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D-News Reports 63,500 Missionaries Are Serving

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45 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Ive seen something similar in my area--most simply don't go anymore.  Many seem to be coming home early.  I've found that most I've known who have come home, come home because they simply don't believe it anymore.  I haven't seen the "they simply weren't ready stuff" as much.  In my experience in general 18 year olds are just as ready as 19 year olds.  I just feel the dominant narriatve they learn growing up isn't true.  They are faced with far more than we were, in terms of challenge to the faith.  We always had "they're just anti" type of stuff to fall back on.   Nearly each time I went out with the missionaries over the past couple of years up until last year, which was a ton, they were faced with questions and challenges to the religion that they simply could not in any sense deal with.  They pretended to know, re-bore their testimonies and tried their best to escape.  We certainly had challenges, but I think the info is so far more prevalent to the point of it's not even close.  

 

For me, my mission was an amazing experience.  Certainly the best thing I had ever done up to that age.  I adjusted to a mission quite easily and was pretty successful.  District leader after being out only 3 months and a zone leader after 9 months.  As a result of that, I often got mission companions that were having difficulty adjusting.  One of the common things that I saw, especially with kids coming from Utah/Idaho is for the first time they seemed to be asking themselves if they really believed in the church.  Up until that time, it was just a given that they were expected to believe.  So here they were thousands of miles away from home for the first time wondering if they really believed in the church.  Back then, it was much easier to transition into believing.  Now there are all the, for a simple explanation, CES letter issues.  Those answers are much more difficult to answer and can not easily be prayed away.  So it is not surprising that more are coming home from their mission because they found out that they don't really believe everything they were taught.  

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, stemelbow said:

 Either they have no idea how numbers work, they lied, or people have been leaving tge church at an increased rate.  It could be a little of all three of course. 

At least we can be more certain elder Holland’s claim of seeing 100,000 was about as laughable as any old church leader claim.  

Or it could simply have been a projection.  How really can the Church know how many members are going to choose to go on missions?  They don't control the decisions of people.  It is not an issue of lying.  To lie means to know one thing but say something else.  If they honest thought there would be more missionaries, then its not a lie.  It also has little to do with people leaving the Church.  Perhaps a lot of people still have a testimony but they don't want to go or can't go for various reasons.   I only want my son to go on a mission if he wants to go. I don't want him to go if he is pressured or feels he has to go because of some expectations others have for him.  He was not sent to this life to make other people happy or fulfill their expectations. 

Perhaps the "raising the bar" thing has had an effect.  Perhaps the addition to social media has had an effect.  Lots of young people just can't put down their phones.  Perhaps baptismal rates have an effect.  It is harder to make a case for the Church to have as more and more missionaries if the baptismal rates are flat or slightly declining.  Perhaps we actually have too many missionaries (fishermen) in the field.   If only enough people (fish) are converting (biting) then it does not matter if you add more fishermen.  There is only so many "fish" that are to be caught.   It is hard to get people excited about going on a mission if it is hard to demonstrate the need by the workload.  Frankly if the Church was run like a business, it would reduce the number of missionaries to fit that actual need in teaching. 

Edited by carbon dioxide
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11 minutes ago, california boy said:

For me, my mission was an amazing experience.  Certainly the best thing I had ever done up to that age.  I adjusted to a mission quite easily and was pretty successful. 

I'm not sure if you knew you were gay when you were on your mission (I know you were married and have children). I had a brother in a former ward who was excommunicated for homosexuality. He came to me for help because he wanted to set things right with the Church, and he supported excommunication as a step in that direction (never married, gay in his teens). In his disciplinary council, he related (and this was new to me) that his mission was the best time of his life, and the only time he had been truly happy. He confessed to his mission president that he hadn't been honest in the interview process, and had unrepented (unconfessed) homosexual acts from before his mission. His mission president started the process to get him sent home, and Elder Ballard called and asked to speak to him. After talking with him, and assuring himself that no sins were being committed then and wouldn't be, he told the mission president that he felt they should let him stay and finish his mission. If he were sent home and excommunicated, he would probably be gone for good, never to return, but maybe by letting him stay, he could go onward and upward from there. 

I'm really glad he did that, because in hearing him talk about how much his mission meant to him, I'm thankful he had those two years. The excommunication resulted from the subsequent decades, after the mission. 

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10 minutes ago, rongo said:

I'm radical on this, but I think that wards and stakes in North America (maybe with the exception of Duncan's stake!) =@  should teach their own investigators using ward missionaries under the direction of the WML, EQPcy, and bishopric. Full-time missionaries should go to build up Zion in places where the Church is weak. If missionaries are ill-suited to live and work in foreign countries, domestic service missionary opportunities are available. 

I don't think that is radical.  When the Church first began, it did not send just young kids out on missions.  It used older people.  Not saying that older people should be full time missionaries right now but more of the load should be put on local members.  The way it is supposed to work is members find the people and the missionaries teach.  Missionaries should not be spending a whole lot of time finding.

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11 minutes ago, rongo said:

I'm radical on this, but I think that wards and stakes in North America (maybe with the exception of Duncan's stake!) =@  should teach their own investigators using ward missionaries under the direction of the WML, EQPcy, and bishopric. Full-time missionaries should go to build up Zion in places where the Church is weak. If missionaries are ill-suited to live and work in foreign countries, domestic service missionary opportunities are available. 

seriously! hahahaha! except we don't have ward missionaries and our WML is at the beach most sundays! I think we've only had one baptism so far this year

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30 minutes ago, rongo said:

I'm radical on this, but I think that wards and stakes in North America (maybe with the exception of Duncan's stake!) =@  should teach their own investigators using ward missionaries under the direction of the WML, EQPcy, and bishopric. Full-time missionaries should go to build up Zion in places where the Church is weak. If missionaries are ill-suited to live and work in foreign countries, domestic service missionary opportunities are available. 

I can only imagine what our angelic ancestors think when they meet someone from our day in heaven and find out they served a "mission" to Salt Lake City.

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10 minutes ago, cinepro said:

I can only imagine what our angelic ancestors think when they meet someone from our day in heaven and find out they served a "mission" to Salt Lake City.

we have a ton of people here who served in Utah, talk about cake walk of a place to go! hahahhaha! members buying them stuff, baptisms out the wazoo, meeting the Brethren at Costco and wherever else

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20 minutes ago, cinepro said:

With all due respect, even I know your mission stories much better than I remember my own.

I’ve read the book!  (And it’s excellent 😊)

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This is the coming home and leaving time of year.  We have had four come home and two leave this summer from our ward so far.  We have two more coming home in two weeks.  It would probably help to compare October to October.  I don't know what the real number would be and maybe it is dropping comparatively, but a good number of people are moving around the board in the summer.  My son came home on July 7th.  I do think the number of sisters serving is going up, but I don't know what that number is.  

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Demographics.

People have had fewer children since 1960.

Not sure this is a "blame the YM" issue.

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2 hours ago, cinepro said:

I can only imagine what our angelic ancestors think when they meet someone from our day in heaven and find out they served a "mission" to Salt Lake City.

In my last area of my mission, I had found a large swathe of "territory" that I would be confident in speculating, no missionary had ever ventured.  At the very least, no missionary had been in a very long time.  We were in a mountain area, and the small villages, close to the chapel, had had literally every door knocked many times over.  I thought it would be exciting and new to try out the area where I knew nobody had ever been to.  It took 3 van rides and a bus ride to get there, and we packed lunches.  I thought it was very cool, literally no one had ever heard of us, we didn't know where we were going--a pretty neat adventure.  We decided to devote our time to going there and at least "getting our name out".  The most excited I had been my whole mission.  We contacted a lot, got a lot of lessons too.  Just had the problem of getting people to church.  Understandable, but I figured we had to start somewhere. 

On my next interview with the president, he told me that although my efforts were well intentioned, we needed to be closing the circle more around our places of worship and make sure we were teaching people who could make it to the meeting houses.  Stuff like that...I guess I can see where he was coming from, but I did become disillusioned by how the numbers game threw a wet blanket on genuine zeal in proselyting efforts.

Utah is growing fast, maybe the there is more potential there than we realize

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7 minutes ago, SteveO said:

In my last area of my mission, I had found a large swathe of "territory" that I would be confident in speculating, no missionary had ever ventured.  At the very least, no missionary had been in a very long time.  We were in a mountain area, and the small villages, close to the chapel, had had literally every door knocked many times over.  I thought it would be exciting and new to try out the area where I knew nobody had ever been to.  It took 3 van rides and a bus ride to get there, and we packed lunches.  I thought it was very cool, literally no one had ever heard of us, we didn't know where we were going--a pretty neat adventure.  We decided to devote our time to going there and at least "getting our name out".  The most excited I had been my whole mission.  We contacted a lot, got a lot of lessons too.  Just had the problem of getting people to church.  Understandable, but I figured we had to start somewhere. 

On my next interview with the president, he told me that although my efforts were well intentioned, we needed to be closing the circle more around our places of worship and make sure we were teaching people who could make it to the meeting houses.  Stuff like that...I guess I can see where he was coming from, but I did become disillusioned by how the numbers game threw a wet blanket on genuine zeal in proselyting efforts.

Utah is growing fast, maybe the there is more potential there than we realize

Utah has the most baptizing missions in the Church last I heard.  My son went to Ogden (it was a "foreign" mission even if he had been born in .Provo and had three cousins living in the mission since at the time he left, we were living in Canada...three out of 10 kids his age went to Utah missions) and never had to tract, they had so many appointments.  Lots reactiviations, but lots new investigators as well.

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4 hours ago, rongo said:

There could be pockets where this is true, but most haven't given it enough deep thought to be able to say "they simply don't believe it any more," in my experience. It isn't even so much how "hard" a mission is, either. I think for most early-returnees, it isn't the type of fun and stimulation they want, they are easily bored, and they aren't studiers. The daily 3+ hours of daily study expected in my time, plus the downtime study (whole districts are studying on their tablets all day long in areas I have been in, because that's what they are told to do when they don't have appointments). 

 

 

Anecdotally, my parents reported when they got back from Warsaw that there is a night and day difference between those with college and full-time work experience and those who leave right after graduation. Yes, there are some very mature 18 year-olds, but they are an exception.

It's been really interesting to experience people's reaction to my son and nephew going to school for a year first, before their missions. People know, knowing them and knowing their parents, that they are going, that they aren't going to fizzle out and drop off the radar after a year. But, there is still a very real awkwardness and shock for them in talking to us, because of an ingrained cultural expectation that boys leave immediately (despite President Monson's words in announcing the age change). The reality is that very few go to school for a year, first. We ask them, "Well, he still has to save up the rest of his mission money. How did Tanner pay for his?", and they uncomfortably say that they paid for his mission. Both my son and nephew have full ride scholarships, so the money they made this summer and the money they make during the school year will pay for their missions. It is an invaluable experience for them. 

I seriously have the impression that almost no missionaries pay for their missions, any more. They are either completely paid for by family, or have a token contribution from the missionary, or are paid for by ward donors. 

 

 

This is true. Most missionaries know people they can a) ask, b) refer the person to, or c) try to bring to appointments for concerns. I haven't seen very many missionaries whom I feel are losing or have lost their faith as a result of the Church's answers vis a vis critical answers. It does happen, though. 

 

 

That's the critical perception, but it's not even the universal perception outside of the Church. I meet with a man (at the mission presidency's request) who is fascinated by Mormonism and Mormons, and who goes to every conference he can. He is agnostic and has no interest in joining the Church (and is upfront about it), but loves discussing all things Mormon, modern and ancient. He took his non-member wife to Palmyra on a trip (they are wealthy), but she drew the line at Nauvoo ("you can go to that one by yourself"). This year, he went to Sunstone and the Mormon Historical Association conferences. He was referred to me, and has been very impressed that I know what he knows and can talk about it. He is really Mormon-friendly and defends Mormons from critics, and bristles at the behavior of ex-Mormons and internal critics. It's been interesting to get his perspective, as an outsider without a "salvation" dog in the race. We're going to have him and his wife over for dinner, now that we've moved up near him (he lives in our new stake). Prior to that, he took me out to eat at different restaurants and brought his notes.

He enjoys meeting with the missionaries, and is very careful not to plant doubts. He loves it when he occasionally finds some who can intelligently discuss his advanced topics (he says there has only been one, a sister, who was familiar with the gospel topics essays). Yet, with all that, he places a higher value on them and their testimonies than simply "re-bear your testimony and try to escape." He also doesn't want to waste their time, but would love to have good discussions. I told him it would depend on the missionaries; on my mission, I also craved good discussion, even if they were never going to be baptized. He doesn't want to tie them up if they could be teaching investigators with conversion potential. I told him they would best know their calendar and their people, and to let them decide. ;) 

It's too bad he can't garner the faith to take the leap and consider the possibility that God and the supernatural are possible. 

There was a fellow like this in a ward where I served as their high council representative. After a couple of decades of this he is now bishop of the ward.

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15 hours ago, smac97 said:

I'm feeling fairly sanguine about the number of missionaries.  There are a lot of factors in play, some of them are probably pretty good. 

I think it is healthy for the Church to have "raised the bar," as this decreases the number of missionaries with emotional / physical  / mental health / behavioral issues.  Full-time missionary service is a rigorous, difficult thing.  People who are, for reasons beyond their control, unable to serve (mental health issues, for example) should not feel lessened because of that.  People who are, for reasons within their control (unresolved moral issues, immaturity, lack of desire, etc.) who are unwilling to serve should not be pressed into it because of familial expectations or whatnot.  In the past, people falling into these categories would have been more likely to serve.  Now they are less likely.  That means fewer numbers of missionaries.

Also, the world is changing.  And the Church needs time to adjust to these changes.  We'll get there, I think.

Thanks,

-Smac

This view is counter to the fact that the past couple years are at an all time low since the restoration for missionary effectiveness (converts/missionary ratio).

 

Unless you subscribe to the exmo view that it's because investigators are reading about check history online.

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Which is why, above all else, Mormon voices must be silenced, at any and all costs.

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, USU78 said:

Which is why, above all else, Mormon voices must be silenced, at any and all costs.

Not all. Just the ones like you ;)

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding

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8 minutes ago, USU78 said:

Which is why, above all else, Mormon voices must be silenced, at any and all costs.

How is this relevant to the OP? Missionary numbers are down, so Latter-day Saint voices must be silence, at any and all costs? How does that follow?

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10 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

How is this relevant to the OP? Missionary numbers are down, so Latter-day Saint voices must be silence, at any and all costs? How does that follow?

I read it as a callous response to California Boy’s heartfelt response above. 

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27 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

How is this relevant to the OP? Missionary numbers are down, so Latter-day Saint voices must be silence, at any and all costs? How does that follow?

A criticism of the next prior threadjacking post.

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I read it as a callous response to California Boy’s heartfelt response above. 

Not calloused. Irritated at the incessant personalizing in the flimsiest of pretextual threadjacks.

Edited by USU78

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12 hours ago, jpv said:

This view is counter to the fact that the past couple years are at an all time low since the restoration for missionary effectiveness (converts/missionary ratio).

I said that "I'm feeling fairly sanguine about the number of missionaries."

How I feel about the reduction in convert baptisms is another story.

12 hours ago, jpv said:

Unless you subscribe to the exmo view that it's because investigators are reading about check history online.

Yes, I subscribe to that view, at least to an extent.  It's not complete, of course, but I have known quite a few people, lifelong members of the Church, who have encountered online complaints and criticisms about our beliefs / history / practices, etc. that shook/destroyed their faith in the Restored Gospel.

If online materials can upend the testimonies of people who have spent years in the Church, it stands to reason that it would have an even more pronounced effect on people who have little to no experience with us.

Opposition in all things.  I get that.

Our job must now be to live our faith better, and also to address and respond to online complaints and criticisms in the appropriate time, place and manner.

I'm reminded of these remarks from Pres. Harold B. Lee in 1970:

Quote

“We have some tight places to go before the Lord is through with this church and the world in this dispensation, which is the last dispensation, which shall usher in the coming of the Lord. The gospel was restored to prepare a people ready to receive him. The power of Satan will increase; we see it in evidence on every hand. There will be inroads within the Church. There will be, as President Tanner has said, ‘Hypocrites, those professing, but secretly are full of dead men’s bones.’ We will see those who profess membership but secretly are plotting and trying to lead people not to follow the leadership that the Lord has set up to preside in this church.

“Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet, ‘as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.’ (D&C 21:4–5.) There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.’ (D&C 21:6.)” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1970, p. 152.)

Sage words, these.

Thanks,

-Smac

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