On January 25, 2017, Church leaders made some big changes to missionary life, including a more flexible schedule and revised key indicators.
The Mormon Newsroom article “More Flexibility Announced for Mormon Missionary Daily Schedules” discusses changes announced by Church leaders during a worldwide missionary broadcast on January 25, 2017. One of those changes is making the missionary schedule more flexible to benefit both the missionaries and the cultures they serve in.
I dreamed of flexibility like this during my mission in Latin America a few years ago. One night, it was almost curfew, so my companion and I insisted on leaving an appointment with our investigator family early, slightly offending them in their efforts to prepare food for us to enjoy during our lesson. This wasn’t the first time we had left early, and it wouldn’t be the last either; their culture and our schedule didn’t mix well. Our hearts ached as we walked briskly back to our apartment, wishing that there was a way to do the Lord’s will while still complying with the cultural expectations of these people we loved. With the Church’s announcement, however, missionaries will no longer have to experience the dilemma I had on my mission.
To promote the health of missionaries and to enhance their ability to meet the needs of the varied missions around the world, several changes have been made to the missionary daily schedule, including adjustments to wake-up times and bed times, preparation day, and key indicators.
These changes will allow missionaries to serve with more strength and purpose. Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson said, “The thing I love about this new schedule is that it allows the missionaries to exercise their agency to determine how to best use their time. It shows that the Lord trusts them to use their time wisely.”
Read “More Flexibility Announced for Mormon Missionary Daily Schedules” to find out how the missionary schedule is changing and why these changes are happening now.
—Camille Lazelle, Mormon Insights
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Find more insights
Read “Dealing with Coming Home Early” to learn about Jenny Rollins’s experience with coming home early from her mission.
Take a look at a Mormon Insights article, “Sisters, No Effort Is Lost” by Mariah Critchfield, to hear a returned missionary’s perspective on life after her mission.
Read or watch “Like a Broken Vessel” to hear Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s advice to young adults and other members who struggle with mental health disorders.
I would have loved to have this kind of flexibility on my mission as well. I served in Latin America as well, and it would have been much more efficient to be able to proselyte past 9:00 p.m. I think this is a great idea!
I heard that there was change to the missionary schedule but I didn’t think it would apply to me. Now, I’m preparing to serve a mission so this was a fantastic article to run into. I can’t wait to see how this change will affect my schedule.
On my mission in Ventura, California, I was eager to serve obediently. I came to know that little white rule book backward and forward. When I returned home after 18 months of living and loving those very structured rules, I struggled to know how to spend my time. I often felt guilty and like I was slacking off, and it took me a while to understand that I didn’t need a strict, unbending schedule in order to be productive and use my time wisely.
This is what makes me so excited about the new missionary rules. What Sister Oscarson said is true: “It allows missionaries to exercise their agency.” Agency is the gift that makes God’s whole plan run. Agency allows for varying circumstances. It allows us to be in tune with the Holy Ghost and be more mindful of the spirit, rather than the letter, of the law. What a blessing that missionaries, who are in the spiritual training ground which will define much of how they serve the Lord for the rest of their lives, can practice this crucial spiritual skill!
This is such an interesting development. I have had experiences similar to the one you describe. Such a change has the potential to do a lot of good. It also puts the responsibility on the missionaries to make sure that they are using their time wisely.
I am very excited about this change. One aspect of serving a mission that deserves more attention is the transition from missionary to returned missionary. I think that the flexibility missionaries have while on their missions will help them to maintain good study habits when they return. This new schedule emphasizes the fact that you don’t need a rigid schedule to put God first in your life.
This is going to be so helpful to missionaries all over the world! Where I served, it got dark at 4pm during the winter and people went to bed early, making it awkward to try to find people to meet with during the evening. The missionary schedule has always been somewhat flexible, but this opens up new possibilities. I think it will also give missionaries more chances to grow confident in making Spirit-led decisions.