CHI #5


CHI #5

Section 4 deals with missionary service. There are a tremendous amount of procedures and regulations which are used to enable the church to have 50,000 plus full time missionaries serving around the world. I am not going to pick through all of the minutia to try and judge what is scriptural and what is not. The majority of full time missionaries are young men aged 19 to 22. The guidelines address them and their situations especially.

There is something which caught my attention. Section 4.10 is under the heading of temple recommends. This is concerning the issuing of a temple recommend as the missionary is released. The procedure is different for the young missionaries as for senior missionaries. For young missionaries the procedure is when a missionary finishes his 2 year mission the mission president interviews him and takes his temple recommend. He is then given a recommend which is dated to expire in 90 days.

The CHI directs the missionary’s stake president and bishop to interview him, commit him to live his covenants and maintain his standards, get him a calling and monitor his progress at adjusting back to normal life. And then when they are convinced he is doing well, and being righteous they issue him a regular recommend good for two years.

I will give the church leadership total benefit of the doubt that they have good reason for this rule. Obviously there must be a problem in this regard.

Jesus said, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”
I would say if a young man has truly just spent two years serving Jesus Christ he is not going to be at risk of committing transgressions to jeopardize his worthiness. Truly serving Christ is a good tree. It will not bring forth evil fruit.

What is happening? What is the corrupt tree which brings forth this fruit? I won’t try to answer that in detail. But there is obviously a corrupt tree somewhere. And to simply say that ’21 year old men are just that way’ or speaking the judgmental slur more overtly to accuse them of being inherently disposed to do evil, will truly hide the reality of the problem.

I believe there are at least two problems. First the rules missionaries are expected to follow are unnatural and external. Being cowered into obeying a set of restrictive rules by an organization that keeps close tabs on your behavior, I mean in some cases missionaries are required to call their leader every night to report they are in bed, is not righteousness. Righteousness is a choice freely made. Since it is not an exercise of agency it does not produce the blessings of being righteous.

Secondly what do we really think we are doing? God makes men and women a certain way. I believe 18 years of age is the time of maximum levels of sex hormones in a male (in some countries young men can serve missions starting at 18). He is the most fit and most eager to be wed. And we tell him to deny all these God given signals and become a monk while still moving among everyday life for two years. It is a recipe for tragedy. And I don’t mean just the tragedy of committing sexual sin on his mission. When you deny a healthy God given desire you must numb yourself to a sacred part of your soul. That does damage to your heart and mind. You think Satan doesn’t laugh his spiritual hind end off seeing all the damage which may extend for years for hundreds of thousands of young men?

I had never considered this a problem till I began looking at the reality of life. I was like many people in the church trying very hard to repent of being what God had made me to be. I was lucky to have the mission president I had so that my experience was probably much better. Yet it still did a number on my heart and mind.

From talking with other men who have served a mission I have seen that my two year mission was a departure from the norm. Not because I was so good and pure. I think I was as others my age. My mission president however was radically different in his views and actions towards us missionaries. He did not allow the white bible (missionary rulebook) to destroy his role as judge in Israel. On our mission the temperature got hot in the summer. He was asked what was the policy on wearing suit coats; optional after the 1st of May or anytime the temperature was above 90° or what? He said Elder I look at it this way, when it is hot and uncomfortable to have suit coat, take it off. And that was the rule.

We had Saturday as our preparation day. Our mission president was asked what were we allowed to do from Friday night at 9:30 till Saturday at 5 pm. He said Elders you are Melchizedek priesthood holders, you have made covenants with the Lord in His house. I expect you act like it.

That was his attitude toward the white bible and Salt Lake gave him static for it. We were one of the highest baptizing missions in the church and I know of myself pressure tactics and baseball baptisms were not practiced. We were not pressured or taught to have unreasonable goals for the number of discussions or baptisms in a month.

As I said my experience seems to be an exception to the normal missionary’s experience. I invite those with a different experience to comment.

For me adjustment back to non missionary life was nothing. A close friend of our family a few years my senior noted my relaxed attitude just one week after being home. He said, “Aren’t you nervous like you should be doing some missionary work right now?” Nope I wasn’t.

We might do well ask ourselves if it is wise to have a young man, who’s physical creation has prepared him be getting married at 18 or 19, deny those God given desires and become a monk for two years. What damage does it do to force ourselves to be numb to deep and sacred feelings? Is it in accordance with the scriptures? Is there anyone out there who has memories of how this affected them?

In case some may be thinking otherwise I am quite sure there was only one case of a missionary’s having to be sent home from our mission in the three years we had that president. And this was back in the days when we had about 450 missionaries per mission.

The Law of the Harvest: a reality check


I just came across a 460 page ebook called, The Law of the Harvest: Practical Principles of Effective Missionary Work written by David G. Stewart, Jr., MD. You can freely download it as a PDF file or even read it online in HTML using the following links:

The Law of the Harvest (PDF)

The Law of the Harvest (HTML)

These links come from Stewart’s web site, www.cumorah.com. The ebook is broken into three sections:

Section I: Trends in LDS Church Growth

The growth, activity, inactivity, retention and other statistics from this section of the book are sobering. Apparently, as a church, we’ve been delusional in our thinking about these topics. If you read nothing else from the book, read this section.

Section II: Church Growth Solutions

This section discusses strategies, lots of them, on how to incorporate what the author has found to be effective missionary work/programs, including member-missionary work. I stress that there is a lot of information here, but for those who like practical approaches, this section might be just what they need. The principles espoused are grounded in the scriptures, so, although I favor a more anarchic approach to all things, including missionary work, I think this section may be of great use for many saints. Not only does Stewart explain what works, but also what doesn’t work, including the current, ineffective Church programs that are adding to the problems.

Section III: Principles of Leadership

As the title indicates, this section is directed to the leaders and what changes they can/should make or what to emphasize or de-emphasize in order to create an effective missionary effort. I applaud his efforts, but counseling the leaders what they should do will fall on deaf ears. Nevertheless, as new leaders often come from non-leaders (members), members who read this section can properly prepare themselves in the case that they ever do become leaders, so his strategy has merit.

Is this the same guy?

I recall being contacted by someone after being released from my mission. He was amassing missionary information to determine and compile the most effective missionary techniques for use by the church. He heard about me through my mission web site because I had sent in some tips I had used on my mission for use by missionaries going to the mission I served in and the my mission web site webmaster actually published them. I don’t recall the name of the individual, but I suspect it is the same guy.

I have not, yet, read through the entire ebook. I’ve so far read the first section and have skimmed over the second and third sections. The ebook is long and contains a lot of information. But, based upon what I’ve read so far, simple downloading it, printing out copies and handing it out to members who are interested in more effective missionary techniques (or even just a single copy to the ward mission leader) may be enough to rekindle the missionary fire in people’s hearts and turn the tide around. At the very least, the first section will awaken us out of our delusional state, thinking that “all is well in Zion.” That is necessary before appropriate changes can be made. If people don’t think anything is broken, nothing gets fixed.

All in all, I give this book the LDS Anarchist grade of five A’s (AAAAA), which signifies an outstanding publication, and encourage all those interested in missionary work or in the actual state of church growth to download it, read it, apply it and pass it on. I’d be interested in knowing what others think of his findings and for those who have applied his techniques, what success they have had.

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