SALT LAKE CITY – Prospective missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will see changes to the screening process to become qualified for missionary service begining in April. The church announced a series of new requirements early Tuesday that will allow for a “better prepared, and more fully equipped” workforce of full-time missionaries.
From church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Brother Jacob B. Boswell, head of the Missionary Qualifications and Assessments Department, addressed the media saying, “Since President Monson’s announcement of the missionary age change in October 2012, we have seen our missionary force nearly double.” Brother Boswell continued, “We would like to make one hundred percent certain that these missionaries are qualified spiritually, as well as physically for the demands of daily missionary labor.”
New spirituality tests, physical assessments, and even background checks will be conducted to ensure missionaries can handle the rigorous day-to-day demands of missionary work. Previously, missionaries were required to see a family doctor to ensure minimal physical health standards were met. The church is raising the qualifications with a new series of tests to be administered by a Bishop, in addition to the standard tests performed by the family physician.
“Missionaries have accepted the challenge to be more spiritually prepared, we want to ensure they are physically prepared as well.” Said Brother Boswell in the news conference early Tuesday morning. “Bishops will conduct pushup tests, timed sprints, as well as weight-bearing tests, to ensure top physical fitness for male and female missionary candidates.”
In addition to the physical tests administered by a Bishop, future missionaries will also be required to score at least 85% on a series of fill-in-the-blank, short essay, and short-answer questions. “These questions have been carefully thought out and considered by the entire committee of the Missionary Qualifications and Assessments Department. We want to make sure that potential missionaries understand basic church history, fundamental principles of other religions, and when it may or may not be okay to talk about outer darkness with potential investigators.” Said Brother Boswell. “We feel confident that if applicants for missionary service know the answers to these select questions, they will know the answers to many of the other questions that arise during typical missionary service.”
It is anticipated that the changes will be announced by church leadership in General Conference this Saturday, whereafter the changes will take effect. Missionaries currently going through the application and interview process will be required to pass the series of new tests. It is suggested that Bishops administer the tests to those who have already received calls.