Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, June 8

“Solutions to LDS/ Mormon Missionary Work Problems: Part 1” by grego

Solutions to LDS/ Mormon Missionary Work Problems: Part 1
by grego
(c) 2009

[Ever since being very dissatisfied with the way missionary work was done on my mission (including how I did it), I’ve had a few thoughts about missionary work, and they’ve grown a little over the years. A little background, for those who just *have* to know before they’ll even consider the ideas: I’ve had the callings of called missionary, ward mission leader (twice, in different wards), member of bishopric working with missionaries (twice), Gospel Essentials teacher (twice), etc.]

We had about 80 baptisms last year in our ward. Of those, there are currently about 20 that at least fit the “once-a-month” “active” definition, and about 10 that come regularly. Since the year just ended, these numbers don’t reflect true activity rate, because it hasn’t been a year since their baptism (which is when retention rate is measured, I believe). I do not know what those numbers will be a year after their baptism, but I can’t imagine them being higher.

Over the year, our ward sacrament meeting attendance has increased by 10-20 on average. I think we’re doing a little better than average for our stake.

Out of those who were baptized, some felt pressured by the missionaries, some have mental (and comprehension) problems, some have only belief, and a few seem to… well, have little or no testimony at all. (A few leaders have been surprised, shocked, and even appalled that it seems anyone who wants to get baptized, can. I don’t believe that’s the way it was ever intended to be. We invite all people to attend, even long-term, but only those who meet the requirements for baptism should be baptized.)

So, what are the consequences of our last year’s baptismal situation and retention?

*Many members (including me) don’t want to meet and help investigators, or especially attend baptisms. If I haven’t seen the person at church a few times, or seen them volunteer to help out or seen them at a service project, or heard them bear testimony, I wouldn’t go to their baptism even if it were convenient. It’s 40 minutes travel, minimum (unless it’s on Sundays, in which case–if I don’t have interviews, meetings, etc.–I can and have attended). Yeah, I know, sucky attitude, but that’s what I feel.

*One, two, maybe three at the most remain active (at least partially) out of every 10 who are baptized.

*Probably eight or nine go on church records and “to home teach” lists but are mostly inactive. Assuming baptisms are equal between males and females, each time two brethren stay active and begin home teaching, there are already 18 new people on their home teaching list [the 16 inactives (8+8) and two active sisters]. I get really uncomfortable when I hear “we should sacrifice and be hometeaching a plethora of people” comments; it would be great if everyone were active and we could teach two other brothers’ families, and a few sisters–that’s much more manageable for every month, I think.

*Members might spend lots of time contacting and visiting these inactive members trying to bring them back to activity. Missionaries sometimes also spend lots of time visiting these inactive members and trying to bring them back to activity.

*Of those that go inactive, many don’t want much (or anything) to do with the LDS Church—it’s just a bitter taste in their mouth. So, for every one-three people helping missionary work, there are now many people who hurt it.

Are there success stories with this scenario? Absolutely!

Is this the best way to do it?

On to Part 2.

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