In 2012, the LDS Church lowered the minimum age requirements for missionaries. Now, young men can begin a two-year mission at the age of eighteen and young women can begin an eighteen-month mission at the age of nineteen.
They are not required to go on a mission, but they receive strong encouragement from the church and experience great pressure from family and peers to do so. "In fulfillment of [Great Commission], able young men in the Church have a duty to prepare spiritually, physically, and emotionally to serve as full-time missionaries" (True to the Faith, p. 105).
They receive very little training (only two weeks if they are called within the States). Many, therefore, don’t have a very good grasp of LDS teaching. Few have a familiarity with the Bible.
During their mission, they can only call home twice a year (Mother’s Day and Christmas). They are on strict schedules and are regularly assigned new companions. In addition, they are regularly moved to different locales in the mission district. They are not to watch TV, listen to secular music, play video games, etc. while they are on their mission. The more one learns about their mission experience, the more one understands why many missionaries experience loneliness and anxiety.
Over the years, we have interacted with thousands of missionaries. By taking the time to be nice to them, we have had extended opportunities to share God’s truth with them. For more information on this exciting outreach strategy, visit pleaseopenthedoor.com.