As of 2011, there were approximately 55,000 full-time Mormon missionaries serving throughout the world for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which is often misnamed the “Mormon Church”). These young men, young women, and senior couples are typically 19 to 26 years old (or retired age for the couples) and have taken a break from their studies, careers, and personal lives to serve the Lord.
Young women typically serve for 18 months, young men for 24, and senior couples may serve from 6 months to 24 months. During the time that they serve, Mormon missionaries are expected to live very high standards. Missionaries are official representatives of the Church—how they act reflects upon the “Mormon Church.”
What are some examples of the common rules for Mormon missionaries?
- Arise at 6:30 a.m. and go to bed at 10:30 p.m.
- Stay with your assigned companion (another missionary of the same gender, or one’s spouse for senior couples).
- Do not date or be alone with members of the opposite sex (not pertinent to senior couples).
- Do not participate in certain dangerous activities (e.g., water sports, winter sports, motorcycling).
- Do not watch television or use the Internet (except to write e-mails to family members, according to mission rules).
There are additional guidelines given to Mormon missionaries similar to those above. Mission rules may vary from mission to mission, according to the mission president and his assessment of the needs of missionaries under his care. While some people may look at these rules and think, “Why is that rule necessary?”, it is important to remember why Mormons serve missions.
When Mormons choose to serve missions, it is a choice to dedicate the next several months in full-time service to help others learn more about Jesus Christ and His gospel. Therefore, the rules are designed to help missionaries keep their focus and spend their time wisely. Many of the rules are also established for the safety of the Mormon missionaries who work all across the world, many in dangerous areas. By keeping the mission rules, missionaries are more likely to be safe and protected.
Because some people are more familiar with missionaries than they are with everyday members of the Mormon Church, a common misconception is that all Mormon members follow these same rules. Most of these rules are only for Mormon missionaries (e.g., no TV) and do not apply to other members of the Church. The rest of this website focuses on Mormon rules that do apply to all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.