The Liahona Magazine

Preparing Missionaries in the Digital Age

02/22/23 | 6 min read
While the missionary purpose of bringing souls unto Christ will never change, the methods of sharing the gospel will.

After I served as mission president of the North Dakota Bismarck Mission during the COVID-19 pandemic, people would often ask, “How did you and your missionaries share the gospel when you were stuck inside?” and “What new gospel-sharing methods do you suggest we teach future missionaries —and ourselves—as teachers, parents, and Church leaders?”

Many new methods that emerged during the pandemic will remain effective in post-pandemic missionary work. At a worldwide missionary devotional in 2020, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “When public restrictions are lifted again, be wise to resist the temptation of going back to the ‘old ways.’ … You need to ‘go back to the future’—and I promise you a very bright future with new and exciting opportunities. This work will move forward and upward.”

Elder Uchtdorf also observed, “Instead of being the last resort, technology needs to be considered upfront as an option for us to become more efficient and effective.”1

While the pandemic disrupted traditional missionary approaches, it didn’t change our missionary purpose of helping others “receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”2 Our future missionaries must build on a sure foundation of understanding and living the restored doctrine of Jesus Christ just as missionaries have in the past.

What Can Youth Read to Prepare for a Mission?

Almost every mission president will agree they’d love future missionaries to become more familiar with:

· The Book of Mormon.

· Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2019). This manual teaches young men and young women not only how to be missionaries but also basic gospel principles, such as the plan of salvation, commandments, and ordinances.

· Adjusting to Missionary Life (2013). This booklet teaches missionaries how to be resilient. It covers principles for managing stress and the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual demands of life. This booklet could easily be renamed “Dealing with Life’s Challenges.”

What Can Youth Do to Prepare for a Mission?

The following principles are things youth can do now to prepare to be effective missionaries.

Learn to repent

No other preparation is more important than understanding and living the doctrine of daily repentance. President Russell M. Nelson taught, “Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance.”

In addition, he taught: “Too many people consider repentance as punishment—something to be avoided except in the most serious circumstances. But this feeling of being penalized is engendered by Satan. He tries to block us from looking to Jesus Christ, who stands with open arms, hoping and willing to heal, forgive, cleanse, strengthen, purify, and sanctify us.”3

The road to conversion for all disciples of Christ, including youth, must involve daily repentance.

Prepare for the temple and the priesthood

When we prepare our youth for the temple and blessings of the priesthood, we set them on the covenant path. Temple and priesthood preparation is for everyone, whether they end up serving a mission or not. Temple preparation classes for older youth are helpful, but temple and priesthood readiness should start early. Nothing is better than the example of parents and grandparents when it comes to helping our youth be ready for these blessings in their lives.

Participate in community service

Serving people in the community will help youth start to think of others more than themselves. This is an essential mindset for missionaries. Prospective missionaries who realize the importance of community service will bless others, be happier, and spread goodwill for the Church.

Serve with the missionaries

Where possible, future missionaries can serve with ward or branch and full-time missionaries in the months before they leave for service. This will help them understand what missionary work and life is like. It will also help them see the joy that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into the lives of others and help them know how to work with members when they are full-time missionaries. The more missionaries understand the importance of working closely with the ward missionary council and members, the more effective they will be.

two missionary elders looking at a cell phone

What Technology Can Be Used for Missionary Work?

Prospective missionaries will be blessed when they learn how to use different tools and applications to share the gospel.

Use social media for missionary purposes

Since technology and smartphones are now tools that missionaries use, youth will benefit from learning how to use them to share meaningful messages. One way to learn the proper use of social media is to follow official Church social media accounts, including those of Church leaders, to view examples of uplifting content.

Youth can also use social media to share their talents and their love for the Lord. During the pandemic, missionaries learned to share the gospel online through music, art, and story. For example, many missionaries created religious art to post on social media. Others used their musical talents to sing or play hymns that helped people feel the Spirit.

Before serving a mission, youth can think about creative ways they can use their divine gifts to reach people’s hearts as a missionary both online and in person. When they begin their missions, they can share their talents—with their mission leaders’guidance—as ways to find people to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Become familiar with Church apps and tools

The Church has developed smartphone apps for its members, missionaries, and friends of the Church to use. Most are familiar with the Gospel Library, but there are other important apps to be familiar with:

· Book of Mormon

· Member Tools

· Gospel Media

· Gospel Living

· FamilySearch

· Sacred Music

· Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square

· Doctrinal Mastery

· Church News

· JustServe

· Church Pamphlets

The recently updated version of the Book of Mormon app includes the Book of Mormon in over 100 languages and the Book of Mormon videos in 15 languages. People who have this app can share the Book of Mormon with anyone around the world who has a smartphone.

The Church Pamphlets app is one of the apps that is the most helpful to missionaries and prospective missionaries. The Preach My Gospel missionary lessons are captured in the app with rich graphics and videos. Many times, the people studying with the missionaries have liked the app so much that they download the app and read the lesson content themselves before the missionaries come to teach them.

The JustServe app identifies service opportunities for missionaries or anyone who wants to help. Youth can use the app to find ways to provide service as part of the Children and Youth program and their mission preparation. Developing a spirit of service will bless their entire lives.

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square app makes it easy for missionaries to find uplifting music. Future missionaries can begin using the app anytime they would like to hear peaceful, uplifting music. Music from the app can also be easily shared on social media.

The Gospel Living app is especially suited for young people. It can be a great tool for youth preparing for missionary service. It’s easy to hop onto the app to read a quick gospel message, watch an inspiring video, or listen to inspiring, energetic music.

missionary elders studying together

Use technology safely

Prospective missionaries should learn how to self-monitor the content they view on smartphones and other digital devices. This will truly help them protect themselves against temptations when they are on a mission and have a smartphone during times of loneliness. It can keep them from falling into practices that take them away from the Holy Ghost.

The missionary booklet Safeguards for Using Technology contains teachings that youth can apply to their lives before they begin their mission: (1) Be in tune with spiritual promptings. (2) Be focused on your missionary purpose. (3) Be disciplined. (4) Be one. This booklet also includes a section called “What Should I Do If I’m Feeling Vulnerable or Susceptible?” The booklet is available in the Gospel Library app.

Drawing People to Christ Is Still the Focus

Elder Orson F. Whitney (1855–1931) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote that “no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education.”4 While serving a mission during the pandemic was a daunting trial to missionaries, God used that time to educate members and missionaries about new and better approaches to missionary work.

Elder Uchtdorf taught:

“In the past, we might have been so tied to traditional approaches [to sharing the gospel] that it took a pandemic to open our eyes. …

“This is the Lord’s work. He invites us to find His ways of doing it, and they may differ from our past experiences.”5

Now it’s our responsibility to help future missionaries learn the doctrine of Christ and how to use new methods to share the gospel. These efforts will bless countless people, including the missionaries, their families, and those they serve across the world.


1. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, in Scott Taylor, “Elder Uchtdorf in Virtual Missionary Devotional: A Look at Pandemic’s Impact, Using Technology and Making Disciples,” Church News, Aug. 13, 2020,
2. Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2019), 1.
3. Russell M. Nelson, “We Can Do Better and Be Better,” Liahona, May 2019, 67.
4. Orson F. Whitney, in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972), 98.
5. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “God Will Do Something Unimaginable,” Liahona, Nov. 2020, 54.