Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Response the President Monson’s Announcement Growing

President Monson’s October 2012 announcement that the Church was changing the age requirements for missionary service has been met with enthusiasm and faith.  Many 18 year-old men and 19 to 20 year-old women who are now eligible to serve and have submitted missionary applications.  Excitement and enthusiasm invite inquiry.  Will sisters comprise a larger percentage of missionaries?  Will the surge in missionary numbers be temporary or will they produce an absolute increase in the percentage of youth serving missions?  There are more technical questions such as where will the church place so many missionaries and will the time between receiving a call and beginning service lengthen due to the outpouring of applications?  In this post, I will use updated data from YouTube that includes February to attempt to answer these questions.

Many families post YouTube videos of their missionary opening their missionary calling.  If the same percentage of families post their callings after the announcement as prior to it, the videos are a good sample of the actual response to the announcement by youth who speak English and with sufficient technological means to record and post videos to YouTube.  With those cautions in mind, I will present my findings. 

YouTube Callings February


Clearly, there was a large response to the announcement as early as November and it appears to be growing.  Comparing the total number of calls from November 2011 through February 2012 to the number from November 2012 to February 2013, the calls have increased 257%.  To date, the response by young women has been greater than that by young men. 

YouTube Callings Sisters Feb

Prior to the announcement, YouTube postings of calls to young women were 24% of total posting of calls.  After the announcement, postings by young women soared 759% and reached 58% of total postings. The Church reports that calls have doubled  and that calls to young women rose from 20% of calls prior to the announcement to about 50% of the calls after, indicating that the YouTube data slightly over represents young women and that the enthusiastic response by our youth have resulted in a higher percentage of YouTube postings.  Using either the information reported by the Church or my YouTube data, there will be an absolute increase in the number of young women who serve missions.  If the number of calls to young men returns to last year’s levels, young women will receive 32% of all calls.      


YouTube Callings Elders Feb

Young men have listened to the prophet’s voice too.  Postings of young men reading their calls are up 100% since the announcement.  The YouTube data for young men, like that for young women, reports a higher response to President Monson’s announcement than the 20% increase that the Church reports.  The graph shows that the response by young men is growing now that their graduation dates from high school are within four months of their availability dates.  . 

YouTube Callings locations

The graph, "Three Month Moving Average of the Location of Mission Assignments," shows a three month moving average of the percentage of calls read on YouTube to seven geographic regions.  They are the regions reported by the Church on the “Facts and Statistics” page of the “Newsroom” with one exception.  I divided the North America region into two groups: the United States and the rest of North American (North American not US).  I have heard church members speculate that many of the new missionaries would be housed in the United States due to the difficulty of obtaining passports and visas.  That has not been the case so far.  The three month moving average shows a slight downward trend with the number of calls to the United States at 33.0%.  What is notable is the stability of the assignments in every location.  Missionaries are serving in each location at approximately the same rate they served prior to the announcement. 

There is a longer preparation period between receiving a call and reporting for service.  I  have tracked the preparation period for four months: in November, the preparation period was 94 days, in December, 92, in January, 104, in February 100 and in March, 117 days.  I would not draw a strong conclusion from this data.  It may be seasonal.  Perhaps the preparation period always lengthens at this time of the year. 

In summary, there has been a tremendous response to President Monson’s announcement, particularly from young women.  They will comprise a larger percentage of the missionary force in the future.  The response from young men has been strong as well but more time is needed to see if the percentage of young men serving missions will increase.  Missionaries are going everywhere in greater numbers and the preparation period between receiving a call in reporting seems to be growing.  The months and years ahead will be exciting.

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