Soul Encouragement for LDS Evangelism


“I’ve tried several times and I never seem to get anywhere,” says almost every born-again Christian who attempts to evangelize their LDS friends. If you can identify with the frustration above, let me introduce you to a man named Richard Greenham. He was, in every respect, the real deal.

Richard Greenham: A Sketch

Cambridge educated and deeply admired by his peers, Richard abandoned a plumb position in academia to become a pioneer missionary, which happened to be a 7-mile walk to a small town called Dry Drayton. Simply said, Richard put his shoulder to the plow. He rose daily at 4 AM to prepare for his six weekly sermons and twice weekly Bible classes. No shirt was safe from his deluge of perspiration as he passionately called sinners to Christ. Despite this enormous output of public energy, personal work was Richard’s signature grace. Panic-stricken woebegones and doubting Thomases alike flocked from all over England to partake of his soulful remedies.

If only the people of Dry Drayton knew what they had.

After 21 years of red-line intensity, Richard lamented that he had ultimately helped just one, solitary family. These words – surely uttered on a Monday – remind us of how easy it is for God’s servants to wallow in self-pity and how wrong they often can be. Had the illiterate and superstitious farmers of Dry Drayton utterly rejected Richard’s ministry? Maybe. Were his prodigious efforts a waste? Hardly.

You see, other things were happening around Richard. National movements were afoot – the ground beneath England was shaking. Richard didn’t fully understand the scope of these events. Who could? What he did possess, however, was a method and a mindset that gave him unusual clarity into the immediate needs of his nation.

Richard Greenham: An Influence

Two things gave Richard’s life a disproportionate effect. First, he kept at it. That’s all. No magic bullets; no secret sauce. Good old-fashioned perseverance paved the way.

Second, he invested heavily in the next generation. He remained influential at Cambridge, took pastoral apprentices under his wing, and insisted on educating the children of his church. In short, Richard Greenham played the long game. He often challenged younger pastors, men champing at the bit for more obvious change, to build the foundation before they constructed the roof. And a fine foundation he built.

Closing Thoughts

If you would permit me three applications of Richard’s Greenham’s example to the situation we face in Utah.

1. Build the Foundation First.

What is the right foundation? It’s a Biblical understanding of God. Latter-day Saints believe that Heavenly Father was once a sinful man who progressed to deity and now bears countless spirit-children with his seemingly silent goddess-wife. In this system, the shattering wrath of a Holy God means nothing. Sin becomes, at best, a misdemeanor easily bypassed with a “key” memorized in the Temple. When God is small and creaturely, wrath is foolish, grace is earned, and the good news of Jesus Christ loses its power. Start with God and stay on God and gently push until the weight of God crushes the pride of the person you want to win. It’s a ministry your friend may reject but won’t soon forget.

2. Focus on Ministers.

Paul says that elders who labor in doctrine are worthy of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). Whatever that means exactly, God’s people must incentivize their clergy to prepare hearty meals for the soul. I would especially like to encourage Utah believers to invest in preachers under the age of 40. Compared to states back east, Utah’s cost of living is astronomical and represents a huge barrier to younger couples ministering in our state. God’s people can directly affect evangelism in Utah by investing in Utah’s evangelists (2 Timothy 4:5).

3. Stick with it.

You’re probably plowing, sowing, and weeding better than you realize. Besides, the gospel seed that you possess is overwhelmingly powerful. The apostle Paul says it about as dogmatically as can be said, “In due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Praise the Lord for people like Richard Greenham. May his story be fuel for our labor in the Lord.