LDS Missionary Schedule ~ BIG Changes!

This week the First Presidency approved new changes to the LDS missionary schedule that will allow mission president more flexibility to customize their missionaries’ daily schedules and will give missionaries a longer preparation day for relaxing, writing home to family, doing laundry, etc.


Changes To The Missionary Schedule

  1. LDS missionaries can now work with their mission president to customize their missionary schedule. This new flexibility will help missionaries to adjust their schedules (given the approval of their mission president) to optimize for health, productivity, safety, the culture of the place they live in, etc. For example, in countries where the people wake up later and go to bed later, missionaries might arise and retire later than in countries where the people wake up and go to bed earlier.
  2. LDS missionaries can now hold their daily planning session in the morning, instead of the evening. I love this idea, because it should allow for more relaxation for missionaries after returning to their apartment. I think this will help missionaries on average achieve better emotional and mental health, because it can be hard to work all day and then have to put in a 30-minute planning session, which leaves you only a few minutes to brush your teeth, relax and get ready to sleep.
  3. Companionship study, language study and training for new missionaries can be held later in the day and outside of the missionaries’ apartment. I know some missionaries will love this! Imagine serving in Hawaii and being able to go outside and practice the language with your companion while overlooking a beautiful mountain range. That’d be awesome..and relaxing for a missionary whose may feel anxious or overwhelmed.
  4. Preparation days are now longer. The morning studies on preparation day are being shortened to only include daily planning and personal scripture study, and not include the typical companionship study, language study and new missionary training.

The Traditional Missionary Schedule (pre-2017)

Up until this change, the LDS missionary daily schedule typically looked like this:

  • 6:30 a.m. until 8 a.m. – Wake up, exercise (30 minutes), shower, and eat breakfast.
  • 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. – Personal study of the scriptures, Preach My Gospel and approved books in the missionary library.
  • 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. – Companion study of the scriptures and Preach My Gospel, role-playing lessons, etc.
  • 10 a.m. until 10:15-11 a.m. (Optional from 15-60 minutes) – Language study for missionaries to study their mission language, or English if they are a native speaker of another language and their companion is an English speaker.
  • 10-11 a.m. until 9-9:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. if the missionaries are coming home from a lesson)– Proselyting. Finding new investigators to teach. Helping less active members. Doing service projects. Contacting people on the streets, etc.

Quotes From LDS Leaders About The Changes

Here’s a selection of quotes of what some leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have said regarding the change:

“It will allow missionaries after the mission to make that smooth transition into their life and have that same flexibility as they have those same goals to continue to pray and to read their scriptures and to remain close to the Lord in their life.” Elder Brent H. Nielsen, Executive Director of the Missionary Department

“The thing I love about this new schedule is that it allows the missionaries to exercise their agency to determine how to best use their time..It shows that the Lord trusts them to use their time wisely.” Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, YW General President and member of the Missionary Executive Council

“I think one other thing that’s intriguing about this is that this is a worldwide church and one size doesn’t fit all. So to be able to make that adjustment in areas and missions I think is very significant.” Elder David A. Bednar, Quorum of The Twelve Apostles

“The most significant change in the schedule is to give the missionaries and also mission presidents the latitude to make the necessary decisions and adjustments in the daily work of the missionary.” Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of The Twelve Apostles

Comments From LDS Members

Here’s a selection of comments made by members of The Church reacting to the missionary schedule change (pulled from LDS-related websites)

“It’s a great move. I served in Northern Canada, in the middle of winter, many years ago. Knocking on doors during this time of year was less than effective. Had we had the latitude to alter our service to more productive ways to engage would have been great. We are a global church… how people interact is not one size fits all. I fully support this move.” UtahBlueDevil (posted on Deseret News)

“Everything right with this move and nothing wrong with it. I was tired for my entire two year mission. The simple fact is that most 18-21 year olds need more sleep than their 50-something mission presidents. Now that I am 50-something, I function just fine on 7-8 hours. But as a 19-year-old, I needed 9+ to feel well rested but never got it. I was either tired or alternatively stressed out about “not being obedient” on the few occasions where I did sleep in, and was thus far less effective in teaching effectively and with the spirit than I could have been.” AZKID (posted on Deseret News)

“That would have been so helpful on my mission in Portugal! They start later and stay out later. Dinner is not usually until 8pm.” Jami Hunt (posted on LDS Daily)

“That’s great news! When I was in Spain it would have helped to be out a bit later as they are used to staying up til 11 or 12:00 so we missed out on 2-3 hours of teaching time.” RodTheWrench (posted on KSL)

“Flexibility is a good thing, and I like this approach. However, there is a lot to be said about having the discipline that the old schedule provided. But I am probably too old school and militaristic in my feelings as to how to raise kids (and missionaries).” Druid1 (posted on KSL)

My Personal Thoughts

I think giving more flexibility to LDS missionaries and mission presidents to customize their schedules is a good thing. These changes do not change the fact that a mission is a full-time consecration of one’s time and energies. A mission will still be incredibly demanding, but I believe these changes will help missionaries feel better understood and appreciated.

Perhaps the best benefit of these new changes to the missionary schedule is the fact that it shows that church leaders trust the missionaries. I’ve had the opportunity to video interview hundreds of returned missionaries, and have developed the perspective that trusting missionaries as a mission president seems to have a net positive result in the missionaries’ productivity, optimism and energy levels. I also believe that trusting missionaries actually helps missionaries to choose to be more obedient than if the missionaries feel they are not trusted by their leaders. Sure, some missionaries may still choose to be disobedient, but that would happen no matter how strict the guidelines are, and I believe this flexibility will have a net positive effect on the well being of most missionaries.

Mental health is, and seems to be an increasingly bigger issue for missionaries. Part of the increase in mental and emotional health issues could be related to how our generation is more pampered than our parents and grandparents generation. Part of the issues could stem from our generation’s dependence on technology. Many missionaries have to go cold turkey from something they’ve lived with their entire life. I think this new flexibility will help more missionaries feel less overwhelmed and ultimately will help less missionaries decide to come home early from their missions.

Changes To Key Indicators

In addition to this change in the missionary schedule, changes were also made as to which missionary tasks are counted and reported to mission leadership. The key indicators tracked and reported will be simplified to include the following:

  1. Those who have been taught, baptized and confirmed.
  2. Those who are being taught who have a baptismal date.
  3. Those who are being taught who attend Sacrament Meeting.
  4. New Investigators.

From my understanding the key indicators in missions are somewhat influenced by each mission president’s focus and direction. For example, some mission president may focus on contacting a specific number of new people each day. Now though, it seems The Church is simplifying their focus to help missionaries focus on what their unique role is in helping prepare people to make covenants with God. I think this simplification is good. Sometimes too many strict guidelines can get in the way of following the Spirit and doing what is most effective.

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