What is a missionary?

The missionary program is one of the most familiar facets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most people know that when someone knocks on your door and wants to talk about God, it’s likely the Mormons.

Missionary work has always been a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ sent His followers to share what He had taught them, traveling by twos to spread His gospel (Mark 6:7). When Joseph Smith restored that gospel in the early 1800s, he taught the early members that “a man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (History of the Church, 4:227). And we learn from the Book of Mormon that way back in about 92 B.C. a group of missionaries

were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble (Mosiah 28:3).

So that’s the reasoning behind the missionary program of the Church. As for its practical function, there are currently more than 50,000 representatives of the Church in almost 350 missions around the world, from New York to Madagascar (see link below).

When someone becomes a missionary, it’s a temporary position, usually 18 months to 2 years. They understand that they’ll be paying their own way, limiting correspondence with family and friends, and going wherever it is that they are called by the Lord through His servants to go. Their training period is usually about 3 weeks — 9 weeks, if they’re learning a foreign language.

Missionaries don’t earn money for their work, and there is no bonus for helping someone to join the church. There is absolutely no incentive to get people to listen to their message, except that they know it is God’s message and that it will bless the lives of those who hear it.

And the most incredible thing about this program, in my eyes, is that the men and women chosen to represent the church, for the most part, range in age from about 19 to 25. There is no way that such young people could work so much good and change so many lives without the direction and influence of God. I know that missionaries are given power and authority through their calling.

For more information about Mormon missionaries, please visit this link:

LDS Newsroom: Missionary Program

To talk to real, live missionaries in your area and find out firsthand what kind of crazy person does this amazing work, please visit this link:

mormon.org: Missionaries


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