Kimball said, "Every young man should fill a mission". Hinckley had suggested that a mission is not to be a rite of passage,  this cultural aspect remains. Young men between the ages of 18 and 25 who meet standards of worthiness are strongly encouraged to consider a two-year, full-time proselytizing mission. This expectation is based in part on the New Testament passage "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations" Matt.
The minimum age had previously been age 19 in most countries until October 6, , when church president Thomas S. Monson announced that all male missionaries, regardless of nation, could serve from age However, the vast majority of missionaries serve the whole two-year men or eighteen-month women terms.
Women generally serve as missionaries for 18 months. Married retired couples, on the other hand, are encouraged to serve missions, but their length of service may vary from 6 to 36 months depending on their circumstances and means. In the last two decades, the LDS Church has stepped up its call for senior couple missionaries. Standards of worthiness[ edit ] All missionaries must meet certain minimum standards of worthiness.
Among the standards that a prospective missionary must demonstrate adherence to are: Other exclusionary factors[ edit ] In addition to spiritual preparedness, church bishops are instructed to ensure that prospective missionaries are physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of full-time missionary work. In the same speech where he called for "every young man" to fill a mission, Kimball added, "we realize that while all men definitely should, all men are not prepared to teach the gospel abroad.
Those excluded include those who would have to leave dependent children in the care of someone else; young couples who are still of childbearing age; those who are in debt and have not made arrangements to meet these obligations; those who are on legal probation or parole; couples with serious unresolved marital problems; those who are HIV-positive; and those who have been convicted of sexual abuse. Additionally, members who have submitted to, performed, encouraged, paid for, or arranged for an abortion except in the case of rape, incest, or the mother's life is in danger are usually excluded from missionary service, as are members who have fathered or borne a child out of wedlock; men under 26 and women under 40 who have been divorced; and anyone who has participated in homosexual activity after age The priesthood ban was lifted during Kimball's presidency and since there have been no restrictions to missionary service that are based on race or ethnicity.
The mission call also informs the prospective missionary what language he or she will be expected to use during his or her mission. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are responsible for assigning missionaries to a particular mission.
A prospective missionary receiving the call to serve is generally considered to be a major event in LDS culture; family members, friends, and members of the prospective missionary's congregation often gather together when a call arrives, which the prospective missionary opens and reads aloud to the group.
Temple attendance[ edit ] Before beginning their mission, prospective male missionaries are usually ordained to the office of an elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood if they do not hold this office already.
All missionaries are set apart by the laying on of hands to preach the gospel; this is usually performed by the missionary's stake president. Prospective missionaries also usually attend the temple for the first time to receive their endowment if they have not already done so. Newly called missionaries attend a short training period at one of 15 church Missionary Training Centers MTCs worldwide.
Missionaries who will not be learning a language in order to serve their missions spend three weeks at an MTC where they practice using proselytizing materials, learn expected conduct, and study the scriptures. Missionaries bound for foreign-language missions spend six to nine weeks at an MTC, depending on the language to be learned. During this period, they are encouraged not to speak in their native tongue but rather to immerse themselves in the new language. Missionary conduct[ edit ] The Missionary Handbook[ edit ] The basic standards of missionary service and conduct are contained in the Missionary Handbook.
Mission presidents have discretion to adjust some of the standards according to local circumstances. For women, modest and professional dresses or blouses and mid-calf length skirts were worn.
In recent years,[ when? Young men are no longer required to wear dark suits, and they do not have to wear a full suit during regular everyday proselytizing activities. They must, however, remain in professional, conservative attire. For instance, a light colored suit is acceptable. They are also allowed to wear a sweater or suit vest over their dress shirt and are encouraged to wear colored ties.
In areas infested with mosquitoes, particularly in Central and South America where the humidity yields infestations, sister missionaries are now permitted to wear slacks.
For example, in hot, humid climates, suit coats are not required, and dress shirts may be short-sleeved. Casual clothes may be worn only in limited circumstances, such as when missionaries provide manual labor or exercise. The name tag also bears the church's name, unless the mission president considers this inadvisable due to circumstances in the area e. Missionaries are required to wear the tag at all times in public. This article needs to be updated.
Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. December Companionships[ edit ] A missionary companionship, consisting of two or occasionally, three missionaries, is the smallest organizational unit of a mission. Every missionary is assigned by the mission president to be another missionary's companion. Missionary companionships are generally maintained for months at a time and most missionaries will have served with multiple companions by the end of their mission.
These companions very rarely have prior acquaintance outside of the mission. Companionships are always of the same gender. Missionary companions are instructed to stay together at all times and not to go out of the hearing of their companion's voice. One of the intentions of this strict policy of staying together is to discourage missionaries from breaking any mission rules. If a missionary's companion is having difficulty with the work or with personal problems, missionaries are instructed to give criticism constructively, in private and with respect.
Missionaries are urged to treat the companionship as a relationship that must succeed in being cooperative and selfless, thus improving the spirituality, character and social skills of each individual missionary.
Senior couples[ edit ] Senior couples serve as a companionship for the entirety of their mission and have more relaxed rules. Unlike single missionaries, they share the same bed and are able to travel outside of the mission boundaries. Personal relationships[ edit ] Missionaries are encouraged to write a letter to their parents weekly.
Since almost all of their time is otherwise occupied, other communication is limited. However, a missionary may use preparation day to correspond with any person that is resident outside of the boundaries of the mission. Missionaries do not go on vacation and are generally permitted to telephone their parents only on Christmas Day, and one other day of the year, usually Mother's Day.
Single missionaries are prohibited from dating or courting while serving missions. The policy of companionships staying together at all times serves to discourage these activities. While missionaries may interact with members of the opposite sex, they may never be alone with them or engage in any kind of intimate physical or emotional activity e.
They may not telephone, write, e-mail, or accept letters from members of the opposite sex that live in the area where they are assigned to proselytize. In the early days of the LDS Church, men were called to serve missions regardless of marital status.
Today, however, married young men are not expected to serve missions, unless called to oversee a mission as a mission president. A call to be a mission president is typically extended to the married couple, and in turn, the entire family of the chosen mission president. Older retired couples also may serve as missionaries, but do not take their families with them. Sample schedule of missionaries serving in their native language Time.