Lowering the Age Requirement for Missionaries: Great Idea!

Young LDS people in Shanghai today were generally delighted to hear the news from Salt Lake City about the new age requirements for missionaries. Now young men can begin serving as early as age 18 (if they finish high school or its equivalent and meet the other challenging requirements the Church has for the privilege of service on a mission). Young women can begin serving at age 19. It used to be ave 19 for men and 21 for women. The option to serve earlier will make life a lot easier for many while also reducing risk that people won’t go who otherwise might have been able to serve. I really like this change in policy.

My two years in Switzerland were one of the best parts of my life, at least up to then. The last two have probably been the best so far. (But age two was really awesome also, I suppose.)

To those of you considering serving on a mission, it’s far less of a sacrifice than you might think and can be one of the greatest blessings you can experience at this point in your life. If you can, please go! Experience the joys of serving God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

8 thoughts on “Lowering the Age Requirement for Missionaries: Great Idea!

  1. Love, love, love that you said, "My two years in Switzerland were one of the best parts of my life, at least up to then. The last two have probably been the best so far."

    Am so grateful for my mission. It really helped me in serving the Lord and loving others, but when I get to feeling those years were better than I am doing now I find I need to start looking at what I am doing and see what needs to be changed. Life doesn't stop on the first floor after my mission. Each floor brings brings more blessings and I should keep going up the stairs.

  2. I think the change will increase the number of sister missionaries much more than elders.

    Of course there will be a surge in elders due to the number of eligible men available increasing overnight, which is all the qualified 18-year olds who are currently out of high school and not enrolled in college. And the next sub-group will be those 18 year old college freshmen who will complete the current semester/quarter, and are willing to interrupt their freshman year at the semester/quarter break to go on a mission. Then the next group will be the June 2013 high school grads who will be 18 at or shortly after graduation.

    That surge will be entering missions at the same time as those who planned on going at age 19 at the end of their freshman year.

    However, that surge will also complete their missions at the same time, and then the numbers of elders starting missions will even out.

    If my logic holds, then most of the _net_ increases in male missionaries will be due to not losing them (or not losing as many) to inactivity between their 18th and 19th birthdays, which I would imagine is a significant percentage. Though I have no idea what that percentage is.

    The lowering of the minimum age for sisters is much more of a game-changer. At age 21, sisters are more likely to have their boyfriends returning from missions, but at 19, those boyfriends are still on missions, giving time for sisters to get in an 18 month mission, and get married two years later at 21.

    So while the percent increase in males going on a mission can come from, at most, a reduction in whatever the 18-to-19 "loss rate" was (10, 20, 30% ?), the percent increase in females going on a mission could be as high as 100 or 200%, or maybe even more.

  3. Another point suggesting that the change for sisters was _intended_ to be a game-changer, is that the minimum age for sisters was lowered by _two_ years, instead of only one year to match the change for the elders.

    So while for elders, I think the main unspoken reason is to reduce the number of 18 year olds leaving the church, the main reason for the change for sisters is likely to vastly increase the number of sisters serving.

  4. I currently serve as a bishop in a young single adult ward. I have had 3 requests from sisters to start their missionary papers since yesterday morning. These sisters are all 19 or about to turn 19. I agree that this is going to boost the number of sisters in the field dramatically.

    As far as the elders go I believe the numbers will also go up since many brothers will leave right out of high school and will have less worthiness issues that tend to surface the first year of college.

  5. I have thought about this all weekend, and my concern is that the kids' preparation programs will be changed and truncated to reflect six years of mini-MTC, and barely touching on the practical preparation they need – decision-manking, time and money management, and planning, execution and accepting responsibility, to name a few. I wrote down my thoughts at the Voluntold Scouter and welcome any discussion it may generate.

  6. Eric, I think that you are not giving enough credit to the youth of today 🙂 I feel that they are MUCH MUCH stronger in the faith and preparation now than they have been in any generation before. I honestly believe that they are aware of their great calling and will not be in any way negatively effected by the revelation. If changes in the system go in the way you suggest, they will make up for it themselves 🙂 These great and noble children are more prepared than I can even comprehend, most times. This may not have worked twenty years ago, but that's why the revelation wasn't given until now 🙂 I've never felt such power in the Spirit as when I heard Pres. Monson speak those words. This is what the world needs.

  7. I was extremely pleased about this decision. My best friend's son, who is now 21, never went on his mission. As the oldest of 3 sons, and the only male role model for my own son, we all had great high hopes for this young man whose faith seemed so very strong. But because of where his birthday landed in comparison to the day he graduated high school, he had a long wait – almost 18 months – before he was even eligible to go on a mission. So he went off to college, got distracted, got busy, and decided against it. Now, he doesn't even go to church any more. As much as I hate the consequences this has had for him, the impression this has made on his two younger brothers and my own son has a much further-reaching impact. But because this policy was changed, we're now celebrating the knowledge that my son need not go off to college, and risk losing his focus, before he can put in his missionary application. He will have those two years when so many young men in college make so many mistakes to focus upon the gospel and to mature, so that when he does go to college, he will be emotionally and spiritually ready to get the most from it. We are rejoicing over this change!

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