Some individuals may wonder how both preaching the gospel and seeking after our dead can be simultaneously the greatest duties and responsibilities God has placed upon His children. My purpose is to suggest that these teachings highlightthe unity and oneness of the latter-day work of salvation. Missionary work and family history and temple work are complementary and interrelated aspects of one great work, “that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:10).I suggest you read and re-read what Elder Bednar has to say. For years I invited both our Ward Mission Leaders and the Full-time Missionaries assigned to our Ward to utilize the family history resources of our Ward in their missionary efforts without success, even though the Mesa FamilySearch Library (Mesa Family History Center at the time) was only a short distance away from our Ward and right across the street from the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors Center. During that same time, the Mesa FamilySearch Library was hosting thousands of people who were not members of the Church, many of whom I was talking to and working with each day I served as a Missionary.
I extended the same invitation to our High Priests Group Leader and the Ward in general. Here is what Elder Bednar has to say on that subject:
While the Lord seeks to gather all things together in one in Christ, we may often segment and specialize in ways that limit our understanding and vision. When carried to an extreme, priority is given to managing programs and enhancing statistics over inviting individuals to enter into covenants and receive ordinances worthily. Such an approach constrains the purification, the joy, the continuing conversion, and the spiritual power and protection that come from “yielding [our]hearts unto God” (Helaman 3:35). Simply performing and dutifully checking off all of the things on our lengthy gospel “to do” list does not necessarily enable us to receive His image in our countenance or bring about the mighty change of heart (see Alma 5:14).Elder Bednar further explains how this can be accomplished through the role of the Book of Mormon in changing hearts and the Spirit of Elijah in turning hearts. His article contains links to six individual videos that support the concepts he is teaching us. He says further:
The time has come for us to capitalize more effectively on the potent combination of the mighty change of heart, made possible primarily by the spiritual power of the Book of Mormon, and the turning of hearts to the fathers, accomplished through the spirit of Elijah. A yearning for connection to our past can prepare anindividual to receive the virtue of the word of God and fortify his or her faith. A heart turning to the fathers uniquely helps an individual withstand the influence of the adversary and strengthen conversion.In part, he summarizes his points as follows:
Preaching the gospel and seeking after our dead are complementary parts of one great work—a labor of love intended to change, turn, and purify the hearts of honest seekers of truth. The artificial boundary line we so often place between missionary work and temple and family history work is being erased; this is one great work of salvation.
Can we begin to understand the role of temple and family history work in helping an investigator or a less-active member obtain a deeper understanding of the plan of salvation? Do we recognize that one of the greatest influences on convert retention is the spirit of Elijah? Can we more fully appreciate the importance of heart-turning moments occasioned by the sharing of family stories as a means of finding people to teach by both members and missionaries? Can we help those we serve access more often the powers of godliness by participating worthily in ordinances such as the sacrament and baptisms and confirmations for the dead?The lessons taught here by Elder Bednar are specifically explained in the Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work: To Tune the Hearts.