bytor2112

Preparing Missionaries

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My duties on the High Council include Stake Missionary preparedness, prospective Elders and returned missionaries as well as an assigned Ward. Recently, my Stake President has asked me to prepare a presentation for the Stake Presidency and High Council on how to better prepare our youth for missions and also best practices to keep them active and growing spiritually when they return.

I m really hoping for some feedback :-)

Does you Ward or Stake do anything special to prepare youth for their missions and their return? 

Also, any ideas or thoughts on either of these subjects is greatly appreciated!

-Bytor

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11 hours ago, bytor2112 said:

Does you Ward or Stake do anything special to prepare youth for their missions and their return? 

Yes, we do.  And so does yours.  I'm afraid the answer is so simple that you will just blow it off.

Quote

Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1986/04/to-the-youth-of-the-noble-birthright?lang=eng

The normal reaction is,"Yeah, yeah, but I mean..."  No.  That is the reaction because these basics are too simple, so simple in fact that many don't do them.  

  • How many of our young men actually achieve their Duty to God Award?
  • Eagle Scout?  
  • Almost all graduate seminary (that's ok).
  • What do we do to emphasize that gaining a testimony of the BoM is important PRIOR to a mission?  
  • Do we teach the law of chastity enough?  A full 29% don't even believe pre-marital sex is wrong?  Amazing.  How many more know it's wrong, but make mistakes?  How many more believe "lesser" violations are not wrong? 
  • Are they making excuses to work or play on Sunday instead of attend their meetings?

The Lord has inspired all of these.  We don't put nearly the effort or emphasis necessary for these to be accomplished, and then we ask, what else can we do?  How about, do the things you've already been given?  Then ask the Lord if that is not enough.

Sorry if this sounds too preachy.  But I've just recently had cause to get a little frustrated about this exact question.

Edited by Guest

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One thing I think is needed is authenticity.  Missionaries come home and talk about how great the mission was (and it is.)  What is left out is that while it was the "best two years" it was also the "hardest two years"...opposition in all things, and all that . . .  Before both of my boys left, I made a point to explain that to them.  So that when the hard times came (and they did) they were not blind-sided.

As far as returning missionaries go...my oldest son just came home in February.  One thing that stands out to me was that after being so busy all the time with the Lord's work, he seemed to feel a bit lost when he got home.  On his mission he had been a leader both of other missionaries and to his investigators, he was respected.  Then he came home and felt so alone.  I might guess that one could feel quite a let down. Fortunately, he took initiative on that.  He started getting involved in Institute and Young Adult activities right away.  He went to the Singles Ward, and was pleased when he received a calling fairly quickly.  He has also been asked to speak (something he enjoys) in several wards.  I believe being busy has really been beneficial in helping him transition back to "normal life."  In other words, I think he needed to feel needed here at home,  

Edited by LiterateParakeet

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On 6/27/2016 at 11:25 PM, Carborendum said:

Yes, we do.  And so does yours.  I'm afraid the answer is so simple that you will just blow it off.

The normal reaction is,"Yeah, yeah, but I mean..."  No.  That is the reaction because these basics are too simple, so simple in fact that many don't do them.  

  • How many of our young men actually achieve their Duty to God Award?
  • Eagle Scout?  
  • Almost all graduate seminary (that's ok).
  • What do we do to emphasize that gaining a testimony of the BoM is important PRIOR to a mission?  
  • Do we teach the law of chastity enough?  A full 29% don't even believe pre-marital sex is wrong?  Amazing.  How many more know it's wrong, but make mistakes?  How many more believe "lesser" violations are not wrong? 
  • Are they making excuses to work or play on Sunday instead of attend their meetings?

The Lord has inspired all of these.  We don't put nearly the effort or emphasis necessary for these to be accomplished, and then we ask, what else can we do?  How about, do the things you've already been given?  Then ask the Lord if that is not enough.

Sorry if this sounds too preachy.  But I've just recently had cause to get a little frustrated about this exact question.

Thank you, Carb.  This is excellent.

My husband just got called as Scout Master (after a short stint in the Young Men leadership).  Our Bishop is not supportive of Scouts - he thought the Church would already get rid of the Scout Program by now.  So, it's been a tough struggle for my husband to get the scout program reworked as it should be (none of the young men except my kids had uniforms!  And only the Deacons even do scout stuff.)

Anyway, my husband feels strongly that the Scout Program (or something similar) is necessary to prepare the young men for a mission.  The Scout Program teaches the boys to work problems, to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds - both physical and psychological, and infuses leadership skills.  Mental and physical strength and the tenacity to power through difficulties can keep that Spiritual aspect stable.  It is, of course, necessary to have the Spiritual strength for a mission... but that Spiritual strength can easily be overcome by the challenges of the mortal body if the body is not prepared to meet the challenges in the field.  And more often than not, parents as well as Youth leadership focus solely on spiritual preparedness and not physical and psychological preparedness.

 

Edited by anatess2

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12 hours ago, anatess2 said:

My husband just got called as Scout Master (after a short stint in the Young Men leadership).  Our Bishop is not supportive of Scouts - he thought the Church would already get rid of the Scout Program by now.

On the one hand, I applaud your efforts.  On the other hand, I believe your bishop thinks as I do that the most recent decisions by the national scouting board have destroyed scouting.  The Church is now working on a replacement (which will eventually spell the end of Scouting).  Once that happens, those tasks that were normally the activity arm of the young men's program will be the replacements for the items that Pres. Benson spoke of.

For now, we still use the scouting program.  I feel like it is Nephi obeying the Law of Moses.  There will be a time we look forward to not needing/using Scouting anymore.  But for now, that's what we have.

When I was in scouting, the Duty to God award was very much a part of scouting.  Today, the DtG has been changed to more closely parallel the Young Women's Medallion to the point where it can stand independent of Scouting completely.  I predict that the award will be significantly the same after scouting is done away with.

Edited by Guest

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On 6/27/2016 at 9:03 PM, bytor2112 said:

My duties on the High Council include Stake Missionary preparedness, prospective Elders and returned missionaries as well as an assigned Ward. Recently, my Stake President has asked me to prepare a presentation for the Stake Presidency and High Council on how to better prepare our youth for missions and also best practices to keep them active and growing spiritually when they return.

I m really hoping for some feedback :-)

Does you Ward or Stake do anything special to prepare youth for their missions and their return? 

Also, any ideas or thoughts on either of these subjects is greatly appreciated!

-Bytor

My two cents.  How to better prepare youth for missions? It's simple, teach parents to be better parents. As a leader, act like one to the youth.

The Church is an appendage and should be an extension of the most important place of learning, the home. Except for those rare occasions in the Church (although it is becoming more common place) where a youth comes from an extremely troubled home, the Church should be simply reinforcing principles taught at home.

One thing that really irks me about today's society is that every "adult" in a leadership role wants to be "friends" with my kids. My kids don't need adult "friends", their peers are their friends. What my kids need are adults leaders, leaders who aren't afraid to tell my kids the unvarnished truth. Leaders who will reinforce what I teach at home at church. Leaders who are role-models and mentors but not friends. I don't want the leaders of my children, fist-bumping them and high-fiving them over correct answers in Church acting all buddy, buddy. I want leaders who when a child acts up in class has the guts to kick them out of the class. I want leaders who are calm, collected and who can give my child their "look" (and every good parent has a "look") that will make their blood run cold if they screw up. When they do something good, a simple "good job" will do.

If the Church as an organization takes the majority of the responsibility for preparing future missionaries, it will fail-miserably.  Where is one going to learn the important spiritual aspects about being a missionary? At home. Where is one going to learn the important independent aspects about being a missionary? At home.  Where is one going to learn the important inter-personal aspects about being a missionary? At home.

Those are the three main skill sets every missionary must have, the spiritual side (i.e. testimony of the Gospel and ability to explain it), the independent side (how to actually stand on ones own 2 feet), and the inter-personal side (interactions with companions and others).

And quite frankly, the most important aspect about those teachings at home come from the mother. The best way to strengthen the home, strengthen the wife, give her the knowledge, know-how and understanding of her role as a wife and then a mother.

Best practices for keeping them active and spiritually growing when they return???  Maybe it is just me, but quite frankly when they leave and when they return they are adults. They need to learn to act like it.  An adult who has just returned from a mission, shouldn't need "special activities" to help them be active and spiritually grow. The individual themselves is the only who who can keep themselves active and spiritually growing.  

 The Church already has a plethora of activities for young adults, CES Firesides, young single adult dances, etc. Each stake, I believe has a young single adult rep, who is responsible along with others, for coordinating and planning those types of activities. Each ward (if the young single adult population is large enough) should have a young single adult rep.

But anyways . . .that's my mini-rant about how today's parenting and society is completely screwed up and how society coddles fully formed adults, catering to their every whim in life, and how it is insidiously infecting the Church.

Edited by yjacket

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Depending on what part of the world you live in the programs available to young men and women will vary.  My advice would be to take advantage of everything that the church offers.  Some areas offer mission prep classes as a part of or sometimes separate from the Sunday-school special courses.  Mission and temple prep should be attended if available.  Some bishops may feel inspired to call young men and women as ward missionaries.  Others actively encourage pre-mission youth to go on regular splits or visits with the elders or sisters assigned to their area.  Some mission areas allow something called a "mini mission" in which youth are able to serve for 1 - 3 weeks with the full-time missionaries.  In my stake our Stake President is requiring mini mission service of almost all our youth planning to serve a full-time mission.

Families can also prepare themselves and their youth to be better member missionaries by going through the lessons in "Preach My Gospel" together and even practice mini teaching sessions as a part of family home evening or as a Sunday activity.  We did that as a family to help my son prepare.  One of us would pretend to be an investigator and two of us would teach something from "Preach My Gospel."  

For young men, home teaching responsibilities can help greatly.  If you are a priesthood holder who's been assigned an Aaronic priesthood holder as a companion, you have a great opportunity to mentor a young man.  Let him teach and learn how to prepare spiritual thoughts.  Pray together with him for your families.  Teach them and serve them together.  Be a good example to your young companion and pray for him.

 

 

Edited by theSQUIDSTER
Typo

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Training missionaries is not difficult to understand, if it is hard to actually accomplish.

The first step is to help them develop a testimony of the Divinity of the Godhead and the plan of salvation.

The second is to teach them to do hard things, so that a mission is "just another hard thing".

The Young Men's program (scouting in USA) and Priesthood service are powerful tools to those ends.

Lehi

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1. Make sure that the prospective missionary is actually going because they want to and not because they're being bribed or coerced. Sadly, both of these do indeed happen.

2. Make sure that the prospective missionary knows their material. They need to have a good grasp of the church's theology, history, and the scriptures. There are people who *love* destroying missionaries as human beings simply because they're missionaries, and so any missionary needs to know their stuff. 

3. Sadly, it might also be an idea to encourage prospective missionaries to study self-defense methods due to how dangerous some places are. 

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Last weekend our stake held its second annual mini-mission. This event is for Priests and Laurels. it involves participants arriving at the MTC (local stake centre) at about 6;00 on Friday night and participating in a dinner followed by two hours of mission preparation classes. After MTC they were each paired off with a full time missionary (threesomes in some cases, but mostly in pairs) and then went to the missionary apartment for the night. For the next 48 hours they lived and worked exactly as the full time missionaries, following the missionary daily schedule and all mission rules. On Sunday they returned to the stake centre for dinner and a fireside. During the fireside, attended by parents, they shared their experiences. It was very clear that for most participants, it was a powerful spiritual experience, and for many, it greatly strengthened their desire to serve a mission. It was equally successful last year. I thoroughly recommend annual mini missions as one of the tools that should be included in the missionary preparation tool kit. 

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Are stake has been very proactive in trying to improve missionary preparation. They have missionary prep classes for all ages from 14-18. They split them up into three classes, 14-15, 15-16, 17-18. The youngest group has a 6 week course, and the last group an 8 week course that continually repeats. My wife is the teacher for the oldest group. They go over Preach My Gospel. There is some important material these YM/YW do not know. For instance, on working with members they had practically no idea what a ward council was. She had me help to do a mock ward council in her class. The 15-16 year-olds spend time talking about mentally preparing for a mission. Many missionaries find it hard to be away from home and a number have come back in our stake because of such problems. 

They have also recently been having the the YM/YW who turned in their papers start serving as temple workers. They serve for a month or so before they go. We'll see what all of this amounts to, over then next year or two.

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