- re stats, dwindling numbers etc, When has this been a game of numbers? Do we want quality converts who know what they are getting into or do we just want to baptize as many as possible in the hopes we retain a few?...asking for a friend
- why don't kids go on missions? Well since I didn't go I feel kinda qualified to answer that at least as it applied to me. This was mid '80s and not in Utah btw.
First off- I never planned on a mission- went military so there's that. That issue aside, I associated with LDS friends in HS who ranged from 16 to 19 ish. Our group of LDS kids were quite into the party scene. I'm talking everyone there was involved with something having to do with beer, cigs, pot, coke, sex, gambling etc.... Some just dabbled and there were a few others who went all the way in more ways than one. Not all the kids in my ward and surrounding wards were into that, but there were a few dozen. There were two ( I was one of them)in my cohort who did not go on a mission. Here are some observations and my thoughts at the time....at the time being relevant because we want to know why kids are not going on missions.
So there is this party scene. When you are in that you know what everyone else is up to. When they all of a sudden are leaving on a mission and you were partying with them a couple weeks prior one sometimes wonders how that is even possible. That said, I always gave them crap about going on a mission after doing whatever and how they pulled that off...two answers I was given. They either lied their way through the process or they confessed and were then able to go. I'm not one to tattle so their secret was safe with me.
What I didn't understand was how someone could allegedly confess and get sent off just a couple weeks later....for drug use and fornication! And the others who lied...well I guess no one knew any better.
So here I am thinking, "ok this process is supposed to be inspired. Many of these guys are no way even close to being worthy to go on a mission and thru the temple, yet they are. So either it is inspired or not." Beats me because we have guys who lie to go do it and others who confess and allegedly get all repented and all in a matter of a few weeks and then go. At that point I was like ok well definitely not an inspired process because they are letting anyone with a heartbeat go and some of these guys made me look like peter priesthood. Frankly I had no business going. The difference between me and them was I was at least honest about not being worthy and others were not, yet I and my friend were treated like trash because we didn't go.
So nowadays the bar has been raised. What is interesting is just from the knowledge of my own little social experiment which is very unscientific, I would venture to say there are at least a few bishops out there who in their day wouldn't have cut it, yet here they are vetting a kid for a standard they (at the time) never met. Interesting.
Another aspect to look at- where I grew up the parents had some money, not tons and many of the kids were promised cars and paid for college when they got back. If they didn't go, they didn't get it. I was also presented with that option. I didn't go and had to pay for everything on my own. Fair deal.
...bottom line- at the time I felt that if you could lie your way into a mission, then it wasn't true anyway. Even if it was I wasn't going because I had another plan so it wouldn't have mattered anyway.
-Coming home from missions early. In my own ward and stake we have had tons leave and come right back (within 6 mos). I have no idea why other than in a couple cases and that was one unresolved sin and the others were they just hated it and came home (my son was the source of that feedback). I'm not going to pretend to know how hard it is to be away from home that long doing mission stuff so I am not going to criticize anyone for coming back early. I think that they are because it has been made easy to do so and maybe even acceptable.
When I went to boot camp, I can tell you that for a couple weeks I probably would have left and so would many others if we were allowed to. Problem was you would get tossed in the clink and then prosecuted for AWOL before being dishonorable discharged. The reason I may have taken off was the first two weeks of constant harassment, no sleep, crappy food, incessant name calling and berating your mother, your religion, your race or anything else they could find to humiliate you and berate you. Not to mention the constant grass drills and never ending physical punishment. It literally was a painful experience to even move much less breathe. It was just a tad uncomfortable and after a few weeks once everyone decided they would act as a team it was ok. I say this because it was not really a problem and even enjoyable after a while to put up with their crap because I wanted to be there. When you are motivated, it is easier to do difficult things. When you are not, it can be a prison sentence.
I feel many of these kids don't even want to go and given the very regimented environment they are in, they just bail out when the drama exceeds their willingness to tolerate it...whatever that drama may be. So if they are motivated and actually wanted to go then their odds of staying are much higher than someone who's arm got twisted or their parents bribed them. How many kids fall into either category is unknown.
I always told my kids if they wanted to go, then go because you want to go and it is the right thing to do. If you do go- do a good job and finish it. I'll never even try and persuade you to go and I never bugged them about it. They decided according to their motivations and convictions not mine.