First, let me quote a bit from that previous article by Roger Keller from Bridges. He says (and this is also my view of missionary work):
As a missionary, my goal is to bless lives- all lives. I believe that theHere are the 7 points from the article in the Ensign:
greatest blessing I can give people is baptism into the fulness of the gospel.
But many are not ready for that, so I seek to move them a bit further along the
spiritual path than they were the day I met them. I may make them better
Catholics, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, or Presbyterians than they were when we
met, because we began to talk about the spiritual things of life that had become
peripheral to them. If I do this, I have been a successful missionary, for
conversion to the fulness of the gospel is a process; not a moment. It is a
process guided by the Holy Ghost.
1. We simply can't predict who will or won't be interested.
2. Building a (deep) friendship is not a prerequisite to inviting people to learn about the gospel.
3. Despite their inexperience, we can trust the missionaries to teach the gospel well.
4. Inviting others to help us with our work in the Church helps them feel needed and helps them feel the Spirit
5. We succeed as member missionaries when we invite people to learn and accept the truth.
6 Because we have so much to do in our busy lives, we need deadlines.
7. We can expect God to bless us with miracles when we go and do the things He commands.
When I first read through the Ensign article, I felt that it was advocating the old run-out-and-ask-everyone-on-the-street-to-listen-to-the-missionaries approach, and I do not think that works. But on a closer, less-annoyed reading, I realized that they are only saying that you don't have to be great friends with someone to invite them to listen to the gospel, and I agree with that. What we need is some kind of connection. Chatting on an airplane for a while can create that connection, but having gone through the same checkout line probably doesn't.
I haven't had much contact with the missionaries since the effort to "Raise the Bar," so maybe there are fewer "bad" missionaries now. When we lived in Trenton, however, we had the missionaries over two or three times a week. We got to know a number of missionaries, both elders and sisters, and I cannot say that I would have trusted all of them to teach the gospel to someone I knew. Most were very good, but there really was a difference among them.
I know I am too sensitive about missionary work in the first place. I am not outspoken and not good with striking up a conversation with people I don't know. We've also had some bad experiences with friends getting offended when we've discussed the gospel with them. One was quite unpleasant, to the point that they would not answer the phone when we called and go into their house when we came out (that can get inconvenient when they're your next-door neighbor.)
I honestly believe that praying for opportunities to share the gospel and then listening for promptings is the most effective way to do member missionary work. However, there are so many ways that we can do missionary work. It is important to remember that it is a process. I love how Brother Keller says it- that helping someone along their spiritual path is effective missionary work. I hope I've been able to do that.