Mission Prep Webinar Series Announced

After much consideration, I have decided to hold a series of Mission Prep webinars starting in January 2013. The webinars will basically be online classes, firesides, or devotionals. My hope is that the webinars will be informative and practical for mission prep, and also spiritual and motivating to help young people have a desire to serve.

Each webinar will be about an hour and we will cover a variety of Mormon missionary preparation topics both temporal and spiritual. There will also be time in each webinar to ask questions and get answers. The series will consist of three webinars: Preparing to Serve a Mission, Receiving the Call to Serve a Mission, and Gearing Up to Serve a Mission.

  • Gaining a Desire to Serve a Mission: In this webinar, we will discuss getting Young Men motivated to serve, the worth of souls in the sight of God, why the Church needs many more missionaries, and the blessings of missionary service.
  • Preparing to Serve a Mission: This webinar will discuss requirements to serve a mission, worthiness, the mission cost, and other items around temporal and spiritual preparation.
  • Receiving the Call to Serve a Mission: In this webinar we will discuss the mission call process, paperwork, the revelatory process for missionaries to be called by God, and other related topics.
  • Gearing Up to Serve a Mission: In this webinar we will discuss missionary clothing and other supplies you’ll need, reading lists, the MTC, teaching by the Spirit, and your purpose as a missionary.

Several factors have prompted me to start up these online classes, not the least of which is the new lower age requirement for missionaries. Since that announcement, there has been a great demand for mission prep classes. The Church has an official Mission Prep class offered through LDS Institutes. Many stakes and wards teach the class too. But many young people aren’t able to take this 14 lesson course, or their stake or ward doesn’t offer it.

I highly recommend that all future missionaries, if you are able, to take the full mission prep class from the Church. While my mission prep webinars do not take the place of the Church class, they will be very helpful to those who are unable to take it. And even for those who have taken or will take the Church mission prep course, I hope you join us for the webinars as well. I think everyone considering a mission will benefit from them.

The plan is to do one webinar per week. In order to hold the webinar at the best time for most people, I ask that you respond to the survey above. In late December or early January I’ll be sending out more information on dates, times, and how to sign up for the webinars. Thank you.

Number of Mormon Missionaries Serving

Numbers updated April 3, 2016

The graph below shows the number of missionaries from 1977 (the first year the Church started reporting the number of missionaries serving) through 2013. This is according to the LDS Church annual statistical reports. See the chart further below for the exact numbers for each year.

number of mormon missionaries serving

With the LDS Church announcement of the lower age requirement for missionaries (18 for young men and 19 for young women), it got me thinking about what this will do to the number of Mormon missionaries serving. I’m sure it will bring a great influx of new missionaries and, with those increased missionary efforts, a larger number of new converts coming to Christ and His restored gospel. It is very exciting to think of the potential!

The number of full-time missionaries peaked back in 2002 at 61,638. In the following years, the number declined and then leveled off to about 52,000 per year. This lull in numbers is generally attributed to two factors: 1) a natural demographic decline in the number of youth in the  missionary age range, and 2) the raising of the bar that is the standard for missionary service (see Elder Ballard’s October 2002 talk, The Greatest Generation of Missionaries). With this new lower age requirement, it is likely that the number of missionaries will surge. We’ll have to keep an eye on it.

Number of Mormon Missionaries Called

The number of Mormon Missionaries called to go on a mission in a given year (as opposed to the number of missionaries serving at a given time) is also reported by the Church through the annual almanac printed by Deseret News. It also peaked in 2002 at 36,196 and has since leveled off to the present, roughly 30,000 called per year.

Chart of number of mormon missionaries called

Data Table: Number of Mormon Missionaries Serving

Year Full-Time Missionaries
1977 25,300
1978 27,669
1979 29,454
1980 29,953
1981 29,700
1982 26,300
1983 26,565
1984 27,655
1985 29,265
1986 31,803
1987 34,750
1988 36,132
1989 39,739
1990 43,651
1991 43,395
1992 46,025
1993 48,708
1994 47,311
1995 48,631
1996 52,938
1997 56,531
1998 57,853
1999 58,593
2000 60,784
2001 60,850
2002 61,638
2003 56,237
2004 51,067
2005 52,060
2006 53,164
2007 52,686
2008 52,494
2009 51,736
2010 52,225
2011 55,410
2012 58,990
2013 83,035
2014 85,147
2015 74,079

Source: LDS Church Annual Statistical Reports, 1978-2015, gc.lds.org

Number of Mormon Missionaries Called

Year  Missionaries Year  Missionaries Year  Missionaries Year  Missionaries
1830 16 1876 211 1922 886 1968 7,178
1831 58 1877 154 1923 812 1969 6,967
1832 72 1878 152 1924 867 1970 7,590
1833 41 1879 179 1925 1,131 1971 8,344
1834 111 1880 219 1926 1,236 1972 7,874
1835 84 1881 199 1927 1,017 1973 9,471
1836 80 1882 237 1928 1,193 1974 9,811
1837 52 1883 248 1929 1,058 1975 14,446
1838 16 1884 205 1930 896 1976 13,928
1839 67 1885 235 1931 678 1977 14,561
1840 80 1886 209 1932 399 1978 15,860
1841 100 1887 282 1933 525 1979 16,590
1842 45 1888 242 1934 843 1980 16,600
1843 374 1889 249 1935 960 1981 17,800
1844 586 1890 283 1936 899 1982 18,260
1845 84 1891 331 1937 1,079 1983 19,450
1846 32 1892 324 1938 1,146 1984 19,720
1847 40 1893 317 1939 1,088 1985 19,890
1848 55 1894 162 1940 1,194 1986 20,798
1849 58 1895 526 1941 1,257 1987 21,001
1850 50 1896 746 1942 629 1988 22,619
1851 44 1897 922 1943 261 1989 25,609
1852 158 1898 943 1944 427 1990 26,255
1853 33 1899 1,059 1945 400 1991 24,861
1854 119 1900 796 1946 2,297 1992 28,716
1855 65 1901 522 1947 2,132 1993 28,774
1856 130 1902 848 1948 2,161 1994 27,912
1857 88 1903 658 1949 2,363 1995 29,015
1858 0 1904 699 1950 3,015 1996 31,227
1859 18 1905 716 1951 1,801 1997 33,726
1860 96 1906 1,015 1952 872 1998 33,229
1861 19 1907 930 1953 1,750 1999 33,915
1862 27 1908 919 1954 2,022 2000 34,503
1863 50 1909 1,014 1955 2,414 2001 34,684
1864 52 1910 933 1956 2,572 2002 36,196
1865 71 1911 822 1957 2,518 2003 30,467
1866 32 1912 769 1958 2,778 2004 29,548
1867 133 1913 858 1959 2,847 2005 30,587
1868 32 1914 684 1960 4,706 2006 30,653
1869 250 1915 621 1961 5,793 2007 30,384
1870 46 1916 722 1962 5,630 2008 30,312
1871 167 1917 543 1963 5,781 2009 29,168
1872 132 1918 245 1964 5,886 2010 30,563
1873 35 1919 1,211 1965 7,139
1874 98 1920 889 1966 7,021
1875 197 1921 880 1967 6,475

Source: LDS Church Almanac by Deseret News

Lower Age Requirement for Missionaries

On Saturday, 6 October 2012, during General Conference, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson announced a lower age requirement for Mormon missionary service: 18 for young men and 19 for young women. See the full transcript from President Monson below.

Reaction to Lower Age Requirement for Missionaries

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said at a press conference following the announcement, “We are expanding our efforts to give more young men and women an opportunity to participate in that divine commission.”

Regarding lowering the age requirement for women, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said “Personally I am absolutely delighted if this change in policy allows many, many more young women to serve.”

For more information, see the LDS Newsroom article, Church Lowers Missionary Service Age. Here is the statement from President Monson:

“Brothers and sisters, I now turn to another matter—namely, missionary service.

For some time the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have allowed young men from certain countries to serve at age of 18 when they are worthy, able, have graduated from high school and have expressed a sincere desire to serve. This has been a country-specific policy and has allowed thousands of young men to serve honorable missions and also fulfill required military obligations and educational opportunities.

Our experience with these 18-year-old missionaries has been positive. Their mission presidents report that they are obedient, faithful, mature, and serve just as competently as do the older missionaries who serve in the same missions. Their faithfulness, obedience and maturity have caused us to desire the same option of earlier missionary call for all young men, regardless of the country from which they come.

I am pleased to announce that effective immediately, all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19. I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age.Rather, based on individual circumstances, as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.

As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.

We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty—and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable, to respond to the call to serve. Many young women also serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the Church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service.”

Welcome to Conference, President Thomas S. Monson, October 2012

New Seminary Site and Institute Site

New LDS Seminary site 2012I have the extreme pleasure of working for the LDS Church, particularly with the Seminaries and Institutes department. So I’d like to use this forum to tell you about the recently re-launched LDS Seminary site and LDS Institute site. These new sites are the product of many months of labor by me and a whole team of great people at the Church. The release of these sites gives me much satisfaction and joy. We expect the new sites to provide a superior experience for all visitors.

The casual observer may not notice huge changes to the sites; the look and feel of the sites is basically unchanged from the previous version. But under the hood, the sites are completely new. They are better organized and have several improved features. Let me review some of the highlights:

  • Elder Ballard Seminary welcome video: A new series of videos from Elder Ballard welcoming Seminary students to a new year to study the New Testament is now posted.
  • Video downloads: All videos now have a download option, something end users have long been asking for.
  • Sharing Tools: Social media sharing icons and other sharing tools are now located on each page to allow users to share content via email, or on their favorite social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Site Search: Each site now has a search feature, which the old sites did not have. Internal site search provides faster and easier access to the specific content users are looking for.
  • New Menus: Both sites have new drop down menus based on a new information architecture (basically this means we have re-organized the site to provide faster and easier access to content).
  • Bread Crumbs: Bread crumb paths are standard for all pages in both sites now. Bread crumbs make it easier for users to navigate the site, understand where they are in context of the larger site, and find the content they are looking for.
  • SEO: The sites and individual page content are now much more search engine optimized (SEO). We cleaned up page headlines and titles, restructured content, and better optimized the URLs.

Please go check out the new sites.

As I have written about before, the LDS Church Seminary and Institute programs are great mission preparation tools that all future missionaries should take advantage of. Below are some reminders from our prophets and apostles on the importance of seminary and institute in mission prep. Read these and more quotes from the prophets on the Seminary quotes page and Institute quotes page, on the Seminary and Institute sites, respectively.

“Seminary will help you to understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ. You will feel the Spirit of the Lord as you learn to love the scriptures. You will prepare yourselves for the temple and for missionary service. Young people, I ask you to participate in seminary. Study your scriptures daily. Listen to your teachers carefully. Apply what you learn prayerfully.” (Participate in Seminary, President Thomas S. Monson, August 12, 2011)

“Should you choose to serve a full-time mission, you will have a foundation for it. The seminary programs will help you as a young man or woman to lay a foundation for happiness and success in life.” (Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Now Is the Time to Serve a Mission!” Liahona and Ensign, May 2006, 88.)

“For our teenage young men and women, one of the best preparations for a mission is provided by the Church through seminary and institute of religion classes. We hope you will urge your children to take part in this inspired program” (Ezra Taft Benson, Our Responsibility to Share the Gospel, Ensign, May 1985, 7).

A New Eliza R. in the World

Eliza Ruth SmithThis week we welcomed Eliza Ruth Smith into our family. She’s our fifth baby and second girl. She weighed in at 6 lbs 13 oz. My wife, Heather, and Eliza are both doing well. We love them both so much.

Eliza is named after three great women: Eliza comes from LDS pioneer Eliza R. Snow, and both my wife and I have grandmothers named Ruth.

Brief Biography of Eliza R. Snow

Eliza R. Snow was the second president of the Relief Society and served in that capacity 21 years, from 1868 to 1887. Many people called her “Zion’s Poetess” because she wrote so many poems and songs. In fact 10 of her songs are in the present day LDS Church hymnal. Eliza was instrumental in the organization of the Young Women’s and Primary organizations in addition to her work with the Relief Society.

Joining the Church

Eliza R. Snow was among the first people to join the Church in these latter days. Joseph Smith visited the Snow home in 1831 and baptized Eliza’s mother and sister that same year. Eliza wasn’t baptized for a few years later, however, in 1835. She moved to Kirtland, Ohio, at that time and there lived with Joseph and Emma Smith working as their family school teacher. in 1836, Eliza’s brother, Lorenzo, decided to join his family in Kirtland. He joined the Church that year, and eventually succeeded Joseph Smith as the fifth prophet and president of the LDS Church.

Organization of the Relief Society

Eliza R. Snow was present at the first Relief Society meeting in Nauvoo in 1842. She is credited with suggesting the name that was finally settled on by the group: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. She departed Nauvoo with many of the other Saints in the winter of 1846, and carried with her the records of those first Relief Society meetings on the long journey west.

Re-organization of and Presiding over the Relief Society

Eliza R. SnowIn 1866, Eliza was called by Brigham Young to help reorganize Female Relief Society. She traveled all over Utah encouraging sisters to join Relief Society “for the good of the poor,” for “saving souls,” and “for the accomplishment of every good and noble work.” Among the programs instituted by the Relief Society during Eliza’s tenure as president were a grain-saving program, and a special emphasis was placed on hygiene and nursing. Also during this time, Eliza and other LDS women published their literary writings in the Women’s Exponent. Relief Society news and national political updates, often related to women’s suffrage, were also included in the publication. (see Mormon Wiki’s article on Eliza R. Snow)

Trip to Jerusalem

In 1872, President Brigham Young called his First Counselor, George A. Smith, to go to the Holy Land and dedicate the land to the Lord. Lorenzo Snow, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his sister Eliza R. Snow were among those who traveled with President Smith. The group left Utah in October 1872, traveled to New York, and then took a steam ship to Liverpool England. The group visited Rome and Naples, Italy, Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt, Athens, Greece, and other sites in Europe and the middle east. In due time, the group arrived in Palestine and beheld the city of Jerusalem. The group slept in tents and traveled by horseback on roads that Eliza R. Snow described “uneven” and George A. Smith called “a rocky, barren and almost desolate country.” (See The Path of Jesus on LDS.org) All this took place in Eliza’s seventieth year.

The delegation of Church leaders had been sent to Europe and Palestine to see what opportunities there might be for preaching the gospel and to rededicate the Holy Land for the return of the Jews. Orson Hyde had conducted a similar mission in 1840–41 but had been forced to go alone. Now the Brethren felt it was time to reassert the great interest the Church had in a regathering of the Jews to Palestine while the Saints were gathering to a new Zion in the West. On March 2, 1873 both President George A. Smith and Elder Lorenzo Snow offered prayers of dedication on the Mount of Olives (see Church History in the Fulness of Times Institute Student Manual Chapter 32). The group returned to Utah in July 1873, nearly a year after leaving.

Eliza R. Snow was a dedicated, faithful, stalwart Latter-day Saint and servant of the Lord, and we hope our new Eliza R. follows in those footsteps.

LDS Church Websites’ Traffic Stats

Though this isn’t exactly related to Mormon Mission Prep, I thought this would nevertheless be a good forum to publish a summary and highlights of official LDS Church Website traffic. As some of you may know, I work for the LDS Church and I am in charge of their Web analytics. Therefore people often ask me, both in my professional and personal life, for data, facts, and figures about Church’s Web presence. For some, it’s a matter of curiosity, for others, they want to use the information in firesides, or fifth Sunday lessons. With the Church’s permission, I’m happy to provide a few data points. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Download One-Page Summary of LDS Church Websites’ Traffic Stats

How many people visit Church sites?

top-ten-lds-church-sites-monthly-visitorsThe family of official LDS Church sites (LDS.org, Mormon.org, FamilySearch.org, etc.) gets about seven million unique visitors per month.

What are the biggest LDS Church sites?

FamilySearch.org is our biggest site with about 3.5 million visitors a month. The LDS.org Home Report Suite* gets about 2.5 million visitors a month. The Gospel Library, which has current and past magazine articles and other content, gets about 1 million visitors each month.

*The LDS.org Home Report Suite includes the home page and several other miscellaneous pages, but it excludes other major site sections such as the Scriptures and General Conference.

How many websites does the Church operate?

top-ten-lds-international-sites-monthly-visitorsThe LDS Church operates over 100 different websites. We have international sites for about 65 countries around the world, plus more than 50 other official Church sites (and the number keeps growing).

What are the top international sites?

Brazil’s site is our biggest international site with almost 40,000 visitors each month. It is followed by Argentina, Mexico, Japan, and Germany.

What are some of the newest official LDS Church sites?

What time of the week do LDS Church sites get the most traffic?

Weekends see the most traffic. LDS.org usage peaks on Sunday mornings, with about to 35,000 visitors per hour. There is also a peak on Saturday nights with about 30,000 visitors per hour. Fridays are the lowest day per week in traffic.

Has mobile traffic been on the rise lately?

Yes, the volume of mobile visitor traffic to Church websites has more than doubled over the past year. The Sunday spike in Church traffic is even more pronounced in relation to mobile, with Sunday traffic from mobile devices about three times the volume of the average day of the week. Sundays see about 45,000 unique mobile visitors, while weekdays generally have about 16,000. The iPhone and iPad are the most frequently used mobile devices browsing Church websites.

LDS Church Websites, Dec 2010
Mobile Device %
Apple iPhone 29.0%
Apple iPad 16.7%
Apple iPod Touch 10.2%
HTC Nexus One 7.1%
HTC Evo 3.7%
HTC Droid Incredible 3.3%
Motorola DroidX 2.3%
Motorola Droid2 1.9%
RIM BlackBerry 8530/Curve 1.7%
Motorola Droid 1.5%

Introducing Guest Author: Heather

Hello!  I’m Heather, wife of Jimmy, the founder of this website.  From time to time, I’ll be posting as a guest author.

Here’s a little info about me.  I grew up in a small town in Idaho, 5th of 7 children.  I graduated from Ricks (BYU-I) and BYU Provo way back in the 1990’s (my 7-year-old daughter acts like we’re sooooo old-fashioned because we were born in the 1900’s).

I met the love of my life after I graduated from BYU.  We crossed paths at the drinking fountain and were married 8 months later in the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple.  We’ve had fun adventures living in Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, and Utah.

I’m mama to 4 cute tots, ages 7, 5, 2, and 6 months.  Our home is a little crazy with energetic kids (especially those 3 boys!!!), but we are constantly striving to teach them that happiness comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We’re all a work in progress – especially me!

I love hiking in the mountains, playing the piano, reading a good book, eating dark chocolate, and being with my family. I  love my beautiful, ordinary life!