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Number of Mormon missionaries reaches all-time high of 75,000

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  • Lindy-Lou San Antonio, TX
    Aug. 22, 2013 7:52 a.m.

    @ DMJ -- finally! someone besides me mentions "the annoying spoken sentence cadence"! Every sentence is spoken like a question. MORE than annoying -- SO distracting from the spirit. I almost don't like attending homecomings -- the RMs sound WAY different than they did at their farewells. I heard a radio personality refer to that form of talking as "upspeak" -- a pretty good definition. I don't know when or where it started but I think every teacher at the MTC and every mission president should discourage their missionaries from speaking that way. It's a false-humility kind of speaking or SOMEthing. I don't know what, but it's TRULY annoying!

  • pacnwmom Vancouver, WA
    Aug. 20, 2013 4:22 p.m.

    My daughter is on a mission now, and not only are the other 18 and 19 year olds prepared, she has been very happy with the maturity and purpose they possess. They are full of joy, testimony, knowledge, and willing to work harder and smarter.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Aug. 20, 2013 5:56 a.m.

    If you start paying attention around you you'll notice that a record number of young men and young women are coming home EARLY from their missions because they were not prepared mentally or physically for the experience. 18 year old's.

  • byu rugby Crystal Lake, IL
    Aug. 19, 2013 1:14 p.m.

    "kvnsmnsn" You must be a Super Missionary! You can mumble through the discussion. Leave out major portions of the restoration story Like visitations from John the Baptist, etc.. Fail to tie the scriptures (like Moroni 10:4 or James 1:5 )into the discussion and still, Whamo! converts just falling all over the place.

    I am sorry if this sounds abrupt but, I am not going to put my friends in front of a set of missionaries that are unable to at least cover the basics in a fashion that allows the spirit to begin to work.

    I have had "sets" of the new missionaries at my home. Nice kids. Well intentioned. Skinny and pure. But, completely unable to coherently and concisely teach even the first discussion. If, I understand some correctly, we are wasting time sending these youngsters to the MTC! We should hook up a centrally monitored weight scale and electronic temple recommend pad at each Stake Center with a smart display to issue the calls while "U" wait! Save all kinds of time and money. Plus, we get an extra month of converts just falling all over themselves at just the sight of the missionaries.

  • byu rugby Crystal Lake, IL
    Aug. 19, 2013 10:45 a.m.

    What would really be helpful is if there didn't seem to be such a disconnect between the brethren and the general membership. I believe as the church grows so to does the bureaucracy. Little tweaks to improve things in the field often seem to take forever because the conduit is a one way proposition- from the Headquarters down. I certainly do not refer to doctrinal or organizational issues but, honest to goodness tactical implementation issues.

    How many young men will be cast aside before the missionary department finally receives enough feedback that we are ostracizing tens of thousands of young men a year to arbitrary "one size fits all" raise the bar missionary requirements. And, who wants to be the bishop and/or stake president who tells an 18 year old and his dotting parents that despite the absence of sin, excess weight, or other tangible issue, that the young man should wait another year or two to serve? How many investigators will be lost before someone decides that the teach my gospel program requires some checks and balances to insure proper implementation?

  • Hold on a second Spring City, UT
    Aug. 18, 2013 10:39 p.m.

    Another unfortunate "advantage" for the Church in adopting this new policy, is the fact that at 18 years of age, the young man hasn’t had the opportunity to experience the new and liberating feeling most of us have experienced at graduation time, of having finally arrived to “adulthood”, with countless opportunities. However, in the Church it’s an entirely different matter. To the contrary, the young man is still under the control of his parents and the Church’s not so subtle pressure to conform. He is “expected” to serve a mission. For most LDS families, the conditioned mindset is not a question of “if” you serve, but “when” you serve. Therefore, it stands to reason that by waiting until age 19, the Church would have fewer young men choosing to serve, than at age 18, where little if any “agency to choose” is given. To refuse would be social suicide and rejection!

  • Kaotic USA, UT
    Aug. 18, 2013 4:04 p.m.

    What about the young kids right out of high school that are offered scholarships to attend college but forgoes college to serve a mission? Then two years later the scholarship is no longer there and they either pay with a student loan or don't go. I believe an education is more important than serving a mission especially in these hard times. Serving a mission won't fulfill their American Dream, but an education will. I believe too many parents put too much pressure on their kids to serve a mission when college or a trade school or even a job would be more practical and a mission later if desired. I see a lot of coveting thy neighbor here in this small Utah town because parents want their son or daughter to serve because their neighbor's have or will be. All for the wrong reasons. Some kids are certainly not ready at 18 or 19 or just want to please their parents.

  • Casey See FLOWER MOUND, TX
    Aug. 18, 2013 3:40 p.m.

    Two ideas regarding the age change and number of missionaries. By allowing missionaries to go at 18 and 19, there is less time for these young men and women to get caught up in the world and lose their way. This alone will increase the number. In my estimation, this should account for nearly a 15-30% increase in young men. The increase in sisters will be much larger.

    The other point is that there will be an increased need for senior missionaries. With the increased number of missionaries, will come an increased number of converts. In some areas with small branches, this increase in numbers will create a huge strain on the local active membership to help train and retain these new converts. Sure the young elders and sisters will do their best to help, but senior missionaries provide leadership and stability that young missionaries can't do.

    Therefore, I expect in the next 6 - 24 months, we will hear in conference the need for more senior couples. These same individuals who are so proud of their grandchildren serving missions will now need to step it up themselves.

    Just my own thoughts.

  • mhilton Lancaster, CA
    Aug. 18, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    re: 18 year olds: For YM outside of the U.S.except,ions have already been made for them to serve before age 19. So that point is mute. They are partially the reason as to why the age was unilaterally changed. The other reason is that the Church has lost a lot of young men between the ages of 18 & 19. Those statistics have been tracted for about 20 years now (have personal knowledge).

    Someone said that it would be hard to take an 18 year old seriously. I have heard the testimonies that these young men bear. To me, it has much more credibility because they are so young and immature. The Spirit is so strong that it amazes me that they are "only 18."

    I agree, though that increasing the numbers of missionaries that a single President is responsible for makes that job much more difficult. It would be good to increase the number of missions and decrease the number of missionaries they are responsible for because more things slip through the cracks and less care can be given to individual missionaries (also personal experience).

    Just glad I'm not the one in charge!

  • mhilton Lancaster, CA
    Aug. 18, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    While I believe in the doctrine of the Church, I don't agree with their projections of eventually having 100,000 + missionaries, ever! Like many of you have said, right now there is a surge because the Church incorporated 3 age groups of YSA's. I believe the numbers will drop within the next 3 years because those who were absorbed by the change will be going home and numbers won't be maintained. But, I also agree that the new homeostasis will be higher than before because of the larger amount of sisters going who would have not gone previously.

    I also agree with BYU Rugby that the "Preach My Gospel" program is too vague. I have had these discussions given in my home. The only reason the young man receiving the lessons understood them is because he had been attending church 6 mos before he was able to have the discussions. Even then, we spent many additional hours with him explaining various concepts.

    There is a service program in a mission being piloted as we speak and expected to be disseminated into other missions as well within the next couple of years. To be continued.

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    Aug. 18, 2013 9:30 a.m.

    garybeach "They would find the elect in a much more productive way, while getting an education."

    Serving in the slums of Rio de Janiero was the best part of my education.

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    Aug. 18, 2013 9:23 a.m.

    RonW "I too have had similar thoughts and concerns about the maturity of new missionaries at 18. I am reminded that 18 is now open and optional, not mandatory."

    It's never been mandatory.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Aug. 18, 2013 7:31 a.m.

    I served my mission in SE Asia in a country were door knocking was illegal. We did street contacting and member referrals and were very busy teaching. Lots of room for more missionaries in Asia!

  • ImABeliever Provo, UT
    Aug. 17, 2013 9:18 p.m.

    I just hope missionaries will learn to communicate with their mouths and stop looking down and texting.

  • MissingLink Dallas, TX
    Aug. 17, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    Not every 18 year old is ready to serve. I know that the young men's program is shifting it's focus to ramp up preparation for a mission right after high school, but still many boys need that extra year after high school. Let those boys go and serve as they are ready. 19? 20? I do believe that many young men will be ready at 18 and will serve effectively, but I do see some boys going out who are not yet mature enough at all. Yes, a mission helps one grow up and mature quickly, but its best if they have some maturity under their belt before they go. Serving a mission changed my life, and I wouldnt trade the experience for anything. Was I ready at 19? Not as much as I should have been. Maybe the church sees too mant young men leave the ranks after 18 and before 19 so they are sending them out earlier. The young man has a better chance of staying active and keeping the church in his life that way.... just a thought. Im excited though to see young men who are ready to serve have the chance to go out at 18

  • Jeremy Parker Petersburg, Alaska
    Aug. 17, 2013 9:14 a.m.

    As to the "Raise the Bar" castoffs, I strongly believe that we should have non-proselyting service missions.

    As to the number, I do not believe that God is at all concerned with the number, only the outcome relative to actually bringing souls to a greater happiness and potential. Whether the number goes up or down is of no consequence so long as He can work with the remaining few or many.

    As to the quirks of missionary indoctrination, they are unfortunate. For some reason we teach that you must check your personality at the door in order to be a good missionary. Nothing could be further from the truth. We teach that "you should never accept the first rejection" and annoy people making enemies when we could have made friends. We teach people to leverage every friendship into prospective converts in a very inorganic way. That is, I believe coming from the bottom up not the top down, and an unfortunate byproduct of trying to keep our strong side firmly planted in the world with a weak Sunday loafer acting churchy.

    We must be true. We must be honest. We must be sincere. We must serve.

  • pt1 Taylorsville, UT
    Aug. 17, 2013 7:25 a.m.

    The logistics of this missionary wave are challenging for those serving in every mission office and for mission presidents. Exciting, but challenging. This next week we are madly preparing for the arrival of 45 missionaries--including 14 visa waiters. A large transfer used to be about 20 every year and a half....I will say the missionaries in our mission have been great to begin training early, accommodate transfers mid-cycle that occur from time to time, and in serving in threesomes on occasion.

    Missions remain great experiences for the young missionaries because they grow spiritually and in many other ways. They learn many things and carry a special spirit with them. Out of small means come great things.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Aug. 16, 2013 10:20 p.m.

    Many interesting scenarios have been suggested here and several, I think, are quite valid. But let's not presume failure or problems that may or may not surface. Let's give this a try and see how it works.

    As one writer suggested, some 18 and 19 year olds will not be as succesfull, due to maturity issues and so forth --- that has been the case for the past many decades.

    Will the surge peak and drop off? That remains to be seen. Keep in mind, this isn't just about the United States. In many foreign countries, young men are required to enlist a portion of their lives for military service before their early twenties. This precluded hundreds if not thousands of young men from serving missions. Letting them serve at age 18 gives just enough wiggle room to serve a mission and fulfill military service. The numbers may not drop off as much as many seem to hope they will.

  • garybeac Chapel Hill, NC
    Aug. 16, 2013 3:24 p.m.

    From where we're sitting, the missionaries are just wasting their time. No stable people will talk to them, unless it's to argue or out of idle curiosity. As it has ever been, the people who join and stick would have joined from a phone call or an infomercial. Moving out of your parents' home, breaking off all ties with family and friends, and going somewhere new has its own value, but the mission program as currently constituted is neither the only nor the best way to do this. Greater blessings would come from establishing a chain of satellite campuses of Smith University (a respectable name). LDS kids could learn engineering while working on infrastructure in less developed countries; they could study healthcare while working in nursing homes and mobile clinics in North America; they could study languages, humanities, and the science full-time in developed countries; etc. Proselytizing takes care of itself if your busy in the vineyard. They would find the elect in a much more productive way, while getting an education.

  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    Aug. 16, 2013 2:18 p.m.

    @thpslc,

    You raise a very fair point. I've seen at least one 18-year old depart who didn't strike me as particularly ready for the reasons you raise. For myself, I can imagine leaving at 18, but that one year as a freshman far from home made an incredible difference on my own mission. My hope is that bishops are willing to quietly encourage some young men and women to hold off a little bit rather than go out unprepared.

    @byu rugby,

    I agree 100% about the ability to repent. We should be as open as possible to the atonement and forgiveness, and be very, very cautious about establishing blanket rules that discourage sincere repentance.

  • Brett B Gilbert, AZ
    Aug. 16, 2013 1:53 p.m.

    While I agree that there are going to be people serving missions, particularly sisters that wouldn't have served before lowering the age, I also think this just got a lot of young men out earlier than they would've partially causing this surge. I have to believe the #'s are going to come way back down and could actually cause a bit of a vacuum about 12-18 months from now these missionaries all start going home.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Aug. 16, 2013 1:16 p.m.

    Michigander

    Only in your little world is that the case.

  • DMJ Newbury Park, CA
    Aug. 16, 2013 1:14 p.m.

    An other item to be addressed. The annoying spoken sentence cadence, especially among the sisters, that makes everything sound like a question. I find this very distracting to the message. Is this method of dialogue taught at the MTC? Has anyone else noticed this?

  • kvnsmnsn Springville, UT
    Aug. 16, 2013 1:12 p.m.

    Byu Rugby posted:

    =However, all that being said, if the missionaries are unable to coherently
    =relate the basic story of the restoration, provide one or two related
    =scriptures, and relate it to existing knowledge found in the bible coherently.

    What's the need for providing "one or two related scriptures" and relating the message "to existing knowledge found in the bible"? The missionaries will tell their investigators that they should pray and ask God whether or not God inspired their message; that's all the authorization that they need.

  • kvnsmnsn Springville, UT
    Aug. 16, 2013 12:50 p.m.

    Way of the Warrior posted:

    =I expect that at some point the surge in the number of missionaries will peak,
    =then drop as the number of those serving reaches equilibrium.

    Yes, it probably will peak and drop, but I don't think it will drop back to the level it was at previously. More sisters are feeling like a mission is within their grasp, and so I think more will go, and I expect that will be a permanent change.

  • byu rugby Crystal Lake, IL
    Aug. 16, 2013 12:32 p.m.

    I understand and honestly believe that it is the spirit that converts. I also understand and know from experience that generally it requires a testimony for a young man or woman to put life on hold for several years in order to put the Lord first. However, all that being said, if the missionaries are unable to coherently relate the basic story of the restoration, provide one or two related scriptures, and relate it to existing knowledge found in the bible coherently. The spirit may bare witness of the intent of the messenger but, it more than likely will not plant the seed deep enough for it to take sufficient root to mature into a fully active member.

    Please do not discount those with concerns as folks lacking faith. I have witnessed the current crop of missionaries in action. The program needs serious reconsideration and tweaking if the church is going to do right by these young folks who have volunteered their time.

  • portlander Arlington, WA
    Aug. 16, 2013 11:41 a.m.

    I've spoken with tons of sisters of highschool age here... I've asked what their plans would have been if the age was still set at 21. And to a 'T' each of them has said that they had always wanted to serve a mission, but were not committed because the time was so far off.

    Now that they can serve so soon after highschool graduation, they now have a high level of commitment. They are all so excited!

    In my mind and thinking, the biggest impact has been for the sisters. And since girls naturally outnumber the boys, they are going to be the majority of missionaries serving, eventually surpassing the numbers of Elders.

    "The Church" has had a hard time accepting this new reality, not often talking about the mercurial rise in the numbers of sisters who serve. To "them" (TPTB), missions are still the domain of the young Elders, but it won't be so for long. Even though there is no "official" focus on "encouraging" sisters to serve missions, there has been a tidal wave of pent up desire by the young women to have the same opportunities and experiences of their male counterparts.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Aug. 16, 2013 11:09 a.m.

    The missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ [WHQ: Monongahela, PA] are those only who teach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth of the Restored Gospel.

  • RonW PEACHTREE CITY, GA
    Aug. 16, 2013 9:54 a.m.

    I too have had similar thoughts and concerns about the maturity of new missionaries at 18. I am reminded that 18 is now open and optional, not mandatory. But it is amazing what the Lord can do with people who approach Him humbily and actively seek his help. Missionaries don't convert people, it's the Spirit that truely converts. Someone once told me that "the Church must be true or 50,000 (at the time) young kids spread around the world would have messed it up a long time ago". Missionary service is not easy. It is a lot to sacrifice whether you are 18, 19, or 20+. Some are going to fail at 18...but they are probably the same ones that would have at 19. Most will succeed because they have accepted the responsiblity the Lord placed on their shoulders. "He" will help them carry it.

  • byu rugby Crystal Lake, IL
    Aug. 16, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    "thpslc" Amen Brother!

    For this to work, the following needs to be implemented:

    1. The duration of the MTC should be increased by 2-3 weeks for additional training, coaching, mentoring. The duration of the mission should be lengthened to compensate for the maturity issue on the front side

    2. The Current TEACH MY GOSPEL Program needs to be modified with the inclusion of discussion-type pass offs' to ensure the discussions are taught coherently and uniformly. Side note: I have had a couple of the new missionaries in my home. Even with a strong spirit, they are completely unable to teach the basic 1st discussion in a coherent and therefore meaningful manner.

    3. The missionary department needs to seriously reconsider the castoffs from the "Raise the Bar" fiasco. Either we are a church that believes in repentance or, we are not. Also, If the Polynesians get a pass on the missionary weight restrictions, everyone else should too!

    4. I think the maturity level of the missionaries is going to require even further reduction in the size of missions. To adequately manage this new type of missionary, a mission president should probably only have 50-75 missionaries.

  • Johnny Triumph American Fork, UT
    Aug. 16, 2013 9:19 a.m.

    @ubruni - sounds like it's time for the rest of us to talk more openly about our faith and to bring interested friends to the missionaries rather than relying on the poorer use of time that is knocking on doors. I had very few good experiences knocking doors.

  • thpslc Holladay, UT
    Aug. 16, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    I don't presume to tell another church how to run their business and not being LDS, I am certainly no expert. But in the past several months, I have supported friends by going to about a half dozen farewells for their sons and daughters.
    I'm concerned about the lack of maturity I see in these kids. I think (especially with the young men) that one year of college makes a big difference in maturity. Boys who just a few months/weeks prior were in high school playing "high school games" in relationships and silly pranks. Now they are mature enough to go out and witness to adults about something as important as religion and salvation?
    I guess we'll see how this works out, but if one of these 'boys' came to my front porch, it would be very hard to take them seriously.

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    Aug. 16, 2013 8:28 a.m.

    Sure as more 18-year-olds go, less 19-year-olds go, so you would think you would meet equilibrium in the near future. However, the sisters are expected to reach 30% of the mission force. The 18-month missionaries I know are choosing to depart in the summer to take advantage of time between school semesters.

    I think we will see another peak next summer when even more sisters join the mission before this year's new missionaries complete their full-time in late 2014...perhaps around 90,000.

  • Rikitikitavi Cardston, Alberta
    Aug. 16, 2013 6:56 a.m.

    Ubruni,where have you been the last few months? This lower age in missionary service certainly is NOT about tracting. Just the opposite in fact. Two major areas of focus are on the social media and about service being given. Don't expect them to do your housework for you however.

  • ubruni Eugene, OR
    Aug. 15, 2013 10:55 p.m.

    My first thought when I saw this was "How will they all find room to tract? The U.S. will get burned over."

    I served a mission in Los Angeles and we spent most of our time tracting. I felt like we burned through hundreds of relationships to find the few who were willing to talk about God on their doorsteps. After awhile you knock every door in the area and people start to recognize you. It's demoralizing for the missionary and awkward for the people they contact.

    There has to be a way for missionaries to build relationships with everyone they meet, to be respectful and helpful, and not burn 100 bridges for every 1 they build — and that way is through service. If someone knocked on my door and said they were from a church in the neighborhood, and asked if they could help me around the house, I'd be happy to see them. Then there's an opportunity to answer questions, invite my kids to scouts or a primary activity, and introduce me to a nearby family who attends the congregation.

    Hopefully the critical mass of new missionaries will force a shift toward service.

  • Chris from Rose Park Hartford, CT
    Aug. 15, 2013 10:21 p.m.

    @James Kirk

    How is this going to fail? I don't think that it is something that can fail. There will most likely definitely be a peak in the numbers and then lower when both age groups aren't together anymore. That wouldn't be failing, that would be expected. As for success in mission work, it's all about loving and caring for the people you are around. It's about inviting people to come unto Christ. It's about coming to Christ for one's self. If the missionaries do this, then no matter what they have succeeded.

  • Way of the Warrior ARLINGTON, WA
    Aug. 15, 2013 9:51 p.m.

    I expect that at some point the surge in the number of missionaries will peak, then drop as the number of those serving reaches equilibrium.

  • James Kirk salt lake city, UT
    Aug. 15, 2013 9:15 p.m.

    Well duh! Since they lowered the missionary age this was to be expected. I can't wait to see how spectacularly this is going to fail.

  • Chachi Charlottesville, VA
    Aug. 15, 2013 7:16 p.m.

    That's a really poorly-designed graphic. The longer bars represent the smaller numbers--totally counterintuitive.

  • Christopher B Ogden, UT
    Aug. 15, 2013 4:35 p.m.

    This is neat-o and lots of blessings for lots of people.