had heard of the church, but didn’t know much about it. We sat down for about 30 minutes and share with them a message. We got to know them, and shared a little more about Christ and His plan for us each time.
The missionaries will discuss the gospel with you individually so your discussions may end up totally different, but here’s a basic run-down of what they will share.
First Lesson – God loves families and wants us to be happy. Because of this, he sent prophets like Noah, Moses, and Abraham to the world. The Old Testament of the Bible shows how the people often heard what the prophets taught and followed him, but eventually, the people often rejected the prophets.
This pattern of the people rejecting the prophets is repeated throughout the Bible. Remember what happened when Moses came down from the mountain with the 10 Commandments? The people had built idols and rejected God’s commandments.
Eventually, Jesus Christ himself came down to earth. He lived a sinless life, healed the sick, and performed miracles like bringing Lazarus back to life. The people largely rejected Christ too. Jesus Christ allowed himself to be taken and killed on a cross. Because he was perfect, he was able to take upon him all evil when he died. Because he was also the son of God, he was able to come back to life on the first Easter. Jesus Christ is our Savior.
After Christ died, the end of the Bible shows that, while the apostles tried to continue preaching His message, the people again rejected it. They killed Christ’s disciples and rejected his teachings. For hundreds of years, Christ’s church was taken from the earth even though good people still tried to follow him.
As God always has, He called another prophet to establish his church again on the church. That person was Joseph Smith in 1820. God and Jesus Christ appeared to him and eventually gave him a record of ancient apostles in the Americas just like the Bible is a record of God’s prophets in Jerusalem.
You can’t just hear this teaching and know whether it is or isn’t true. I wasn’t there in 1820 when Christ claims to have seen Christ and God. However, I do know that you can pray and receive revelation from God. I have read the record God gave to Joseph Smith (The Book of Mormon), and I do feel that God has helped me to know that it is true. You can pray and receive knowledge yourself.
After the first lesson, you’ll learn lots more. You’ll have discussions about what happens after we die. The Lord has already told us so much about what the afterlife will be like, and how we can prepare now. You’ll also learn God’s commandments that help us to have a happy life and family.
Establish Your Personal Relationship with God
You’ll learn the most outside of the lessons with the missionaries. It will be personal experiences you have with God through prayer. You’ll read the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and you’ll kneel down beside your bed all by yourself each morning and night to pray. I promise you that as you begin to pray with total authenticity and honesty, that you will feel what God wants you to do. I have experienced it myself, and have seen many others experience the same.
God said, “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” I know He means that. You can receive knowledge from God directly to you through prayer.
When I was a missionary, I taught a couple named Manoel and Elza. They believed in God, but didn’t know much about religion when we first started meeting with them. We shared a lesson with them and invited them to come to church with us and pray to know for themselves if the things we taught were true.
They attended church several times and read chapters from The Bible and The Book of Mormon about Jesus Christ. We had great lessons with them and they loved getting to know our community at church. They made friends at church and wanted to follow Christ.
A few weeks later, Elza was going about her day when she suddenly felt a close connection to God. She felt a warm feeling and was given a very clear thought that what she was learning was true. It was not a passing thought. It was absolutely crystal clear and she couldn’t deny it. I could tell it was a special experience for her because it brought a tear to her eye as she talked about it.
Elza determined that she wanted to be baptized. Manoel also wanted to follow Christ, but also felt that he needed to learn for himself–and I agreed.
Manoel felt that what we taught was true. It all felt right to him. As he accepted our invitations to keep the commandments, he felt better. He stopped drinking, attended church, and spent just a little time each day praying and reading the scriptures. He made friends at church and felt his family was more peaceful than they had ever been.
Yet, Manoel did not have any experience like his wife Nelza. He felt he needed to keep looking and searching and not make any decision until he had an absolute experience to know if it was true.
As the weeks stretched on, he began to doubt. He felt that perhaps it was not true, or that he could never succeed in establishing a relationship with God. In the end, his desire began to wane and he stopped going to church.
I feel terrible that I did not shepherd Manoel very well. I still think about him almost weekly and wish I could go back and help him better. There was one thing he simply didn’t understand, and I failed to teach him.
Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
You can probably already see it. Manoel did feel love, joy, peace, and every other good thing as he studied the scriptures, prayed and attended church. He said his mind felt more clear than it had it years, and his family experienced their greatest period of peace. He did receive the knowledge from God and clear manifestations that what he was experiencing was good, but he was looking to receive it how Nelza did.
You are an individual. God created you and knows you. As you seek to know if the church is the right path, keep in mind that God will communicate to you in a personal and not a formulaic or necessarily even a surprising or obvious way. Manoel and Nelza both received knowledge from the Holy Ghost in different ways.
I wrote another post that explains how I came to establish my relationship with God that could be a helpful read.
Keep the Commandments and Repent
The whole purpose of baptism is to signal to God that you are willing to follow Him, take His name upon you, and to give up your past ways.
As you establish your connection with God and begin feeling his blessings, you’ll have a greater desire to follow God’s commandments.
God has always given commandments. Commandments are rules that God gives to us to help us to live a happier life. You know many of the commandments like “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” However, our culture today has forgotten many of God’s other commandments.
For example, one of the 10 commandments is “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Yet, most people do nothing on Sundays to honor the Lord, or to set it apart from any other day.
As members of Christ’s church, we seek to honor the Sabbath by worshipping at church services, refraining from working and making purchases, and spending extra time with family, and learning in the scriptures. We aren’t always perfect, but we strive to make it a special day.
Just as in ancient times when God called prophets to reveal God’s will to the people, we believe there is a living prophet today, who is the president of our church. He also reveals God’s will to the church and I have been blessed with a closer relationship with God as I have followed his teachings.
Some of the commandments we follow were not taught in the Bible, but have been revealed to modern prophets to meet the changes in the world today. For example, we are taught not to drink alcohol or coffee or tea. As members of the church, we do our best to keep all of God’s commandments for us.
As you meet with the missionaries, you will learn the commandments one by one and will be invited to follow them. It’s okay if you don’t always understand it. When the people of the Bible didn’t understand why God asked them to pay a tithe, God said “prove me herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that you have not room enough to receive it” Malachi 3:10.
You don’t have to understand. You do need to feel you are on the right path, and be willing to experiment with God’s ways. As you do so, you will feel the promised blessings from those commandments come into your life, and then you will know that it is right to follow those commandments.
As you keep the commandments, you will also become aware of things you have done in the past that did not match up with those standards. Through baptism and the receiving of the Holy Ghost, God will forgive you of all of your past misdeeds. A fresh, clean slate. God asks that you pray for forgiveness of those past sins and show a willingness to give up those sins as you become baptized.
Most people preparing for baptism are concerned that they have done things in the past that would keep them from getting baptized. Christ has already paid the price for your sin whether you have repented of it yet or not. It’s done. Would a parent ever tell their child they are too stinky to take a shower?
If you are willing to start down God’s path, and have asked for forgiveness of your sins, and will strive to do your best to keep the commandments, you are ready to be baptized. Baptism is the gate by which we pass as we begin the path. It is not a destination.
Be Baptized and Receive the Holy Ghost
You are now ready to be baptized.
Jesus Christ taught “Except a man be born of water and the spirit [baptism], he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Just as in our culture we sign a document with our name to enter into an agreement, or hold out our hands and shake them together, God also has distinct signs that clearly show that we have entered into an agreement with Him.
God did not just choose any symbol to represent a desire to follow His path. He chose one that would remind us of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. The water represents the ground. We are “buried” in the water representing Christ’s death, and then brought out of the water to show a “rebirth.” As such, God forgives us of all our past mistakes and grants us a new life.
After someone is baptized, authorized priests can give the person who was baptized a gift. That gift is the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead who can testify to us of truth. When we are clean and doing what is right, you will feel guidance from God as to what is right for you and your family.
When you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost after your baptism, you will feel it. Distinctly. There will be no mistake.
Throughout your life, there will be times when you will receive knowledge from God directly to you through prayer. It may come in the form of an insistent feeling, or a very clear thought, or something you just know even though you haven’t learned it yet from an external source. The Holy Ghost is one of God’s greatest gifts. I couldn’t imagine living life without it.
Baptism is wonderful, and important. But honestly, I feel that we sometimes over-emphasize it since you’ll receive the gift of the Holy Ghost at the same time, and I believe the gift of the Holy Ghost will impact much more of your daily life.
The gift of the Holy Ghost has been a great blessing to me and my family. In small daily decisions, we have been guided, but also as we’ve needed to make career choices, choices of where to move, choices of how to guide and teach our children, and many more. My life would not be what it is without the gift of the Holy Ghost.
When you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, you are also confirmed an official member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Your journey to conver to the church will also be complete, but now you will have a lifetime of deepening that conversion and improving yourself ahead of you.
Get started. Text me at 208.477.9332 or initiate your contact with the church some other way. There is probably a reason you’ve felt compelled to research more about the church.