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10 Tips for Preparing Missionaries

young men preparing missionariesWhile the Lord expects each young person to do his or her own part to prepare spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially for missionary service, preparing missionaries should also be a high priority for parents and Church leaders. Parents should give special attention to helping their boys prepare to serve a full-time mission. Bishops, youth leaders, and other Church members also have an important role in helping young men and women qualify for missionary service.

The following 10 tips will help give guidance to parents and Church leaders in preparing missionaries:

  1. Desire: Work with young men beginning at an early age to help them develop the desire to serve a mission. One of the best ways to do this is to help them gain a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Hearing mission stories, from your own life or the experiences of others, is another powerful way to bring the spirit of missionary work. See one of my many article on motivating missionaries or check out my presentation on Gaining a Desire to Serve a Mission.
  2. Worthiness: Help young men and women to always remain worthy to serve a mission. Help them to know the commandments and be committed to obeying them, and pay particular attention to the law of chastity. Also help them know that the Lord is very willing to forgive when we make mistakes, and help them to understand the repentance process.
  3. Expectations: Teach young people what will be expected of them when they serve missions. Teach them about the mission rules and the schedule missionaries keep. Teach them about mission life and help them understand the missionary guidelines regarding personal conduct, language, dress and grooming, media, and communications to family and friends.
  4. Purpose: Help future missionaries to understand the doctrinal basis of missionary work and what their purpose will be as missionaries. That purpose is to: “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
  5. Seminary: Encourage youth to attend seminary. Seminary is available in just about every corner of the globe and will teach our youth important basic doctrines of the restored gospel and help them develop their testimony of the Savior.
  6. Leaders: If you are a bishop or stake president, the handbook encourages your to call youth leaders who love missionary work and will help the youth learn to love it as well. It also says to invite returned missionaries to speak about missionary work often in sacrament meetings and on other occasions.
  7. Service and Teaching: Provide opportunities for prospective missionaries to serve others, including serving in Church callings. Young men should serve as home teachers. The new youth curriculum also gives young men and women many opportunities to teach which will help them become better missionaries.
  8. Mission Prep Class: If possible, have the youth take a missionary preparation class. Most wards and stakes offer this class, and it is also taught in Institute. The main source material for the mission prep class is the scriptures, the Missionary Handbook, and Preach My Gospel. Young men and women should study these materials thoroughly as they prepare for their missions.
  9. Scriptures: A large part of mission preparation includes studying the gospel and gaining a personal testimony. Young people should read the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great price, and especially the Book of Mormon and have a testimony that these books contain the revealed word of God.
  10. Share: Encourage young people to share the gospel with their friends and family. As they open their mouth, share the gospel, and become missionaries in their everyday life, they will be blessed and see how the gospel blesses others. They will catch the spirit of missionary work and become great representatives of the Lord.

Missionary Preparation Class

youth-mission-prep-classSpencer W. Kimball, 12th President of the Church, once asked this of future missionaries: “Will you be a valiant and effective one or merely a set-apart missionary? This will depend on your preparation.” (from Advice to a Young Man: Now Is the Time to Prepare)

A missionary preparation class is a great way for young men and young women to further their mission prep. Missionary preparation classes are usually available from several sources:

  • From your ward or stake (branch or district). If you are under 18 and would like to take a mission prep class, talk to one of your local leaders (your young men’s president, or bishop, etc.) to see if your ward or stake offers a class.
  • From a Church college (BYU, etc.). If you are attending a Church-sponsored college, see about signing up for one of the mission prep classes they offer.
  • From an LDS Institute of Religion: If you are attending another college, see if there is an LDS Institute of Religion nearby. They likely offer a missionary preparation class.

Mission Prep Institute Classes Open to All: Ages 18-30

According to the Church’s Institutes of Religion website, single and married young adults, postsecondary students, and all young single adults (generally 18-30 years old) are also welcome to attend Institute classes. That means that if you are a young person thinking about going on a mission in the next year or two, if none of the other sources of a mission prep class are available, you could attend a course at Institute. Institute classes are free of charge, and you can find one near you with Institute of Religion Locator. Now is a great time to sign up for a mission prep class as new classes start in January at many Institutes.

Topics Covered in the Missionary Preparation Class

Whether you take the class from your ward or through an official Institute class, your teacher will likely use the official Church Mission Prep Student Manual. Subjects covered in this official Missionary Preparation course are:

  • Understanding the call to serve a mission
  • Learning the gospel by study and also by faith
  • Teaching about the Apostasy, the Restoration
  • The importance of living prophets and latter-day scripture
  • Understanding, recognizing, and teaching with the Holy Ghost
  • Personal worthiness and developing Christ-like attributes
  • Physical preparation and using time wisely
  • The conversion process and preparing investigators for baptism

Online Mission Prep Webinar

For those of you who cannot attend a mission prep class, please check out my Mission Prep Webinars. You can watch the video presentations or download the PowerPoint slides.

Mission Preparation for Women and How It Differs from Men

Mormon Women MissionariesSister missionary specific inquiries from young women considering a mission are among the most common questions I get on this missionary preparation website. Because my perspective is that of a man, I have been unable to fully answer many of these questions. So I decided to reach out to several of my family and friends of the fairer sex to get their thoughts on some of these common sister missionary related questions about mission preparation for women.

This is the first in a series of articles geared especially to young women who are considering a mission or already preparing to serve in that capacity some day.

How is missionary preparation different for women than men?

“It is different in that there is always that chance that you won’t go. In a way it is a little more difficult because it is not an automatic next stage in a woman’s life like it is for the Elders. Other preparations would be spiritual, financial and physical, just like Elders.” Laura Daniels, Argentina Neuquen Mission

“Mission prep is different for a sister missionary in that we are older when we go out – we are more set in our lifestyle, and it is often times more difficult for sisters to adjust to having a companion 24/7, and having a schedule that they have to follow. We make our own decision to go – we are not commanded to go, but we still must decide to be perfectly obedient, even when it is difficult.” Jessica Rex, Arizona Tucson Mission

“We buy dresses, and they buy suits. LOL.” JoLynn Hansen, Texas, Houston East Spanish Speaking Mission

“I don’t know that preparation for a mission is much different. You have to be physically and spiritually strong, you have to know the gospel, you have to have a deeply rooted testimony, you have to have a desire to serve and share the gospel. Both young men and young women need all of these things.” Wendi Condie, Montana Billings Mission

“I would say that missionary preparation for both men and women are the same. It includes living a good life, and doing the little things that we are encouraged to do every day. Reading the scriptures, praying, serving, and trying our hardest to be in tune with what the Lord would have us do in our lives. Serving a mission is a wonderful opportunity, but it is also challenging in every way possible. There are very few things that I have done in life that have come close to the challenges that I had on my mission. If you are close to the Lord and trust in His will that is the best preparation that you can have.” Katie Gividen, Russia Rostov-na-Dony Mission

“Men know of this life event for generally their whole entire lives, where women are not always preparing for it. So I’ve noticed that, financially, missions can be very straining for women, where some men have been saving up since they were little.” Emily Craghead, Arizona Tucson Mission

What are your thoughts on the differences in mission prep for women as opposed to men? Please share your comments.

Family Home Evening Ideas from Preach My Gospel

I recently discovered a great resource for missionary preparation for the littlest of future missionaries.  Michelle of The Errand of Angels is in the process of developing Family Home Evening Lessons corresponding to each of the discussion principles in the Preach My Gospel Manual.  The lessons are available to download for free in multiple formats from Michelle’s blog post called Preach My Gospel FHE Lessons Archive.

I_Hope_They_Call_Me_On_A_Mission

This is what Michelle has said in introducing these FHE Lessons she has made: “In the year before one of our children ErrandofAngelsis baptized, we teach Family Home Evening lessons from Preach My Gospel, the same lessons that missionaries teach investigators, but adapted for our children and their needs / attention spans. We loved doing our FHEs this way when we were preparing our oldest son for baptism! Preach My Gospel is just amazing. It is the most accessible way of teaching and learning the gospel of Jesus Christ I have ever seen…We plan a FHE lesson for each principle–for example: lesson 1 is “The Restoration”, and the first heading at the beginning of the lesson reads “God is Our Loving Heavenly Father.” So that will be tonight’s lesson. It’s only 3 paragraphs long in the Preach My Gospel manual, but I’ve fleshed it out using old Sharing-Time ideas. “