“So, why did you become missionaries?” I asked my two Mormon missionaries who came to our house recently.
“It was something I felt I needed to do, plus I couldn’t find a job after high school,” replied the nineteen year old young man from New York. “I just felt it was important for me to do before I carry on in my life,” replied the other from Florida.
There can be several individual reasons why a young LDS man or woman would choose to go on a mission, but in the backdrop of their decision is one core theme. Serving on a mission is a rite of passage in being a faithful Mormon. The leaders of the LDS Church refer to it as a “sacred duty.”
Returning missionaries receive a higher degree of status that allows for future leadership positions and for young males, and can improve their marriage prospects.
In the past year, several decisions have been made by the hierarchy of the LDS Church that has had a dramatic impact on Mormon missionaries and how they serve.
1. Lowering the age requirement
Last fall, the living prophet of the LDS Church announced the lowering of age requirements for missionaries. The minimum age for worthy LDS males was lowered from 19 to 18 years old and for LDS females, from 21 to 19 years old. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the number of missionaries. By the end of 2013, experts are predicting over 80,000 missionaries serving around the world. Just in the past eight months alone, there has been a 30% increase in missionaries.
2. Greater emphasis on using the internet
Earlier this summer, the LDS Church announced they will be making a far greater emphasis on utilizing technology to share their gospel message. This will be a dramatic shift for those serving on missions. They will now be encouraged to use social media to connect and follow up with people who are considered prospects.
3. Going door-to-door is being less emphasized
Going door-to-door on bicycles is slowly being phased out as a primary emphasis of Mormon missionary work. Not only will missionaries be utilizing the internet as a point of contact, but LDS members are being strongly encouraged to provide contacts for the missionaries to follow up on. Teamwork is now being emphasized between LDS members and missionaries designated for their ward.
With the large influx of new missionaries, the LDS Church is understandably struggling in providing logistics for them and places to serve. By studying missionary placements, the LDS Church is sending missionaries to places where they are finding the greatest growth. This includes Africa, South America, and Mexico.
However, their greatest emphasis right now is sending missionaries to the western United States.
With the sudden rise in the number of Mormon missionaries, Christians can view this as a wonderful opportunity to share God’s Word with them. Prayerfully consider taking the time to prepare yourself to provide an answer for Mormon missionaries when they appear at your door.
Go to pleaseopenthedoor.com to learn more.