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What New Missionary Lessons?

August 1, 2007

by Ann

I joined the church at 26, married with two children, so I never served a mission. Now, almost 21 years later, I don’t do missionary work. I stopped feeling guilty about it in about 2002, when I read a reprint of Jeff Burton’s Sunstone article “The Phenomenon of the Faithful Doubter.” Between then and now, during some of my angrier days, I was occasionally anti-missionary. Now, I’m quite neutral about the whole thing. It makes no difference to me whether there are more are fewer Latter-day Saints in the world.

It’s my understanding that these new missionary lessons have been around for several years. The term “new” is not quite as much a misnomer as the green hymnal, though, which has been around since 1985 but is still the “new” hymnal.

Like Left Field, my husband served a mission that used memorized discussions. The closest I’ve come to hearing the discussions of any kind in the last few years is to listen to him rip through the first discussion. He still remembers it, because it’s the one they gave the most.

Old, new…they have the same goal.

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3 comments

  1. I thought the “new” aspect of Preach My Gospel referred to teaching by the Spirit rather than by memorization. LDS missionaries have only been teaching by the Spirit since Samuel Smith. Pretty “new,” I guess.


  2. Interesting. Thanks for the post.


  3. I often hear people explain the difference between the former 1986 Missionary Discussions (Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel) and Preach My Gospel by saying that, now missionaries teach by the Spirit, rather than just give the lesson verbatim. I always cringe when I hear that because it implies that ever since the mid 1980’s, when Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel was implemented, and perhaps even before, that LDS missionaries never or rarely taught by the Spirit, that they never considered adapting their message to fit their particular audience via inspiration, and that they always memorized lessons verbatim. Perhaps that is the experience of some people, but it hasn’t been my experience. I feel there are many other differences such as PMG is intended to be used by all church members, not only full-time missionaries. Also the presentation includes a color-coded format with images and also suggestions which seek to clarify the LDS position vis-à-vis non-Christian religions (i.e. resurrection vs. reincarnation), perhaps indicative of the Church emerging as an international religion. It also gives more information about the Reformers and other religious figures. It’s likely that in 20 or 30 years there will be new missionary materials to address the needs of the Church then, but I like to think that good missionaries have always taught by the Spirit.



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