Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
phaedrus ut

One third of Millennial Mormons who go on a mission are returning early

Recommended Posts

Just now, BlueDreams said:

Since I'm the only Millenial so far to post....I'd say these numbers feel way to high. On my mission, we had a few people go home early. Usually for mental/physical health concerns. And 1....(maybe 2?) For breaking mission rules, that I can remember. But no matter how I cut it, we were no where near 1/3 leaving early. My extended family is also very young. I'm one of the oldest cousins. We've so far only had one return early due to severe depression. My mission was right before the age change ('10-11), but according to this article, there wasn't much of a difference. Which would suggest it may not be fully about maturity in and of itself.

I've had a few people I know return early....usually for the same reasons: mental/physical health. On the mental health note, that could be in part generational. Younger millenials and generations are having increased rates of anxiety and depression. Often times it may go undiagnosed and mission stress can be a great place to exacerbate emotional problems. It could also be that this era has more awareness of mental illness and are more likely to insist it's better to go get help than to "tough through it." 

 

With luv,

BD

I'm a millennial!  I guess (born 1982).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, phaedrus ut said:

According to Jana Reiss's column at Religion News Service 1/3 of Mellennial Mormons who go out on a mission are returning early. 

https://religionnews.com/2018/09/26/more-mormon-missionaries-are-coming-home-early-study-shows/

Are missions harder now than they once were, are missionaries softer now, or is it something else? 

Phaedrus 

This was a calculated result of a 2016 survey apparently. It is hardly a church wide survey, and could be quite skewed in some ways. The information about the survey says: 

Quote

 

The online component sampled 1,156 self-identified Mormons and 540 self-identified former Mormons between September 8 and November 1, 2016 and is representative of American Mormons and former Mormons nationally. The online survey was supplemented with 66 qualitative interviews, generating more than 340,000 words of interviewees’ personal experiences and reflections.

The Next Mormons Survey is the most extensive collection of Mormon attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors collected by independent or academic researchers to date.

 

It seems it could be skewed by those responding who left the Church. The results showed 17% of LDS returning home early. To reach the 33% number they then essentially doubled that figure to try to correspond to the number who actually went on missions. This is hardly a scientific result to say the least. My current ward has 6 missionaries out right now, and has had 4-6 out at any given time for a good number of years. I think maybe one came home early. I know of a family friend who came home early for medical reasons, and then went back out, and had to come back home again because of an accident injury. However, I think the number of medical mission terminations is probably quite small. I know this is anecdotal, but in the wards I and my extended family have been in, the number of early returnees is much lower, so I have strong doubts about the accuracy of this "survey" as others have suggested as well.  

One encouraging statistic showed the percentage of those going on missions actually rose significantly over the two prior generations, although I'm sure an increase in female missionaries is a big part of that.

Share this post


Link to post

I think 1/3 may have been true 2013ish but now it seems not so many are leaving and not as many are going home either

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

This is hardly a scientific result to say the least. My current ward has 6 missionaries out right now, and has had 4-6 out at any given time for a good number of years.

Are you saying that your personal observation is more reliable than the woman with a PHD in American religious history from Columbia and the book she is publishing with Oxford University Press? 

 

Phaedrus 

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, phaedrus ut said:

According to Jana Reiss's column at Religion News Service 1/3 of Mellennial Mormons who go out on a mission are returning early. 

https://religionnews.com/2018/09/26/more-mormon-missionaries-are-coming-home-early-study-shows/

Are missions harder now than they once were, are missionaries softer now, or is it something else? 

Phaedrus 

Missions have always been hard.  Nothing has changed.  Missionaries just are not ready.  They are going out at 18 and they are addicted to their phones.  Many teens have limited work experience at a job while in high school.  To take a person who just goes to school, text messages, and does a few other things and then throw them into a 3rd world country and have them work hard is probably not going to work well in many instances.

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, ksfisher said:

The 1/3 number does seem high.

Speaking from only personal experience, my ward will send out about 1, maybe 2 missionaries per year.  I've lived in the ward for 20 years and  have never seen a missionary come home early. 

As far as the stake goes, over the last 7-8 years I'm only aware of 1 missionary coming home early.  That missionary was in a serious car accident on the way to his first area.

I can only think of one missionary in our ward in the last ten years that came home early and that was for health reasons. 

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, DispensatorMysteriorum said:

That has been exactly our experience here (in the Midwest). It is terribly frustrating as the bishop, because the missionaries won't tract and don't know how to talk to people. They have no idea how to generate investigators for themselves, and then are depressed when they have very few people to teach, and have very little else to do. It's really nuts. 

My last of three sons is now out on a mission. My first went to California, and started a practice of praying, opening a map, and pointing to a spot to go with his companion. He actually said tracting was the most successful method of finding investigators. I now suspect the MP allowed him to find investigators and then would transfer him to find new investigators for newer missionaries to teach because then he would get transferred again. It doesn't seem real fair though. 

My sons didn't have phones until their junior and senior years, and we made them pay for their own service. They also gained a lot of experience talking to our out of state relatives on the telephone. I have found nephews who spend their time on video games have trouble communicating with adults they don't know. They can be somewhat socially awkward and late to mature. I can't imagine sending one of them out on a mission at 18...

My sons all participated in scouts, and our second went on to participate in the Order of the Arrow, which I think really matured him. Two of them also participated in a leadership camp. In this way I believe scouting was instrumental in helping them prepare for missions, and is why the Church continued in the program as long as it did. Young men and women who are involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities, or who work part-time jobs or the like, I think are going to be better prepared for the realities of a mission than others.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
28 minutes ago, phaedrus ut said:

Are you saying that your personal observation is more reliable than the woman with a PHD in American religious history from Columbia and the book she is publishing with Oxford University Press? 

 

Phaedrus 

Yes, anyone foolish enough to get that useless of a PhD can’t have exceptionally good judgement.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
21 minutes ago, phaedrus ut said:

Are you saying that your personal observation is more reliable than the woman with a PHD in American religious history from Columbia and the book she is publishing with Oxford University Press? 

 

Phaedrus 

I would give her more weight if I could examine the study. We really don't know anything about her sample. Is it representative of the active Church at large? It seems about a third were those who had left the Church.

In addition to my own anecdotal experience, I have had 3 sons on missions within the last 2 years. None of them report anything close to a third of the missionaries going home early from their respective missions - two in California and one in Florida. Her numbers just don't seem to correspond to observed reality.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
11 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

I would give her more weight if I could examine the study. We really don't know anything about her sample. Is it representative of the active Church at large? It seems about a third were those who had left the Church.

You quoted the information in your previous post.  "The online component sampled 1,156 self-identified Mormons and 540 self-identified former Mormons between September 8 and November 1, 2016 and is representative of American Mormons and former Mormons nationally."  Last I checked Jana Reiss was an active Mormon and a respected journalist.  Is there a reason to be suspicious of her research?

Phaedrus

Share this post


Link to post
Quote

is representative of American Mormons and former Mormons nationally."

Stating something is representative isn't generally accepted without an explanation of how the group can be seen as representative...which may or may not be explained, too out of it to check right now.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
8 minutes ago, Calm said:

Stating something is representative isn't generally accepted without an explanation of how the group can be seen as representative...which may or may not be explained, too out of it to check right now.

Wasn't there a discussion about this survey on this board before, or was that another Jana Reiss survey?  If I remember right the criticism of that survey was snowball sampling.

Share this post


Link to post
28 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

Wasn't there a discussion about this survey on this board before, or was that another Jana Reiss survey?  If I remember right the criticism of that survey was snowball sampling.

I believe so, sorry...not in my usual obsessive to research mode, so not looking for it.

Share this post


Link to post

The website about the survey: https://thenextmormons.org/. Right now the website includes a copy of the survey questions, and some basic explanations of the methodology. Presumably more information will be included in the book being published by Oxford. In the FAQ it says this:

"Was this survey IRB approved?

Yes. The survey design and question wording received approval from Centre College’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) on September 1, 2016, Centre College IRB Assurance #FWA00017871, IRB approval code 140-Knoll-NMS-F16."

I don't know anything about Centre College, but it seems to be a reputable university. This survey isn't a hit job on the church as Jana Riess is an active Latter-day Saint, and Benjamin Knoll is as well as far as I know. Knoll is the one who designed the survey, by the way, he's a professor of political science at Centre College.

Anyways, this number does seem pretty high to me. I was a missionary in Argentina from 2013-2015, and I'd estimate that at most 10% of my mission returned home early. I wonder if maybe some of this number comes from people coming home just a few months early and people at home don't realize it wasn't a complete two years. In any case, I'm sure it will be discussed in further detail once the book is published.

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, BlueDreams said:

This isn't at all what the research even Jana gives would suggest. The largest group is Mental illness. Followed by physical. (then previous transgression or breaking mission rules). Which fits my mission and those I know who've returned early. Most came home for mental illness concerns.

Do you have any tangible evidence for your claims? (IOW, CFR)

 

With luv,

BD

 

CFR?  For what?  Tangible evidence for my claims.  If you can't tell I"m referencing people I know who have come home over the past few years, and my own observations of what they have told me.  For instance, I'm guessing the UVU study did not talk to the people I know who have returned home in the past year or two, and if they did, it was very few of them or perhaps one.  Also, as per the UVU study, how was it conducted?  My guess is those whom I know who have come early would probably answer differently to different audiences.  Sometimes it's much easier to let people feed their prejudices rather than try and get them to understand.  A good friend of mine came home early and often said he simply couldn't cut it, to everyone in the ward and area.  But he told me that wasn't true.  They simply wouldnt' understand that he really just didn't believe and was unable to feel committed as a result.    Additionally I wonder how this is all playing out.  The confusion that comes when people don't believe can get heavy in the very stringent culture wherein family and friends resent and act callous to those who come home early and don't believe.  I was speaking to a good friend who recently had a friend come home from the MTC.  Again, the top options from the UVU study wouldn't fit his experience either.  He said there was nothing but callousness from all involved, except his loving parents.  

Beyond that, I haven't looked into the study.  I don't know what was asked, the sampling that was decided, nor the demographic.  I really only know my experience.  And since there is no comparison to other generations, or so it seems, from the study I don't think we can conclude much of anything.  Although I"m greatly concerned about the mental illness issue. 

Edited by stemelbow

Share this post


Link to post

1/9 is my count.  I have seen a few come home a few months early, like 2-4, which I didn’t count.  This is for two wards I know about.

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, ksfisher said:

Wasn't there a discussion about this survey on this board before, or was that another Jana Reiss survey?  If I remember right the criticism of that survey was snowball sampling.

I think that was a criticism of the Mormon Gender Issues Survey Group survey of Mormons. That group included John Dehlin and a few others. It was highly criticized. It doesn't apply to Jana's which attempted to be as random as possible and control for various demographics. She has up a discussion of her methodology and questions you can read through.

I'd originally said on Twitter the n for number of recent RMs might be too small, but I don't think that's true now that I look at it carefully. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

Sometimes it's much easier to let people feed their prejudices rather than try and get them to understand.

The signal on my irony meter just sounded.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
7 hours ago, BlueDreams said:

This isn't at all what the research even Jana gives would suggest. The largest group is Mental illness. Followed by physical. (then previous transgression or breaking mission rules). Which fits my mission and those I know who've returned early. Most came home for mental illness concerns.

Note those statistics didn't come from Jana's survey. She didn't ask about why. Those came from a far less robust study out of UVU. That survey simply wasn't random or representative and was also small (348). Quoting from the paper:

  • Participants were drawn through convenience sampling that was obtained through social and print media, presentations, fliers, and word of mouth.

As such I'd be very cautious using it as anything more than a 1st order orientation to what the problems might be and not an actual representative survey of why people come home.

Edited by clarkgoble
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I don’t know if the numbers represented in the article are accurate but in the last 6 months my stake sent out 17 missionaries and 8 came back early—absoultely horrendous.  In my daughter’s mission,  the worst it got was when 9 missionaries were sent home early in one month.  In all honesty I wouldn’t be shocked in the least if 1/3 was not accurate.

This generation is a DISASTER—because of poor parenting (my generation is responsible for that), electronics, entitlment mentality and they’ve been trained to expect instant gratification.  As a result of thier environment / upbringing, they are simply unable to cope with the demands of missionary life.

The missionary program must have major changes to address this.  The elders’ age must go back to 19 for starters.  I also expect the new YM / YW program to address this but that will take several years to have any affect.  I also suspect that elders’ time will be reduced to 18 months.

Was it not a Pew study that reported this same generation is leaving The Church in unpresidented numbers?

 

Share this post


Link to post
12 minutes ago, Durangout said:

Was it not a Pew study that reported this same generation is leaving The Church in unpresidented numbers?

Not sure what you mean by unprecedented numbers. Pew shows a retention drop but not a big one. All religious surveys show Millennials leaving organized religion in general in huge numbers though.

The 2007 Pew study had 70% retention. The 2015 study had 64%. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

When I was called as Young Men president, our ward hadn't sent a young man on a mission in more than 15 years. Within weeks of my being called, I attended a training meeting with a member of the Young Men General Presidency. He told us that the evidence that we were applying what's in the handbooks and what we were taught would be young men successfully serving missions.

We had our first one leave in 2012. He was soon joined by another. At no point since then have we not had one or more Elders in the field. We currently have three. Across six years of sending out missionaries, we've had exactly zero return early.

We have had three early returns in our stake in the same six-year period. Because of my current calling, I'm a bit familiar with each situation. One returned early as a consequence of serious  previous sin that hadn't been cleared up. He was later reassigned to another mission and completed his service. The other two returned under Church discipline. One was only two months shy of completing, and I employed him to do some gardening for me right when he got home specifically to try to provide some positive mentoring. He's doing fine right now -- sealed in the temple, working, etc. We stay in contact. The other one should never have been sent on a mission. I knew that, but he wasn't in my ward, and no one asked.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
51 minutes ago, Durangout said:

I don’t know if the numbers represented in the article are accurate but in the last 6 months my stake sent out 17 missionaries and 8 came back early—absoultely horrendous.

I sincerely don't understand how parents, family members, youth advisers and mentors, bishops, stake presidents, etc. could all think these young people were ready to serve when clearly they weren't. What do you think people are missing?

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Durangout said:

I don’t know if the numbers represented in the article are accurate but in the last 6 months my stake sent out 17 missionaries and 8 came back early—absoultely horrendous.  In my daughter’s mission,  the worst it got was when 9 missionaries were sent home early in one month.  In all honesty I wouldn’t be shocked in the least if 1/3 was not accurate.

This generation is a DISASTER—because of poor parenting (my generation is responsible for that), electronics, entitlment mentality and they’ve been trained to expect instant gratification.  As a result of thier environment / upbringing, they are simply unable to cope with the demands of missionary life.

The missionary program must have major changes to address this.  The elders’ age must go back to 19 for starters.  I also expect the new YM / YW program to address this but that will take several years to have any affect.  I also suspect that elders’ time will be reduced to 18 months.

Was it not a Pew study that reported this same generation is leaving The Church in unpresidented numbers?

 

My ward has an abysmal stat too. Of the last 4 missionaries sent out over the last few years, 3 out of the 4 came home early. The sister missionary was the only one that completed her mission. My friends and family have also had a lot come home. It sends their families into a crisis and is very traumatic. I'm actually tired of having the counseling session as they deal with it. Not that I don't want to help but I wish we would figure out how to help these families more. My cousin said she was never contacted by the mission president since her son returned home early and her son was never contacted by the mission president again either. These former missionaries and their families need pastoral care and it is sorely lacking. So many tears...

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, bsjkki said:

Of the last 4 missionaries sent out over the last few years, 3 out of the 4 came home early. The sister missionary was the only one that completed her mission. My friends and family have also had a lot come home.

Did you know these missionaries well? Did they seem ready to you? To their families? I'm just trying to wrap my head around it.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×