An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Called to Serve

George and I served as ward missionaries in Cedar City about five years ago. We were assigned to visit an apartment complex with a transient population each week to check if new arrivals were members and to invite non-members to church. We were not expected to teach—our bishop was no fool.

We called ourselves the ward locaters. It was probably the only ward calling we would have accepted at that time and we enjoyed it. We met nice people, told themwhere to find their own churches, and provided other community information. One day we met a couple of unmarried 18-year-olds. They froze when we asked if they were Church members–probably wondering if their parents had tracked them down. We tactfully left without suggesting having their Church records sent.

The only down side to this calling was attending ward missionary meetings where everyone was pressured to find somebody— anybody—for the fulltime missionaries to teach. The idea that nonmember neighbors might be perfectly happy without being Mormons was beyond the ken of devout committee members.

One family was continually mentioned—an inactive single dad with a teenage son. The unbaptized  boy was about 14, a good student, involved with sports and school activities. He had friends outside the Church. But every month, our committee lamented the fact that this boy was not a Boy Scout attending Mormon services and preparing for a mission. How could we help this father see the need his happy, well-adjusted son had to be part of our group?

We finally asked for a release from our calling because we couldn’t handle the committee meetings. The members were nice people, but their focus on finding investigators to teach seemed self-serving—a way to magnify their ward standing rather than to benefit others.

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