“Missionary Milestone: More than 40,000,” Ensign, Apr. 1990, 74
The number of full-time missionaries serving throughout the world has topped 40,000—a milestone that reflects the Church’s continuing growth, says Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the Seventy, Executive Director of the Missionary Department.
As Church membership grows, more people are available to serve as full-time missionaries. Throughout the world each year, more of those who are called serve in their own countries.
Missionaries today are better prepared than ever before and have a spirit that stands out to the world, Elder Backman said. “I don’t think we’ve had a finer cadre of missionaries in the history of the Church.”
The number of baptisms per missionary each year has increased over the past few years—an indication of improvement in how the Church is reaching and teaching people, Elder Backman said. In 1989, the number of converts per missionary was 9.1—up from 7.8 in 1988. The growth in the number of converts in 1989 was 24 percent.
In addition to an increase in the number of missionaries serving, Elder Backman said, “We think we see a broader definition of what a missionary does.” The missionary’s role could include greater involvement in community service, in activation, and in convert retention after baptism, he explained, adding, “We think we’re on the threshold of some great things.”