I served as a full time missionary for the LDS church in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission (there was only one mission in Nevada at the time).Â Lots of fond memories there.Â Blistering heat that would leave your footprints in the asphalt, desert rainstorms / flash floods, really interesting people from all over the world.Â There was also the “work”.
I remember the first time I was a trainer.Â We were instructed by our mission president to take our new missionary tracting as soon as we got them back to the apartment.Â Didn’t even give them time to unpack.Â I think I handled the first dozen or so door approaches before my “greenie” got the courage to try one.Â On his very first try, a man came to the door wearing nothing but boxer shorts with a handgun tucked in the front.Â The man suggested we leave.Â Â We did.Â What a great way to start a mission.
I experienced two mission presidents while there.Â Both of them had different approaches to proselyting, but one thing remained the same.Â We were to spend as little time as possible with existing members of the church.Â We were even told that if there wasn’t an investigator at church, that we were to be sure to attend one of our wards and take the sacrament, but then we should leave and be out in the community proselyting, even attending other churches.Â We did this quite a bit.Â While in Nevada, I attended Catholic Mass, Jehovah’s Witness meetings, and a variety of other Christian denomination meetings.Â While notÂ always resulting in formal teaching opportunities, attending these other churches generated a lot of gospel discussions.
When we were with members, we would tract or take them street contacting.Â We never visited with the less active unless it was a part-member family situation that had a potential convert.Â Our dinner appointments with members were to be wrapped up in under an hour unless a non-member was present.Â The total focus was on bringing souls to Christ through the ordinances of baptism and confirmation.Â And you can’t do that when you spend all your time with the “already baptized”.
Fast forward to today.
The mission in the area where I live has been given a mandate that every companionship needs to teach 20 missionary discussions a week.Â I guess that’s a good thing.Â I remember similar goals when I was a full time missionary.Â However, here, where I live, the focus seems to be on teaching these discussions to member families, not non-members.Â The missionaries in our ward pass around two calendars.Â One is the dinner calendar, and the other is a calendar for you to have them over to teach you a discussion.
To me, that’s just bizarre.Â I just don’t understand the logic in “Preaching to the choir”.Â I mean, pretty much all active, attending LDS families are probably already converted.Â There is almost zero chance that anyone they are teaching is a candidate for baptism and confirmation.
I’ve heard the argument that this will help inspire members to invite non-members over to take part in these discussions.Â Frankly, I don’t buy it.Â In the last couple years that they’ve been trying this, we have had ZERO convert baptisms in our ward as a result.
Is this the future of missionary work in the church?Â To spend all that money, time, effort, and resources to become an over-glorified home teaching program?