One year later: Looking back at the worldwide impact of a prophet's announcement

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  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    Oct. 4, 2013 4:58 p.m.


    I agree with your first point, and I would also add that the same holds true for members. 19 was never a make-or-break date, and neither is 18. But I fear that many members will make the same mistakes of pigeonholing young men (or even young women) if they are not out on a mission the second they graduate HS, even if they are perfectly worthy individuals who just aren't ready for one reason or another. One of my younger brothers was not ready to serve a mission until he was 21 (he is now serving and doing a fine job), and was virtually ostracized and went through Hades with respect to how others treated him in the interim. He is and always was a worthy young man, but he recognized that he was not mature enough in some ways to serve successfully until he was older. He had a lot of guts to stick it out even though the very people who should have been supporting him were often the ones talking about him behind his back. Ironically, it's often the older missionaries who are the best ones out there.

  • Ford DeTreese Provo, UT
    Oct. 4, 2013 2:08 p.m.


    Good answer. I think it's the best approach I've seen.

  • james d. morrison Boise, CA
    Oct. 4, 2013 1:37 p.m.

    I echo the comment that some need to heed the advice from President Monson that not all should go at the earlier age.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Oct. 4, 2013 1:12 p.m.


    I will say the results are, at the very least, inconclusive. Going on a mission is in no way an indicator as to whether someone will walk away from the church. It might postpone such an action, but it doesn't mean it won't be taken.

  • kvnsmnsn Springville, UT
    Oct. 4, 2013 12:52 p.m.

    OHBU posted:

    =The whole thing still feels a bit like a desperation move in reaction to the
    =number of people walking away from the church. This is an attempt to get a
    =mission out of more of them before they walk away.

    Desperation move or inspired revelation from God, which is it? I say, look at the results. I have two nieces and a nephew you are out having great experiences as missionaries, in Arkansas, California, and the Philippines, and another nephew who just got his call to North Carolina excited at his prospects. I also have one niece who walked away. It hurts that the one left the Church, but from my perspective it sure looks like an inspired revelation from God.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Oct. 4, 2013 12:05 p.m.

    "First, I don't think that the surge is so "temporary". 19 gave more males the chance to vacillate and cave in to their doubts. Now they just get to blast out of highschool and into missionary prep!"

    That's one way to put it. The other way is that it gave them a year to get out from under their parents' thumb and perhaps realize that going on a mission was not for them. The whole thing still feels a bit like a desperation move in reaction to the number of people walking away from the church. This is an attempt to get a mission out of more of them before they walk away.

    On another note, it will absolutely be temporary. There were already the missionaries serving under the old rules, and they were supplemented by the new. In other words, the vast majority of those missionaries aged 20-21 out in the mission field would have been home had the new rule already been in place.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Oct. 4, 2013 11:40 a.m.

    @ Ford,

    Don't know what to say other than a certain amount of this preparation falls on us as parents and how open we are with our kids about what they're likely to encounter. We talk about everything (thanks to my wife) and teach our kids to value other opinions and to be open minded, while encouraging things that strengthen faith. Kids that aren't over-sheltered in my opinion, tend to not be blown away by every new thing when they are adults.

    My mission exposed me to other cultures and ways of thinking. It got me on a path of learning and new experiences I've never turned back from. I had lots of people challenging my beliefs then and that has never changed. But I've learned to appreciate what they have and I hope it has helped me know how to relate to others and be more of a world citizen. As a result, I think it's important to help prepare our kids for what they will see out there and to not be afraid of it.

  • portlander Arlington, WA
    Oct. 4, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    First, I don't think that the surge is so "temporary". 19 gave more males the chance to vacillate and cave in to their doubts. Now they just get to blast out of highschool and into missionary prep!

    Secondly, I still cannot understand the minimizing of the worth and value of the sister missionaries. It is so obvious that the sisters had been agonizing over the facts that they had to wait so long to be able to serve in the field! And now, with the lowering of the age to a reasonable level, they can fulfill what is again obvious, one of the greatest desires of their hearts!

    In my own Ward, a young woman, who was wayward, living without any direction or personal improvement goals, is now prepping to serve a mission! She will now find herself, while in the service of others! What a great blessing this is and will continue to be for a very long time!

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Oct. 4, 2013 9:46 a.m.


    Thanks for the recommendation to check out your "Blu Principles" blog. Very interesting stuff. I noted in particular the growth rate in Venezuela, where I served a mission.

    After the temporary surge is over, I will be especially interested in a few years in looking at the missionary numbers and at the baptism rate per missionary.

  • Ford DeTreese Provo, UT
    Oct. 4, 2013 9:25 a.m.


    I have a son on a mission, and I agree that he is probably better prepared than I was. But I worry about the restrictions placed on what missionaries are allowed to read. I was allowed to read and study anything I could get my hands on. Now, especially with all the difficult questions missionaries are likely to encounter (that I never did because the Internet hadn't been invented by Al Gore way back then!), I worry that their preparation is insufficient to the times they are called to serve in. And what about when they get home and start looking into some of these questions? Have they got the tools to find answers? I wonder.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Oct. 4, 2013 9:22 a.m.

    Two comments:

    1) I have seen that about 5-10% of the 18-year-olds should have listened more to the 2nd part of the announcement, “I am not suggesting that all young men will — or should — serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.”
    Some of these boys have never been away from home, never had a job or other personal responsibility experience. Mom and Dad have some work to do before they are ready to be on their own. We have one such struggling Elder in our ward right now. While he is worthy and eager, he has issues. His companion, only 6 months older, has a much higher maturity level and vision.

    2) The fact that more wards have dedicated missionaries now, rather than covering 2-3 wards, gives the members the opportunity to reach their potential as member missionaries. Our ward Missionary work was struggling. But then we did a 40-day ward fast (each family taking a day) for missionary work, and the activity level has taken off!! Get to work, Saints!

  • Lew Scannon Provo, UT
    Oct. 4, 2013 9:21 a.m.

    Just wondering. They call it "hastening the work" now while this temporary surge takes place. But after 18 months or so, when the surge is over and the total missionary force drops to a more sustainable level (higher than before the surge, though, because more sisters will still go), what will they call it? Streamlining the work?

  • vangroovin West Jordan, UT
    Oct. 4, 2013 8:53 a.m.


    It is not the brethren that call the missionaries, it is the Lord. Obviously the Lord has work for those missionaries to do in each of their respective areas or they wouldn't be called there. If you perceive that missionaries in your area don't have enough to do, maybe this opens the doors of opportunity to you to help them out by reaching out to your neighbors and friends and inviting them to hear the missionary discussions, perhaps even in your own home. Missionary work is not just for men/women who are set apart as full-time missionaries. It is the responsibility of each member to do missionary work by setting a good example, serving others, opening our mouths regarding the restoration of the gospel including the Book of Mormon among other truths. There is much we as members can be doing to help the full-time missionaries have more than "nothing to do". I admit it's easier for me when I think about how much our Father in Heaven loves his children. With that perspective, it's easier to lead a discussion to the gospel.

  • mocoregon sherwood, OR
    Oct. 4, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    It feels a little bit like the Church was overwhelmed by the number of missionaries, in our town of Sherwood, we have 8 missionaries, in 3 wards. (Town is about 20,000) The missionaries tell us they have so many they have to put them somewhere. They can't tract because they could do the whole town in a week and everyone starts complaining. (This has actually happened, where the missionaries were tracting so much they had to stop, to many complaints of, "I am tired of seeing you at my door every week.") So they sort of just walk around waiting for appointments. It is said because, there are towns in missions with 100,000 people with no missionaries or only one set.

  • james d. morrison Boise, CA
    Oct. 4, 2013 8:41 a.m.

    They need to put some of this called missionaries on a wait list or send more to foreign areas that still haven't had any increase in missionaries. In our area, they have too many missionaries and they are sitting around twiddling their thumbs all day with nothing to do because their area covers a half of a square mile.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Oct. 4, 2013 6:43 a.m.

    These young missionaries are just so good on so many levels, so much better prepared than my generation. Looking at what accompanied the last big wave (70's, 80's) in the church and in the world (e.g. fall of many kinds of "iron curtains") makes me excited about what this wave will bring. Certainly they will be better prepared as parents of the next generation and to lead the church in all corners of the world. This really ups our game!!

  • jean22 Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 4, 2013 6:42 a.m.

    I have witnessed first-hand the "exuberance of youth" comment. I receive copies of e-mails from quite a few of these young missionaries and the enthusiasm and excitement in their letters is amazing! They are so energetic and hardworking and unfazed by obstacles. They look for blessings and miracles and answers to prayers and they see them. It buoys my spirits each week to read these energetic letters and it makes me want to work harder and be better and recognize the good all around me. They are truly an inspiration to me!

  • The Solution Dayton, OH
    Oct. 4, 2013 6:17 a.m.

    Another future result we can expect is more married couples having served in the same mission. In the past, this sometimes occurred, but there was an age gap. For example, my wife is 6 months older than I. I was finishing my mission when she was beginning hers. We didn't know each other in the mission, but we got married after at age 23. With the change, returned couples could get married as early as 20. Just an interesting thought.

    This will also help young returned missionaries get married sooner after their missions in general, which is definitely inspired for the times.

  • Wacoan Waco, TX
    Oct. 4, 2013 5:19 a.m.

    Steve, as you know, the Church does not spend a ton of tithes publishing data but using data that is published, I created a model that forecasts the number of missionaries called in a given year. It does not answer your question directly but does give insights. The decline in missionaries serving began in 2002 for three reasons: fewer youth, raising missionary standards, and impending war. The number of youth attending seminary is a strong predictor of the number of youth who will serve missions and the enrollment rate of youth has probably been increasing over the last several years. If you are interested, I publish my findings on my blog, "Blu Principles" which can be found using any major search engine.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Oct. 3, 2013 9:50 p.m.

    I am overcome with the love the young people have for serving their fellow men in this holy way. Bless the youth of the Church that they may continue to recognize the value of serving others in the most selfless way available on earth. So many lives will be blessed for generations because of their humble willingness to go out and serve.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Oct. 3, 2013 9:45 p.m.

    What I'd like to know is this: Does the proportion of 19-year-old males serving missions remain lower than it was during the mid- to late 1990s? I think that was a key reason for lower the age of males serving to 18.

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    Oct. 3, 2013 7:42 p.m.

    And of those numbers, our family added three 18 year old missionaries this year....all wonderful grandsons of ours and cousins to each other! Pretty exciting times, indeed!