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Author Topic: So I just got approached by my first LDS Missionaries
Flaming Toad on a Stick
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Yeah. It was pretty cool. They gave me a free Book of Mormon, which I plan on reading when classes end.

It was interesting, because I didn't know this (small) community even had an LDS church. It seems to be fairly new, because this is the first time I've ever seen LDS missionaries in this area.

The missionaries, for their part, were pretty nice, if a little insistent. A lot of the stuff they talked about, I already knew, from Hatrack or otherwise. I didn't give them my personal contact information, and they didn't press the issue. I think I surprised them a little with my attentiveness, to tell you the truth. [Smile]

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RunningBear
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I do not think that LDS persons have ever come by my house. A lot of jehovah's witnesses used to come by, but I ask a lot of questions, and they stopped...
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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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We've had JW's before too.

And it wasn't at my house, they (Edit: the Mormons) got me in the street.

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Occasional
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I just want to add my appriciation for using "LDS," although "Mormons" isn't a problem either. It shows a level of respect that is missing when only the "Mormon" is used in conversation.
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katharina
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I'm glad you were nice. [Smile] It sounds like a fairly positive experience for everyone.
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Mucus
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There are a lot here around campus.
They seem to delight in approaching first-year international Chinese students away from home and traditional sources of support. I look close enough to them, so I get an above average amount of "approach" for lack of a better word.

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Occasional
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Mucus, I have this vision of you carrying a cross and raising it with a worried look as they approach. Then, wave nicely to them and say "hello" as you walk by. Would love to see the look on their faces.
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Mucus
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Well, for the record. This my stance on my interactions with them.

On a big picture scale, I seriously dislike missionaries. The whole concept of having a dedicated class of people trying to convert people, not based on the strength of evidence or any basic logical principles, but based on eloquence and rhetoric is disquieting. I am similarly uncomfortable with some of the marketing people I've worked with. [Wink]
Furthermore, treating missionary work and conversion as a whole, I abhor its destabilizing effects both around the world historically, and in particular in China.
The only upside is that current prostelyzing is much much milder than say, the "gunboat" missionary work done in China during the era of attempted colonialisation.

However, when it comes to individual missionaries, I really bear no ill will. Missionaries are usually quite personable. After all, they *have* to be in order to be successful. Its not their fault for being involved in such a venture, they usually honestly believe in what they're doing. I know I have little to no chance of changing their minds in a random conversation, so I just respond negatively politely and go on my way. I think I once talked to them briefly about OSC.

*shrug*

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Samprimary
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I turn them away unless it looks like the mission has been working the poor fellas to the bone.

In which case, I invite them in. They partake of a decaffinated drink, I partake of uncomfortable theological prodding.

I flirt occasionally with a zero-tolerance policy on door-to-door missionaries, since last summer's crop of missionaries were rude and overzealous. I also have a serious, serious problem (often with Jehovah's Witnesses) where the initial 'foot in the door' is categorically followed with multiple repeat visits. My home gets marked, and a car full of their crack missionaries will show up many times before giving up.

In a genial way I think door-to-door religion pitches make every religion silly. It puts God in the same general mental association as Oreck vaccums :)

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Javert
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I hope to run into some missionaries some day.

Not that I would convert. I just would find the Book of Mormon an interesting read.

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Jon Boy
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Just so you know, you don't have to run into missionaries to get a copy. I think you can order one for free from a hotline.
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Javert
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I know...but I don't want to start getting a ton of mail.
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ludosti
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I would be very surprised if you end up getting a ton of mail as a result of requesting a Book of Mormon. You can indicate if you do not want the missionaries to bring it to you (which I know is a big concern with some people).
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Euripides
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
I hope to run into some missionaries some day.

Not that I would convert. I just would find the Book of Mormon an interesting read.

You don't even have to give your postal address to anyone. You could read it online.
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Feer
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Being a member I have often thought of what it would be like to be approched by missionaries from a non-member stand point. I was born in to the faith so i have really no clue what its like. I think it would be interesting.
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aspectre
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Be very leary. Too much LDS will make ya grow pointy ears...
...and have an irresistable urge to jump into aquariums to talk with the fishies.

[ April 06, 2007, 11:46 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
Be very leary. Too much LDS will make ya grow pointy ears...
...and have an irresistable urge to jump into aquariums to talk with the fishies.

They're mammals, not fishies! [No No]
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Feer
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Some one I talked to seem to believe we have horns.
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Puppy
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quote:
The whole concept of having a dedicated class of people trying to convert people, not based on the strength of evidence or any basic logical principles, but based on eloquence and rhetoric is disquieting.
Mucus, that isn't the approach that Mormon missionaries take. Most of them are neither eloquent nor good with rhetoric. The entire approach of an LDS missionary is to teach someone about our beliefs and encourage them to put effort into obtaining subjective evidence for themselves that the church is true (eg, by reading the scriptures, praying, and seeking out spiritual experiences drawing them in that direction).

A convert who joins the church based entirely on the charisma of a missionary is considered a disaster waiting to happen, and we try to avoid it. We want people to join because they really believe in the church and are willing to commit to it for their own reasons, and not just because someone persuaded them it was true. That sort of conversion (one based on persuasion) is false, weak, and usually short-lived.

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Jon Boy
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
I know...but I don't want to start getting a ton of mail.

I'm not positive about this, but I'm pretty sure they don't send you any mail or sell your address or anything. You just get the book and, if you want, a visit from the missionaries. (I'm honestly not trying to pressure you or anything, though.)
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Teshi
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I've seen LDS missionaries at malls and such, just there in a group, not apparantly actively out missionaryizing. They stand out because of their shirt-and-tie uniform and nametags which isn't normal mall wear so they're easy to spot.

-- from the LDS Spotters Guidebook

[Wink]

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Eaquae Legit
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I asked for one online, and had some missionaries visit. I've never been sent anything else, and when I asked them to halt the visits, they did so, without any problems. I've found the LDS Church to be very respectful in that way.
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Amanecer
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
I know...but I don't want to start getting a ton of mail.

I'm not positive about this, but I'm pretty sure they don't send you any mail or sell your address or anything. You just get the book and, if you want, a visit from the missionaries. (I'm honestly not trying to pressure you or anything, though.)
To be completely safe, you could always buy it from a bookstore. It's available there nowdays.
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stihl1
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I have 3 missionary stories.

1. When I was in my 20s and living alone, I used to have this giant poster of James Hetfield from Metallica on the wall of my livingroom. It was his face with water pouring over it as he was screaming. Cool poster. As soon as you opened the door that was the first thing you saw. Which was a good thing, it often gave people a scare. One morning I was awoken to someone knocking at my door. Turned out to be 2 old lady missionaries of some sort, who were also customers at my work. At first they wanted to talk about religion, as they recognized me. Then they saw the poster and immediately high tailed it out of there asap.

2. About 2 years ago I had someone come to my door right around christmas time. They started their schpiel and I stopped the guy, told him my best friend was mormon and that I didn't need his schpiel as I've heard it already. Turned out he was JW and lived down the block.

3. My sister used to rent out the apartment under her to mormon missionaries. They would bring in a new batch every 6 months or so. They were the nicest people you would ever want to meet. But part of the rental arrangement was no preachin'.

[Big Grin]

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Scott R
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quote:
I think you can order one for free from a hotline
I read 'hottie.' And I could not figure out what the heck JonBoy was trying to imply.
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Tatiana
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I was one, before I converted, who wanted the missionaries to come to my house. I was hoping they would just knock on my door one Saturday when I was home. I hoped for a whole year, then I finally called and invited them over. <laughs>

I tell that story to missionaries who are discouraged about having to do tracting (as they call knocking on doors and handing out tracts) just so they know that there was at least one person in the world, one potential convert, who was waiting for them and hoping to hear from them. [Big Grin]

Actually, I decided that I was really waiting for Elder Mooney to be transferred to my area, though I didn't realize it. He was my missionary, and he was awesome, the perfect missionary for me. We still keep up.

Being a missionary looks like such a hard thing to do, so full of effort and love, and so transformative. I want to do that some day, to consecrate my life, for two years, to the service of God and humanity.

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Occasional
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quote:
The whole concept of having a dedicated class of people trying to convert people, not based on the strength of evidence or any basic logical principles, but based on eloquence and rhetoric is disquieting.
Have you ever actually talked with Mormon missionaries? I admit they don't try to teach with "strength of evidence or any basic logical principles" as they just teach and let you decide the rest. As for the second part I had to laugh. Almost all of them are just a year or two out of high school with sometimes about the same amount of college. The "theological training" comes from their own studies and perhaps two to six months in a training center where some very basic teaching tools are given. Hardly any of them would even know what eloquence and rhetoric was.

quote:
you could always buy it from a bookstore. It's available there nowdays."
Oh, I want one of the Doubleday Book of Mormons. They are easier to read than the one the LDS Church prints, but I already have about six copies of different kinds (including a replica of the original one).

quote:
I used to have this giant poster of James Hetfield from Metallica . . . Then they saw the poster and immediately high tailed it out of there asap.
There would probably be a few younger Mormon missionaries that might have actually talked to you about the poster. Not that they should . . . but.
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FlyingCow
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I've never seen any LDS missionaries in NJ, but (after checking www.mormon.org) it seems as though the only LDS churches within a 20 mile radius of my house growing up are foreign language branches(spanish and portugese). Though there is one English speaking branch in Newark, it looks like.

Edit: Okay, the search functionality on mormon.org is pretty weird. I put in my correct zip, and it only comes up with one spanish speaking location 15 miles away. I put in the first three numbers of my zip, and I get four english speaking locations within 15 miles. [Dont Know]

[ April 07, 2007, 11:25 AM: Message edited by: FlyingCow ]

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
quote:
I think you can order one for free from a hotline
I read 'hottie.' And I could not figure out what the heck JonBoy was trying to imply.
He was referring to the Temple Square missionaries, of course.
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Jon Boy
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^ What he said.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Occasional:
Have you ever actually talked with Mormon missionaries? I admit they don't try to teach with "strength of evidence or any basic logical principles" as they just teach and let you decide the rest. As for the second part I had to laugh. Almost all of them are just a year or two out of high school with sometimes about the same amount of college. The "theological training" comes from their own studies and perhaps two to six months in a training center where some very basic teaching tools are given. Hardly any of them would even know what eloquence and rhetoric was.

[Confused] Of course I've talked to them, that was my whole entry point into this thread, eh?

To be perfectly honest, the emphasis in my statement was on the former, not the latter. People should teach beliefs and principles based on evidence and logical reasoning, period. If you agree that they are not teaching that way, maybe they very well should! There is no particular reason why they could not.

They could try to convince people based on the efficacy of prayers in the Mormon religion versus other incompatible religions, they could give statistics on whether it increases lifespan or quality of life, they could cite any number of measurable outcomes.

Maybe they do try that, maybe they do not...they certainly never got around to trying it on me.

In any case, whether or not a missionary is taught eloquence or rhetoric, the nature of their profession ensures that they have to develop it.

I hate to make a comparison to salespeople, but its really the most apt.

Say you wish to buy a car, you have two options.
You can walk into a showroom and talk to a car salesperson. If their approach is based on evidence and logical reasoning, they will try to give you statistics on reliability, fuel economy, etc. If they're especially good they may even point you at reviews and statistics published by non-biased third parties. This is evidence and logical reasoning. This is what I actually got from some car salepeople at Honda when I shopped for a car, shocking I know [Wink]

If their approach is the other one, they will try to sell you based on how cool the car feels when you're doing a test drive (personal revelation), biased dealer published documents (scripture), or promising incentives on pricing and options that may or may not come true (prayer). This is also some of what I got when I tried to shop for a car at other dealers, *cough* Mazda. Why do they adopt such an approach? Why do they not point at statistics or third party reviews? Its not because they're evil, but because they're pushing a product that does not actually have any. If you're selling an inferior product, you have to adapt.

Again, I wish to emphasize that I do not blame missionaries. The problem is that they do not (or wish not to) disclose statistics on how effective their religion is compared to other religions, and they certainly do not point you at publications by non-biased third parties that demonstrate the truth of what they're saying.
Instead, they opt for the latter approach. I do not know why this is, whether this is because such evidence and proof does not exist or because they do not wish to disclose it. This is obviously up for debate.

quote:
Mucus, that isn't the approach that Mormon missionaries take.
As I said above, maybe, maybe not. In any case, the part that you were responding to was addressing most missionaries in general. If Mormon missionaries do not take that approach, then all power to them! It did not seem true in my personal experience though, and certainly not true of the missionaries that I was referring to later in my original post.
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lem
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quote:
I do not know why this is, whether this is because such evidence and proof does not exist or because they do not wish to disclose it. This is obviously up for debate.
They do not use your tactic because 1: It is not effective if you are talking about large groups of people. How many car salesman go with the logical approach? Why not? The other is more effective.
2: They don't' see it as similar to a car salesman. Puppy already gave a really good post on why they choose the other approach and what the approach is.

Relationships with God are subjective. The goal is to get you to try out a relationship with God because they have faith He will answer your prayers. It has to be subjective. They are sincere in the belief that God will answer you.

It is not about avoidance--unless you pull out anti-Mormon literature. I doubt any missionary would have patience to discuss in detail what is correct or incorrect about a book like "An Insiders view of Mormon Origins."

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MattB
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quote:
I doubt any missionary would have patience to discuss in detail what is correct or incorrect about a book like "An Insiders view of Mormon Origins."
I doubt any missionary would be able to detail what is correct or incorrect about that book. Which is a shame, really.

quote:
A convert who joins the church based entirely on the charisma of a missionary is considered a disaster waiting to happen, and we try to avoid it. We want people to join because they really believe in the church and are willing to commit to it for their own reasons, and not just because someone persuaded them it was true. That sort of conversion (one based on persuasion) is false, weak, and usually short-lived.
This is the ideal, of course, and I know a great deal of ex-missionaries for whom this was their experience, and it worked well. I think it's increasingly closer to being the norm, which is great.

There has, however, been a very persistent culture among missionaries and mission presidents that teaches one to employ sales techniques (incentives, like the baseball baptism program; commitment patterns, etc), and go for numbers. I know nearly as many ex-missionaries who were pressured to go directly for the baptism as I do those in the paragraph above. This is unfortunate, of course; what Puppy says about its effectiveness for the convert is dead on, but it was a powerful force in mission culture that the GAs didn't really start to address until the beginning of the last decade. So it's incorrect to argue that it has can't have been someone's experience, that never and doesn't exist - neither is true.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by FlyingCow:
Okay, the search functionality on mormon.org is pretty weird. I put in my correct zip, and it only comes up with one spanish speaking location 15 miles away. I put in the first three numbers of my zip, and I get four english speaking locations within 15 miles. [Dont Know]

Yes, there is something seriously wrong with that search engine. When I moved into my current abode, I did a search and it couldn't find any churches with in 10 miles of my house. I live virtually within spitting distance of Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
It was a powerful force in mission culture that the GAs didn't really start to address until the beginning of the last decade.
Nonsense. GAs have been addressing this for much longer than the last decade. I heard the problem addressed at the MTC in the mid 80s. I heard it addressed by Elder Maxwell on my first day as a missionary in Austria. My grandparents talked about it when they served their mission in the mid70s.
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Occasional
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The problem is that, from actual experience, some Mission Presidents and Missionaries themselves didn't listen. My personal problem is that missions are set up with too many "numbers tracking" systems built into them. That is part of the reason you hear one thing and see another.
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MattB
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quote:
Nonsense. GAs have been addressing this for much longer than the last decade.
Oh, sure. Joseph Fielding Smith was complaining about it in the 1950s - but he was shouted down by Alvin Dyer and Henry Moyle and other advocates of the baseball system.

I think Occ is dead on - though there's been a general consensus that baseball baptisms, quotas, etc are a bad idea, it's taken a while for that sort of rhetoric to translate into substantial reforms on the ground level. There's plenty of evidence for baseball baptisms well into the 1980s, and it's not until then that you see more substantive attempts - discussion revampings, closer connections between missionaries and local organization and suchlike.

And Occ's dead on that missions are still way too numbers focused.

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The Rabbit
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MattB and Occ, I think we are largely in agreement. My only objection was to the idea that "baseball baptism systems" only went on because the GAs weren't stepping up to the bat.

Actually, I'm fairly confident that there is some such scheme going on in some mission somewhere today. The human tendency to seek quantifiable evidence for missionary success is simply too strong to easily quash.

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Occasional
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I have no problem with the tracking system as a concept. You have to have some kind of accountability. However, I think that having a specific number of discussions taught or number of baptisms as set goals is spiritually dangerous.

Record keeping is good, but too much of what I have seen is still based on the business structure of quotas. With that in place there is an attitude created that does boarder on door-to-door salesman without the cash flow. I know this is going to sound self-righteous, but as a missionary I never bought into that attitude. All I wanted to do was teach the gospel and let things land where they would. I never saw any different outcomes between myself and the meticulous quota hunters.

To throw something out, I think missionaries should do more to encourage someone to visit Church. That doesn't seem to come up until a few discussions later. I never invited people to Church very often, but I sure wish I did; including a listing of Wards and times.

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Belle
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quote:
To throw something out, I think missionaries should do more to encourage someone to visit Church. That doesn't seem to come up until a few discussions later. I never invited people to Church very often, but I sure wish I did; including a listing of Wards and times.
That's the only type of tracting I've ever done, personally (of course I'm not Mormon so didn't serve on a mission). I find it's very non-threatening and friendly that way. It's really just an introduction, sort of saying "Hey, this is our church, here are the times, here are the types of programs we have, love to see you there sometime."

I have been amazed, when we did that type of thing, how many people were pleased as punch to get the invite, and a fairly decent number would actually come to the church. I had one family tell us they had moved to the area two months ago and were wanting to find a church to join but didn't know where to go and no one had invited them anywhere. That's pretty sad, considering I live smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt!

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