News Articles

Mormons’ approach to missions markedly different from SBC’s

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Both Mormons and Southern Baptists consider all missionaries full-time. IMB journeymen and most International Service Corps workers as well as most Mormon missionaries serve for two years. Two-year Mormon missionaries and journeymen, and many ISC workers are single. Single women comprise about 20 percent of the Mormon missionary force. Three middle-aged married Mormon missionary couples supervise each Mormon “mission” in the region, and other couples supervise various zones. Consequently, the number of married Mormon missionaries in the area totals about the same as the IMB’s married career and associate missionaries in the region.
One major difference between the two missionary forces is the use of nationals as missionaries. National Baptist conventions in the region have begun appointing home and foreign missionaries, but the trend is in its infancy. The IMB does not count nationals as part of its missionary force.
Mormons integrate U.S. and national missionaries into one unit and weave their strategy around that. William Bradford, Mormon area president for Central America, estimates that 40 percent of the Mormon missionaries come from the region itself and 60 percent come from outside of it, mostly the United States. This means approximately 3,180 of the 5,300 Mormon missionaries in Middle America come from the United States, roughly ten times the number of IMB missionaries who work there.
Mormons also have a rule that even if a region is able to supply all the missionaries it needs (this is occurring currently only in Brazil and the Philippines), it must fill 25 percent of its requests with U.S. Mormons and send its own surplus to other regions.
How Mormons support missionaries also differs markedly from Southern Baptists. Mormon missionaries are expected to pay for their own expenses or to raise money from others to cover the costs. Each individual is expected to raise $375 per month to cover his or her costs, according to John Peterson, a Mormon missionary in Mexico. Those funds go into a church fund, from which all the expenses for missionaries are paid. The missionary may solicit funds from his or her family and local Mormon congregation to pay the $375 monthly fee, Peterson says. The $375 is an average worldwide cost. The contribution allows missionaries to serve wherever the church requires.
Southern Baptists, on the other hand, pay costs for all international missionaries through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.