As 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.”
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
- Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost?
- 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?
- What does it mean to you to repent? Do you feel that you have fully repented of past transgressions?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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 , 4.4.)
- 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 , 4.4 and “Serious Transgressions” in 4.5.2.)
- 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 , 17.3.2, for instructions. If the abuse was previously resolved, see Handbook 1, 4.4, for direction.)
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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 , 4.4.)
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?