An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Posts tagged ‘Mormon missionaries’

Real Reason for The Change

Brent at Doves and Serpents has posted a thoughtful interpretation ofthe recently announced change in missionary age. Brent believes stagnant Church growth motivated the change which will provide an influx of missionaries in the near future. He backs his opinion with links to reliable statistics. Find his post here.

And What Has the Church Meant in Your Life?

The junior companion frowned over his deep dish apple pie. The gospel discussion was off-script. George and I had been asked to invite the missionaries for dinner, probably as an activation ploy. Before their arrival, we vowed not to share our religious views with the elders. Serving a mission is tough enough without members casting doubts. As Elder Jr. Comp shared his testimony, we made polite comments but couldn’t mirror his enthusiasm. From the missionaries’ point-of-view, our dinner table dialogue was a dud.

Elder Sr. Comp moved the conversation to a personal level. “What has the Church meant in your lives?”

George spoke of his spiritual experiences while serving in callings and as a temple ordinance worker. When asked why he no longer attends meetings, George recited some of the more inane table-pounding comments heard on his two visits to the High Priests’ Group in our ward: “Women will never hold the priesthood” and “They are trying to take ‘In God we trust’ off our money.”

Thinking I was home free—home teachers and other male church visitors to our home generally assume George speaks for us both—I was caught off guard when the elder turned to me: “And what has the Church meant in your life?”

“Well, the Church has given me my basic values—honesty, hard work, helping others, a thirst for knowledge.”

“Is that it?”

 With a few more minutes of thought, I could have added growth opportunities such as speaking in public, teaching, and leadership roles. Instead I answered, “That’s basically it. My values.”

Clearly disappointed that I hadn’t included my hopes for salvation and reunion with family in the next life, Elder Senior turned his attention to his dessert. They left, probably disappointed that the possibility of finding a less-active couple to shepherd back into the fold hadn’t materialized.

But I’m still pondering that final question: What has the Church meant in my life? Although I no longer believe much of the history and doctrine learned at church, the values still hold. My only regret is insisting that the Church was the only way for our two younger children—the non-conformists.

Proselytizing Perils

The current Sugar Beet “news story” reveals a new Church policy to send missionaries to “way cooler locales” rather than to developing countries. Places like Monte Carlo where missionaries can seek out wealthy investigators who have the potential to become huge tithing contributors.

Fifteen years ago our daughter actually had the opportunity to serve in the France Marseilles Mission—a way cooler missionary field than Guatemala or Boise, Idaho. Unfortunately, Jaycee didn’t convert or even meet any millionaires. Even along the Riviera, it’s mostly the young and the poor who take time to listen to Mormon missionaries. P-days were a lot of fun for the missionaries though—bicycling along the Mediterranean once a week compensated for six days of rejection.

A curious thing about Jaycee’s mission was the number of devoutly religious people who nodded as she and her companion explained about praying to receive a confirmation of the truths they were teaching. Then these contacts bore enthusiastic testimony of the spiritual witness they had already received in answer to fervent prayer—affirmation that the church they had previously joined was true.

Nothing at the MTC had prepared Jaycee to refute heartfelt testimonies that a non-LDS church was God’s plan for a sincerely religious person. These people had studied, thought, prayed and received a witness. Was she supposed to tell them their feelings of peace and happiness came from a source other than God?

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