Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, June 16

Solutions to LDS/ Mormon Missionary Work Problems, Part 6

Solutions to LDS/ Mormon Missionary Work Problems, Part 6
by grego
(c) 2009

Part 1

Part 5

Interestingly, something similar has already been done, and with pretty good results.

I believe that Elders Oak and Holland were sent to the Philippines and Chile, respectively, to get first-hand experience with this type of situation. Those two countries are probably the highest in baptisms, yet worst in retention.

I don’t know about Elder Holland and Chile, but I have heard that Elder Oaks brought the Philippines from below 10% retention to over 85%, and in at least one district, to 100%. I wish I had the details.

That has been over two years ago or so.

I hope the Church will expand the program to other countries, as quickly as possible. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s much better than what we have right now, and I really, really wish we had it!!

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  1. grego, where are you from? you speak a great deal of sense! sadly not enough people think like you. myself and a few close friends are discussing this. we all serve in stake callings (bishopric, high council, elders quorum president and high priest’s group leader) yet those in the positions we report to do not take heed to the councsel we give. in one stake meeting that was focussed on missionary work i commented on some of their thoughts and plansbecuase i was so frustrated with what was being said. no one on the stake presidency had served a mission and so i felt they had an unrealistic view of missionary work and mission life. i heard the words come back to me, “are you trying to tell me you know more about missionary work than me ans when i said a simple yes, he was not happy. many of the thoguhts you have have been suggested by us as to ways in which it could improve, things which, as you say, actually come from the general authorities themselves.

    can a 3 week program work? not according to the quotations earlier. people need to be somewhat converted before they are baptised.
    and i really think they should be living the comitments for several weeks before they are baptised.

    elder kevin w pearson at the last general conference said this

    “Faith is a spiritual gift from God that comes through the Holy Ghost. It requires a correct understanding
    and knowledge of Jesus Christ, His divine attributes and perfect character, His teachings,Atonement, Resurrection, and priesthood power. Obedience to these principles develops complete trust in Him and His ordained servants and assurance of His promised blessings.”

    he also said

    “Strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ”

    how can people have a faith sufficient to be baptised in just 3 or four weeks from start to finish? they can’t. it should be required them to keep all comitments for three weeks before they join the church, including titihng. this is one of the reasons that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a better retention rate than us, because they don’t just let in every tom, dick or harry. people have to prove that they want to convert and not just have a nice baptismal experience.

    elder pearson goes on to back up my point even more:

    “As patterns of obedience develop, the specific blessings associated with obedience are realized and belief
    emerges. Desire, hope, and belief are forms of faith, but faith as a principle of power comes from a consistent pattern of obedient behavior and attitudes.”

    Faith can only come after consistently being obedient to gospel principles. how can they have consistently been obedient to the gospel, when most people ave not paid tithing before their baptism (if they have even been taught about it more than a day before their baptism). giving up drinking or smoking is a very tough thing i imagine, but giving up smoking the day before baptism is not a pattern of consistent obedience. they should need to have given up for at least two or three weeks.

    three week baptisms must be out! more than that, they must be made illegal, it should be three weeks of living the gospel after the discussions before they can be baptised. Elder Pearson’s talk is a good one and it clearly shows what is the right way to foster faith and that is consistent patterns of obedience, yet this only seems to be applicable to members and not investigators. investigators should need to live as members before their baptism.

    one quality converted member who will serve in the church is better than three who will go on to a home teaching list and cause a drain on the ward.

    i really liked the examples you gave as well, especially the cake shop. but the desire to baptise is greater than the desire to convert so there will continue to be substandard cake eating experiences for these people who will eventually complain to their friends and family.

    in all honesty i don’t see much of a difference to the way things work at the minute in missions to the disugusting practices of the 60s in the uk with the baseball baptisms. numbers need to be taken out of the picture completely. if you’re not aware of what went on here is some information with regards to it.

    In the 60s and early 70s, the missionary force grew quickly and dramatically due to the lowering of the age range from 21 to 19 for elders, which caused the baptisms to also rise dramatically, it kind of snowballed and they got carried away with wanting to set massive records for baptisms (not conversions sadly). they would do underhand things to get people to be baptised, liek making them think they were going to be joining a sports team, when they were actually joiining a church. public relations was a nightmare as a result. more importantly, it was the members of the wards that were left to mop because the missionaries and mission presidents were on their way home after a while. here are two quotations that high light the problem.

    “Unfortunately, in their enthusiasm for making record numbers of baptisms, a few mission presidents promoted their goals in ways that encouraged missionaries to baptize people before they were truly converted. In some instances young boys were given the chance to participate on athletic teams but told they must be baptized in order to join. Such so-called “baseball baptisms” not only resulted in poor publicity but also created unnecessary problems for branches that were suddenly made responsible for new “converts” who really did not know what the Church was all about.” (James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints.)

    Speaking of President Kimball’s supervision of the British missions in the late 60s, Edward and Andrew Kimball wrote: “The low statistics resulted partly from the ‘baseball baptisms’ of the early 1960s, when large numbers of young people were converted superficially through athletics and other youth activities. Aggressive missionary efforts had persuaded them to join the Church even without their families and without adequate understanding of the gospel or of the commitment they were making. The local leaders, long frustrated by the depressing effect of the large number of inactive members this had produced, now committed themselves to make individual contacts. Elder Kimball felt there would be substantial salvage if they carried through. Ultimately the Church would remove from its records the names of those ‘baseball’ converts who proved belligerent or who could not be found. (Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball: Twelfth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, p.372)

    this practice of baseball baptisms was effectively condemned by the church, yet the problem was not the baseball method, it was the fact that people were being baptised who were not converted and who did not know what they were getting themselves in to. that problem is still here. we may not be baptising as many as they did then with their more aggressive tatcics, but we are still baptising people who simply are not ready. that is the problem. i could not agree with you more and have so many more ideas for you, but i have ran out of time right now.

    Comment by calibos — 2009, August 12 @ 10:38 am

  2. calibos,

    Thanks for sharing!

    We have many “baptisms” (I can’t say “converts”—as per my post, there is a huge difference) every year that:
    aren’t confirmed;
    are confirmed, then never show up again;
    are confirmed, then show up for less than a month;
    never receive the Aaronic Priesthood (which requires pretty much just a basic baptism-level interview);
    are worthy to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, but refuse it/ don’t want it!
    This is rarely members’ fellowshipping faults (especially that many missionaries don’t work with members before baptism, then suddenly shift all the responsibility to the members after baptism.
    Missionary: “Where are their home teachers?”
    Bishopric/ EQ president: “Um, hard to give them some when we didn’t even know they were getting baptized…”)

    Even after talking to missionaries many times, very little changes, especially as they move around so fast. (After being gone for a month, we now have pretty much four out of six new missionaries.)

    But I ask them:
    *Did you come here to baptize or bring eternal life to people?
    *Would you rather plant 100 acres and harvest 10, or plant 20 and harvest 20? (Something suddenly clicks at this point—at least on a mental level.)
    *If you baptize someone who’s not ready, are you helping or hurting their eternal life?

    The sad thing is, as this last post says, there is already a much better way, set out by Elder Oaks—yet we’re still using the “old system”. The past is clear—it’s not a good way to do it. That’s what goal evaluation is all about—is it working? How well? I’d take 85% over 20%, even if it’s not 100%. How long does it take to look at a failing system before realizing it it’s doing more damage than good?

    But, given that most mission presidents and Seventy ignore much of their leaders’ counsel (including general conference talks), I wonder if the 15 are wondering about how to “make the change” without getting everyone lower down upset.

    I guess this has all sounded pretty negative, but missionary work right now makes me sick to the stomach, literally. Every time I hear about home teaching and less actives and convert retention, et. al., it’s really hard not to turn red and put my hands over my ears. I now have so little desire to do home teaching… (It doesn’t help that widows and single sisters (married and unmarried) were left off the home teaching list for over two years and still aren’t back on it… “Oh, they have visiting teachers instead, it’s ok.” What?!! Yet newly baptized “only-because-the- missionaries-are-my-friends” people who have little desire to know Jesus, fill the list.) Yeah, bad attitude. I apologize.

    Anyway, there is one way that I can think of to slow down the problem (I had a discussion with a counselor in the stake presidency, and it didn’t go over well, but he couldn’t find anything in the handbook against it and just gasped at the idea, though I’m not sure if it’s because he thought it was wrong or if he was thinking about what the mission president would say)—while missionaries have the authority for deciding when someone can get baptized, the bishop does have the authority to decide when someone can get confirmed, and since a baptism doesn’t count until the person is confirmed, the bishop could, theoretically, delay their confirmation until he judged that they were converted to a certain point/ showing fruits worthy of baptism. This might make missionaries think twice about baptizing people who aren’t ready. This also evens out the “work together” counsel both sides (missionaries and members) have been given.

    I agree once more—it’s not really the fast speed, as much as it is the lack of preparation.

    Comment by grego — 2009, August 19 @ 2:23 am

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