USA Today takes note of LDS sister missionaries

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  • DSB Cedar Hills, UT
    May 25, 2013 11:06 a.m.

    @Craig Clark - your comments make sense if you're not a member of the Church. In that case, missionary service is one of many equally viable options to build character and provide selfless service.

    For an active and believing member, however, the mandate is very clear. God's purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. As covenant followers, we are under obligation to assist our Heavenly Father in fulfilling his purposes. Every eligible young man has been directed by prophets to prepare for and serve an honorable mission. It not only builds character, but helps to solidify a vitally important spiritual foundation. College may be critical for life, but a mission may be critical for eternity, and fosters growth that is very difficult to replicate in any other way.

    It's unfortunate our society now feels there's no shame in shirking one's obligations. Inflicting shame is a poor motivation, but it is certainly our sacred responsibility to encourage our children from a very early age to embrace and fulfill their obligations to God and their fellow men, to follow prophets' directives, and to teach that neglecting one's duties is shameful.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 24, 2013 3:48 p.m.

    "As a result, the church is now growing faster than ever, even with overall missionary numbers similar to a few decades ago."

    Kinda... in terms of hard numbers it's growing faster than ever before but in terms of annual percentage growth it's growing slower than almost ever before.

    "Any thoughts on this?"

    Lack of faith was the major reason why I didn't serve a mission. Another reason, and probably the answer you're looking for is... I didn't see the point.

    Nowadays people tend to have friends of all sorts of religious backgrounds. The old belief that being of another denomination or even another religion will send them to hell is becoming antiquated. LDS doctrine is extremely nice to non-believers when it comes to afterlife prospects. Many religious people don't think it matters if someone is of a different faith, and so if they have something that works for them... why try to get them to change? If someone doesn't think it's an issue that friends and family, the people we care most about, are of another faith, why would they care about total strangers being of a different faith?

  • lledwards38 Canandaigua, NY
    May 24, 2013 11:57 a.m.

    We have fed the elders in our ward every other week for the past 8 years when we retired. Most of them have come from the western United States. These young men have all been outstanding in their character, their preparation, and their testimonies. I have no doubt that many, if not most of them are future leaders of the Church.

    In my own family I proudly report that all five of my granddaughters and grandsons have honorably completed missions. Number six will report to the MTC in September.

    The Ten year olds in my Primary class all have a knowledge of the gospel which far surpasses their age. They are a joy and delight to have in my class. They are being well prepared for missions and future Church responsibilities.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 24, 2013 9:06 a.m.


    "....I feel that your comments are the same as saying, "It's unwise for parents or church leaders to begin instilling expectations to go to college....."

    Your point is well made and well taken. It is a parental duty and call on what values and priorities to instill in one’s children, how and when.

    A college education is of critical benefit for the rest of one’s life. Going on a mission is an act of self-sacrifice for the benefit of the Church and should be respected as an adult choice if it’s what one feels a desire to do. But no young man or woman should feel obligated or fearful that if they don’t serve a mission they’ll be letting someone down. Choosing to serve a full time mission is not supposed to be a status symbol and there’s no shame in turning down a call to go on a mission.

    I don’t know if lowering the age for going on a mission was wise or not. I thought the Church was sending them out at too young an age as it was.

  • Spikey Layton, UT
    May 23, 2013 6:01 p.m.

    Craig Clark, I know you mean well, however I feel that your comments are the same as saying, "It's unwise for parents or church leaders to begin instilling expectations to go to college."

    It's never to early to teach children to serve their communities, their families, their countries, their church. It's never to early to teach them to prepare for college. It would be more of a shock to suddenly be thrown into it.

    Don't get me wrong, I realize there are parents who are overbearing and who expect too much---that is different.

    As a convert at the age of 19, I could not wait to go on a mission! It was one of the best experiences of my life, and made me grow up. I grew up as a spoiled kid in Southern California. The LDS Church has had the greatest impact on my life of anything I have ever been involved in. I would not have gone to college, married a nice guy (believe me, I would not have) travelled and lived oversease in Korea...I could go on. I am SO thankful that somebody shared the gospel with me! He was 19 years old!

  • GeoMan SALEM, OR
    May 23, 2013 5:40 p.m.

    Craig Clark,
    Why do you think that it is unwise for parents and Church leaders to begin instilling expectations to serve a mission in youth as young as Primary age?

    If anything, I would argue that society (both as a whole, and just the Church) needs to instill more expectations in our youth. I think the problem is that "we" are raising them to be directionless and purposeless. The Church now provides missionary service opportunities for young men and women of varying abilities, talents, and limitations. It isn't one size fits all, there is a good fit for just about everyone.

    Expectations aren't a problem. Unrealistic expectations can be, but everyone benefits from expectations.

    Moving on to another issue raised in the comments, I just wish I saw more evidence that the bar truly was raised. From my little corner of the world, I just don't see any sign that it was raised. If anything, it appears to have been lowered. I'm glad to hear that it appears to have been raised elsewhere, or appears so to some people.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 23, 2013 2:19 p.m.

    Many young people are eager to go on a mission whether or not they’re mature enough to make such a weighty decision, much less to be out there doing missionary work for which they are ill-prepared. Unfortunately, some of those fine young people have been brought up to feel an awesome burden of expectations upon them to go.

    It’s unwise for parents or church leaders to begin instilling expectations to serve a mission in youth as young as Primary age. But that’s a part of LDS culture that is generally unquestioned within the Church.

  • Moracle Blackshear, GA
    May 23, 2013 1:39 p.m.

    Although I applaud the increase of sister missionaries, I am very concerned about the low number of young men going on missions.

    In my ward, over the last ten years, I know of two that have gone on missions, and none of the others (although in attendance throughout their youth) have gone on missions, nor are any of them, after graduating, now active in the Church...

    I'm left wondering: "Why?"

    Any thoughts on this?

    Any ideas, anyone?

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 11:31 a.m.

    The Caravan Moves On.. and Tators..

    I agree with both of you! There is a need and there are reasons why the need exists. What can we do about it? Encourage others to join in the cause and work to serve others! Teach true principles and welcome participation. Encourage, welcome, and serve!

    Yay for service!

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    May 23, 2013 10:39 a.m.

    From Tators: "There has been an unprecedented growth in the church over the past decade or so. . . . As a result, the church is now growing faster than ever."

    Not true. The Church over the past decade has been growing at a significantly slower rate than in previous years.

    Also, the proportion of young men in the Church who serve missions has also dropped significantly over the past 15 years. Even with the lowered missionary age, over the next several years the proportion of young men who serve missions is unlikely to be as high as it was in the 1990s.

  • Palmetto Bug Columbia, SC
    May 23, 2013 9:24 a.m.

    There are definitely externalities that explain why the number of missionaries hasn't grown with the growth rate of the Church, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have some trepidation about the slower missionary growth rate (also including changing family size demographics). However, as a Church we are losing too many young people during their teenage years and we need to find ways to better help these young people gain testimonies and desires to serve. It seems like the Church is aware of this and has been trying to remedy the problem (raising the bar, new youth curriculum, improved internet and multimedia content, lower missionary age).

    Ultimately, the number of missionaries or the number of converts does not determine the validity of the Church.

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    May 23, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    Just a quick note to "The Caravan Moves On":

    There has been an unprecedented growth in the church over the past decade or so. Many of those converts were and are young families and young adults. There hasn't been enough time, from that particular demographic, to feel the full impact of additional missionaries that will still be forthcoming. And come they will. We will see much of that impact over the next decade, as many of those previously converted young families have children starting to reach missionary age.

    Another factor... a few years ago the requirements to serve missions was tightened and raised. Not as many young men qualified. We saw the result in our own ward. The overall missionary numbers were temporarily down, but now back growing quickly again as the higher standards have been fully implemented and integrated. As a result, the church is now growing faster than ever, even with overall missionary numbers similar to a few decades ago. It's not just about overall numbers, but also about a higher quality as a result of the higher qualifying standards. Hence, the missionaries currently serving seem to be more effective and the results evidenced.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    May 23, 2013 7:41 a.m.

    When I was a missionary in the mid-80s, we had just hit 6 million members and we had about 55,000 missionaries. Now we have over 14 million members. By that math we should have had ~113,000 missionaries.

    Sadly, we had no where near that number. We won't have that number even with the lowering of the missionary age. As the Lord's church, we could, and therefore should, do much, much better in this area.

    I am confident the Lord personally approved the lowerd age limit. There are so many young men and women, especially the young men, who get lost in the world between graduating from high school and 19. My second son could be one of those. Because of this lower age I am helping to prepare him to go shortly after graduting high school...2 more years. My oldest son went on his mission before starting college even though he had to report to the MTC only 17 days after getting his calling. He'll be done in less than 2 months and like every hard working missionary, is glad he chose to serve.

    The Church is true! Carry on!