Why Social Media Will Double Convert Baptisms by 2019

Written by guest writer Jeff Frazier, a lay member of the Santa Margarita Stake.

What should your role be in The Hastening of The Work? What is The Hastening of The Work anyway? I'd like to explore both of those questions in taking a close look at the story below. 

This is a little story about two seemingly very different individuals, Jack Spencer and Tracey Berg.

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Jack was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. His senior year in high school, 1972, he received a scholarship offer to play basketball at Brigham Young University.

He hadn't heard much about the school or the Mormon church that ran it, but he liked the coaches and felt good about the people. This was a surprise to most of those that knew the shy, introverted young man, but they could see it in his eyes that he had made up his mind. So after graduation, he packed up his stuff and moved out to Provo Utah.

He hadn't been in town more than two weeks before he met an absolutely darling 5' 4" brunette from Lehi, Utah named Lorraine. He was stunned by Lorraine's grace, power, and class. Basketball quickly became priority #2 in the heart and mind of Jack Spencer. The two hit it off right away and they were soon talking marriage.

One night after a Sunday dinner with her parents, Lorraine leveled with Jack. She declared that she would never be willing to commit to marrying him unless he were a worthy priesthood holder. Jack was floored. This was, of course, all brand new to Jack. He had been piecing things together about the Mormons since he had arrived in Provo.

He had been asking lots of questions to teammates as well as Lorraine, but Jack was nervous about saying the wrong thing and offending Lorraine. He often observed her closeness to Christ that was so familiar to him from his upbringing in The South. Her deep sense of purpose was visible to him from their first days together. It wasn't long before Jack could see that this was fueled entirely by Loraine's relationship with Christ. Her whole life's mission was centered on Christ and the happiness and peace that she enjoyed from that was immediately desirable to Jack. Jack wanted in, but he didn't quite know how to ask or where to start.  

So when Lorraine dropped the bomb on him that she was only going to marry a worthy priesthood holder, Jack was taken aback. He sat there for a moment, collected his thoughts and replied with "Well, how do I become on of those"?  

The next six months were a blur of missionary discussions, deep experiences with the Holy Ghost, and Lorraine pushing Jack to convince her that he wasn't doing all of this just for her.  

He was not. He had decided on his own that the Heavens were not closed, that the Lord had a Prophet on the earth, and that the fullness of the Gospel was not reformed but restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that we have tangible evidence of that in the irrefutable Book of Mormon, another Testament of Jesus Christ.  

He wanted it all. His deep and binding relationship with Christ had begun as he took upon him the name of Christ in the waters of baptism. Jack wept as he emerged from the font completely clean — completely clean!   

As he continued to grow in his relationship with the Lord his relationship with Lorraine followed suit.  

Tracey Berg, Spring 1967

Tracey Berg, Spring 1967

Tracey was born at Santa Monica Hospital (now UCLA Med Center) in 1965 four weeks premature but gained strength quickly. Her mother Ruby said that Tracey came out of the womb early but that that had been the last time she'd be early to anything. Tracey was a fun-loving redhead with an insatiable desire to play. She was the youngest of three girls. Until about age 5 it was said that Tracey was typically covered in either dirt, blood, chocolate, or dripping wet. All preferred the latter.  

For all of her unruly precociousness, Tracey was wise beyond her years.

In high school Tracey was a shoo-in for being voted Prom Queen but at the last minute orchestrated a campaign to award the prize to Kelly Shubert, a girl Tracey deemed more deserving. Kelly  Shubert had never seen such kindness and never forgot it.  

Tracey dreamed of traveling abroad. After high school graduation in 1983 Tracey joined the Peace Corps and spent 5 years in the Pacific Islands constructing huts and wells for fresh water in remote villages. She loved the locals and never tired of getting to meet someone new who could use her help.

Provo Utah Temple, 1975

Provo Utah Temple, 1975

In 1975, their junior year at BYU, Jack and Loraine were sealed in the Provo Temple.  

Jack and Loraine graduated and moved to Long Beach, California where Jack got a job as an electrical engineer for Boeing. Two months after their arrival they got some good news. They had a baby on the way. Their families were thrilled. Jack's brother moved out from North Carolina to be close by his new nephew and go to school. Life was great. Plans were underway to convert their home office into the nursery when Jack got phone call at the office.   

The voice on the other line said, "This the Long Beach police department. Is this Jack Spencer?" Thoughts began racing through Jack’s head. The voice continued, "Is your wife Lorraine Spencer"?  Jack felt like someone had reached through the phone and punched him with their fist right into the side of the head. But it wasn't a physical blow but rather the blunt force of the news that there had been an accident and Lorraine had not survived. The officer had no idea he was telling Jack that he’d also lost his unborn baby.  

The next few years were a blur of sadness, hope, depression and recovery then sadness again. In times like this, one’s testimony of eternal families either crumbles under the pressure of bitterness or flourishes from the seeds of faith and hope. Eventually Jack's testimony flourished and a deep testimony of the Plan of Salvation was formed. He threw himself into work at Boeing and his church callings.  

In 1988 Tracey returned to the States to pursue a degree in Nonprofit Management from UCLA. The major fit like a glove.  

Tracey met a few suitors from time to time but most would shy away or become intimidated by her energy and desire to be always on the move, looking for the next world-changing opportunity. They would say that Tracey only had time for the needy and that they were apparently never one of them.  

Tracey followed her dreams and by early 2001 was running the west coast office for Doctors Without Borders. She preferred being on the front lines but it was only fair that she spend a few years back in the states behind a desk. It was her turn.  

About ten years had gone by for Jack since he had lost Loraine when he saw the clock strike twelve on New Years Eve 1988. He saw all the happy couples around him, which of course made him lonely, but the pain from possible loss was still more powerful than the pain from the present loneliness. So Jack continued on alone. Jack's brother had gotten baptized years earlier and married a Mormon as well. Jack loved spending time with their growing children and enjoyed every sporting event and church milestone he could attend.

With lots of time on his hands "Uncle Jack" bought himself a cool new orange plastic Apple iMac computer and started to take and edit pictures for the family. He'd even email them the image files so they could enjoy the pictures without having them developed. It was called an email file attachment. "The Guys" at Boeing thought Jacks iMac looked ridiculous.   

Tracey was on vacation in Boston on the morning of September 11th when she read the horrible news on her laptop. She rushed to ground zero and was there by early afternoon that same day. There she joined and led an impromptu group of volunteers who did everything from recovering bodies to bucket brigades to attempting to reconnect lost children. Tracey had absolutely no answer when a grief stricken mother, while mourning her son screamed into Tracey's face, "What God would ever let this happen"?  

Tracey had been around religious people all of her life but had never taken an interest. It had always seemed so rigid to her. Plus, any philosophy that played on fear to control human behavior had too much in common with the vicious militias she'd encountered around the world. The only time her heart would open up to the possibility of God being real was when she was caring for the dying. When the time of death was eminent, she couldn't deny that she felt something. But what was it?  

She returned home from Ground Zero after six days of service, three of them nearly without stopping. Tracey was 36 years old but had seen, done and felt more than many twice her age.  

For the first time in her life, she acknowledged her desire to have children of her own. —But to do that she'd need a husband. She'd seen too many women struggle on their own to consider going it alone. Her oldest sister Sarah's husband was a bit of a bum but she watched with interest at Christmas time as her sister Elizabeth's husband would gush and lovingly smother his family with affection and love and goofy dad humor.  Could Tracey find someone like that? The idea excited her.  

It was 2009 when Jack set up his very own Facebook page.

He had no idea what to expect at first but it wasn’t long before he was reconnecting with people he thought he’d never get back in touch with from all over the country and a couple friends that even lived abroad. Jack began by simply connecting with people and looking at their pictures. He then figured out how to comment on others’ pictures and then send messages within Facebook and share videos and blog articles he’d found around the internet - sort of like he’d been doing over email for years.

One time Jack found an article on a new airframe technology that the thirty year veteran of Boeing thought was super cool. So, he copied the address into his Facebook “Status Box” and accompanied it with the comment “Calling all engineer nerd buddies, check this out!” and posted it. Well, they did check it out. They read it, enjoyed the read, hit the “Like” button below the article to encourage Facebook to show the post  often and commented on Jack’s post with what they thought about the new tech.

Some of Jack’s friends liked the article so much, they clicked the share button and shared it on their Facebook pages as well. It wasn’t long before over one hundred people had read the article simply because Jack had shared it on his Facebook page.

As Jack saw the article spreading, he was amazed. It made him feel…  strange. What was this new feeling? Did it make him feel powerful? Famous? Influential? Helpful? He wasn’t sure but what his engineering mind quickly figured out was that he now had a stronger and louder voice than he’d ever had in the past.

As the years went by Tracy’s excitement turned to sadness. When she turned 40 and then 45 she knew that she should probably let the dream to have children go. She wisely told herself that in her service she had been a "mother" to many. Her search for the love and support of a good man was always in the back of her mind.  

In 2012 Tracey was 47 years old. Her sister Elizabeth sat her down at the computer one afternoon and signed her up on not one but several dating websites! While signing up she encountered all types of probing questions. She was surprised that anyone would answer these questions an then allow them to be put on display for anyone in the world to see! When she came to the part where you declare your religious affiliation Tracey could always easily find the button marked "other", click it and move on. Tracey got on a roll and Elizabeth headed home. However, it was on her last of three dating sites that she encountered a problem. She had gotten to the religious affiliation page without disclosing much about herself at all. But now, as Tracey surveyed the choices on the screen. They Read:

•Catholic
Jewish
Muslim
Hindu
Protestant
Non-Denominational Christian
LDS

There was no "Other" button anywhere to be found. She then looked for the "next" button in an effort to skip this portion. There was no "next" button. This was a required answer! "What kind of website is this"?, she said to herself. Tracey actually stood up out of her chair and stared at the screen in frustrated bewilderment. If Elizabeth hadn't already paid for this darn website she'd have already moved on but she wasn't willing to tell Elizabeth she had simply wasted her money.

Tracey was stumped. She couldn't honestly declare herself any of these. She didn't believe in any of them. Just as she determined that she would simply check the one that was the closest to what she believed, she realized that she didn't really even know what each believed.  

And so the search began.

Day turned to night as Tracey began to evaluate the merits of each religion. All seemed to have something sincere about it but there would always be something that turned her off. She spent hours poring over anything she could find. From Wikipedia to private blogs, anything she could do to get an idea about what it meant to be a believer of one of these religions. It was no longer about the dating website form anymore. Tracey wanted to know for herself. Why are all of these people living their religions and what about their beliefs are making them act in often completely disparate ways in the name of religion?  

Tracey had nearly completed the list. She had studied what she could about Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Protestant, and Non-Denominational Christians. Christianity seemed to resonate with her best. Jesus Christ seemed to represent all that she felt was good about the world. The God she believed in was a loving God, a caring God. She still couldn't understand why a loving creator would allow for so much sadness in a world He claimed to create. She also took issue with the idea that one god could also be three gods at the same time. These were a concern to her but not deal breakers. As she got down to the bottom of the list, it read LDS. "Never heard of it," she thought to herself. She looked at the clock. It read 2:37 a.m. She went back to the dating website, checked the box for Non-Denominational Christian, finished the form, and went to bed.

Jack was called as a ward missionary in 2013 and like always, threw himself into the work. The problem was, he was an introvert. So being called into service that required constant face to face interaction and bold invitations, occasional confrontations, and frequent rejection was a drain on Jack to the very core. His engineer mind had a big problem with so much wasted time and energy for all missionaries, not just the introverts. He went to work on the problem.

Jack surmised that he was called as a missionary to find the “elect” of God. Jack believed that there were many of the elect that the Lord had already prepared. If he could figure out a way to identify who these elect were it would be a lot easier to bring them to baptism. True to his training,Jack flipped the problem on its head to come at it another way and asked himself, “What if they are already looking for us”?

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Tracey had given up on discovering and declaring her faith that fateful night at the computer but hadn’t stopped searching for answers. She even started reading the Old and New Testament online at nights before bed. After much soul searching as well as research, she had decided three things and wrote them on a Post It and stuck it to her laptop:

#1- I want a close relationship with Jesus Christ
#2- I want deep inner peace in my life
#3- I want a clear sense of purpose

She decided that if those were her goals then she was interested in whether a church could help her achieve those goals. So the search for a Christ-centered church began.

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Meanwhile Jack decided that if the elect were in fact out there looking for us, then what was it that they were looking for? Jack came across an extensive study done by the Church that answered that very question. He would later come to affectionately refer to it as the “I See 3”.

Over the years the Church had done an extensive survey of new converts to determine what it was about the Church that initially interested them.  

–In order of frequency of mention:
• The feeling of closeness to God that they wanted to experience, because they could see this closeness in the lives of Mormons they knew.
• Happiness and a sense of peace, which they wanted and which they could see in the lives of Mormons they knew.  
• They wanted a better sense of purposefulness and direction in their lives. They tended to see this in Mormons they knew.

These were the “I See 3”.

Jack realized that if the elect were looking for us and we now know what they are looking for, at least initially, then all we have to do is make sure they have a way to see that we are the ones that have it! That’s it!

“We simply make it easy for the elect to see that we do in fact, in reality, have purpose, peace and are close to Christ! Easy!” He thought to himself.

Jack went to work on solving how to make that reality as visible as possible to the elect. He knew that his loudest “bull horn” he had at his disposal was through social media. He new that he could knock doors all day and night and no one could ever actually observe the “ I See 3” in him or his door knocking companions. So the question he now needed to ask was, how could he use social media to allow the elect to observe the I See 3 in our members.

Jack made a list:

#1 - I could share quotes from our Prophets about Christ, Peace and Purpose on Facebook
#2 - I could share conference talks from LDS.org
#3 - I could share how happy I am in the Gospel
#4 - I could share my own simple truths on Christ, Peace and Purpose on my Facebook page

Jack put the list on the fridge and for the next couple days he continued to think it over. It was a good start, Jack thought. He had already learned that it was more socially acceptable to be more overt with his beliefs on social media than in other social settings. He figured that the fact that no response was required from the reader was what made it okay to share otherwise taboo conversational topics online. He could share  something deeply personal about his relationship with Christ on his Facebook page without making anyone feel uncomfortable. They would feel no obligation to reply if they weren’t interested or disagreed. Jack wouldn’t even know if they’d read or watched it.

So Jack began sharing things from his list but he started to feel there was a problem with this list. His first few posts we met with welcome digital applause in the form of “likes,” comments, and shares. In fact, two of his friends had some encouraging questions for him and one had sent him a private message to ask about his affiliation with polygamy giving Jack the opportunity to dispel some myths. His plan was working!

However, as time went by and Jack continued to share things within a similar theme, the applause turned to a deafening silence.  He was beginning to be treated like those people who only post things about politics —or their cat. So Jack determined that his list would be his Phase 1. Phase one was his immediate or “1st generation friends”. They needed to know Jack’s I See 3, htat he had a close relationship with Christ, peace, and purpose. That job, he determined, was largely complete. From time to time moving forward he would continue to post items that were directly Gospel-themed but had decided that all other activity would simply need to be consistent with someone who possessed the I See 3.  

But what about Phase II? Where could Jack go from here? Jack had a deep desire to share the Gospel and find the prepared elect wherever they were. He remembered President Hinkley’s Prophetic challenge to double convert baptisms. He also believed that if he kept trying to do it the old way alone that nothing was going to change. So sitting back and waiting for them to show up wasn’t an option. Neither was going back to knocking doors by itself.

He began working on plans for Phase II.

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Tracey was on her laptop one night on the couch in front of the TV. She was scrolling through her Facebook news feed when she came upon a post from her old friend from her UCLA days named Alicia. Alicia had shared an announcement and invitation to a soup kitchen service day in Carson with her LDS church group. Tracey wouldn’t miss it.

She arrived at the soup kitchen a bit late as always but quickly jumped in and got to work. This was her love. She loved the people around her and felt an immediate kinship. She was serving potatoes and making small talk with a fairly shy but kind gentleman for about five minutes when she thought to ask his name. He stammered a bit and answered, “I'm Brother Spencer, um, I mean Jack”. Jack explained the “brother” title thing which began an excellent but brief myth-busting Gospel chat. The key revelation for Tracey was that LDS and Mormon meant the same thing and that they are in fact Christians!

Tracy left the event impressed and interested in this new Christian church on her list.

When days later she noticed Jack comment on one of her friend Alicia’s posts, Tracey sent Jack, the nice gentleman from the soup kitchen, a friend request. It was accepted immediately. Tracey began to flip through Jack's page. It didn’t take long to see that Jack was a devout Christian, an engineer, a bit of a geek, a good man and surprisingly —single. She was touched by the kinds of things that this nearly 60 year old man was saying and sharing. She put down her laptop and walked to the refrigerator door where her list remained.

#1- I want a close relationship with Jesus Christ
#2- I want deep inner peace in my life
#3- I want a clear sense of purpose

Tracey had met lots of great people over the years that fit this description but had yet to be able to tie that back to a church or doctrine as the source of those virtues. She went over to Alicia’s page to see if she could get a similar read from her posts. She’d known Alicia for years but until the soup kitchen she had no idea Alicia was even LDS. Alicia didn’t have much “I See 3” on her feed but when Tracey reached out with questions, Alicia responded with answers and inspired invitations.

That Sunday Tracey was at an LDS church for the first time. She noticed Jack sitting on the stand. When Jack saw Tracey come into the room he became even more nervous than he had been already. When Jack stood up to speak Tracey smiled at him and threw off his groove. After the meeting Jack and Tracey made a bit of small talk and then went about their Sunday. Both wished they could speak more.

Tracey loved the services that Sunday and progressed quickly through the missionary discussions. She was baptized on September 27, 2014. Jack was in attendance.

Tracey followed Jack’s lead on social media and chronicled her conversion process online. Some of her friends supported her journey, others did not. As all of her friends saw pictures from her baptism online, one of them followed her and joined the church four months later. Tracey was hooked on missionary work.

Jack would reach out to Tracey from time to time under the guise of comparing notes on social media missionary work. Eventually Jack got up the courage to ask Tracey on a date. Tracey said yes. They were married eight months later in the Los Angeles temple on the anniversary of her baptism, September 27, 2015.

He was 60 years old and she was 50. In 2016 they became foster parents to two teenage children. James (14) came first and Javier (13) came shortly after. Both thought they were tough stuff but were no match for Tracey. Tracey and Jack were made for this.

They became a powerful duo on service and missionary might. Jack introduced Tracey to the I See 3. Together, they marveled when she pulled out her journal at the list that was on her fridge. Jack then taught her about his Phase I social media plan and together they went to work to figure out Phase II.

True to their pattern, Jack and Tracey chronicled their foster parenting experiences online. It wasn’t long before their stories were being shared around Facebook and even gathered a small local following. Not wanting to always have the spotlight on them, they began to spotlight other foster and adoptive families they knew in their stake. And that’s when things began to really take off. Each time they spotlighted a new family, they accessed a new circle of friends as an audience to observe the I See 3 of that family. —Phase II was born.

Phase II would focus on directing the attention of the elect on the I See 3 of others.

Jack and Tracey began to focus their missionary efforts on shining as bright a spotlight as possible on the Purpose and Peace that comes from a close relationship with Jesus Christ, the I See 3 of others. The other component of that was to make sure that the elect know that those spotlighted are Christians from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Jack and Tracey enlisted the help of ward missionaries from throughout their stake to take pictures and write little stories and even shoot short videos to celebrate and share the good that stake members were doing.

There was a series that one ward mission leader produced called “My Top Life Lesson” where he would find stake members and do a thirty second interview where they would tell the story of how they learned their top life lesson.

Another stake member did a feature called Top Happy Christian Marriage Tips that was a hit with all faiths, but because it was local and the people typically being interviewed were LDS, the I See 3 was always attributed to the Christians of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Some go-getter youth started an Instagram account series called Top Tips for High School Happiness and Long Beach Mormon Group Date Ideas.

Emboldened by the ability to issue open invitations to their friends without awkwardness, the entire stake would participate in Mass Invitation Drives where the whole stake would post invitations to join them at church that Sunday triggering local Trending Topics.

Jack and Tracey continued with their Phase I efforts as well and trained the rest of their stake to do the same.

After about a year of this kind of local Mormons celebrating local Mormons content getting traction and attention, the local non-member community began to see the members of the Church in the Long Beach area as a group of people who possessed the Purpose and Peace that comes from a close relationship with Jesus Christ, —the I See 3. There was an authentic transparency into the lives of the local members and the elect now knew where to come to get the I See 3 for themselves.  And that’s exactly what they did.

Investigators were asking their stake member friends the great questions through social media. Members were answering those questions with links to the right sites and tools to get answers and referring them to the missionaries when they felt inspired that the time was right.

By the Spring of 2017 convert baptisms in their Stake had in fact doubled.

Jack and Tracey began training other stakes to do the same thing they had done. They eventually produced and online course for stake leadership around the world to participate in to get the ball rolling in their stakes.

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By 2019 convert baptisms worldwide had doubled as well with even higher growth rates in many stakes.

Jack and Tracey and their now growing family of four foster children had combined to bring many souls to the waters of baptism and had never known such joy here on earth.

Brothers and sisters, this is a special time in Earth’s history. It’s called the Hastening of The Work. There are tools and abilities at our disposal that the master missionaries of old would have freaked out to have at their fingertips!

Guess what decade this was said?

“Scientific discoveries that “stagger the imagination” would make possible the preaching of the gospel to every kindred, tongue, and people. And further: Discoveries latent with such potent power, either for the blessing or the destruction of human beings, as to make man’s responsibility in controlling them the most gigantic ever placed in human hands. … This age is fraught with limitless perils, as well as untold possibilities” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1966, 4).  

In 1966 President David O. McKay

This Prophet described the future of missionary work as follows:

"I believe that the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse. … ... With the Lord providing these miracles of communication, and with the increased efforts and devotion of our missionaries and all of us, and all others who are ‘sent,’ surely the divine injunction will come to pass: ‘For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature’ (D&C 58:64)” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign,Oct. 1974, 10–11).  

—President Spencer W. Kimball,  1974

This is our charge, my friends. This is our duty. Let us throw ourselves into this glorious work with all of the passion we can muster.

This work is about to accomplish incredible things. Please join us in it.

This is my plea, and I leave it with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Author: Jeff Frazier
Disclaimer: All research and opinions provided in this blog article are the sole responsibility of the author, and represent the opinion of individual author. While we strive to provide content consistent with teachings of LDS Church doctrine, material posted on this site should not be interpreted as official statements of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints doctrines, beliefs or practices.