LDS missions enhance online presence while showing a rebound

The mission service expected of young members in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to change, particularly in embracing significant online ministry and proselytism efforts closer to home, according to Lauren Jackson in the New York Times (May 12). In recent years, the traditional missions undertaken by young Mormons have become more inclusive of women and have relaxed dress codes, the length of missions, and restrictions on contact with family. But the move toward a greater social media presence started with the pandemic [see Vol. 35, No. 12 issue of RW] and has developed since then to minimize traditional door knocking with missionaries making and posting videos on social media and finding people online with whom to make initial contact through messaging. “So far, the changes appear to be working: In the last three years, as pandemic restrictions lifted and young members responded to an appeal from the church’s top leader for them to serve, the number of full-time proselytizing missionaries has risen by around 25 percent, according to church data,” writes Jackson. Today most missionaries start their training online at home rather than at the church-run boot camps that their parents went to, making the transition less jarring. Being home also gives the new missionaries an opportunity to start with reaching their own communities, Jackson adds. Other big recent changes include a relaxation of the dress code: in some places, young men don’t have the trademark ties and white shirts and women (who are not required to go on missions) can wear pants. Furthermore, with smart phones, most young missionaries can now stay in touch with their parents.

LDS missionaries online (source: