The Lord has said, “Ye shall organize yourselves and appoint every man [and woman] his [or her] stewardship” (Doctrine and Covenants 104:11). This section of this handbook describes mission organization and explains how you can best work and live with a companion, participate in mission activities, plan daily schedules, and serve others with the pure love of Christ (see Moroni 7:44–47).
For clarity, these standards use the term young missionary leaders to refer to missionaries with leadership assignments, such as senior companions, sister training leaders, or zone leaders. Mission leaders refers to your mission president, who holds priesthood keys, and his wife.
These standards also use the terms bishop, stake president, ward, and stake. Apply the related guidelines as appropriate to branch presidents, district presidents, branches, and member districts.
Your most important responsibility, regardless of any leadership assignment, is to be a faithful and dedicated missionary. This counsel from the Lord recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants also applies to you: “The thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this [generation], that you may bring souls unto me” (Doctrine and Covenants 15:6).
Your mission president and his wife, who serve together as your mission leaders, are called of God and set apart to lead the mission. Together they love and serve you, help you fulfill your purpose as a missionary, and help keep you safe and happy.
Your mission leaders share many responsibilities for the mission. They will work together to support and encourage you, listen to your concerns, answer questions, assess progress, and give counsel. Because your mission president holds certain priesthood keys, he acts as a common judge in the mission. Sexual transgression and other serious sins should be confessed to your mission president (see Mosiah 26:29–30). Be completely honest with him. He will help you repent (see For the Strength of Youth , 28–29).
You may invite the mission president’s wife, a senior missionary, or your missionary companion to join any interview with the mission president. Your decision to invite someone to join you should not diminish your mission leaders’ love, concern, or admiration for you.
Your mission president presides in the mission with priesthood keys. He is a member of a mission presidency with two counselors.
Counselors in the mission presidency, like counselors in a stake presidency or bishopric, help organize and assist in the work. Counselors in the mission presidency do not address matters of missionary worthiness.
Your mission president uses revelation and priesthood keys to organize the work. He assigns young missionaries to be trainers, senior companions, district leaders, sister training leaders, zone leaders, and assistants. Assistants, office missionaries, and other missionaries do not make missionary leadership assignments or assign the areas where you serve. However, the mission president may counsel with his wife or his assistants about missionary assignments.
Your mission leaders and the assistants, zone leaders, and sister training leaders are members of the mission leadership council. These leaders counsel about meeting the needs of the missionaries and make plans to help the mission progress and to move the work forward.
Young missionary leaders, like all missionaries, follow the counsel of Jesus Christ to “serve [God] with all [their] heart, might, mind and strength” and to “remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:2, 6). Leadership assignments do not indicate special recognition or advancement or reflect the worth of a missionary.
Young missionary leaders have the responsibility to:
Find, teach, baptize, and fellowship people.
Set an example of missionary standards for behavior (see 3.0).
Train other missionaries and lead companion exchanges (see 2.3.1).
Share information and direction from the mission leadership council with the missionaries they lead.
Love and befriend other missionaries. Help them recognize the value of their efforts.
Listen to other missionaries’ concerns. Give support and counsel.
Correct other missionaries kindly and privately, as needed, followed by “an increase of love” (see Doctrine and Covenants 121:41–43).
Work closely with local leaders and members.
Like all missionaries, elders and sisters with leadership assignments should practice Christlike leadership. If the conduct of any missionary, including young missionary leaders, seems inconsistent with the commandments and missionary standards, discuss the issue with the missionary. If the issue is not then resolved, share your concerns with your young missionary leaders or mission president and not with other missionaries, members, or friends.
For more information about the specific assignments and responsibilities of young missionary leaders (trainers, senior companions, district leaders, sister training leaders, zone leaders, and assistants to the president), see section 7.1, “Young Missionary Leadership Responsibilities.”
“Magnify [your] office unto the Lord” (Jacob 1:19), become spiritually self-reliant, and “act for [yourself]” (2 Nephi 2:16) by trusting the Lord and following the Spirit. When you have questions or concerns:
Apply the teaching to “study it out in your mind; then … ask me if it be right” (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8).
Seek guidance through personal revelation; prayer; and study of the scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon), Preach My Gospel, the teachings of living prophets, and these standards.
If you need additional help after applying these principles, ask your companion or young missionary leaders. Often, they can help you find answers to your questions and resolve your concerns. If not, reach out to either of your mission leaders, your parents, or your home priesthood leaders. Please do not contact Church headquarters. If you do, you will be referred back to your mission president.
Talk with your mission president about worthiness issues. Talk with either of your mission leaders about immediate safety concerns, including assault or abuse, or other issues that cannot be resolved with other missionaries.
There may be times during your mission when you find it difficult to focus on your work due to current challenges, personal or family matters, or even past experiences. That is understandable. Do not hesitate to share your concerns with your companion, young missionary leaders, or either of your mission leaders and to reach out for support.
Remember the Savior’s invitation: “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36–37).
The Lord calls missionaries to preach His gospel in companionships. “Let them go two by two, and thus let them preach by the way in every congregation, baptizing by water, and the laying on of the hands” (Doctrine and Covenants 52:10). You will work with different companions throughout your mission. Companions:
Become united in the work and together testify of Jesus Christ.
Support each other’s spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.
Try to keep each other safe.
Are accountable to each other in keeping missionary standards.
Companions should help each other learn, grow, and develop Christlike attributes (see Doctrine and Covenants 4 and “How Do I Develop Christlike Attributes?” in Preach My Gospel , chapter 6). Learning patience and love, practicing forgiveness, and accepting differences in personalities will bless you throughout your life.
Love, respect, and strengthen each other.
Study together every day and pray together frequently throughout the day.
Be humble and recognize each other’s strengths.
Treat each other as you would like to be treated.
Avoid criticism and contention.
Avoid speaking negatively about each other to other missionaries, Church members, or family and friends at home.
If you notice any inappropriate situation or behavior, discuss it with your companion. If the matter is not resolved or if your companion is being abusive, have the courage and love for your companion to ask your mission president for help (see 3.9.2).
Staying with your companion will help provide protection from physical and spiritual dangers, false accusations, and loneliness. Obey this missionary standard at all times and in all places. Never be alone.
You should be able to see and hear your companion at all times unless you are in the bathroom, in an interview with a mission leader, or conducting a baptismal interview (see 2.3.6).
You should sleep in the same room but not the same bed.
When doing individual tasks while in your housing, use common sense to protect yourselves and follow missionary standards of behavior (see 3.0).
Do not create time to be alone. For example, do not stay up later or get up earlier than your companion.
If you and your companion become separated, contact your mission president immediately.
“Go and labor with [your] mights” (Jacob 5:72), and concentrate your efforts in your assigned teaching area. Focus your work in areas where you are more likely to help people make and keep covenants. For example, focus on neighborhoods near a church building or in a neighborhood where committed members live. Remember the Lord’s promise: “Whoso receiveth you, there I will be also” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).
You may leave your assigned area for companion exchanges (see 2.3.1) or transfers (see 2.3.2). If you need to leave your area for another reason, request permission from your district leader to leave your area within your district or from your zone leaders if you need to travel outside of your district. You need permission from your mission president, or a person he designates, to leave your zone.
If you need to leave your assigned area because of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or an assault or to seek emergency medical attention, seek safety or medical care first and then contact your mission president or your young missionary leaders as soon as you are able.
During your mission you will likely encounter people who live outside your assigned area. If they are interested in learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ, you may:
Share a message with them.
Connect with them on approved social media (see 7.5.6).
Refer them to missionaries where they live and share information about them with the assigned missionaries (see 2.3.4).
With your mission president’s permission, use technology (see 7.5.4) to work with the missionaries where the individuals live to help teach and support them. You can also invite your own family and friends to help teach them, with permission (see 3.9.5).
When working with other missionaries or members both inside and outside of your area or mission:
Counsel together to know how to best help the interested person come closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Be respectful of the members’ or other missionaries’ time.
Let the missionaries assigned to the area where the person lives take the lead in teaching as soon as reasonably possible.
Missionaries participate in a variety of activities to fulfill the Lord’s command to “prepare every needful thing” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:119) in order to accomplish His work. These activities include participating in companion exchanges and transfers, working with members, responding to referrals, teaching, participating in councils and meetings, and serving. Elders may also conduct baptismal interviews as part of their missionary activities.
In a companion exchange, a young missionary leader, such as a sister training leader or assistant to the president, works with another missionary. During the exchange the leader will teach, train, and learn from the missionary. The leader will follow the Lord’s counsel found in the Doctrine and Covenants to strengthen the other missionary “in all [their] conversation, in all [their] prayers, in all [their] exhortations, and in all [their] doings” (Doctrine and Covenants 108:7).
Young missionary leaders are responsible for planning exchanges with the missionaries they lead. Sisters conduct exchanges with other sisters, and elders conduct exchanges with other elders.
In most missions, young missionary leaders generally conduct companion exchanges once every transfer.
District leaders conduct exchanges with each elder in their district.
Zone leaders conduct exchanges with each district leader and as needed with other elders in their zone.
Sister training leaders conduct exchanges with each sister in their assigned zone or zones.
Assistants to the president conduct exchanges with zone leaders or other elders as directed by the mission president.
A companion exchange generally lasts about 24 hours. For each companion exchange, the young missionary leader should:
Conduct companion exchanges in the young missionary leader’s area. At times, exchanges may also be conducted in the missionary’s area when appropriate.
Plan the companion exchange in advance.
Work together to set goals with the missionary about what to accomplish during the exchange. Participate in all parts of missionary work, including finding, teaching, companion study, language study (if applicable), daily planning, and fellowshipping.
Train using the scriptures and principles from Preach My Gospel.
Review and discuss people the missionaries are working with or teaching.
Give the missionary specific, helpful feedback, including what the missionary does well and how the missionary can improve.
Be open to feedback from the missionary on areas for improvement.
Review and discuss what each missionary learned during the companion exchange.
Report on the companion exchange in the weekly letter to the mission president.
The mission office will arrange your travel during a transfer so that you are not alone. In a few instances, because of distances and other considerations, your mission president may direct otherwise. In these situations, be particularly careful, use common sense, and follow the Spirit.
When you are transferred:
Go directly to your new area to join your new companion.
Do not eat or drink anything you have left unattended while traveling.
When you travel, make sure your phone has sufficient battery life for the trip. If you are traveling alone for more than three hours, check in periodically with the mission office.
If your companion is transferred and you are not, work with other missionaries, as assigned by your young missionary leaders, until your new companion arrives.
Invite members to join you in normal and natural ways as you find, teach, baptize, and fellowship. Encourage and help members to befriend the people you are teaching and to invite those people to participate in ward and family activities. Ask members to share relevant personal experiences and their testimonies.
Missionaries need to remain together in companionships. Therefore, there are no missionary exchanges with members. However, female members (at least age 16, but older as needed to comply with local laws) may accompany and teach with two or more sister missionaries. Male members (at least age 16, but older as needed to comply with local laws) may accompany and teach with two or more elder missionaries. Married couples may teach with sisters or elders.
A referral is when someone has made a request for the missionaries to contact him or her.
When working with people who have been referred to you:
Contact the missionaries, members, or individuals who gave the referral, if possible. Counsel with them about how to help the person.
Attempt to contact the person who was referred as soon as possible, generally within 24 hours.
Listen to and learn how to help the person who was referred.
Deliver any requested items.
Teach to the person’s needs and interests.
Continue to work with the missionaries, members, or individuals who provided the referral (see 2.2.4).
For more information on referrals, see “Member, Missionary, and Church Headquarters Referrals” in “How Do I Find People to Teach?” in Preach My Gospel, chapter 9.
Missionaries counsel together as they give and receive training and as they plan and coordinate missionary work. Meetings and councils should invite the Spirit of the Lord and should be a time for revelation (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:32). Additionally, gathering as missionaries will provide you the opportunity to edify each other and rejoice in your labors together (see Doctrine and Covenants 43:8; 50:22).
Meetings that are organized by missionary companionships, young missionary leaders, and mission leaders include the following:
Daily and weekly planning sessions
District council meetings
Mission leadership council meetings
Meetings organized by local leaders include the following:
Missionary coordination meetings
Ward council meetings
When conducting a baptismal interview, elders should:
Review what the Lord has said in Doctrine and Covenants 20:37.
Follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Ask the baptismal interview questions found in the “Baptism and Confirmation: Questions and Answers” section of chapter 12 in Preach My Gospel.
Adapt the questions to the age and maturity of the individual.
Be sure that the elders quorum president or ward mission leader is aware of the baptismal interview in advance.
If the baptismal candidate desires, he or she may invite a parent, spouse, or other adult to join the baptismal interview. Be sensitive to a person’s feelings about his or her spouse or minor child being interviewed. Follow the guidelines in Preach My Gospel for interviewing and obtaining permission to baptize spouses and minor children (see “How to Conduct the Interview” in “How Do I Prepare People for Baptism and Confirmation?” in Preach My Gospel, chapter 12).
District leaders interview baptismal candidates taught by missionaries in their district, including those taught by the assistants to the president, zone leaders, and sister training leaders in their district.
Zone leaders interview baptismal candidates taught by district leaders in their zone.
If the assigned district and zone leaders are not available, the mission president may assign another elder to conduct the interview.
Work with the elders quorum president or the ward mission leader to arrange baptismal services (see “The Baptismal Service” in “How Do I Prepare People for Baptism and Confirmation?” in Preach My Gospel, chapter 12). Begin preparations for the baptismal service as soon as possible.
Plan your schedule to fulfill your missionary purpose and focus on the needs of others. Remember what the Lord has promised to those who are called to preach the gospel: “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:15).
Include the following activities in your daily schedule:
Set and review personal, companion, and mission goals.
Plan your schedule for the day.
Study the scriptures, Preach My Gospel, teachings of the living prophets and apostles, and other approved resources (see 2.4.4).
Review one health or safety topic or one of the safeguards for using technology (see 4.0–4.7).
Find people to teach.
Work with local leaders and members.
Serve others in planned or unplanned activities.
Take care of personal needs, such as eating meals and preparing for the day.
The daily schedule for your mission may look something like the schedule below. Daily schedules may be adjusted by the mission president for holidays, special events in your mission, and so forth.
Begin the day.
Exercise (30 minutes).
Shower, eat breakfast, and prepare for the day.
Have personal study (60 minutes).
Plan (30 minutes).
10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Find, teach, and serve others.*
Update digital or paper records throughout the day.
Briefly review a health or safety topic or one of the safeguards for using technology.
Hold companion study and prepare lessons (30 minutes).
Study additional materials for new missionaries and trainers during the first 12 weeks in the field (30–60 minutes, if applicable).
Study your mission language (30–60 minutes, if applicable).
Eat lunch and dinner (no more than two hours combined).
Return to your housing, unless you have a teaching appointment; if so, return by 9:30 p.m.
Write in your journal, prepare for bed, and pray.
Go to bed.
*Your daily activities should focus on interacting with people. Spread your planning and study activities throughout the day to avoid spending long periods of time in your apartment. If distance and time permit, you may leave and return to your apartment throughout the day to meet these needs.
The schedule approved for your mission will allow time to work, rest, and refocus. It is important to get adequate rest and nutrition for your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.
Hold daily and weekly planning sessions with your companion. Consider the needs of those you are teaching and how to work with members as you review progress, set goals, and make plans for the day and for the week (see “How to Set Goals,” “The Weekly Planning Session,” and “Daily Planning Session” in “How Do I Use Time Wisely?” in Preach My Gospel, chapter 8).
Use your personal and companion study time to focus on the scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon), Preach My Gospel, the teachings of living prophets (found in Gospel Library), and these standards. These approved resources can strengthen your knowledge and testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and help you prepare to meet the needs of those you teach.
If you have been assigned to learn a new language, study and practice it daily.
If you are a new missionary, study with your trainer for an additional 30 to 60 minutes each day for the first 12 weeks in the mission field (see “For New Missionaries: Additional Companion Study” in “Introduction: How Can I Best Use Preach My Gospel?” in Preach My Gospel).
If applicable, your mission president and the local stake president will provide guidelines for scheduling meals with people in your mission. When members or others provide meals:
Be respectful of their personal situations and time.
Be grateful for the food they offer.
Ask to teach a 15- or 20-minute lesson before or after the meal to strengthen those you visit and to provide you with an opportunity to improve your ability to teach by the Spirit.
Another adult of your own gender should be present with you and your companion when you eat a meal with someone of the opposite gender.
Your mission president will assign one day each week as a preparation day. Preparation day allows you time to refresh physically, spiritually, and emotionally as you “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9). It will also provide you and your companion with opportunities to be with other missionaries in your district and to enjoy wholesome recreational activities together (see 3.6).
Please remember the Lord’s timely warnings: “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:4), and “retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:124).
Preparation day activities may include (but are not limited to) the following:
A preparation day schedule might look something like the following:
Begin the day.
Shower, eat breakfast, and prepare for the day.
Plan (30 minutes).
Have personal study (30 minutes).
8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Do preparation day activities (see 2.5.1).
Note: All preparation day activities should be completed by 6:00 p.m.
Find, teach, and serve others.
Return to your housing. If you have a teaching appointment, return by 9:30 p.m.
Write in your journal, prepare for bed, and pray.
Go to bed.
Plan activities on the Sabbath that help you fulfill your missionary purpose to find, teach, baptize, and help others learn about and become more like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Remember the Lord’s teachings about the Sabbath day in Doctrine and Covenants 59:13–19, and note the words and phrases that suggest that a true Sabbath includes joy, rejoicing, a glad heart, and a cheerful countenance.
Sabbath day activities include attending church, general conference, Sunday general sessions of stake conference, and additional meetings like ward council when invited. They also include participating in the monthly fast.
In your missionary efforts, the Lord has not asked you to go without food, except during the regular monthly fast, or to sacrifice sleep in order to be a more dedicated missionary. You may occasionally fast for a special reason, but do not fast for more than 24 hours at a time.
You can learn to be a disciple of Jesus Christ by serving as He did. Find opportunities to serve your companion, the people you are teaching, members, and others in the community, “that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).
You should serve with a sincere desire to help others without any expected outcomes. Follow all service project rules (see 7.2), especially any about not teaching while serving and not serving where you would be alone with children. If someone expresses interest in your message, reply very briefly and arrange to meet with them at a different time and location to share a message.
For more information see section 7.2, “Guidelines for Service.”