Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Missionary Work Via the Internet

On Sunday, June 23rd at the Seminar for New Mission Presidents the church announced that missionaries would be able to proselytize via the Internet and give guided tours of meeting houses.  Deseret News explored the experiences of missionaries who tested these new programs in “Online missionaries? LDS meetinghouse tours? Been there, done that.”  The experiences were positive.  While the cynic in me concludes that of course they would be positive, that same cynicism leads me to conclude that the Church, after testing these programs, has concluded that the benefits easily outweigh the costs.  Not only did I enjoy the article, but I enjoyed the comments as well and recommend them to anyone interested in the topic.  I will focus my comments on use of electronic communications.

The use of Facebook and blogs will change the geographic assignments of missionaries to areas at least a little as noted by two missionaries from the Montana Billings Mission.

…Eric Whitlock of Gilbert, Ariz., who served as a full-time missionary in the church's Montana Billings Mission from 2010-12…said…he felt impressed to reconnect online with a friend from home who, it turned out, was going through a spiritual crisis. "As soon as I was able to get on Facebook, I was able to talk to him and help him stay on track, and today he's serving as a missionary himself,"

Another Montana missionary reconnected with a family friend who was living in England. He started teaching her the gospel online, eventually turning her over to missionaries in England. She joined the church and is now serving as a missionary in Estonia.

Missionaries have always communicated with friends and family via mail, but Facebook is much faster.  In a comment, boyztomany noted the positive impact that Facebook had in an area in wh8ich his son served

My son was in the Canada Vancouver Mission (2010-2012) They were a test mission. He set up a facebook account for his area and used it to contact members/non-members. They used it to advertize young single adult activities that non-members/inactive members began coming to more frequently.

In another comment, Red enthusiastically endorsed the new program stating

There are missions out there that average 1/2 a baptism in 2 years because "knocking" is so lame and ineffective.

People are too paranoid to let someone in their house. They also are too concerned what their neighbors will think of them if they let the Mormons in.

Networking will be 1,000 times more effective.

If Red meant they will be 1,000 times more effective baptizing, he exaggerates but perhaps not if you include satisfaction in service.  If baptisms increase just ten percent, given the increase in missionaries to 85,000, next year the church could experience 432,000 convert baptisms.  A twenty percent improvement leads to 470,000 baptisms. 

The new tools may have a big impact on retention.  It is easy to imagine a new member friending three or four people in the ward and becoming more connected to their families, interests and church activities.  Socialization of new members has always been a challenge.  It has become easier. 

Friday, June 21, 2013


Our children are our future and the number of children is dependent on the birthrate.  Is there an optimal population and have we exceeded it?  Two articles present very different views of the future of our country and the world based on birth rate.  They both address the Malthusian conclusion that mankind faces an economically bleak future because population growth will outpace economic development.  Hunger, disease and war are positive checks that limit population growth to the world’s resource base.  A slightly more modern version paints the world as a spaceship with limited resources.  The more people that inhabit the spaceship, the fewer resources per person.  The problem with the theory is that it is not supported by empirical facts.  The world has never been economically better off.  Scarcity has caused innovation and the world is richer than at any time in the past.  While there must be an optimal maximum population, we have not reached it.

The first, “Let’s Talk About Sex: Why More Babies Means More Economic Growth,” is by Jerry Bowyer who believes that many countries face economic and political decline because their birthrates are well below replacement levels.  Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United States and China, just to name a few prominent countries all have birthrates below the replacement level.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mission Frequency Table by Region and Language






English .305 .036 .000 .018 .000 .040 .018 .417
Spanish .112 .054 .139 .004 .000 .000 .004 .314
Portuguese .000 .000 .054 .004 .000 .004 .000 .063
Japanese .000 .000 .000 .000 .045 .000 .000 .045
Tagalog .000 .000 .000 .000 .022 .000 .000 .022
Russian .004 .000 .000 .018 .000 .000 .000 .022
Korean .004 .000 .000 .000 .013 .000 .000 .018
French .000 .009 .000 .000 .000 .000 .000 .009
Italian .000 .000 .000 .013 .000 .000 .000 .013
Other .004 .000 .000 .036 .031 .004 .000 .076
  .430 .099 .193 .094 .112 .049 .022 1.000

The table uses 223 YouTube observations of mission calls, mostly from May, to create a frequency table of where missionaries serve and the languages they speak.  It is a slightly different presentation of the data in my last post, “May Update on Mission Assignments by Language.”  This data over represents calls to the United States but it does start to paint an interesting picture of the size and scope of the missionary program.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

May Update on Mission Assignments by Language

Doctrine and Covenants 90:11.  For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ.

13 May Languages by AreaThe Church trains missionaries in about fifty languages.  My sample size is now 223 and includes twenty three languages.  The sample is about twice as large as my original sample but still relies too heavily on calls received in May 2013.  The primary problem with May data is that it has an unusually large number of calls to missions operating in the United States, 52% of all calls compared to a three month moving average of 37%.  This skews the data to overestimate the number of missionaries serving in the United States and speaking English.  Even with the weaknesses of the sample, interesting results emerge. 

The three most common languages spoken by missionaries are the languages of European colonizers, English, Spanish and Portuguese and the calls are issued in much greater numbers to their former colonies than to the colonizing nations.  Forty-two percent of calls were to speak English and only 2% of those calls were to England.  English is the most common language of calls issued to missionaries assigned to Africa and Oceania.  Spanish is the second most common language, used by 38% of all missionaries.  A modest .4% of calls to preach the gospel in Spanish are issued to missionaries assigned to Spain.  Portuguese repeats the pattern.  Six percent of all calls were issued in Portuguese, 5% in South America, .4% in Africa, and only .4% in Portugal. 

The most commonly spoken languages native to the countries where the missionaries are assigned are Japanese (4.5%), Tagalog (2.2%), Russian (1.8%), English (1.8%) and Korean (1.3%). 

The language assignments also show some modern migratory patterns: Spanish in the United States, Canada and Australia and Mandarin in the United Kingdom.  There is no evidence of the Church following the migration of Muslims to Europe or the United States by examining language assignments.

In future posts, I will compare languages assigned to Elders and Sisters and breakout languages in the seven areas listed above by country. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

May 2013 Update on Mission Calls Posted to YouTube

YouTube Callings Sisters vs Elcer

The surge in missionary applications is continuing.  The graph, “Mission Calls Posted to YouTube,” separates the calls to young women and men from November 2011 to May 2013.  In May, the total number of posted calls reached 202; the greatest number of postings at the end of a month to date.  For the second straight month, the number of postings by young men relative to young women decreased slightly.  Last month 61.3% of posted calls were to young men and 38.7, to young women.  In May, 58.4% of posted calls were to young men and 41.6%, to young women.  The number of postings appears to have plateaued at around 200 per month suggesting that the surge too has plateaued.