A servant of God lives on His time. On a mission, that means a packed schedule of exercise, study, lessons, and service from sunrise to after sunset. In January this year, church authorities announced changes to the traditional daily missionary schedule, providing a new flexibility that will better serve the missions and local communities.
Success on a mission is a blessing, and all blessings come by obedience to God’s laws. It’s common to hear returned missionaries talk about the rigorous pace in the field. Wake at 6:30am, exercise, study, account for every hour of the day, report on what’s been done, plan the next day, and fall into bed at 10:30pm. Every day is accounted for, including preparation days packed with chores and getting emails out to family and friends.
This demanding lifestyle, as everything in the mission field, is based in scripture. The doctrine of creation, just as it names the Sabbath as a day of rest, names six full days of work. Servants of the Lord are commanded, by the example of Mormon and Moroni, to “labor diligently” to escape condemnation (Moroni 9:6). Doctrine and Covenants 88:123-126 are favorite passages, as they set out powerful commandments for how to live worthy of the Spirit. These are nothing if not exacting.
The approved changes were announced January 25, 2017, and are as follows:
- Power to mission presidents to customize missionaries’ daily schedules according to safety, local cultural patterns, and missionaries’ health.
- Missionaries can now schedule daily planning in the morning rather than the night before.
- Scheduled training and study can now take place outside the apartment and at later times during the day, rather than in a solid block in the morning.
- Preparation day has been extended by shortening the morning study and training schedule for that day.
Another change included the key indicators, or the method of tracking the progress within a mission area, zone, and mission as a whole. These have been simplified to:
- Those who have been taught, baptized and confirmed
- Those who are being taught who have a baptismal date
- Those who are being taught who attend sacrament meeting
- New investigators
For those preparing to report, these changes will simply be the way you experience the mission field. These changes are designed to make you and your fellow missionaries more effective, not to soften the experience.
Wherever you have been called, the power to shift schedules is in the hands of your mission president who has the entire mission under his care. Mission presidents have responsibility for their missionaries’ achievement, as well as their health and wellness. Both concerns have been figured into these shifts to policy.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented, “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.”