One Last Book Before I Go

March 24, 2009 | 52 comments
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So your mission call finally arrived (see here, here, or here) and you suddenly realize that it starts in 44 days but you don’t know that much about Mormonism or what it is you are supposed to teach for two long years. You are suddenly serious about “missionary prep.” What book should you read?

There is the MPC (Mormon politically correct) answer: The Book of Mormon. That’s not a bad idea, but you’ll read it in the MTC again anyway, so if you are starting from scriptural zero you are better off reading the New Testament. Having read Mark and Galatians will give you some credibility when speaking with Christians. But as a missionary, your scriptures will always be with you. It’s suggestions for books you can’t take with you that we’re looking for.

Before leaving on my mission I read Hugh Nibley’s An Approach to the Book of Mormon, a very positive experience. It also prepared me to read large chunks of the Nibley corpus courtesy of the Geneva Switzerland ward library. Before my son left on his mission, I had him read How to Win Friends and Influence People. Any other suggestions?

I don’t know that it really matters that much for most pre-missionaries, but for some the right book in those key few weeks before embarking can make a small positive difference. For a few, the right book might make a big difference.

52 Responses to One Last Book Before I Go

  1. The Teacher on March 24, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Jesus the Chirst. Or, the Articles of Faith.

  2. Hans on March 24, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Believing Christ by Robinson is great as it helps members understand faith and works. I read it on my mission and it influenced my perception of salvation. The follow up book is good too.

  3. Bookslinger on March 24, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Gospel Principles. All investigator/new-member Sunday school lessons or follow-up lessons to the missionary discussions are in there. Our young missionaries never will (or should never) be asked to teach anything beyond what’s in there.

    In fact, I’ve read one person’s opinion that there are only 50 talks or lessons in all the church. Every talk or lesson from your FHE up to General Conference are a variation of one of those 50. So the 47 lessons in Gospel Principles, pretty much has you covered.

    One of the over-arching principles of full-time missionary service is KISS. Mission presidents who steer their missionaries away from higher doctrines are doing correctly.

    There are so many areas of our lives in which to live and implement the basics, that anything beyond the 47 lessons in Gospel Principles (or the 36 lessons in Gospel Fundamentals [hat tip to JMS]) is “looking beyond the mark” for a full-time missionary. At least in my opinion.

    I don’t know what the current “approved” book list is that would be equivalent to the older set of Jesus the christ, Articles of Faith, Marvelous Work and a Wonder, etc. But I’d stick to whatever is the current list. And if Gospel Principles isn’t on there, take it on his/her mission, because missionaries are often asked to teach those lessons in investigator class.

    But aside from the standard works, the only essential books are: Preach My Gospel, Gospel Principles, and the “white bible” or whatever they call it now.

    44 days may be enough to read the NT if the newly called missionary hasn’t done so already. The OT should have been gone through at least once prior.

    God bless and good fortune!

  4. Christopher on March 24, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Bushman’s A Very Short Introduction to Mormonism might be really helpful. It is very readable (in terms of both length and content), details the most significant issues in LDS history, and situates Mormon beliefs and culture within larger frameworks (local, national, international, comparative religion, etc).

  5. Tim J on March 24, 2009 at 11:56 am

    For a good secular book, I’ve always liked “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino. Good Christian message in the end as well.

    The Missionary Library is a good place to start, and I agree with Dave’s advice on reading the NT.

    Whatever you do, steer clear of Serve With Honor.

  6. Bryan H. on March 24, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    “Here We Stand” by Joseph F. McConkie. McConkie created a furvor in the Scotland-Edinburgh mission when his first instruction as president was, “Send your bibles home.” Not literally, but that captures the sentiment of the idea that we often downplay the revelations of the restoration and rely on Biblical prooftexts to teach the gospel. He suggests that the scriptures of the restoration are more likely to bring about the kind spirit and discussion that will give place for testimony.

  7. Bryan H. on March 24, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    #5 What’s wrong with “Serve With Honor”?

  8. Ray on March 24, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks, Dave, for this version of my original question. It’s a great question.

    There are lots of things I want my son to read before he leaves, but I told him first to lock himself in a room somewhere private and quiet and read The Book of Mormon straight through, cover to cover, focusing simply on “feeling” it. I believe we’ve moved away from the original way it was used on missions and made it more of a textbook from which to pull doctrinal support of the concepts taught in the missionary lessons. I want him to understand it, but I want more for him feel it – and I want him to use it that way with others.

    Anyway, I will make sure he knows about this thread and reads the comments. Again, thanks.

  9. dan r on March 24, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    When I left on my mission I was in the same boat. I had never had seminary and had never read the Book of Mormon cover to cover. “Gospel Principles” helped me more for my preparation than any other book besides the BOM. I also found that nothing sparked my interest more and got me interested in personal study than Gospel Principles did. A great book for a 19 year old that needs to find the basics of what “we believe” with additional scriptural reference. I second the “New Testament” recommendation as well.

  10. John Mansfield on March 24, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    My reading focus would be the history and culture of the people I will be serving.

  11. Raymond Takashi Swenson on March 24, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    It would depend partly on which mission my son or daughter was going to. If it is outside the US, I would want to find some good introductory references to the religious background and history of the people in the nation where the mission is located. If you don’t learn that, you have all sorts of assumptions about what they think that may not match up with what they really think and not communicate. Inside the US, a good survey book on religious beliefs, like the one used to teach the course on world religions at BYU.

    It is also important to have an integrated concept of the church and its doctrines, starting with the role of each member of the Godhead. I think Preach my Gospel actually does a good job of that. It should be approached as a workbook, with the missionary giving you a synopsis of each section, and then polishing and summarizing it as a lesson. We learn what we teach, and there is no reason to wait until the MTC for that.

    As you go through it with him or her, you could get feedback about concepts that are harder to understand for the individual missionary, and adapt additional reading to that need.

    I would include one of the good FARMS books that compiles scholarly findings that support the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. This is not so much for use with investigators as to bolster the missionary’s own confidence when confronting attacks, that he or she knows there are smart people who have testimonies of the book. It also helps to understand that the Book of Mormon has a lot of intellectual depth that rewards repeated study and thought.

    I would want to be sure the missionary understands how the Church operates, how it is led and financed. Those are things that can be invisible to a teenager, but a missionary gets thrust into roles of leadership and advice.

    Most missionaries will be taking out their own endowments and participating in other temple ordinances for the first time. I would want to enlighten my missionary about the significance of the temple, which means studying the Book of Moses and Book of Abraham, and the texts that explain salvation for the dead, which is something that distinguishes us from other religions. I might add some Hugh Nibley discussions about the ancient corollaries to the temple.

    I think the MTC is going to concentrate on the ability to communicate the basic message of repentance and acceptance of the restored gospel through baptism by the restored priesthood. It is not going to work on the basics of faith and understanding, nor the elaborations that address the application of scholarship to the gospel. I would want to reaffirm the basics in my missionary, as well as give him or her an inkling that they can look forward to learning far more. A mission is not only a spiritual training but also an intellectual one as well.

  12. Tim J on March 24, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    “What’s wrong with ‘Serve With Honor’?”

    I don’t think it’s practical or realistic. I came across a copy late in my mission and was floored at what was in there. Hand signals? Ugh.

  13. Coffinberry on March 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    I’ve got one son just back from his mission, and one getting ready to put papers in, so your question is timely.

    I think that your intimate personal knowledge of your son (as well as your parental stewardship) is probably the best guide as to what book would be best. If I could go back in time to just before my first son was going (to serve in the US deep south), I’d probably invite him to learn more about two things: body language and priesthood leadership. But that’s with hindsight, now.

    Thinking what I would tell my second son… Son two, preparing to leave, has read the Book of Mormon 6 times in the last 12 months, including the shut-the-door-and-feel-it version you suggest, so that’s probably not what would be on his list. He’s also studied Preach My Gospel thoroughly enough to quote things to me offhand in IM conversations. So not that, either. He’s been studying philosophy and social relations, so nothing there, either.

    I think I would suggest “Teaching, No Greater Call.” Come to think of it, I believe I will do exactly that.

  14. john willis on March 24, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    HOW ABOUT “ROUGH STONE ROLLING” SO THE PROSPECTIVE MISSIONARY WILL BE PREPARED WHEN HARD QUESTIONS ABOUT JOSEPH SMITH’S TREASURE SEEKING AND PLURAL MARRIAGE COME UP. I ALSO THINK THAT HE(OR) SHE WILL GAIN A GREATER APPRECIATION FOR THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESS OF THE PROPHET AND GO BEYOND THE PLASTER SAINT VERSION OF JOSEPH SMITH THAT MISSONARY HAS BEEN EXPOSED TO IN THE STANDARD CHURCH CURRICULMN.

  15. Timj on March 24, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Most missionaries have been learning about the gospel their whole lives. Most of these books are great, and certainly Preach My Gospel will be useful, but missionaries have plenty of time to read that stuff, along with most of the other recommendations above, while on their missions.
    I’d recommend using this time to study up on the culture/religion/lifestyle of the people he’ll be serving. Read up on the history of the church in the region. Study things he won’t be able to read about later.
    And supplement that with Preach My Gospel, focusing on elements of Preach My Gospel that will be most useful in his specific mission.

  16. Matt W. on March 24, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Since you are going stateside, and will only be inthe MTC for two weeks, if you haven’t already read the BOM cover to cover, read it. People will make fun of you.

    I also suggest leadership and self-deception and five dysfunctions of a team. They’ll help you love your companion and district more.

    And of course the books Missionaries need to be most familiar with are preach my Gospel and Gospel Principles, as those are what you’ll be teaching out of every week, not the scriptures, per se.

    I read Greatest Salesman in the world part 2 on my mission and loved it at the time. (I’ve never read the first one).

    Grant Vaughn Harrison (Morrison?)’s missionary books are pretty good, despite the way way they are written. “Anyone can baptise” is the best one of the bunch.

    There was a little green book that the mission president gave to all of us on my mission called “Tracting” that was really good for a missionary help. Anyone else know what I am talking about?

  17. Clean Cut on March 24, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Adding my vote to “Believing Christ” by Stephen E. Robinson. Not only will this help missionaries better understand THEIR covenant relationship with Christ, but it will better help them TEACH that covenant relationship to investigators.

  18. Gilgamesh on March 24, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    I read Signature Books – Line Upon Line,. It delves into the theological developments of the Holy Spirt, Mother in Heaven, Jesus-Jehovah, etc.. It helped me recognize that there is a lot of nuance in the church and in the gospel. It is not always cut and dry.

  19. Bruce in Montana on March 24, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” is hard to beat but if you’re looking for secular stuff, “The Road Less Traveled” by Peck is a classic.

  20. Bookslinger on March 24, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Though missionaries don’t “sell” the gospel, I think they should “sell” investigators on the idea of reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. Then let the Holy Ghost do the convincing/convicting/conversion.

    So the Carnegie book on “How to win friends and influence people” might be good in that respect.

    Another good sales book that seems to deal with the philosophy of “attraction” is “Same Game New Rules” by Bill Caskey.

  21. Bookslinger on March 24, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I like what Ardis did before going on her mission to France. Before leaving, she took the Catholic catechism classes to understand her investigators’ Catholic background.

  22. queuno on March 24, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Certainly, he should study the local political and sports issues of his mission. No one wants to be caught favoring the wrong people or the wrong soccer club…

  23. queuno on March 24, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    (KIDDING!)

  24. Alison Moore Smith on March 24, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Grant Vaughn Harrison’s missionary books are pretty good, despite the way way they are written.

    I guess you’re not including, Is Kissing Sinful? in that category? Wah!

    Great thread. I’d include Robinson’s Following Christ as well.

  25. Rameumptom on March 24, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I still like Tools for Missionaries, and Drawing Upon the Powers of Heaven by Grant Von Harrison.

    I’d also recommend Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.

  26. Mike on March 24, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Shaken Faith Syndrome (see http://www.ShakenFaithSyndrome.com) and Of Faith and Reason (see http://www.OfFaithandReason.com)

  27. jay s on March 24, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    First – I would echo the advice that if you haven’t read the Book of Mormon you should do so now (hopefully this only applies to .1 percent).

    Second – if you have read the book of mormon – I would second the advice of Raymond Swenson (#11).

    Lastly – if the potential missionary hasn’t been exposed to other religions – or this is limited = a good comparative religion book will be helpful. Presenting the ideas of others in a sensitive and understanding way, so that you don’t make a complete idiot of yourself.

    I was facially familiar with other religions, but had really only discussed a few more in depth (buddhism, Shintoism, the Bahai faith and Islam). The major christian religions I was familiar with only through that which you would pick up from a general education. I found “Religions of the World: A Latter-day Saint View” By Spencer Palmer and Roger R. Keller helpful. I haven’t looked at it years, but remember it being decent. It is the institute manual and remember it being fairly cheap.

  28. Brett McKay on March 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    On being a more effective teacher: “Made to Stick.” It’s all about what makes ideas more sticky. You can know all the doctrine in the world, but if you can’t present it in a way that will stay with people after you leave, it doens’t mean a darn.

    I didn’t learn this until half way through my mission.

  29. Peter A on March 24, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    I heartily agree with the suggestions regarding reading the Book of Mormon for feeling as much as content in the weeks before a mission. Having a really strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, and in particular its teachings regarding the Savior, is, in my opinion, the best grounding one could have in preparation for a mission. First, because the missionary will be able to testify about the Book with honesty and power, and, second, it will to a great degree inoculate the missionary from being overly troubled over any uncomfortable details and even slander he or she will inevitably be exposed to regarding Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and the beginnings of Mormonism, etc. (Much more so, for example, than Brother Bushman’s fantastic Rough Stone Rolling would.)

    I respectfully disagree with those who have suggested Grant Von Harrison books. Drawing Upon the Powers of Heaven and other Von Harrison works–at least the editions I read 25 years ago–set up unrealistic expectations for what a missionary could hope to achieve, both in terms of personal discipline and measuring success. I think it did more harm than good as to my own feelings about the success of my mission, at least in the early months.

    I went to England, but failed to baptize thousands as literally promised in at least some of Brother Von Harrison’s works; so I felt like I was failing. Furthermore, while of course spiritual power can be enhanced by personal righteousness and discipline, far more important is humility and trust in and reliance on the Lord. Nothing is more depressing as a young man or woman thousands of miles from home than thinking God does not love you–and that you deserve to fail as a missionary–because you’re imperfect.

    On the contrary, of course, enthusiasm, courage and the hope that the Lord will sustain you despite your weaknesses are key to success. (Plus, if your mission loves street contacting, the willingness to make a complete fool of yourself in public doesn’t hurt. Therefore, the various books about how to sell that have been recommended have value for young men mature enough to understand that good sales techniques can get you in the door, but the Spirit better close the deal if you want your converts to stay active.)

    Fortunately, Elder Marvin J. Ashton came to our mission one time and related how he had only baptized 5 people whilst (cool British usage) on his mission to England. This experience, along with many others, eventually gave me a healthier perspective on what it meant to be successful as a missionary.

  30. Kent G. Budge on March 24, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    I’m going to have to side against anything by Grant Von Harrison. I saw too many missionaries thrown into a depression because their contacts insisted on exercising their agency in spite of all the missionary’s prayers.

  31. Timj on March 24, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Just a note: there seems to be the idea present here that missionaries will run into anti-Mormon sentiments on their missions. This may be the case…but the anti-Mormon sentiments that I ran into on my mission were the “Mormons are all polygamists” or “Mormons don’t use electricity” types (if they’d even heard of Mormons). Much (probably most) of the world has never heard of Joseph Smith, and many missionaries will never have to defend him from anti-Mormon rhetoric.

  32. RT on March 24, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Not to pile on, but I knew of a sister who literally fasted herself into the hospital, based in large part on Von Harrison’s “covenanting with God” idea. I’ve heard similar stories (though not as extreme) from others who read them. Now, whe may have misinterpreted what he was trying to say; but even if she did, a book that lends itself to that kind of misinterpretation probably shouldn’t be on the reading list for most would-be missionaries.

    I’m also a little wary of all the sales book suggestions. I understand that there’s a practical dimension to the missionary program. But the missionaries get enough sales technique training in the MTC. I’d hate to see our missionaries become even more programmed.

    On the positive side, I recently read Robert Millet’s “Men of Valor,” and thought that it was excellent. I think he has a very grounded perspective on the gospel, and does a good job on focusing on the essentials. Moreover, I think his writing would be very accessible to most 19 year olds.

  33. Rob on March 24, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    “Making the Most of Your Mission,” by John D. Whetten – by far this was the best book of missionary advice I read on my mission, and the best I’ve ever seen. Very concise – you can read it in one sitting – but full of valuable, practical advice on how to be a better missionary. I found it to be a great perspective-changer. I also found that the things in the book that I was skeptical about early in my mission I later recognized as true towards the end of my mission as I gained more perspective. I would give this book to everyone I know going on a mission, and suggest they ask their mission presidents for permission to re-read it periodically throughout their mission.

  34. Tim J on March 24, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    “I’m also a little wary of all the sales book suggestions. I understand that there’s a practical dimension to the missionary program. But the missionaries get enough sales technique training in the MTC.”

    Being in sales, I’ll argue. Sales is nothing but a conveying of ideas. It can be done dishonestly and be manipulatative (as many salesmen and missionaries do), but it doesn’t have to be the case. Sales skills (how to build rapport, present ideas, follow-up, ask questions, listen intently, etc.) are all applicable to being a missionary.

    And “The Greatest Salesman in the World” isn’t really about sales.

    I will also echo concerns about Von Harrison. Like “Serve With Honor” it presents the Mission in an unrealistic way. I started my mission with specific baptismal goals. Those are of no use to a missionary.

  35. Ray on March 24, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Just to clarify one thing, if it makes any difference to further suggestions:

    Ryan is almost 21. He has spent two years at an East Coast college where almost every other Mormon-raised student is gay and/or non-practicing. He is a theater major. Iow, he’s seen a lot and heard a lot that many new missionaries haven’t experienced.

    He’s read all of the standard works multiple times – except the OT. That was once, in Seminary.

    I know that won’t change many of the suggestions, but he’s entering a little older and more world-wise than many of his future companions – and probably his future ZL’s and AP’s.

  36. Alison Moore Smith on March 25, 2009 at 12:20 am

    If it matters, Von is GVH’s middle name. The last name is just Harrison, not Von Harrison. I grew up with his kids in my Orem ward.

    But I still don’t think kissing is sinful.

  37. Curtis on March 25, 2009 at 12:20 am

    A week after I arrived at the MTC, they had me go and see one of their psychologists. [I'd best mention why: I'm diagnosed with low-level autism - what they call Asperger's Syndrome nowadays, and the high-functioning side of that... I can deal with people I don't know, or with new situations, but I don't like to do either very much. I went stateside, and I still didn't have it easy as far as "the social stuff" (as I called it) went.] The psychologist recommended I read “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Probably a good idea.

    M. Ruissell Ballard’s “Our Search For Happiness” is on the “approved list”, and is a VERY good one.

    I’ll thord #11 and add a book along the lines of “The Holy Temple”, as well.

    I’ve read a few of GVH’s books, (afterwards, thankfully) and I can’t say I recommend them, either. He takes things to extremes. eek!

  38. Scott on March 25, 2009 at 12:23 am

    As you did Dave, prior to leaving on my mission I also read “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This book truly had a major impact on my missionary service and indeed has helped me my entire life. It taught me the importance of taking an interest in others. To listen to people when they speak, and to ask them questions about their experiences. Basically this book is about forgetting ourselves and serving others. It is a wonderful book for anyone preparing for a mission.

  39. Aaron Brown on March 25, 2009 at 12:38 am

    they should totally read that essay by Hugh Nibley where he says that the world will end on April 6, 1993. Cuz it did, as you may have noticed.

  40. Alan on March 25, 2009 at 1:20 am

    A Marvelous Work and a Wonder! For sure!

  41. HiveRadical on March 25, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Having just received this book from a dear friend and finding it to be amazing what I’ve gotten to so far –

    “To Draw Closer to God: A Collection of Discources”
    by Henry B. Eyring

    It cuts to the core issue for every missionary (and member) and that’s our proximity to God. Since the goal of missionaries is to draw others to God To understand how to, for themselves and others, is a vital point and I think this collection of Eyring’s words in combination with the Book of Mormon (it having the same goal/purpose to help us draw closer to God) are very very deserving of close and careful study.

    Another bonus is that the book is not very long and it touches on so many aspects of drawing closer to God, from prayer to properly dealing with the philosophies of the world. No need for so much minutia if all you have is a month before the mission.

  42. Peter LLC on March 25, 2009 at 7:44 am

    As an alternative to Dale Carnegie’s ancient tome try Don’t Shoot the Dog! by Karen Pryor. You can thank me later.

  43. J on March 25, 2009 at 11:07 am

    There is a great book that changed my mission which i read half way through it is an easy read and really tells to power of the Book of Mormon…so since beside the Book of Mormon it is “Book of Mormon: Key to Conversion” by Glen L Pearson. Anything by Grant Von Harrison is also good, although Von Harrison be advocate something that is not done in the mission often (what comes to find is fasting a while but going off memory)…so the key is Von harrison is “follow it unless the mission says otherwise.”

  44. Paradox on March 25, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Trusting Jesus by Elder Holland.

    But first and foremost, the Book of Mormon. If a missionary doesn’t know diddly squat about Mormonism, that’s the ONLY place to start. Going on a mission isn’t suddenly going to make that book make sense. I’ve only just finished it for the first time this semester, and it’s one of those books that it’ll take me the rest of my life to understand. I refused to even TOUCH the Old or New Testament seriously until I had a better foundation in the Book of Mormon, and it’s a decision I don’t regret.

  45. TStevens on March 25, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    If you want something really way out of the box, The Game by Neil Strauss. While it is essentially a manual on how to allegedly get women into bed, at its core it demonstrates that anyone can develop confidence and skills necessary to enable them to talk with everyone. It is the same skill set that will help a missionary connect to his environment and thus give him/her an opportunity to share the gospel. Of course you really have to look big picture to get that (and be okay with the rampant immorality it champions to get its point across).

  46. dr. b. on March 25, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    The best overview in my opinion subject wise about missionary work is which is statements on every aspect of missionary work found on the side bar of my blog. It is statements by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve.

  47. Rick on March 27, 2009 at 6:19 am

    Seriously, if you had just ONE book to read, I’d read something gospel-focused, not sales or interpersonal relations-focused, and something written by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Yeah missions are about talking to people, but if you had just ONE book to read? I’d try to read something that would teach people skills, gospel knowledge, AND help him learn to recognize the Holy Ghost. Plus something that helps him personally testify of our modern leaders.

    I think Teach Ye Diligently by Boyd Packer is excellent for teaching anyone some basic teaching skills. Substitute that one for the sales books others have recommended (no offense–just my opinion). I’d also have him read Missionaries to Match our Message by Ezra Taft Benson, which will take him about 30 minutes to read but will fire him up about his mission. That’s the one I give to brothers going on missions.

    After those two, if he still has time to read, I’d stick with learning the gospel from the mouths of our prophets. Remember Packer’s counsel that learning the gospel is more important than learning behavior. Here’s some great gospel-centric books for would-be missionaries of our faith:

    – The Great Apostasy, Talmadge
    – Jesus the Christ, Talmadge
    – A Marvelous Work and Wonder by Richards
    – Our Legacy, so he knows our history
    – Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Lectures on Faith. Bruce R. McConkie said we should read the teachings of Joseph Smith often, alongside our scriptures.
    – Miracle of Forgiveness, by Kimball
    – Other books by our current prophets, so he can testify of their divine call. Hollands’ book on the Book of Mormon would be good, Eyring has a couple good books, and reading something by President Monson would be good.

    Seriously, there are lots of great books in the world, but I’d tell my son to study the gospel straight from the prophets’ mouths instead of other books. You can never get too much apostolic instruction when you are young and going out to testify of our apostles’ divine callings.

  48. Bookslinger on March 27, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    at its core it demonstrates that anyone can develop confidence and skills necessary to enable them to talk with everyone.

    Along those lines, but not championing anything immoral is “Always Talk to Strangers: 3 Simple Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life” by David Wygant. I’d recommend that book for 16 year-olds.

    The skills for meeting and talking to the opposite sex for the purpose of getting a date can be paralleled to meeting and talking to strangers for the purpose of a missionary presentation.

  49. DB on March 28, 2009 at 12:12 am

    I won’t name a book on the subject, but really, a prospective missionary should, in addition to learning charity and love, learn a bit about understanding the Jews from a genuine Mormon perspective. Most or many missionaries will run into Jews – either when knocking at doors or whatever. They won’t understand the truth about why Jews are so guarded. I get asked about that a lot. They are resistant to what they consider the “other” God they are commanded to stay away from while being loyal to the ONE that is within their belief. If missionaries learn to inquire and respect a bit instead of condemning or being puzzled, they will have potentially some success with these who are also Children of God – these who Ephraim is told to bring in. How is Ephraim going to do that, parents and mission presidents?? Do you care? Or shall we just keep on saying in Sunday School and over the pulpit that “The Jews” (think sweeping generality; broad brush) killed Christ, being completely unaware and uncaring of the feelings that those words plant and the of the sensitivities that those words spike.

  50. Cicero on March 28, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Non-scriptural?

    “Jesus the Chirst” by Talmadge

    or maybe “Lectures on Faith” by Joseph Smith

  51. CindyO on March 29, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Just wanted to say that I have a son who is about to turn his papers in and have been wondering about this as well. I settled on “The Holy Temple” by Boyd K Packer, “Truth Restored” (short history of the church and society, and “Serve with Honor” by Randy Bott. I think Brother Bott’s book is the best book I have ever read about what a mission is actually like and it helped me prepare to be a missionary mom also.
    He is very familiar with the scriptures and Preach my Gospel. We also got him the suggested mission books (at the distribution center) for his 18th birthday and he has been reading those as well. We’re excited to see where he ends up serving!

  52. dr. b. on March 31, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Apparently none of you has taken the time to read the missionary compilation on my sidebar where I have spent twenty-five years abstracting into a thematic arrangement everything from the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve on missionary work in a book I call Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord. My two daughters read this prior to their missions as well as the Book of Mormon. They had taken missionary preparation and were aware of Preach My Gospel and Religion 130 manual. I abstracted those and thousands of more statements by the Brethren. Everything from Thomas S. Monson to Joseph Smith. As missionaries they can read Preach My Gospel, the Book of Mormon and the missionary library for the next two years. What I offer is an overview on every aspect of missionary work from the mouth of the Prophet, Seers and Revelators. I wish I had read Joseph F. Smith’s advice on not contending. Gordon B. Hinckley’s on retaining converts better etc. My daughters used these quotes constantly before during and after their missions. I abstracted every book every written by any member of the First Presidency and the Twelve. Having compiled the Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson I feel this is my best compilation to date and should be considered by anyone member or full-time missionary since I have every statement he every made on the topic since I had access to fourteen thousand pages of his texts and all printed sources from the other members of the group. Check the top of my side bar and read the book from cover to cover. I would email it to anyone that wants a copy but with the photographs it is twenty MB and most people’s email can’t handle an attachment that large.