Preparing to Serve

Frequently asked questions from prospective missionaries and their parents


See these suggestions for more information on how to prepare for a mission.


Prospective Missionaries

Parents

Prospective Missionaries

Who should serve a mission?

President Thomas S. Monson said: “We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty—and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable to respond to the call to serve. Many young women also serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the Church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service.” (Thomas S. Monson, "Welcome to Conference," Liahona, November 2012, 4).

Learn more by watching President Monson's Saturday morning address from the October 2012 general conference.

President Monson also said: “To the mature brothers and sisters of the Church, I remind you that the Lord needs many, many more of you to serve as full-time missionaries. If you are not yet at the season of life to serve a couples mission, I urge you to prepare now for the day when, as your circumstances allow, you and your spouse might do so. There are few times in your lives when you will enjoy the sweet spirit and satisfaction that come from giving full-time service together in the work of the Master.” (Back to top)

I have many questions about missionary service. Who can best answer them?

Talk with your parents, priesthood leaders, or a trusted leader to help you find answers to your questions. Preach My Gospel and the Missionary Handbook are also great resources. (Back to top)

How are missionaries called?

Every missionary who is called and assigned or reassigned to a particular mission is called by revelation through the Lord's servants, the prophets. A member of the Quorum of the Twelve assigns prospective missionaries to one of more than three hundred missions of the Church. Learn more by reading “The Divine Call of a Missionary,” Elder Ronald A. Rasband's April 2010 general conference address. (Back to top)

How do I start the recommendation process?

To start the recommendation process, first meet with your bishop or branch president. He will give you access to the Missionary Online Recommendation system. (Back to top)

Do I initiate my interview with my Young Single Adult ward bishop or home ward bishop?

If you are attending a young single adult (YSA) ward and living away from home, speak to your YSA ward bishop first. He will guide you and coordinate with your home ward bishop based on your individual circumstances. (Back to top)

When should I begin my missionary service?

President Thomas S. Monson said: “All worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19. I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.

“As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.

“We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty—and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable to respond to the call to serve. Many young women also serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men.” (Thomas S. Monson, "Welcome to Conference," Liahona, November 2012, 4).

For more information, see "Church Leaders Share More Information on Missionary Age Requirement." (Back to top)

How early can I submit my missionary papers?

Recommendation papers for full-time service may be submitted to Church headquarters by a prospective missionary’s stake president 120 days prior to his or her availability date. Availability date is the earliest date at which the prospective missionary is available to begin his or her mission. The earliest date young men may enter the MTC is after graduating from high school or its equivalent and reaching 18 years of age. The earliest date women may enter the MTC is after their 19th birthday. Other influences on one's availability date may include completing a university semester, finishing an employment commitment, or stabilizing a medical condition. Speak with your priesthood leaders well before the 120 day submission window to start the recommendation process and to confirm your availability date. (Back to top)

With the increase in the number of missionaries, will it take longer to receive my call?

No. Although the number of missionaries has increased, it will not take longer than normal to receive your call. Generally, you may receive your call between two to three weeks once your papers are submitted by your stake president and processed by the Missionary Department. Bishops and stake presidents can view the status of each recommendation online. (Back to top)

How do I know if I am worthy and able to serve a mission?

Whether you have concerns about your worthiness or physical or emotional limitations, you should visit with your bishop or branch president. He will help you understand the eligibility requirements for missionary service. See also “Preparation Brings Blessings,” one of President Thomas S. Monson's April 2010 general conference addresses. (Back to top)

How can I best prepare spiritually to be a missionary?

Work on strengthening your own understanding and testimony of the gospel by praying daily and studying the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. Attend your Church meetings. Participate in seminary or institute, if available. You may share the gospel with a friend, go to teaching appointments with the full-time missionaries, or ask recently returned missionaries about their experiences in the mission field. You may also become familiar with Preach My Gospel, especially chapters 1 and 3. For additional counsel on your preparation, see a recent interview with Brother David L. Beck, Young Men general president. (Back to top)

How can I best prepare emotionally to be a missionary?

Elder L. Tom Perry explained: “Missionary service is emotionally demanding. Your support system is going to be withdrawn from you as you leave home and go out into the world. … There will be days of rejection and disappointment. Learn now about your emotional limits, and learn how to control your emotions under the circumstances you will face as a missionary” (L. Tom Perry, “Raising the Bar,” Liahona, Nov. 2007, 48).

For additional information and ideas to help you prepare for the emotional demands of missionary work, see “Preparing Emotionally for Missionary Service.” (Back to top)

Should I wait until I have saved enough money to go?

Missionaries and their families should make appropriate sacrifices to provide financial support for a mission. Counsel with your parents and bishop regarding your specific situation. Consider also Elder Russell M. Nelson's teachings from his October 2012 general conference address:

“Preparation for a mission is important. A mission is a voluntary act of service to God and humankind. Missionaries support that privilege with their personal savings. Parents, families, friends, and donors to the General Missionary Fund may also assist. All missionaries, younger and older, serve with the sole hope of making life better for other people.” (Back to top)

Do I have to meet physical requirements to serve a mission?

Yes. Physical health is an important part of missionary service. A missionary must be able to walk an average of six miles (10 km) per day and ride a bicycle 12 miles (19 km) per day. Weight guidelines exist for prospective missionaries. Talk to your bishop or branch president for more information or if you are concerned about the physical requirements for missionaries. For additional information, see the March 2007 Ensign article “Missionary Health Preparation.” (Back to top)

What if I am not able to serve a full-time mission due to health concerns?

The First Presidency has stated: “There are worthy individuals who desire to serve but do not qualify for the physical, mental, or emotional challenges of a mission. We ask stake presidents and bishops to express love and appreciation to these individuals and to honorably excuse them from full-time missionary labors.” In such cases, service missions can be a great blessing, allowing you to live at home and receive appropriate medical care while growing and maturing in the service of the Lord. Talk to your bishop or branch president for more information on Church service missions. (“Missionary Health Preparation,” Donald B. Doty, M.D., Chairman, Missionary Department Health Services). (Back to top)

What is a typical day for a missionary like?

A missionary's day is filled with activities that help accomplish the missionary purpose of bringing souls to Christ. Read the “Missionary Daily Schedule” to see the activities in a typical day, and study the lessons in chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel to find what missionaries teach. One way to understand day-to-day missionary activities is to watch The District. These video segments show real missionaries, members, and investigators in non-scripted, unrehearsed, actual missionary situations. (Back to top)

How will I communicate with family and friends?

As a missionary you may communicate with your family and friends through letters and email on preparation day. You may also call home on Christmas and one other time during the year (usually Mother's Day). For more information on communicating with family and friends, see page 20 of the Missionary Handbook. (Back to top)

When does the reduced training time start at MTCs?

Time at each of the Church's 15 missionary training centers (MTCs) will be reduced by approximately one-third for all missionaries beginning January 2013. The implementation date will vary by MTC and by language. (Back to top)

Parents

I have many questions about missionary service. Who can best answer them?

Talk with your priesthood leaders. Preach My Gospel and the Missionary Handbook are also great resources. (Back to top)

How can I best help my child prepare for a mission?

You know your child best. Counsel with the Lord and with your local priesthood leaders to know how to help your child prepare spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially for missionary service. Encourage your child to maintain daily habits of prayer and scripture study. Help your child strengthen his or her understanding and testimony of the gospel.

For additional help, see:

(Back to top)

Should my child wait to complete the recommendation for missionary service until he or she has saved enough money to go?

Not necessarily, but financial preparation for a mission is important. Missionaries and their families should make appropriate sacrifices to provide financial support for a mission. Counsel with your bishop or branch president regarding your specific situation. Consider also Elder Russell M. Nelson's teachings from his October 2012 general conference address:

“Preparation for a mission is important. A mission is a voluntary act of service to God and humankind. Missionaries support that privilege with their personal savings. Parents, families, friends, and donors to the General Missionary Fund may also assist. All missionaries, younger and older, serve with the sole hope of making life better for other people.” (Back to top)

What exactly will my missionary need? Is a list provided? What if he or she forgets something?

A complete list of necessary items is provided with the mission call packet. Your missionary will contact you if he or she needs anything during the course of the mission. You will be able to send any needed items to your missionary, or your missionary can purchase such items in his or her mission. (Back to top)

What will my son or daughter be doing as a missionary?

One way to understand day-to-day missionary activities is to watch a documentary on missionaries called The District. Additional information about a missionary's schedule and what he or she will teach can be found in Preach My Gospel. (Back to top)

How can I best support my missionary while he or she is serving?

You can provide support and encouragement through weekly emails and letters. When communicating with your missionary, be uplifting and help him or her focus on the sacred work of a mission. Read more in “Becoming a Supportive Missionary Mom or Dad.” (Back to top)

How will I communicate with my son or daughter?

You are encouraged to support and uplift your missionary through weekly emails and letters. Your missionary will also call home on Christmas and one other time during the year (usually Mother's Day). (Back to top)