Prospective Missionaries Finding Ways to Prepare to Serve
By Suzanne Young, Seminaries and Institutes staff writer
With 29,000 new missionaries expected to report within the next few months, more prospective missionaries are focusing on ways to prepare themselves before entering the missionary training center. Even though preparation is an individual responsibility, many resources are available that can help.
Missionary Preparation Resources for Personal Study, part of the new My Role in the Work of Salvation site, lists references to help you understand basic principles. It also includes lessons to study on your own as well as suggestions for how to act on what you learn.
There are also suggestions for parents and leaders and teachers, including learning/teaching outlines for a mission preparation course.
At the recent broadcast for seminary and institute teachers, Elder Russell M. Nelson said, “The recent adjustment in minimum age for full-time missionary service carries many implications for seminary and institute teachers,” he said. “The youth who are going on missions may have a little less time to prepare now. So the homes, seminaries, and institutes have a wonderful opportunity to assist in the preparation of missionaries.”
Missionary preparation classes, better known as mission prep, aim to help prepare potential missionaries to have successful missions. These classes are offered through local institutes, YSA stakes, and wards. Students hear real stories from the mission field, study Preach My Gospel, plan and prepare lessons on gospel principles, and even practice teaching these lessons to others—all before entering the Missionary Training Center.
Brother Grayson Butler teaches at the Salt Lake Institute, which has seen a dramatic increase in enrollment in missionary preparation classes since the announcement changing the minimum ages of missionaries. In fact, this summer the Salt Lake Institute is offering seven different mission prep courses compared to the one class it offered last summer.
Brother Randy Osborne, a mission prep teacher at the Sandy and Jordan institute programs in Utah, said the number of sisters attending his class has jumped from about 20 percent to more than half.
Kacee Greeff studies in her mission prep class at the Salt Lake Institute. YSA stakes and wards may also provide missionary preparation classes. Photo by Suzanne Young.
Students in Brother Osborne’s mission prep class are asked to prepare a two- to three-minute lesson from anything on repentance to the Restoration. After they write their lesson down in a notebook that they keep throughout the semester, they get opportunities to practice teaching others. This gives them an opportunity to teach people they don’t know and to receive feedback about their teaching. The notebook they keep throughout the semester is filled with mini lessons they have prepared, which they take with them to the MTC.
Brother Butler starts each class with a letter or story from a missionary currently serving in the field to get his students excited. This is one of Johanna Tovar’s favorite parts of her mission prep class. “Hearing the stories is teaching me what it is that I need to focus on right now, while I have time to prepare,” she said.
Jessica Liening, who served in the California Long Beach Mission, said the missionary preparation class she took at Brigham Young University helped her prepare. “It got me in missionary mode and excited to go. It definitely got me thinking about my mission and different ways I could prepare. [The class] gives you that exposure and gets you thinking about teaching and sharing before you even have to do it.”
To find a mission preparation class near you, visit institute.lds.org or ask your local priesthood leaders.