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The Mission of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ

Mormon Church
The word mission in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can have three distinct, but related meanings. The first and most general meaning is that of goal, as used in the phrase the Three-fold mission of the Church. This refers to the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ to bring all unto Christ through perfecting the Saints (i.e., members of the Church of Jesus Christ), preaching the Gospel through missionary work, and redeeming the dead (see Baptism for the Dead; the added fourth being to care for the poor and needy).

Proselyting Missions

The second and third meanings of mission, as used by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are related. Both refer to full-time missionary work. Mission in this case can mean either the geographic area in which Latter-day Saint missionaries proselyte, or the service itself. Returned Mormon missionaries refer to their term of service as their mission.

There are currently 407 geographic missions throughout the world (as of July 1, 2020). There are approximately 67,000 proselyting missionaries and 11,057 Welfare Services missionaries, including Humanitarian Services missionaries (as of December 31, 2019).

Each mission is presided over by a mission president who is a Melchizedek Priesthood holder called to fulfill a three-year term of service. Unlike the missionaries themselves (who support themselves or whose families support them during their missionary service), the mission president is a volunteer with basic financial needs met by the Church. A mission president is almost always married and his wife serves as his companion. They bring their children with them to the mission.

The mission president is assisted by two counselors who are also Melchizedek Priesthood holders, but live in the local community. He also has two missionary assistants, called assistants to the president or APs, who help teach and oversee the missionaries. The mission is subdivided into zones and districts with zone and district leaders chosen from the missionaries serving there. This facilitates communication and teaching. Regular conferences are held at each level (hence district conferences, zone conferences, and mission conferences) to provide instruction for the missionaries and to conduct interviews and inspections of mission property, such as apartments and automobiles, if the mission uses them. Each mission typically has 70 to 80 companionships of missionaries.

Missionary Service

Latter-day Saints typically refer to the time spent serving as a missionary as a mission. Returned missionaries (RMs) refer fondly to their mission. For a Latter-day Saint who serves a mission, it is a time of both extreme growth and extreme challenges. Most RMs say their mission was the most difficult thing they ever did, but also the most rewarding. A mission is a sacrifice and members of the Church of Jesus Christ believe that great blessings only come through great sacrifice. Sadly, some see only the difficulties and challenges and dislike their missions, but the vast majority of Latter-day Saint missionaries love their time of service and see the great benefits such service brings to them.

See also Mormon missionaries.

Mission as a Church Unit

The term Mission can also be used to refer to a specific unit of the Church. As of July 1, 2020, there are 407 missions in the Church.

They vary greatly in size, number of missionaries serving, administrative responsibilities, and numbers of both members and those of other faiths within their boundaries.

Under the current system, missionaries are called to specific missions, where in theory they will labor their entire time as a missionary. However, due to issues of health, boundary changes, and difficulties in gaining visas to go to certain areas, some missionaries serve in more than one mission. The corona virus pandemic of 2020 resulted in many missionaries returning home temporarily and then being reassigned to a mission in their home country.

Historical Development

Originally, missionaries were sent out from where the Saints were and led by the spirit where to go. There are many accounts in the Doctrine and Covenants of missionaries who were called to go to areas such as "the east" or "by way of Detroit" on a journey to Missouri (Doctrine and Covenants 52:8). At other times the direction was even more general to go and preach the gospel, the direction not being important (see Doctrine and Covenants 75:26).

It was not until the opening of the British mission in 1837 that an organized mission existed. This mission early on had a president with counselors, and was divided into conferences, the predecessor of modern districts.

Video: Call to Serve

Stories about Latter-day Saint Missionaries

  • For a list of the missions of the Church, click here.