Strengths and Weaknesses of Modern Missionaries

Here is an excerpt of a report by a General Authority who toured several LDS missions in the Southern and Eastern United States.

I can justifiably praise the humility, obedience, and on the whole, industry of the missionaries in these missions . . . but when these virtues are named, speaking of the missionaries as a whole, you name the sum of their qualifications for missionary work, and there are serious defects in their “equipment” for the work required of them; among which may be suggested first, the lack of knowledge amounting to almost total ignorance of the current religious thought of the present day, with a consequent lack of ability to make any application of our religion to modern thought, or what is of any immediate interest to people . . . the existence of a “boyish” conception of things . . . . inadequate education . . . not in terms of academic achievement as much as a lack of ability to read with ease the most common books, to speak grammatically, to say nothing of speaking coherently, logically or forcefully . . . there is a serious lack of training in simple “good manners” . . . on the whole, this reveals our deficiencies as a community on which is laid the responsibility of instructing the whole world in . . . moral and religious matters.[1]


[1] Edited for length, a certain harshness, and with some silent summary.

7 Responses to Strengths and Weaknesses of Modern Missionaries

  1. Ardis says:

    I suppose it’s harsh to say this could be true at any time in our past and present, but I suppose it is. That is, I’d hope that the literacy and public manners is generally better, but we just don’t have any forum for learning, and then learning to discuss, the gospel in a framework beyond our own peculiar-to-us understanding. I thought once that the bloggernacle might be such a forum for a small part of us, but it hasn’t worked out that way.

    • WVS says:

      Agreed, Ardis. I don’t know what the solution is. Perhaps its a broader approach in seminary classrooms, but there is a lot of water under that bridge to call back and a lot of weight behind the status quo.

  2. Particle Man says:

    Literacy in and conversion to gospel principles through personal, family, and Church efforts, which are arguably the more important pursuit, do seem generally satisfactory.

    But in stark contrast to these religious aims, general illiteracy in various secular subjects is not surprising. Such cases correspond to products of a public (i.e. State) education who surely lacked corrective and supplementary education with nobler objectives and methodologies. The effectiveness of generations of a “deliberate dumbing down of America,” for which one can search, is apparent.

  3. jpv says:

    I’m guessing the situation now is much worse than when this comment was made.

    Going out at 18 before having even worked full-time and saved for a mission or attended college away from home I think is a detriment.

    The current PMG discussions presume a traditional Christian background.

  4. Charlie says:

    Fabulous post! I’ve been hearing this in general for some time.
    Could you give some details as to who, when, where this was said?

  5. Lefthandloafer says:

    In short – the LDS Church’s “sales message and approach” has grown stale, elementary and overused. Many people just do not want to listen to the “same old – same old”. Either you’re prepared to engage in a a deep thoughtful discussion beyond the scope of traditional Mormonism – and thereby engage people – or you’re not; and then people practically spring away.

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