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Missionary Schedule

Missionary Studying ScripturesMormon missionaries are expected to work hard, be obedient, and keep a strict schedule. As I have discussed previously, following the missionary’s daily schedule as prescribed in the Missionary Handbook is an important aspect of being in the right place at the right time. This schedule is a major part of mission rules and obeying these rules will keep you safe and blessed. Abiding by the schedule will help you to do the things you are supposed to do at the times you are supposed to do them. Here’s a quick overview of the daily routine:

  • 6:30 a.m. Wake up, pray, exercise, and do other preparation for the day.
  • 7:30 a.m. Breakfast.
  • 8:00 a.m. Personal study: the Book of Mormon, other scriptures, chapters from Preach My Gospel, etc. with an emphasis on the doctrines of the missionary lessons.
  • 9:00 a.m. Companion study: share what you have learned during personal study, prepare to teach, and confirm plans for the day.
  • 10:00 a.m. Language study for 30 to 60 minutes, if necessary and approved by your mission president.
  • 10:00 a.m. Begin proselyting: teaching appointments, finding people to teach, open your mouth, etc.
  • Lunch and Dinner: You may take an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner at times that fit best with proselyting. Normally, dinner should be finished no later than 6:00 p.m.
  • 9:00 – 9:30 p.m. Return to the apartment and plan the next day’s activities. Write in journal, prepare for bed, pray.
  • 10:30 p.m. Go to bed.
  • This schedule may vary a little in some countries and missions. For example, in the Rosario Argentina mission, where I served from 1995 to 1997, we were expected to be out proselytizing by 9am and we had our companionship study after lunch when the rest of the country was taking a ciesta.

Even when it is hot, or snowy, or rainy, or cold, it is important for missionaries to keep this schedule. As you do so, the Lord will bless you, for God “doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you” (Mosiah 2:24).

It is important to be out of your apartment, meeting people, and sharing your testimony at the most opportune times. If it is mid-morning, 10:30-ish, and you are still in your apartment, then you are not where you are supposed to be. But if, at that time, you are knocking doors, meeting people, and sharing your testimony, then the Lord will bless your efforts and help you find people he has chosen to hear the message.

If you have been lingering at a member’s home after a dinner appointment and you have been there for over an hour, then you are not keeping the missionary schedule. If, rather, you keep your dinner appointment to under an hour, thank the members for their hospitality, and get on your way to your next teaching appointment, then you are working hard and being obedient and the Lord will bless you and you will be a better instrument in His hands.

Finding Juan Carlos Lopez by Keeping the Schedule

I know that had I not been obedient to the missionary daily schedule then I would have missed out on many opportunities to meet families and eventually see them join the true Church of Jesus Christ. Once, when I had just been transferred, I arrived in my new area around 8:30 in the morning. It would have been easy to justify lingering longer in the apartment to unpack my suitcases, but by 9am we knew we were supposed to be out working, so we hit the pavement. It just so happened that within minutes of leaving the apartment, my companion and I first met Juan Carlos Lopez, who eventually got baptized. Had we chosen to disobey the rules and not keep the missionary schedule, then we may never had met Juan Carlos.

As you are obedient to the mission rules you are asked to live by, including the daily schedule, you will have the Spirit in greater measure. You will be guided by God and be more successful in your missionary labors.

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

Mission Companions

Mormon Mission Companion CollageMormon missionaries always work in companionships of two (occasionally three).  The reasons for this are for spiritual and physical protection, but most importantly, because it is a mandate from the Lord.

Why Missionaries Travel in Pairs

The Lord has commanded missionaries, in D&C 42:6, “Ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two.”  Missionaries will be more powerful in their teaching if they work together in unity.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 13:1 “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Senior Companion

In companionships, one missionary, usually the younger or less experienced one, is the junior companion, and the other is the senior companion.  I had a reader once email me and ask the requirements to become a senior companion.  I told him that when a mission president thinks a missionary is ready for the responsibility and is prompted by the spirit, then he would make that missionary a senior companion.  Therefore, how and when a missionary becomes the senior companion would differ from mission to mission, depending on the mission president and the prompting of the Holy Ghost.

My recommendation to this young man was to not worry even for a moment about getting “promoted” to senior companion status.  I advised him to take President Hinckley’s counsel to “forget yourself and go to work.”*   Just seek to be the best missionary you can be, and you will be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.  Obey the mission rules, work hard, enjoy your mission, and it will be a success regardless of whether or not you are the senior companion.

Companionships Lead to Lifelong Friendships

Many missionaries will make friendships with their mission companions that will last a lifetime.  Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, in his November 1997 Ensign talk titled, Valued Companions, said:

“Companionships also constitute the basic organization in the 318 missions of the Church. Just as the disciples of old, our more than 56,000 missionaries go two by two “into all the world” to proclaim the good news of the gospel. In this wonderful work of saving souls, there is tremendous fellowship and camaraderie. When Alma was reunited with the sons of Mosiah after 14 years of missionary service, he “did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord.” Missionary reunions are still a great time of rejoicing.”

Companionship Inventory

Missionary companions are instructed to stay together always with reasonable exceptions for showering and using the bathroom. Missionaries are encouraged to learn how to work with and love their companions, but when you are with someone 24/7, it is likely that conflict may occur.  When disagreements occur between companions, they are encouraged to try to work it out them themselves before contacting their district or zone leaders.  Your mission president is also likely to ask, in interviews or through your weekly letters, how well you are getting along with your companion.mormon missionary companionship inventory

One thing missionaries are asked to do to keep harmony in their companionship and to quickly resolve disputes is to have a weekly companionship inventory meeting.  In this meeting, mission companions should:

  • Discuss their relationship and resolve conflicts.
  • Talk through any challenges that might be preventing the two from working together in unity.
  • Set goals to improve their relationship.
  • Start and end with prayer so as to have the Spirit of the Lord present.

Learning to get along with your mission companion will be excellent practice for getting along with your eternal companion (your wife), and keeping harmony and love always in that relationship.

How NOT to Conduct Companionship Inventory

In conclusion, here’s a funny video I found on YouTube showing how NOT to conduct a companionship inventory.


*Actually, that quote is what President Hinckley’s father told him in a letter during his mission.