The Mormon Church has admitted that going door-to-door is a little old-fashioned. Instead, they have announced that they’ll start using sites like Facebook to build a online presence and bolster recruitment.
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Sunday that missionaries won’t be going door-to-door to evangelize and will instead use the Internet to probe potential new members.
They say that they recognize the growing power and importance of social media and admitted that going to the homes of perfect strangers in-person hasn’t been terribly effective lately.
“The way in which we fulfill our responsibilities to share the gospel must adapt to a changing world,” said Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum in a worldwide broadcast.
In the Mormon Church, missionaries were previously required to limit Internet use to once a week and only to communicate with friends and family back home or to log on to official church sites. This rule was meant to reduce distractions for the 70,000-some missionaries dispatched by the church.
But in a few years, Mormon missionaries may “telecommute” their work instead using Facebook and other forms of social media.
It might seem that the shift is partially due to the shrinking number of Mormon missionaries in the field today, but that’s actually far from the truth. Interestingly, Mormon missionary work has grown across the globe, more in recent years than at any other time in the church’s history.
The Mormon Church will lower the minimum age for missionaries and expects to increase their ranks to 85,000 by the end of the year.
The current record for highest number of missionaries working at one time is 61,000, from 2002.
Some religious experts think that lowering the age for missionaries (to 19 for women and 18 for men) and the increased use of social media will attract younger members to their ranks.
“This generation knows social networking, they know how this works,” said Matthew Bowman, assistant professor of religion at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. “It’s much more appealing work than going door-to-door knocking and hoping somebody doesn’t slam the door in your face.”
What do you think of the Mormon Church’s online initiative? Will they attract more members to their faith?