Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Family History Consultants as Family History Missionaries

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah
During the past six months or so, I have been hearing references to the fact that Ward Family History Consultants should be, in effect, family history missionaries. I think the concept is an important way to move Family History Consultants from their commonly passive mode into a more active participation in Ward and Stake activities. Despite specific, existing instructions in the organizational manual, Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, To Turn the Hearts, in my experience most Family History Consultants are ignored by the Ward organization and very few are even given any form of training or even orientation to their function.

The idea that the Family History Consultants should be proactive and take the initiative in contacting and helping members with their family history should have been obvious given the statement from page 20 of the Guide:
Working with Members Consultants take the initiative to reach out to members, especially those who are not comfortable using technology, by: 
Helping a few individuals or families at a time to work on their own family history so they can perform temple ordinances for their deceased relatives. The most effective place to do this is in members’ homes. The ward council could determine specific individuals or families for the consultant to work with. The high priests group leader assigns these families to the consultant. 
Answering family history questions from ward leaders and members.
The unresolved obstacle to this process has always been the lack of involvement of the responsible Ward leaders, including the High Priests Group Leader in training and supporting the Family History Consultants.

At the Brigham Young University Family History Library when a new missionary is called and begins to serve, they are mentored with an extensive training program that has been developed over the past two years based in part on The Family History Guide. Unfortunately, there is no corresponding type of instruction for Family History Consultants and even though resources such as The Family History Guide exist, few Ward leaders know of their existence.

A recent Blog post entitled, "Find Others to Teach" by Mike Sandberg highlights this issue directly. The post says,
Helping others with family history work is a lot like being a missionary. Why?
  • You are focused on bringing others to the ordinances of salvation.
  • You are focused on uniting and strengthening families on both sides of the veil.
The Holy Ghost will help you find others to teach as you seek its guidance. It will prompt you because Heavenly Father wants His children to have positive temple and family history experiences that build faith.
The post also suggests that Family History Consultants see themselves "as a missionary as you help others with family history. You are on the Lord’s errand." This post should be widely disseminated to all Family History Consultants. Our job here is to be proactive and become involved in helping people directly rather than passively waiting for someone to ask us for assistance.


  1. "Find Others to Teach" can be found at
    The link above goes to

    1. Thanks, I forgot to link the blog post directly. I have done so now.

    2. Family History is a wonderful hook for finding prospective members. The Spirit of Elijah moves among nonLDS, too, of course! To help someone realize the purpose of that urging has eternal implications in Heavenly Father's Plan! - That is Huge! They realize they are at home thethe Church, with all their family <3 The local fhl patrons who are from the community Are watching the FH consultants - their examples as well as their knowledge of FH. They may ask gospel questions. That's another good reason to have prayer at the start of the shift. When missionaries are teaching investigators & new member lessons, there are FH components. Ward FH consultants can work with those folks. It is all good!

    3. As Church Service Missionaries at the Mesa FamilySearch Library and now at the BYU Family History Library we are encouraged to help our patrons whether members or those who are not members, with their genealogy. We are not to do active proselyting. People should be able to come to a Family History Center or the Family History Library without feeling that they will be subject to missionary contact. On a Ward or Stake level, Family History Consultants should work with the Ward's full time missionaries when needed and asked, to help the prospective members or newly converted members with their family history.