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The Great Commission: Spreading the Gospel of Christ
The ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ was and is centered on bringing all sheep into His fold. After His resurrection, He commanded His disciples to “Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature, acting in the authority which I have given you, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).
Latter-day Commission from Christ
Even since its early years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has called missionaries to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation in 1831 from the Lord Jesus Christ commanding the members of the Church to “Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature, acting in the authority which I have given you, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:8). The Prophet said, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.” Joseph Smith’s brother Samuel was the first missionary called. Most of the Church’s early missionaries left their wives and children to serve for varied amounts of time — sometimes for years — as directed by the President of the Church.
Current LDS Missionary Service
LDS missionaries, then and now, consider themselves representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ in proclaiming His message. All missionaries are deemed worthy to serve through interviews conducted by their ward bishop and stake president.
Missionaries serve on a voluntary basis, and are assigned areas to labor by the leadership of the Church. Generally they, or their families, financially support them. They are not paid by the Church to serve. Young men serve full time for two years and young women serve for eighteen months. Senior couples may also serve full time if they have no dependents at home. They may serve for one year, eighteen months, or twenty-three months. Couples are frequently called to preside over missions as well. A mission president and his wife typically serve for three years.
All worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18. All able and worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19.
Missionary Work Is for All Members
The Lord has declared that missionary work is the responsibility of all Latter-day Saints: “It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:81).
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ believe that they agreed to a responsibility “to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” when they were baptized (Mosiah 18:9). Partaking of the sacrament each Sunday is an opportunity for members to recall and renew their baptismal covenants. Sunday church meetings are also an opportunity for members to strengthen each other through talks, testimonies, lessons, and fellowship—all considered aspects of the Lord’s commission.
Leaders of the Church have often reminded members of the Church that the way they live their lives is a representation of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints hope that their non-member friends, neighbors, family members, and other acquaintances will express interest in knowing more about the Church.
One of the strongest motivations for this hope is the desire to share the blessings of the gospel with loved ones. The Lord has promised that “if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:15). Many Latter-day Saints who have helped bring the light of the gospel to people they care about testify about the profound joy they feel.
Members Join with Missionaries in “Hastening the Work of Salvation”
Just as the full-time missionary force has seen a dramatic increase—from 58,500 in October 2012 to over 80,00 in October 2013—the members of the Church are being asked to join the full-time missionaries and intensify their missionary efforts. In his opening remarks at the October 2013 general conference, Church president and prophet Thomas S. Monson told church membership, “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and he will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.”  Several other talks by General Authorities added emphasis to President Monson’s charge to hasten the work of salvation.  
When the Great Work of Christ Will Conclude
Latter-day Saints believe that each of God’s children will have the opportunity to be taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ, either in mortal life or in the post-mortal life. Of the Christ’s great commission to preach the gospel to the world, the Prophet Joseph Smith said that “the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
- Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 330.
- History of the Church 4:540.