Standard Missionary Interview Questions

young man interview with bishop priesthood leaderAs many of you have already heard, last week, on October 20, 2017, the First Presidency of the Church put out a statement introducing a standard set of missionary interview questions. They asked that all priesthood leaders across the Church use these same standardized interview questions when meeting with young men and women who are prospective candidates to go on a mission. The First presidency asked that youth and their parents be made aware of these questions well in advance of the actual interview. Therefore, I am publishing them here to help get the word out. Click the following button to download a one-page PDF of the questions, or see the list of question in the body of this article below.

Goal: To help missionaries be prepared and have a joyous experience

The supplemental material sent with the First Presidency letter sheds more light on why these standard interview questions have been established. They have been released as part of the LDS Church’s continued efforts to help future missionaries be better “spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for missionary service.” Missionary service is a major milestone in people’s spiritual growth and Church leaders want the mission to be a positive, “joyous and faith-building experience for every missionary.” In order to accomplish that, “it is imperative that each missionary be appropriately prepared, worthy, and healthy” and these questions will help do that by encouraging conversations between youth and leaders on a variety of important topics of mission prep.

While “these questions do not represent any change in the standards for missionary service,” the Church is making a greater effort to help future missionaries and their parents better “understand the requirements for full-time missionary service.” These “questions are intended to guide” the pre-mission conversations between missionary candidates and their priesthood leaders (bishops and stake presidents) and help all parties know if the “missionary candidate may be unable to fulfill the requirements of a full-time mission” because of spiritual, physical, emotional, or mental health challenges.

Worthiness, Chastity, Sexual Purity, and Repentance

Large sections of the supplemental material give guidance to youth, parents, and church leaders about topics of worthiness, the law of chastity, sexual purity, and repentance, indicating this is a major area of concern by the First Presidency. In operating this website for many years, I too have noticed that repenting of sexual sin is one of the most read and discussed topics on the website. The material stresses that sexual sin and other “serious sins may disqualify you, either temporarily or permanently, from serving a full-time mission.” It even quotes a couple of paragraphs from Handbook 1 which says:

“A person who has been guilty of adultery, fornication, heavy petting, homosexual activity, [and] other sexual perversions …must repent before he or she may be recommended for missionary service.” And that period of repentance “could be as long as three years for multiple serious transgressions and should not be less than one year from the most recent serious transgression.”

The supplemental material also dives into tithing, the word of wisdom, keeping the sabbath-day holy, and honesty, revealing that these are also topics that are likely stumbling blocks for many young people today.

Why a different set of questions than for the temple?

The First Presidency also sent out answers to anticipated frequently asked questions, one of which was on my  mind: “Why are these questions different than for a temple recommend?” All missionaries are required to answer those standardized temple questions in an interview before their mission, so it does beg the question. Their answer:

“Many of the interview questions are similar to those asked in a standard temple recommend interview and are included to help priesthood leaders determine whether a prospective missionary is worthy to serve. However, missionary service is far more physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding than is temple attendance. The additional questions help gauge the prospective missionary’s physical, mental, and emotional preparedness to serve.”

Mental Health

Another very interesting aspect of these questions is how they dive into the mental health issues of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and autism spectrum disorder, including Asperger’s Syndrome. I have a son who is high functioning autistic (Asperger’s), so my wife and I are very interested in the Church’s stance regarding his possibility of serving a full-time mission some day. Will the Church let him go on a regular full-time mission while he is actively taking medication for his condition? Will the Church require him to do a Church Service Mission because of his condition? I wish there were more answers, but unfortunately, while the topic is brought up in the questions, the supplemental material gave few answers regarding what youth, parents, or priesthood leaders are to do about someone who has these conditions and functions well with the aid of prescription medications. Perhaps the Church’s policy is to handle those on a case by case basis and that’s why they don’t specify further.

But enough of my commentary and analysis. Here are the questions:

Standard Interview Questions for Prospective Missionaries

  1. Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost?
  2. Do you have a testimony that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world? Please share your testimony with me. How has the Atonement of Jesus Christ influenced your life?
  3. What does it mean to you to repent? Do you feel that you have fully repented of past transgressions?
  4. Will you share your testimony with me that the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that [current Church President] is a prophet of God?
  5. Full-time missionary service requires living gospel standards. What do you understand about the following standards?
    a. The law of chastity In reference to the law of chastity, have you always lived in accordance with what has been discussed? If not, how long ago did the transgression(s) occur? What have you done to repent?
    b. Avoiding pornography
    c. The law of tithing
    d. The Word of Wisdom, including the use of drugs or the abuse of prescribed medications
    e. Keeping the Sabbath day holy
    f. Being honest in all you say and do
    Have you lived in accordance with all of these standards? Are you now living in accordance with them? Will you live in accordance with them as a full-time missionary?
  6. Do you have any legal actions pending against you? (If yes, ask the candidate to explain in detail possible legal or financial obligations. See Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 4.4.)
  7. Have you ever committed a serious violation of criminal law, regardless of whether or not you were arrested, you were convicted, or the record was expunged? (If yes, ask the missionary candidate to explain in detail what happened, the outcome of any criminal charges, whether there are criminal or other legal requirements that have not been completed, and what he or she has done to repent. See Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 4.4 and “Serious Transgressions” in 4.5.2.)
  8. Have you ever sexually abused a child in any way, regardless of whether or not you were charged, you were convicted, or the record was expunged? (If yes, and the abuse has not been reported, see Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 17.3.2, for instructions. If the abuse was previously resolved, see Handbook 1, 4.4, for direction.)
  9. Have you ever committed any other serious transgression or misdeed that should be resolved before your mission? (If yes, ask the candidate to explain in detail what happened, the outcome of any criminal charges, whether there are criminal or other legal requirements that have not been completed, and what he or she has done to repent.)
  10. Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
  11. Do you have any unpaid debts? How will these debts be paid off before your mission or managed while you serve a mission? (See Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 4.4.)
  12. Do you currently have or have you ever had any physical, mental, or emotional condition that would make it difficult for you to maintain a normal missionary schedule, which requires that you work for 12–15 hours a day, including studying for 2–4 hours a day, walking or biking for up to 8–10 hours a day, and so forth?
  13. Have you ever been diagnosed with or received treatment for dyslexia or other reading disorder? If so, are you comfortable reading the scriptures and other documents aloud? Do you believe that you could memorize appropriate scriptures and other information with the assistance of your companion? In what ways do you now compensate for this disorder?
  14. Have you ever been diagnosed with or received treatment for a speech disorder? If so, are you comfortable speaking in front of others? Do you feel that you have adequate tools to help you learn, teach, and communicate?
  15. Have you ever been on medication or otherwise treated for any of the following conditions: attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or autism spectrum disorder (including Asperger’s)? If yes, please explain.
  16. If you were being treated for one of these conditions and discontinued treatment, did you do so under a doctor’s supervision? If not, why did you stop? How well have you been functioning without treatment or medication? When was the last time you were on medication for these issues?

President Monson on the Divine Inspiration of Every Mission Call

President Thomas S. Monson has testified that divine inspiration attends each and every missionary assignment. He has said, “Too numerous to mention are the many instances where a particular call proved providential. This I know—divine inspiration attends such sacred assignments. We, with you, acknowledge the truth stated so simply in the Doctrine and Covenants: ‘If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work’ (D&C 4:3).” (See April 1979 General Conference talk titled, The Army of the Lord)

The following story  illustrates the principle of divine inspiration attending every missionary call and appears in President Monson’s biography, To the Rescue (see chapter 26):

“While attending a stake conference in Paris, France, Elder Monson indicated, as he often does, that he would like to hear from one of the missionaries. As he looked toward the back of the hall, he saw a tall young elder whom he recognized as a son of some friends of the Monsons. He called him forward. As the missionary spoke, Elder Monson seemed to see in his mind a picture of Heber J. Grant in a Japanese garden, the same painting that was produced as a cover for a pamphlet about this famed Church President. He didn’t tell anyone about the experience and even wondered what it meant, assuming that it may have been triggered by his knowledge that President Grant was this elder’s great-grandfather. When Elder Monson returned to Salt Lake City, he looked up the missionary’s parents to give them a report on their son. He learned that another son had just turned in his missionary papers. As Elder Monson later reviewed that missionary’s application, he knew why he had received the strong impression concerning President Grant. He changed the young missionary’s assignment to Tokyo—the city and land where his great-grandfather, Heber J. Grant, had opened the work. Not only did the missionary serve in the land so significant to the family, he was present for the dedication of the Japan Tokyo Temple, an occasion, Elder Monson knew, that would have pleased his great-grandfather immensely.”

Also in President Monson’s biography is the story of when he was again in a missionary assignment meeting and he returned several times to the mission assignment of one young man because he didn’t feel right about it. Finally, President Monson asked on of the Seventies who was assisting him to read to him the entire file of the young man. This time they noticed something they had missed in their initial review–“the young man had learned Spanish ‘at his mother’s knee.’ Elder Monson assigned him to a Spanish-speaking mission, and the Spirit said, ‘Yes.’ ‘It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord can motivate and direct the length and breadth of His kingdom,’ Elder Monson has said, ‘and yet have time to provide the inspiration on the call of a single missionary.'”
inspiration of call of missionary monson

President Monson has viewed tens of thousands of missionary applications while in the process of issuing an equal number of mission calls. Again quoting from his biography, President Monson has said, “Many are the faith-promoting experiences which have occurred in the assignment of missionaries. I so testify. Hardly an assignment day goes by when we don’t have it evidenced that our Heavenly Father has, in an unusual way, prompted us to send particular missionaries to serve in locations, only to learn that this has fulfilled their earnest prayers and, in many instances, the wishes and hopes of their families” (see chapter 26 of To the Rescue).

Transferred Are Also Inspired 

Not only are mission assignments inspired, but President Monson has taught that the transfers conducted by mission presidents are also inspired. Speaking at mission president seminar in 2011, President Thomas S. Monson spoke of this experience:

I recall, as a mission president in Canada [1959-1962], looking at our list of missionaries and feeling the definite inspiration to move one young man from the city of Belleville, Ontario, to Welland, Ontario. . . . The impression came so strongly that I made the transfer. The next week when I received a letter from his companion, tears came to my eyes when I read: “President Monson, I know you were inspired in sending Elder Smith to us in Welland. We are teaching ten Italian-speaking families whose English skills are limited. In my heart I had been praying for a companion who could speak Italian. You found the only missionary in the mission who spoke Italian.” I thought to myself as I read that line, “I knew nothing about whether or not that boy spoke Italian.” With a name like Smith, you don’t think he is going to speak Italian. I was unaware that his mother was Italian and that she had taught the boy to speak in her native tongue. By listening to the Spirit and transferring him, he was able to carry the gospel to those Italian families in Welland.” (see Missionary Work is Founded on the Doctrine of Christ)

Paying for your Mission

Summary: Figuring out how to pay for an LDS mission is one of the top things on the minds of youth and seniors who are planning to serve a mission soon. This article will discuss the process of paying for your mission.

Missionaries Should Strive to Pay Their Own Way

young man paying tithingAs I’ve discussed in my article about the costs of serving an LDS Mission, Mormon missionaries are volunteers and pay their own expenses. The responsibility to provide financial support for a missionary lies first with the individual and second with the missionary’s family. Missionaries and their families should make appropriate sacrifices to provide financial support for a mission and they will be richly blessed in return. Church leaders have even said that it is better for a person to delay a mission for a time and earn their own money rather than to rely entirely on others (see the LDS Church Handbook of Instructions). However, Church leaders have also stressed that worthy potential missionaries should never be prevented from serving solely for financial reasons when they and their families have done all that they can to pay their way.

Equalized Contribution and the Ward Missionary Fund

Many years ago, the Church equalized the contribution required to pay for expenses of missionaries, regardless of where these missionaries are called to serve. For example, missionaries in the United States all pay $400 a month, and then depending on where they serve, missionaries are allotted a monthly allowance according to their needs. The $400 a month is sent to Church headquarters through the ward missionary fund. For each missionary from a ward who is serving a mission, the bishop ensures that the monthly contribution is available in the ward missionary fund each month.

[one_half last=”no”]As a side note, this is why the new online donation website is so great because it lets members all over the world donate to the missionary’s ward missionary fund, and thus help cover the costs the ward must come up with monthly to support missionaries.  It should also be noted that the equalized contribution applies only to young proselyting missionaries. It does not apply to senior missionary couples, missionaries in non-proselyting assignments, sisters ages 40 and older, or Church-service missionaries.[/one_half][one_half last=”yes”]mission savings calculator
Ideas for earning and saving money for your mission[/one_half]

While missionaries should avoid relying on people outside of their family for financial support, there are times when it may become necessary to ask others to help pay for your mission. If necessary, the stake president or bishop, in consultation with the family, may ask members in the stake or ward to contribute to a missionary’s support by donating to the ward missionary fund. This should only be done after all family sources of financial support have be exhausted.

Personal Funds for Extras

The $400 a month and associated monthly allowance missionaries receive is designed to cover food, lodging, transportation, and other missionary service-related expenses. Additional expenses a missionary might have are asked to be paid with personal funds. Missionaries are asked to bring or receive extra personal money for additional items that are personal or not a necessity. This includes clothing, bicycle purchases and repairs, medical costs not paid by the mission, photo processing, souvenirs, and gifts. These optional personal expenses should be kept to a minimum.

Supplemental Support from the General Missionary Fund

In some part of the world supplemental financial support from the Church’s General Missionary Fund is available for missionaries who are unable to support themselves, even with the help of family and their ward and stake. Church leaders in those areas of the world will know if they qualify for such assistance.

Click here to donate to the LDS Church General Missionary Fund

Financing Senior Couples and Other Non-Proselyting Missionaries

Senior missionary couples, sisters ages 40 and older, church-service missionaries, and young church-service missionaries are not able to finance their missions through the equalized contribution system. Costs for this missions vary greatly and these missionaries must pay their own expenses, or raise the necessary money from family and friends. It should be noted though, that senior missionary couples and sisters over 40, in some cases, may receive financial assistance from the ward missionary fund if they do not have adequate means to support themselves. Talk to your bishop or stake president for more information.

Missionary Farewell Talks

Mormon Missionaries Elder Smith and Lopez in Rosario Argentina SmilingWhen I left for my mission to Rosario Argentina in 1995, on the Sunday before I left there was held a farewell sacrament meeting for me. My grandma spoke, either my father or mother (or both) spoke, and I spoke. I rememeber my grandma and my father commenting on my good smile. I suppose if I had nothing else going for me in terms of missionary skills (Spanish language skills, gospel teaching skills, etc.) at least I had a good smile 🙂

While I believe my farewell sacrament meeting was completely appropriate, at this time period, back in the 1990s, not all missionary farewells were appropriate. In some instances, the entire sacrament meeting was virtually turned over to the family to do as they pleased, including at times, lengthy talks and elaborate musical numbers. Some families would send out invitations and hold reception lines at the church or do other things that would detract from the sacred nature of a mission call.

In October 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley put that practice of missionary farewells to rest. Said he:

“Now we have an interesting custom in the Church. Departing missionaries are accorded a farewell. In some wards this has become a problem. Between outgoing missionaries and returning missionaries, most sacrament meetings are devoted to farewells and homecomings.

No one else in the Church has a farewell when entering a particular service. We never have a special farewell-type meeting for a newly called bishop, for a stake president, for a Relief Society president, for a General Authority, or anyone else of whom I can think. Why should we have missionary farewells?

The First Presidency and the Twelve, after most prayerful and careful consideration, have reached the decision that the present program of missionary farewells should be modified.

The departing missionary will be given opportunity to speak in a sacrament meeting for 15 or 20 minutes. But parents and siblings will not be invited to do so. There might be two or more departing missionaries who speak in the same service. The meeting will be entirely in the hands of the bishop and will not be arranged by the family.

…We are convinced that when all aspects of the situation are considered, this is a wise decision. Please accept it, my dear brethren. I extend this plea also to the sisters, particularly the mothers.

We hope also that holding elaborate open houses after the sacrament meeting at which the missionary speaks will not prevail. Members of the family may wish to get together. We have no objection to this. However, we ask that there be no public reception to which large numbers are invited.

Missionary service is such a wonderful experience that it brings with it its own generous reward. And when a missionary returns to his family and his ward, he may again be given opportunity to speak in a sacrament meeting.” (To Men of the Priesthood, General Conference, October 2002)

sacrament meeting speakerSince that time, newly called missionaries have continued to be, as they should be, invited to speak in sacrament meeting a week or two before they depart. And while the sacrament program is not a farewell meeting, it is still the missionary’s farewell talk and most people still refer to it as the missionary farewell.

Priesthood leaders and missionaries should remember the following guideline with regard to missionary farewells:

  • It is a regular sacrament meeting, not a missionary farewell meeting.
  • The bishopric will plan and conduct this meeting, including assigning topics and musical numbers, as they normally do, making sure they are worshipful, faith promoting, and gospel oriented.
  • Family members and friends of the missionary should not be invited to speak so people don’t get the impression that the meeting is a missionary farewell.
  • If there are other departing or returning missionaries around the same time, they can and should be invited to speak in the same sacrament meeting.
  • Missionary talks should not dominate the sacrament meeting schedule to the exclusion of other valuable subjects and speakers.
  • The regular time of the sacrament meeting should not be extended.
  • Members should avoid holding open houses for missionaries (except for family gatherings).

Related Article: How to Write a Talk

Young Men Must be 18 to Receive the Priesthood

young men - future missionariesI would like to revisit the subject regarding the age in which young men may be given the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained to the office of an Elder. This issue arises because many young men would like to begin their missions on the day they turn 18, since 18 is the age requirement.

I have, on occasion, been asked: “If a 17 year old has received his mission call to begin serving shortly after turning 18, can he be ordained an Elder prior to his 18th birthday?” The answer from the First Presidency is no. Young Men must be 18 years old to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

This policy comes in a letter, dated February 14, 2013, from the First Presidency of the Church. It states:

“With the recent change in policy regarding young men entering full-time missionary service at age 18, some young men will receive their mission calls while still attending high school, secondary schooling, or the equivalent. However, in no case may prospective missionaries be endowed while still attending these secondary schools. Bishops and stake presidents should ensure that all worthy men receive the Melchizedek Priesthood prior to being endowed. A young man must be at least 18 years of age to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood even if he has received a mission call.” (Signed Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, and Deiter F. Uchtdorf)

This policy was reiterated in another First Presidency letter dated November 10, 2014:

“Some young men are now receiving mission calls before they are 18 years old. However, bishops and stake presidents are to ensure that all worthy men have reached their 18th birthday before they receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. Eighteen-year-old young men may receive the Melchizedek Priesthood while in high school or another secondary school, but they should not receive their temple endowment while attending such a school.” (Signed Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, and Deiter F. Uchtdorf)

Now, the question still remains about what to do about ordaining a young man to the Melchizedek Priesthood and getting his endowment when he is to begin his missionary service on or soon after his 18th birthday. I think the answer is clear that you wait until the young man has turned 18, even if that means getting the priesthood, the temple endowment, and entering the MTC all on the same day. I think it is safe to assume, though, that that won’t be necessary. The Church will generally give young men a mission report date that builds in sufficient time after their 18th birthday to get the priesthood and go through the temple before reporting to the MTC. So young men, if it is your desire to start your mission on your 18th birthday, that probably won’t happen, but a couple weeks after you turn 18 is still very realistic.

So to summarize:

  • Missionaries must receive the temple endowment before starting their missionary service.
  • Young men must be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood before receiving their temple endowment.
  • Young men cannot be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood until they are 18 years old.
  • A missionary starting his mission on his 18th birthday is highly unlikely, but a couple weeks later is very possible.

Setting Apart Missionaries

setting apart a missionaryWe believe that men and women “must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel” (Article of Faith 5). When a priesthood leader lays his hands upon the head of a missionary to give him or her authority to preach the gospel, we call it being “set apart” (see D&C 68:14 and D&C 107: 74).

Every missionary should be set apart by their stake president before they depart for the missionary training center (MTC). Only in rare circumstances would someone besides the stake president conduct the setting apart. The setting apart of missionaries should take place as close as possible to his or her departure date. Once the young man or woman is set apart, he or she is a missionary and is expected to obey all the mission rules and standards.

As an example, if a new missionary is leaving on a Tuesday to fly to the MTC to begin their mission, the stake president will generally make arrangements with the family to set apart the missionary on the Sunday or Monday before he or she leaves. (See my related article on traveling to and entering the MTC.)

A day or two before setting apart missionaries, stake presidents are asked to conduct one final interview to confirm the missionary’s worthiness. By this time, missionaries should have received their temple endowment, and young men should have had the Melchizedek Priesthood conferred upon them and been ordained to the office of an elder.

The setting apart should be a special occasion where family members and close friends come together to share in the event. The setting apart of missionaries may take place at the church, in the stake president’s office, or in the family’s home, as directed by the presiding priesthood leader.

At the setting apart, the stake president will usually make a few remarks to help those present understand the sacredness and importance of the mission call. He will then lay his hands on the head of the missionary, set him or her apart as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints assigned to labor in the specific mission he or she has been called to. He will then usually pronounce additional words of priesthood blessing as the Spirit directs. Worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders, such as the missionary’s father, may be invited by the stake president to stand in the circle during the setting apart.

The Church requests that, when setting apart missionaries, the blessing should not be recorded. However, missionaries are encouraged to write about it in their personal journal, making particular note of the parts of the blessing that were especially meaningful to them.

Missionary Service for Members with Physical, Mental, and Emotional Challenges

young man in wheelchairI am often asked about the possibility of missionary service for young people who face physical, mental, or emotional challenges. These members can sometimes serve full-time or church-service missions, though in some circumstances they will not be able to do so. Below I will give some general direction and guidelines, but please be aware that every case is unique and your local priesthood leaders (bishop and stake president) are best suited to provide definitive answers to these questions.

Missionary Work is Demanding

Missionary work is physically, mentally, or emotionally demanding. The daily mission schedule requires missionaries to put in long hours, seven days a week, which can cause physical, mental, and emotional drain. Please check out some of my previous articles on working hard and preparing emotionally for a mission.

Young men and women who have serious physical, mental, or emotional challenges that would prevent them from serving effectively do not generally serve full-time missions. Local priesthood leaders are counselled not to recommend members for missionary service if they suffer from serious emotional instability, are severely physically impaired, or are dependent on others to perform normal daily tasks.

Clearing Up Issues Prior to Service

Potential missionaries who have previously had significant physical, mental, or emotional challenges must be stabilized and confirmed to be fully functional before their bishop will recommended them for full-time missionary service. A member who is dependent on medication for emotional stability may serve a mission provided that he or she has demonstrated the ability to fully function in a demanding mission-like environment with the use of the medication. Such candidates must also commit to continue taking the medications throughout their mission unless otherwise authorized by a doctor. On the mission application form, the candidate or bishop should include a list of medications the potential missionary is taking.

Weight Issues

Experience has shown that young people who are significantly overweight experience many difficulties dealing with the physical demands of a mission. These difficulties also affect companions and mission leaders, therefore, bishops and stake presidents are counselled to consider whether individuals’ weight will adversely affect their service before recommending them for a mission. I don’t know of any specific weight guidelines, but potential missionaries, parents, and leaders should counsel with local medical professionals during the mission application process or call the Church Missionary Department if they have further questions on any of these issues related to physical, mental, and emotional health.

Local priesthood leaders are counselled not to ask the Church for exceptions to these rules. They are instructed not to recommend young people for full-time missionary service unless they can do so without reservations.

Other Options

If a member has serious physical, mental, and emotional challenges, they are honorably excused from missionary service. Such individuals should not be made to feel unworthy or inadequate before the Lord. These members should be encouraged to continue to pursue important milestones in life such as an education, career development, and temple preparation. If these individuals continue to have a strong desire to serve a mission, the bishop and stake president may be able to help them identify local options for Church service including Church-service missionary opportunities.

Prospective Missionary Devotional

Below is a prospective missionary devotional that you can download and present in your ward or stake. It is designed for high school seniors and others planning to submit their mission papers within the next year. I put it together at the request of our stake presidency for them to present in a fireside setting. It is divided into three sections, so each member of the stake presidency can present a part. The first part of the slide presentation talks about preparing for a mission temporally and spiritually. The second section discusses the mission call process, and the third part talks about some final things new missionaries need to do in preparation for their mission such as getting the priesthood and going to the temple. Feel free to use it in your stakes and wards, let me know how it goes, and contact me if you have any questions. Click here to download the Prospective Missionary Devotional[slideshare id=29781684&doc=prospectivemissionarydevotional-mmp-140107161200-phpapp02]

There are 50 slides. If you go quickly through the slide deck, you can get through it in about an hour. But if you take your time and go slowly, it can take up to two hours to present.

Missionary Age Requirements

Summary: This article discusses the age qualifications for serving a full-time Mormon mission for young men, young women, senior couples, and Church service missionaries.

missionary family on stairsYoung Men

Single men between the ages of 18 and 25 are eligible to serve a full-time mission for the LDS Church. These young men are generally called to serve for 24 months. Once single men reach the age of 26, the Church will no longer consider their application to be called as a missionary.

Young men and women should also be worthy and prepared to serve a mission. For more information, see my article on what it means to be worthy to serve a mission and my other article on requirements to serve a mission.


Single women are eligible to serve a mission if they are 19 years old or older. The eligibility age difference between the young men and the women is to emphasize that full-time missionary work is a priesthood duty of the men, while women are not under that same obligation. Though not a duty in the same sense as it is for men, women make a valuable and unique contribution in the mission field, and the Lord needs and welcomes their service.

Single women between the ages 21 through 39 are usually called to serve for 18 months.  Single women over the age of 40 are usually called on non-proselyting missions (temple missions, welfare missions, office support, family history, etc.) and serve for 12 or 18 months. For more information, see the sister missionary page which has links to many sister missionary related topics including advice for young women considering a mission, and an article from former sister missionaries explaining what made them decide to serve.


There is no specific age requirement for older couples to serve a mission together. In order for married couples to be eligible to serve a mission, they must no longer be be working full-time and, if they will be serving away from home, they must not have any dependent children living in their home. Senior couples can be called to serve for 6, 12, 18, or 24 months depending on their capabilities and the mission they are called to fulfill.

Church-Service Missionaries

Church-service missions are a good alternative when worthy men and women are not able to serve full-time missions because of health, financial, family, or other challenges.  There is no maximum age, but men should be at least 18 years old, and women should be at least 19 to be a Church-service missionary. Church-service missionaries can be called for a term of anywhere from 6 to 24 months. They usually work between 8 and 32 hours a week and live at home while they are serving.

Mission Call Process Overview

One of the most frequent questions I get on Mormon Mission Prep is about the process of starting the paperwork, getting the application in, and details about when and how the mission call comes. This article is designed to give a high-level overview of the mission call process, from meeting with the bishop, to fill out your mission papers, to getting your call letter from the prophet. For more details on the time to expect each step in the process to take, see my article Mission Application Timeline.

lds mission call process overview

The picture above is a good illustration of the step by step process for doing the paper work and getting the mission call. Below is more detail on each step:

Before the Paper Work

  • Prepare spiritually: Study the gospel, read the scriptures, pray and build a testimony of the Savior, His Atonement, and His restored Church including Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon (so be sure to read it!). Keep yourself spiritually clean and worthy to serve a mission.
  • Prepare temporally: Save money, stay physically fit, and remove any obstacles such as unpaid debts, legal issues, weight and health problems. Familiarize yourself with the requirements to serve a mission.

The Application Processmissionarymeetwithbishop

  • Meet with the Bishop: At least four months before you’re able to leave on a mission, set an appointment with your bishop for a personal interview.  He will give you the mission application form, or the information you need to log on to the online missionary recommendation system if the online system is available in your area. Your bishop will also conduct a thorough worthiness interview at this time. He will discuss the qualifications to serve a mission and help you through the repentance process if their are any sins you need to clear up before going on a mission.
  • Doctor and Dentist Visits: Make appointments with your doctor and dentist for evaluations. In the paper work the bishop will give you will be medical forms that they will need to fill out.
  • Missionary Candidate Information: There are several sections of personal information to complete, and whether you do it online or on the paper application it will be the same.  You’ll fill out background information about yourself, including your desire and ability to learn a language, your schooling, and how your mission will be financed. You’ll be asked to submit a photo (uploading it or mailing it in) with your application, so make sure that in this photo you are dressed according to missionary standards (i.e. conservative hair and clothing styles, etc. See my post on Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards).
  • Meet with the Bishop Again: Set another appointment with your bishop after all of the forms are completed, and he will review the application. He will conduct a thorough interview to determine your worthiness to serve a mission, your ability to serve, and your testimony of the Savior and the restored gospel.
  • Meet with the Stake President: After your interview with the bishop, he will tell you how to set up and appointment with the stake president.  Your bishop and stake president will complete some additional parts including their own written recommendations for your missionary service.  This will be the final step before the application is sent to Church headquarters (usually done by the Stake Clerk).

Receiving the Mission Callmissioncall

  • Assigned to a Mission by Prophecy: Your mission application is received by the Church and you are assigned to a specific mission by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who has been authorized by the President of the Church. The mission assignment comes after prayer and revelation. See my article about how missionaries are called by God for more information on this process.
  • Mission Call Letter: After the mission call is made, a packet is mailed to you.  It will contain information on your assigned mission, the date to report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC), a list of specific items you should bring with you, and other helpful information. See my article on the mission call letter for more information about what you’ll find in the mission call packet.

Each Call Is Inspired

Though there are a lot of mechanical steps to go through in the process of getting your mission call, it’s important not to lose site of the spiritual–the spiritual preparation by the missionary and the spirit of revelation in the issuing of the mission call.  Here is what President Henry B. Eyring said about the inspiration of each mission call:

“I have had [many] experiences feeling of the Holy Ghost…But I’ve never felt what I have felt as I have…participated in the assigning of missionaries…Because of technology, it is possible for us to have your picture and the information about you displayed. And then quickly, on that same screen, all the missions of the Church with all of their needs are displayed. Within minutes, and sometimes less than a minute, the impression comes so powerfully that it would be, if it were a single instance, something that you would never forget. Can you imagine sitting there for hours at a time, having that happen time after time without interruption? I testify to you that it is real…[The Lord] somehow not only knows you but loves you enough to ensure that your call is where He needs you to go to teach the children of our Heavenly Father.” (Pres. Henry B. Eyring, “Called of God,” address delivered at the Missionary Training Center, Aug. 26, 1997).