LDS Church announces major changes to mission program

Salt Lake LDS Temple. Photo: Intellectual Reserve

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 20, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Friday announced that changes are coming to its missionary program.

Changes include questions to be asked of candidates before missions; a decrease in the number of missions; and technology that can be used by missionaries.

“We have really been focused on looking at absolutely every element of missionary operations, starting from when a missionary is thinking about preparing, through the experience that he has on his mission, and even the time after that,” said Gary Crittenden, missionary program managing director, in a statement on the Mormon Newsroom website.

“And through that we’ve found opportunities where we think we can improve. Many of the changes we will talk about come from that analysis.”

Pre-mission questions

Standard questions asked of potential missionaries will address issues of faith, understanding of repentance, and whether the candidate has any history of child abuse or other criminal behaviors, and existing debt. The full list of 16 questions is below.

Fewer missionaries, missions

The surge in numbers of missionaries, which has peaked at 88,000 serving at more than 400 mission locations, is being reduced by 18,000.

“We’ve leveled off to around 70,000 missionaries — still way up from the 58,000 we had,” said General Authority Seventy Elder Brent H. Nielson, in the LDS Newroom statement.

“In the orderly process of accommodating changes in our numbers, we’ll be slowly closing missions because we don’t need as many as we required for the great increase we experienced in 2012-13.”

Technology changes

In addition, missionaries will transition from using tablets to smartphones.

“The Church has consulted with industry leaders in the technology world to learn how to improve,” the statement says. “For example, the number of missions using mobile devices is being increased from 87 to 162. Tablets are being replaced with smartphones, and in the future, most missionaries will arrive on their mission with a smartphone to assist them in their study, finding and teaching.”

Below, find the list of new standardized questions potential missionaries will be asked:

Standardized questions

1. Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost?

2. Do you have a testimony that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world? Please share your testimony with me. How has the
Atonement of Jesus Christ influenced your life?

3. What does it mean to you to repent? Do you feel that you have fully repented of past transgressions?

4. Will you share your testimony with me that the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that [current Church President] is a prophet of God?

5. Full-time missionary service requires living gospel standards. What do you understand about the following standards?
a. The law of chastity
In reference to the law of chastity, have you always lived in accordance with what
has been discussed? If not, how long ago did the transgression(s) occur? What have
you done to repent?
b. Avoiding pornography
c. The law of tithing
d. The Word of Wisdom, including the use of drugs or the abuse of prescribed
medications
e. Keeping the Sabbath day holy
f. Being honest in all you say and do
Have you lived in accordance with all of these standards? Are you now living in
accordance with them? Will you live in accordance with them as a full-time missionary?

6. Do you have any legal actions pending against you? (If yes, ask the candidate to explain in detail possible legal or financial obligations. See Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 4.4.)

7. Have you ever committed a serious violation of criminal law, regardless of whether or not you were arrested, you were convicted, or the record was expunged? (If yes, ask the missionary candidate to explain in detail what happened, the outcome of any criminal charges, whether there are criminal or other legal requirements that have not been completed, and what he or she has done to repent. See Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 4.4 and “Serious Transgressions” in 4.5.2.)

8. Have you ever sexually abused a child in any way, regardless of whether or not you
were charged, you were convicted, or the record was expunged? (If yes, and the abuse has not been reported, see Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 17.3.2, for instructions. If the abuse was previously resolved, see Handbook 1, 4.4, for direction.)

9. Have you ever committed any other serious transgression or misdeed that should be resolved before your mission? (If yes, ask the candidate to explain in detail what
happened, the outcome of any criminal charges, whether there are criminal or other legal requirements that have not been completed, and what he or she has done to repent.)

10. Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

11. Do you have any unpaid debts? How will these debts be paid off before your mission or managed while you serve a mission? (See Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 4.4.)

12. Do you currently have or have you ever had any physical, mental, or emotional
condition that would make it difficult for you to maintain a normal missionary schedule, which requires that you work for 12–15 hours a day, including studying for 2–4 hours a day, walking or biking for up to 8–10 hours a day, and so forth?

13. Have you ever been diagnosed with or received treatment for dyslexia or other reading disorder? If so, are you comfortable reading the scriptures and other documents aloud? Do you believe that you could memorize appropriate scriptures and other information with the assistance of your companion? In what ways do you now compensate for this disorder?

14. Have you ever been diagnosed with or received treatment for a speech disorder? If so, are you comfortable speaking in front of others? Do you feel that you have adequate tools to help you learn, teach, and communicate?

15. Have you ever been on medication or otherwise treated for any of the following
conditions: attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD), anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or autism
spectrum disorder (including Asperger’s)? If yes, please explain.

16. If you were being treated for one of these conditions and discontinued treatment, did you do so under a doctor’s supervision? If not, why did you stop? How well have you been functioning without treatment or medication? When was the last time you were on medication for these issues?

To view this list online, click here.

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