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  #1  
Old 06-08-2005, 02:45 PM
Sal Ammoniac Sal Ammoniac is offline
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Mormon proselytizing: does the LDS church really benefit?

For all the effort Mormons put into their proselytizing, I have to wonder just how well it works. Around here, the missionaries are regarded by many as just another urban nuisance, to the point where I've actually seen a zone of avoidance form around them on a crowded subway train. The Mormon church can hardly be unaware of this -- geez, any returning missionary could probably testify to it.

So is there any discussion within the church about the tradeoffs involved -- I mean, a handful of converts on the one hand, versus a certain amount of aroused hostility on the other? Or is the point here that the missions are more like a rite of passage for the missionaries, and less a means of expanding the church?
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  #2  
Old 06-08-2005, 03:29 PM
Reloy3 Reloy3 is offline
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Here are the statistics from the church's statistical report for 2004:

Total Membership 12,275,822
Increase in Children of Record 98,870
Converts Baptized 241,239

In other words, almost a quarter of a million people over the age of 9 joined the LDS church last year. (Children of record are children baptised at 8 years old, presumably children of currently active members.) Although all 240,000 people didn't join because of missionaries, I would suspect a large percentage if not a large majority did. I go to church weekly with scores of people who joined the church due to the efforts of missionaries.

There is also something to the "Rite of Passage" thing. Members who serve missions are much more likely to be active their entire lives and have active children.
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Old 06-08-2005, 03:30 PM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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I don't have time to answer your question properly, since I'm at work. But here's a summing-up.

The LDS Church gets a lot of converts. It's not the fastest-growing church around, but it's up there at the top. Missionaries are the people who work with those converts. They do not only knock on doors or do street contacting; anyone going through the process of joining the LDS Church will be taught and baptized by them. A missionary working in the US will only help a handful of people to baptism, in Western Europe even fewer, in South America or Africa quite a lot, and so on.

There are several ways that people meet up with missionaries; the most effective way (from the LDS POV) is through member referrals--that is, an LDS family says "hey guys, our friend here wants to talk with you." As you've seen, missionaries also go from door-to-door and stand on the street. Knocking on doors is the least efficient method, but it does find some people who would not be found otherwise. Street contacting varies in effectiveness with location; in South America, it works great. But it still works sometimes in the US, too. In some other countries, they frequently offer English classes, which fulfils their service requirement (I'm not sure how many hours/week it is) while letting them meet people too (no, they don't proselytize during class). And then there are the TV ads for free Books of Mormon or Bibles--people respond to those, too.

It may be helpful to know that the LDS Church prefers to use native missionaries as much as possible. That is, in, say, Chile, people wanting to serve missions are most likely to be called to some other part of Chile. So while it used to be that most missionaries in other countries were American, because of the large surplus of Americans in comparison to everyone else, that is now quite changed. Fewer and fewer Americans are being called out of the country, because many countries can now supply their own missionaries.

While a mission is filled with rejection, it's rare to have it consist entirely of hostility. No one expects it to be easy. People seem to feel that it's worth it, though you may of course conclude otherwise. It is true that a mission is considered a rite of passage for a young man (not so much for women, who seem to be considered already adult), but that is certainly not the main reason to have missions.
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Old 06-08-2005, 03:44 PM
Sal Ammoniac Sal Ammoniac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reloy3
Here are the statistics from the church's statistical report for 2004:

Total Membership 12,275,822
Increase in Children of Record 98,870
Converts Baptized 241,239
Reloy3, thanks for the numbers. But just to jawbone them a little, and given DangerMom's comments, I would suspect that relatively few converts are acquired by knocking on doors and striking up conversation on the bus. I imagine that in that 241,000, there's a fair number of people who converted because their spouse or future spouse is Mormon, or who themselves took the initiative.

And also, there's the question of level of effort. Any idea of the number of missionaries out there, in the US, say?

But I want to return to the point raised in my OP, which has to do with people who are actively turned off to the Mormon church by the proselytizing. Is there much reflection in the church about this?
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  #5  
Old 06-08-2005, 04:59 PM
Reloy3 Reloy3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
I would suspect that relatively few converts are acquired by knocking on doors and striking up conversation on the bus.
It's true that that is the least effective method, but still, 1,000's are introduced to the church this way. In my local congregation in my small little town, we have 3 women who are getting baptrized this month, all from just random door knocks. Many of my friends from church joined that way. I understand, anecdotaly, that there are a large number of converts overseas through just general stranger contacts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
I imagine that in that 241,000, there's a fair number of people who converted because their spouse or future spouse is Mormon, or who themselves took the initiative.
True, but my experience tells me that they are the minority of the 241,000. Many are also friends or neighbors of members.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
And also, there's the question of level of effort. Any idea of the number of missionaries out there, in the US, say?
There are just over 51,000 full-time missionaries world-wide. I don't know what percentage are based in the U.S.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
But I want to return to the point raised in my OP, which has to do with people who are actively turned off to the Mormon church by the proselytizing. Is there much reflection in the church about this?
Sure, I think about it, and so do most members I have spoken about it. Every once in a while I meet someone who finds out I'm LDS and, even if I've known them a long time, will instantly think I'm going to try to kidnap and baptize them. I also know people, although just a few, who were very antagonistic toward the LDS church at some point in their lives and then later became a member. (Again, these are few and far between.)

I think the general consensus among those members I've talked to is that it is worth it. Although some people might be turned off, when someone is interested it's wonderful. Members like me believe the LDS Church has made me a better person, and want others to experience it, too. On the other hand, I don't want to be a pest, and I have never once talked to a coworker or friend about the LDS church who didn't first express a definite interest to me. I also think that this concern is reflected in the attitude and training of full-time missionaries - door-to-door contacts is the last resort. Most find other, more effective ways to spend their time.

Also, maybe my mindset is different because of my upbringing, but I have no objection to someone trying to introduce me to their way of thinking, even if I disagree or am initially not interested. In fact, when I lived in New York, there was a bus of a particular sect of Orthodox Judaism that travelled my neighborhood and would talk to people about their beliefs. The first question they would ask was "Are you a jew" or "are you jewish", and if you said no, their interest in you disappeared and they moved on. I was more than a little offended. Hey, if you have a better way to live or have some insight, I want to know about it. How dare you instantly judge me as somehow unworthy to hear your message. I later talked to some of my observant Jewish friends, who explained it and sort of assuaged me, but I have a very different perspective.

Hope this helps.
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  #6  
Old 06-08-2005, 07:45 PM
dotchan dotchan is offline
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A lot of people I know first learned English from Mormon bible studies. (Apparently, the Mormons were very nice and polite.)
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Old 06-08-2005, 08:20 PM
Sal Ammoniac Sal Ammoniac is offline
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Reloy3, thanks for a good and honest answer. Though I'm bound to say, not many people are as tolerant of proselytizing as you are. I've never heard anyone say a good word about it, in fact.
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Old 06-08-2005, 08:57 PM
whiterabbit whiterabbit is offline
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I wonder what the retention rate is for those quarter-million converts, though. What if half of them leave or become inactive or whatever within that first year? I have heard a lot of conservative Christian churches tend to have a lot of turnover; people convert but don't necessarily stay around long-term. I see no reason why this wouldn't happen in the LDS church as well.

No offense intended, of course, but that would change the numbers dramatically.
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  #9  
Old 06-09-2005, 09:22 AM
Reloy3 Reloy3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiterabbit
I wonder what the retention rate is for those quarter-million converts, though. What if half of them leave or become inactive or whatever within that first year? I have heard a lot of conservative Christian churches tend to have a lot of turnover; people convert but don't necessarily stay around long-term. I see no reason why this wouldn't happen in the LDS church as well.

No offense intended, of course, but that would change the numbers dramatically.

Your right, there is a lot of concern about keeping newly converted members actively involved. And there is a lot of, if not turnover, at least people becoming lukewarm toward the LDS church not long after they become members. I understand it's a bigger problem in South America, where a big part of the problem, as I understand it, is that in many areas the vast majority of any congregation have been members for just a short amount of time. It has been a concern, and church practices in missionary traininig has changed as a result. There is a greater emphasis on making sure the individual taking the lessons from the missionaries is fully committed before baptism. When I was a young missionary (oh, soooo many years ago) it seemed that there was an attitude among us that "the greater the number of converts, the better". (Understand, this attitude did not come from the leadership, just us on the "ground floor"). Now missionaries are instructed that it is quality of conversion more than the quantity that is important. Our local missionaries and members spend a lot of time making sure new converts feel a part of the community (sometimes, I fear, to the point that they may feel over-committed and overly-bothered).

I should note, that a large percentage of the 50,000+ missionaries are on "non-proselytizing" missions. They run local relief and humanitarian programs, operate temples and historical sights, geneology libraries, etc. In fact, I had a friend I used to rope with who went on a mission where all he did was take care of horses at a church operated historical sight.

I kind of hope Dangermom comes along and makes sure I'm not saying anything stupid. She is so much more eloquent than I.
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  #10  
Old 06-09-2005, 09:26 AM
Reloy3 Reloy3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiterabbit
I wonder what the retention rate is for those quarter-million converts, though. What if half of them leave or become inactive or whatever within that first year? I have heard a lot of conservative Christian churches tend to have a lot of turnover; people convert but don't necessarily stay around long-term. I see no reason why this wouldn't happen in the LDS church as well.

No offense intended, of course, but that would change the numbers dramatically.
I would also add that one of the things I've always respected about the Jehovah's Witnesses is that, IIRC, the number of members they report is only the number of members who are actively attending meetings. It may make them seem smaller than other churches, but it seems more accurate.

No offense intended to the churches, mine included (and, I believe, the vast majority) who calculate membership by other methods.
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  #11  
Old 06-09-2005, 09:33 AM
Monty Monty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dangermom
The LDS Church gets a lot of converts. It's not the fastest-growing church around, but it's up there at the top. Missionaries are the people who work with those converts. They do not only knock on doors or do street contacting; anyone going through the process of joining the LDS Church will be taught and baptized by them.
Hi, dangermom! Not everyone who joins the Church is baptized by the missionaries. When my best friend converted, he asked for me to perform the baptism (since, at the time, I was a Priest) and another of our friends to perform the confirmation (since, at the time, the other friend was an Elder). Of course, most people who convert do ask for the missionaries to perform those two ordinances.

Quote:
There are several ways that people meet up with missionaries; the most effective way (from the LDS POV) is through member referrals--that is, an LDS family says "hey guys, our friend here wants to talk with you."
The two missionaries assigned to my ward here told me Sunday night that member referrals is their most productive avenue.

Quote:
[...] Books of Mormon [...]
How'd you like the movie, "The Best Two Years"?

Quote:
It may be helpful to know that the LDS Church prefers to use native missionaries as much as possible.
A fair number of the single adults from my ward here are actually serving their missions right now away from Bucheon.

BTW, good posting above!
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  #12  
Old 06-09-2005, 09:38 AM
Monty Monty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reloy3
I would also add that one of the things I've always respected about the Jehovah's Witnesses is that, IIRC, the number of members they report is only the number of members who are actively attending meetings. It may make them seem smaller than other churches, but it seems more accurate.

No offense intended to the churches, mine included (and, I believe, the vast majority) who calculate membership by other methods.
The membership reports for the LDS are tabulated by frequency of attendance. In other words, there's a total membership number and a number indicating the percentage of that number who attend services regularly, who are Elders, etc.

I find that to be quite accurate--and very informative--and sometimes wish other churches would report their membership the same way.
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  #13  
Old 06-09-2005, 09:57 AM
ethelbert ethelbert is offline
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I have always considered that proselytizing is a device used as much to strengthen the proselytizer's belief as it is used to produce converts. If you think you believe something now, wait until you have repeated it 300 times.

People don't say what they believe, they believe what they say.
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  #14  
Old 06-09-2005, 10:03 AM
Sal Ammoniac Sal Ammoniac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ethelbert
I have always considered that proselytizing is a device used as much to strengthen the proselytizer's belief as it is used to produce converts. If you think you believe something now, wait until you have repeated it 300 times.

People don't say what they believe, they believe what they say.
Hmmm... but on the other hand, when you're out proselytizing, you're inviting people to tell you, a hundred times a day, what they don't like about your religion. Maybe they end up convincing you. Reloy3, dangermom, Monty, how often does that happen -- I mean, someone going on mission, and losing their faith entirely?
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  #15  
Old 06-09-2005, 12:09 PM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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Hey, Monty's back! I haven't seen The best two years--the only LDS movies I've seen are the Richard Dutcher ones. (For those of you interested in a missionary's experience, btw, the Dutcher film God's Army is pretty good. After seeing it, my husband said that they ought to put a warning on it that it may cause flashbacks. It's available on Netflix.)

As for Sal Ammoniac's question, that could take a while to answer. Note, btw, that I did not serve a mission and so can only answer in generalities and my friends' experiences. IME most missionaries find themselves strengthened by a mission; it's a sort of trial by fire for many. (Make no mistake; a mission is hard.) They find themselves relying a lot on God for help getting through the day. Some have found it too difficult and left--sometimes because they realize they never had a real testimony in the first place, others for other reasons. I would say that it is fairly rare for a missionary to be convinced by argument--of course they run into a lot of anti-Mormon propaganda, but if you look at the usual sort of thing that is put out, you'll see why it isn't very convincing. It does happen, however. But IME it's more likely for a missionary to leave because they weren't properly prepared in the first place and 'joined up' with the vague expectation that a testimony would magically appear and they would just become a different person somehow. (There are other reasons to leave early, such as serious illness.)

Several years ago, the Church leadership decided that this had gone on long enough, and tightened the admissions process. They've made it very clear that they want people to have developed their testimonies before they get to the MTC (Missionary Training Center), and that they want really committed people. It had gotten so that some young men only went because they were expected to, not because they had any real commitment of their own. Also, if a prospective missionary has serious sin in the past, there is a longer waiting period than previously; no quickie repentance, commitment must be demonstrated. As a result, there are fewer missionaries than there were, but they are much more effective; during the change, missionaries told me that they were getting much more done with fewer people and that the quality had gone way up. I think the numbers went down about 20% at first for Americans and then went back up as people got used to it, but that's just a guess.

So, I hope that helps. I should really be cleaning the bathroom about now.
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  #16  
Old 06-14-2005, 12:22 AM
hathaway hathaway is offline
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If the church keeps records of membership and membership by participation (attendance), Monty, do you have numbers by chance? I would also like to know how many new members (baptized) remain active believers.
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  #17  
Old 06-14-2005, 04:38 AM
Siege Siege is offline
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I'd like to ask an honest question. As some of you know, I'm a devout Episcopalian. I have no desire to change my faith and I can't see myself doing so, especially given the church I'm going to now. I have learned quite a bit about the church, thanks, in part to Monty and dangermom and people I knew when I lived in Hawaii who were members of the church. It's been many years since I've even seen an LDS missionary, at least as far as I know. If I should encounter one, how should I respond? I have no intention to converting to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or any other religion. What do I tell a missionary, especially if he seems unlikely to take a polite "No, thank you" for an answer?

Respectfully,
CJ
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Old 06-14-2005, 08:50 AM
Metacom Metacom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Siege
What do I tell a missionary, especially if he seems unlikely to take a polite "No, thank you" for an answer?
Has that ever happened?

I've run into quite a few Mormon missionaries, and to their credit they've always been very polite and never failed to leave me alone when asked.
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  #19  
Old 06-14-2005, 09:26 AM
BobLibDem BobLibDem is online now
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Let me flip this around for the LDS posters:
If you are sitting at home and a missionary for another faith comes around trying to sell their religion to you, do you talk to them?

I've never had them pester me excessively, they always politely leave when I politely tell them I'm not interested. I do feel sorry for them walking all over the place on hot days with their neckties.
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Old 06-14-2005, 11:02 AM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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Siege, most LDS missionaries are happy to take "no, thank you" for an answer. Heck, they're usually grateful for a direct and civil "no" as compared to 'polite' waffling ("I'm busy now, come back later--when I won't be here") or outright abuse. DangerDad used to thank people for polite no's. LDS missionaries are looking for people who are really interested, and they're not at all interested in wasting your time or theirs, or in trying to make you do something.

I do get missionaries knocking on my door, usually Baptists or JW's. I take their literature and say "thank you, but we are happy in our faith." I usually look through the Watchtower.
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Old 06-15-2005, 05:35 AM
Siege Siege is offline
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Thank you. While I've never had an LDS missionary come to my door, I did encounter a member of a different branch of Christianity who tried to get me to accept Christ as my Savior and didn't seem to understand that I already had. Since this was on a Greyhound bus, I was rather stuck with his company. I'm afraid I may have hopelessly confused him when I ordered him not to make me renounce my faith in Jesus Christ. That and another incident are the reason I'm rather leery of people who are out to convert me to their faith.

With great respect for you, dangermom,
CJ
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  #22  
Old 06-23-2005, 05:10 AM
TokyoBayer TokyoBayer is offline
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As a former mormon and a "returned missionary" (I completed a mission), I'll offer another prospective.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
So is there any discussion within the church about the tradeoffs involved . . .
We weren't really encouraged to (and actually discouraged from) discussing church pros and cons of church policies.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
Or is the point here that the missions are more like a rite of passage for the missionaries, and less a means of expanding the church?
As others have mentioned, being a rite of passage is a large part of the experience. Unfailing adherence to strict rules is usually required and if often a central part to the experience. Some examples: We were permitted to play half-court basketball, but prohibited from the full-court version. Swimming and fishing were not allowed, and movies were right out. We were told to avoid newspapers and TV. The times to leave and return to our apartments were set. No dating. No phone calls home. Classic music was OK, but most others not.

It's been many years, so I don't remember all the rules, but you can get the idea.

Growing up in Salt Lake, although there wasn't any overt pressure to go, but there ware social pressures. Some are small -- my friend's family was less receptive to me after I had turned 19 (the age when a young man can go) without going (I went when I was 20). Young women are strongly encouraged to date "returned missionaries" and I had one friend who wanted to go to Japan for the sole reason that it was an exotic location and he figured he would be more popular with the girls after his return. He went Stateside and I went to Japan, but it didn't help me!
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Old 06-23-2005, 08:17 AM
Sal Ammoniac Sal Ammoniac is offline
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An interesting perspective, TokyoPlayer, and a little bit disconcerting. And it reminds me that it's not just the fact of Mormon proselytizing that many people find irksome, but the manner. That whole white-shirt-dark-pant, joined-at-the-hip thing puts a lot of people off from the get-go. Hence my initial question, which is why the LDS church so vigorously pursues missionary efforts that cause a certain amount of anti-Mormon backlash.
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Old 06-23-2005, 07:20 PM
TokyoBayer TokyoBayer is offline
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That's why they're not after you, Sal Ammoniac. They prefer people who are comfortable with the conformity.
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Old 06-24-2005, 07:15 AM
Conan_the_Librarian Conan_the_Librarian is offline
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Hey, TokyoPlayer would you be willing to e-mail me?(I tried, but you don't seem to want e-mails) I have a few questions about Mormon culture and whatnot, and you seem to describe your experiences honestly. Thanks
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  #26  
Old 08-30-2011, 04:06 PM
anayku anayku is offline
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Although in some areas this may be true, the stats do indicate that it is worth the church's while in the global spectrum, but even if it only helped one more soul than if there were no proselytizing, that perhaps would still be seen as a gain. However, trade-offs are more complicated than just what the stats show. The efforts aren't perfect, but they're still worthwhile for the church.

I think in areas where the missionaries work on public relations and morale more often (rather than purely tracting and such) things probably go better with the public (sounds kind of obvious, I know). I mean, when missionaries do service in the community and help people out, I think that helps a lot with people's impressions. What the members of the church and the church itself does is also important. In many cases, what the missionaries do is up to them, but some missions have required amounts of time that they have to spend on certain things, and the results of that, I think, are often products of the faith that went into it (as well as the faith of previous missionaries in that area—which may have been negative, in some cases). Faith is up to the individuals. Not every missionary is extremely faithful, but some are. Some missionaries cause a lot of damage. However, even when a lot of faith and love goes into it, that doesn't mean they'll end up baptizing five thousand people that month or whatever. Sometimes results take generations to sprout, but faith is rewarded (not always in expected ways, either).

It's not true that being a missionary is a rite of passage. Sure, there's stigma for not having been a missionary (although this has lessened in recent years), but just because you've been a missionary, that doesn't really guarantee you anything, anymore (maybe it seemed to for a lot of people, once). It's pretty much selfless service, unless they do it because of family, stigma of not doing it, personal growth or whatever. I don't feel that I'm any more likely to garner interest from an LDS girl after having served a mission than I would be from any other girl if I weren't even LDS. In fact, it'd probably be easier to get a non-LDS girlfriend, just because LDS girls have such high standards (and not just in religious regards, but also with education, perceived capabilities and so forth). This is especially true in areas like BYU where everyone and their dog has served a mission and has a couple degrees (it doesn't really seem like anything special, you know). However, my odds might be even less than that had I not served a mission. So, basically, what I'm saying is there's just too much competition to call it a rite of passage. I guess in areas where there aren't as many people who serve missions things might be a little different in the sub-culture.
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Old 08-30-2011, 05:23 PM
John Bredin John Bredin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TokyoPlayer View Post
As others have mentioned, being a rite of passage is a large part of the experience. Unfailing adherence to strict rules is usually required and if often a central part to the experience. Some examples: We were permitted to play half-court basketball, but prohibited from the full-court version. Swimming and fishing were not allowed, and movies were right out. We were told to avoid newspapers and TV. The times to leave and return to our apartments were set. No dating. No phone calls home. Classic music was OK, but most others not.
Could you expand on this; that is, on the reason for these rules? Why half-court but not full-court basketball? I presume that Mormons at home (that is, not on a mission) aren't forbidden to go swimming, or attend movies, or read the newspaper, or listen to jazz music. I understand a mission is serious work, but I presume a missionary has some free time. (Perhaps my latter presumption is incorrect.)
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  #28  
Old 08-30-2011, 06:40 PM
Rhodes Rhodes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bredin View Post
Could you expand on this; that is, on the reason for these rules? Why half-court but not full-court basketball? I presume that Mormons at home (that is, not on a mission) aren't forbidden to go swimming, or attend movies, or read the newspaper, or listen to jazz music. I understand a mission is serious work, but I presume a missionary has some free time. (Perhaps my latter presumption is incorrect.)
You presume correctly. Missionaries are not allowed to date, swim, play full-court basketball, raise zombie threads on the SDMB, watch movies, listen to music, stay out of bed past 9:30, sleep in past 6:30, read newspapers, or leave their companion's sight. The finer details vary with each mission president (e.g., no music vs. only inspirational music), but most of the rules are laid out in the pocket-sized Missionary Handbook a.k.a. the White Bible. All of these activities are permitted for Mormons who are not full-time missionaries.

The missionaries get half a day each week to do laundry, shop, and play half-court basketball. They call it Preparation Day, or P-Day.

I was a missionary in 1997-1999, and a Mormon until 2009. The rules may have changed a little since then.

Last edited by Rhodes; 08-30-2011 at 06:43 PM..
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  #29  
Old 08-30-2011, 06:54 PM
SnakesCatLady SnakesCatLady is offline
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Why are there no female missionaries?
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Old 08-30-2011, 06:55 PM
Rhodes Rhodes is offline
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To address the OP (I don't know if the OP is even here anymore), yes, the mission is very much a rite of passage. And it is pretty effective at increasing the church's membership and revenue. Door-to-door tracting are not effective, but service projects and discussions with friends of Mormons yield lots of converts in some regions. Only a small fraction of those converts remain active, but it's enough to keep the church slowly growing. People who get pissed off by missionaries probably weren't going to convert anyway.

In Tahiti, I had 8 or 10 converts. Maybe one or two of them are still tithe-paying Mormons. More recently, I have converted a few people to ex-mormonism. That takes a lot less effort.
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  #31  
Old 08-30-2011, 06:58 PM
Rhodes Rhodes is offline
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Originally Posted by SnakesCatLady View Post
Why are there no female missionaries?
There are. They just don't wear white shirts and ties, so they're harder to spot. They only serve for 18 months. And there is less pressure for them to serve. They have to wait until they are 21. According to the late prophet President Gordon B Hinkley, this policy is actually intended to discourage them from becoming missionaries.
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  #32  
Old 08-30-2011, 07:24 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is online now
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The OP is over 6 years old.

Just sayin...

zombie LDS
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  #33  
Old 08-30-2011, 09:19 PM
Sal Ammoniac Sal Ammoniac is offline
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Originally Posted by Rhodes View Post
To address the OP (I don't know if the OP is even here anymore)...
Oh, sure. A steady diet of brains keeps a fellow going for goodness knows how long.
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  #34  
Old 08-30-2011, 09:26 PM
strugglingChristian strugglingChristian is offline
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I disagree on many things with Mormons but i do think their evangelizing certainly worked on me. Not as far as conversion but as far as changing my opinion completely. Of course the only things I'd heard of mormons was negative from people who were not mormons so I suspected that what i thought was probably incorrect.
When they finally came to my door, I really liked them. They were the sweetest, nicest people I have ever met. We may disagree on theology but I sure would rather have them as neighbors or friends than anyone else. They are really really nice and I'm very attracted to and admire very nice people. and to boot, they enlightened me about the fact that they are not racist, they don't practice polygamy, etc. I like my mormons.
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  #35  
Old 08-31-2011, 10:15 AM
Dogzilla Dogzilla is offline
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Another exmormon perspective:

Missionary work is very effective for the church... in terms of keeping current members toeing the line. Imagine you hold some unorthodox beliefs. Part of those beliefs include walking around telling anyone who will listen about those beliefs. In fact, you believe your eternal salvation depends on it. So you do. Every single time you repeat your belief system, argue for it, defend it against people who would slam the door in your face shortly after telling you to pound sand, you reinforce your own belief system. Every time a door is slammed in your face, your conviction grows stronger. You must be doing the right thing because you're encountering so much opposition right? If you don't think that, then you'll be told that you have doubts about your convictions because you are being tempted by Satan to stray. Repeat your testimony again, teach another investigator all about Joseph Smith, and be sure to emphasize how you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the church is true, Thomas S. Monson is a real live prophet of god, and Joseph Smith was too. Say that over and over and over and over again until you believe it.

Sending missionaries out is a great way to reinforce the belief system of the believers. And hey, if you manage to convert a few lost souls along the way, well, goody. That just underscores the reinforcement that much more. The exmormon secret about the mormon church is that the missionary program really isn't about converts. I believe this applies to Jehovah's Witnesses as well. Not many people convert because some nice people banged on their door and dropped off a pamphlet about how their eternal soul is going to burn for eternity. But a lot of believers feel a lot more strongly about their belief systems after they've sacrificed and suffered to do missionary work.

Note: I do not apply this theory to evangelical religions where missionary work actually means missionary work: things like feeding starving people, building schools, teaching English. You know, taking care of people in need. To me, that is missionary work. Pounding on doors trying to convince people that their religious beliefs are bullshit and they should switch over to yours? That's not missionary work. That's just brainwashing reinforcement.

Just my opinion.
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  #36  
Old 09-01-2011, 02:32 PM
Snarky_Kong Snarky_Kong is offline
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Are the baptized dead included in the converts?
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  #37  
Old 09-01-2011, 03:04 PM
Rhodes Rhodes is offline
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Originally Posted by Snarky_Kong View Post
Are the baptized dead included in the converts?
No. If they did, they'd be claiming church membership in the hundreds of millions.

Last edited by Rhodes; 09-01-2011 at 03:04 PM..
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  #38  
Old 09-01-2011, 04:15 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
The OP is over 6 years old.

...
He can get baptized in two years!
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  #39  
Old 09-02-2011, 10:44 AM
Morgenstern Morgenstern is offline
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I wonder what the retention rate is for those quarter-million converts, though. What if half of them leave or become inactive or whatever within that first year? I have heard a lot of conservative Christian churches tend to have a lot of turnover; people convert but don't necessarily stay around long-term. I see no reason why this wouldn't happen in the LDS church as well.

No offense intended, of course, but that would change the numbers dramatically.
People come and go and come again and probably come and go yet again. Very few actually ask to be officially removed from the church.

It's really not that different with a typical protestant church, where people tend to choose a denomination based on how well they like a particular pastor. Once he moves on, so do many of the congregation.
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  #40  
Old 09-02-2011, 06:34 PM
Jake Jake is offline
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As said above: "And want others to experience it, too."

Why?
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  #41  
Old 09-02-2011, 09:47 PM
Huerta88 Huerta88 is offline
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Originally Posted by ethelbert View Post
I have always considered that proselytizing is a device used as much to strengthen the proselytizer's belief as it is used to produce converts. If you think you believe something now, wait until you have repeated it 300 times.

People don't say what they believe, they believe what they say.
I thought something to this effect one of the few times I was approached by a missionary (it was right by the Temple in SLC so I can't claim surprise).

It was a very young girl and she was not at all subtle or confident, but she believed in what she was doing and I thought -- at the end of a year or two of this, assuming she doesn't burn out, all this experience with cold approaches may well make her a very confident advocate for the church for the rest of her life." Kind of a brutal way to gain confidence in your beliefs, but probably fairly effective for some.
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  #42  
Old 09-03-2011, 10:34 AM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Are the baptized dead included in the converts?
Only zombies.
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  #43  
Old 09-03-2011, 11:56 AM
New Deal Democrat New Deal Democrat is offline
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Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac View Post
But I want to return to the point raised in my OP, which has to do with people who are actively turned off to the Mormon church by the proselytizing. Is there much reflection in the church about this?
A person who is "actively turned off to the Mormon church by the proselytizing" is not going to be converted anyway, so that person's response does not matter.
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  #44  
Old 09-03-2011, 12:11 PM
New Deal Democrat New Deal Democrat is offline
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I think the general consensus among those members I've talked to is that it is worth it. Although some people might be turned off, when someone is interested it's wonderful.
I like Mormons, and enjoy talking to Mormon missionaries. I have read The Book of Mormon, The Doctrines and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. I have all three on one leather bound volume that I bring to the conversations. I treat the missionaries courteously, and have a friendly conversation that they terminate when they cannot respond to my objections to The Book of Mormon, and The Book of Abraham.

I wonder if many Mormon missionaries lose their faith when they encounter non Mormons who know a great deal about their faith.

Once I read an interesting essay by a convert to Mormonism who later left Mormonism. He said that conversion to Mormonism is like buying an elegant Victorian mansion without examining the foundations. However, when one goes into the basement and turns on the lights one sees things one wishes were not there.

Last edited by New Deal Democrat; 09-03-2011 at 12:12 PM..
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  #45  
Old 09-03-2011, 06:55 PM
Rhodes Rhodes is offline
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Originally Posted by New Deal Democrat View Post
I wonder if many Mormon missionaries lose their faith when they encounter non Mormons who know a great deal about their faith.
It happens, but not a lot. As others have said, the more a missionary repeats the same mantras to the infidels, the more he believes it.

The only thing that caused me some cognitive dissonance was a brochure about whether Mormons were Christian enough. Most of the claims were easy to dismiss, but there was a quote from Joseph Smith's History of the Church where he boasts that he is a more competent church leader than Moses or even Jesus. That bugged me, but it was still another 10 years before I realized what a fraud Brother Joseph was.

I wonder if a brief analysis of the Book of Abraham would have gotten through to me if I'd seen it as a missionary.
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  #46  
Old 09-04-2011, 05:20 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Originally Posted by Morgenstern View Post
People come and go and come again and probably come and go yet again. Very few actually ask to be officially removed from the church.

It's really not that different with a typical protestant church, where people tend to choose a denomination based on how well they like a particular pastor. Once he moves on, so do many of the congregation.
(I am a Protestant)

Yes. I've seen people drift in an out of different Protestant denominations, and this is accepted to a significant degree - you can switch from a Presbyterian to a Lutheran church and most of your old Presbyterian friends won't be afraid that you're now going to Hell or have renounced Jesus Christ and accepted Satan. One of the fundamental tenets of Protestantism is that there isn't one single visible and formal organization of the Body of Christ (the church), unlike the LDS, Catholics, and Orthodox who believe that there is a specific organized group with official leaders and official policies on Earth that represents the One True Church. Protestants believe that the "one true church" is composed of all true believers in all churches, and that each of the churches is contending with the quest for truth and the quest against heresy and error.

The general sense that I get from Protestants (and that I, as a Protestant, agree with), is that the LDS are not only not a Protestant church, but a Non-Christian religion, and that converting to them, or from them, is an actual religious conversion experience.
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