One Mission Is Not Enough – Church Urges Seniors for Two

The church held a special Broadcast for the Utah Area to drum up interest and enlist more senior missionaries in the service of the church. Elder Kevin Pearson, of the Seventy, who is also the Area President of the Utah Area worked to fire up the attendees with a call to serve. He urged all seniors to consider serving not one, but two missions for the church!

Kevin Pearson urges seniors to volunteer many of their best retirement years to serve as church missionaries. This church position does not pay them for their hard work, but the same church does pay the top church leadership a handsome “living allowance.”

"We've invited you here tonight because we want to extend an invitation to each of you to serve... Will you prayerfully consider serving two missions? Not one, but two?" - Elder Kevin W. Pearson, LDS General Authority Seventy and President of the Utah Area
March 19th, 2023, The Best Time of Our Lives: Senior Missionary Opportunities Broadcast |
“We’ve invited you here tonight because we want to extend an invitation to each of you to serve… Will you prayerfully consider serving two missions? Not one, but two?” – Elder Kevin W. Pearson, LDS General Authority Seventy and President of the Utah Area March 19th, 2023, The Best Time of Our Lives: Senior Missionary Opportunities Broadcast

The plea is not just to serve a mission, but to serve two missions! This asking seniors to seniors to prayerfully consider two missions is emotionally manipulative and predatory, using the faith of these senior citizens to claim free labor and dedication all while making these seniors feel like they are only serving the Lord. This is overreaching, and going for numbers to make the President of the Area look good.This is a church that will take and take and take. They want tithing on surplus, then on income, then on gross, and generous offerings on top. They want a calling, or two, or three. They want home teachers and visiting teachers, or ministering brothers and sisters, and church attendance, and youth activities, ward activities, linger longer lunches, Saturday janitorial services, multiple full time missions, etc etc. They want all your time, talents, energy, money and devotion. The church will never tell you that you’ve done enough and that you should go home to your family. They encourage and entice us to endure to the end with the promise that when we die, we’ll be greeted with a hug from Mormon Jesus who will say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Let’s spell out the ways this talk is engineered to get the seniors to do what the speaker wants:

  1. Emotional Manipulation:
    • The speech begins with an emotional appeal, stating that seniors are “desperately needed and simply irreplaceable.” This emotional language aims to create a sense of urgency and importance, potentially manipulating seniors into feeling obligated to volunteer. Especially after the audience is exposed to the emotionally manipulative video beforehand. This was planned manipulation.
  2. Statistical Manipulation:
    • Pearson presents statistics about senior members in Utah, emphasizing the number of seniors who have not served missions or taken specific church roles. This statistical manipulation creates a false sense of scarcity, pushing seniors to believe they are in high demand and therefore should volunteer.
  3. Exaggeration of Opportunity:
    • He also exaggerates the opportunity, describing it as “simply unprecedented” and a chance for seniors to make an extraordinary difference in the church and the world. While volunteering can be fulfilling, the hyperbolic language oversells the impact of these missions.
  4. Appeal to Faith and Duty:
    • By invoking the idea that the capacity to serve is a blessing from the Lord, the speaker appeals to the faith of the seniors. This appeal to religious duty may lead seniors to feel morally obligated to volunteer their time, blurring the line between genuine volunteerism and potential exploitation.
  5. Double Mission Proposal:
    • The suggestion for seniors to consider serving two missions, both a proselyting mission and a service mission, may be perceived as excessive. This proposal could place an undue burden on seniors, especially considering potential health limitations, suggesting an insensitivity to their well-being.
  6. Financial Disparity:
    • The speech doesn’t address the financial aspect of senior missionaries working without pay. While emphasizing the potential impact of their service, it fails to acknowledge the financial sacrifices these seniors might be making, especially when contrasting that with the compensation received by senior church leadership.
  7. Lack of Transparency:
    • The speech does not provide transparent information about the financial structure within the church, where senior leadership often receives compensation. The lack of transparency raises questions about the equitable distribution of resources and the fairness of asking seniors to volunteer while others benefit financially.
  8. Pressure and Guilt Tactics:
    • The repeated emphasis on the unique capacity and untapped potential of seniors, coupled with the invitation to prayerfully consider serving, may create a sense of pressure and guilt. Seniors might feel emotionally obligated to comply with the request, driven by a desire to fulfill their perceived duty to the Lord.

The speech exhibits elements of emotional manipulation, statistical exaggeration, and an appeal to faith to encourage seniors to volunteer for church missions. The financial disparity and lack of transparency about compensation within the church service is unethical. How would the Lord in any fairness ask seniors to provide free labor while others benefit financially from the same organization?

Here is the full text from the speech, along with a link to the video on the church website:

Well, brothers and sisters, if that doesn’t touch your heart. I don’t know what we can do. We’re grateful for your willingness to attend this special senior missionary devotional tonight that we’ve invited you to. We intentionally entitled it “The Best Time of Our Lives” because we believe that it will be. I want to express our appreciation to President and Sister McConkie and President and Sister Holmes and Elder and Sister Durham, who have all and all who have had anything to do with putting this together. Tonight, there are many volunteers who have come and made this possible, and we are grateful to each of you for your inspired leadership and service. Thank you to one and all.

President Russell M. Nelson recently spoke to the youth of the Church and said, “Would you like to be a big part of the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on the earth today?” And what is the greatest challenge? He asked. The gathering of Israel. He continued, “My dear, extraordinary youth, you were sent to Earth at this precise time, the most crucial time in the history of the world, to help gather Israel.

There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important than that. There is nothing of greater consequence. Absolutely nothing. This gathering should mean everything to you. This is the mission for which you were sent to Earth.” Now, brothers and sisters, if the gathering of Israel is the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on the earth today, surely President Nelson’s quote applies to all of us and not just to the youth.

Indeed, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith, every prophet in this dispensation has made similar statements about the gathering. The prophet Joseph Smith stated it this way. “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel.” The Savior’s great commission to His prophets and apostles in all ages has been the same. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

And from the very beginning the Father stated, “This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” So it has always been the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, the greatest work on the earth, and our own divine lineage and sacred covenants give us the responsibility to engage in this sacred work.

In the early days of the restoration, men received calls to serve through direct revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith.I counted 30 plus sections of the Doctrine and Covenants that contained specific calls to serve to individuals, and there are dozens more that speak of the elders collectively. Later, calls were extended from the pulpit in general conferences directly to unexpecting men and women. Later still and into the last century, even, the Saints would sometimes get a letter from Box B. A letter from Box B meant that you were getting a call without having been interviewed. Presidents of the Church called members on missions with no warning beforehand. Aren’t you grateful those days are gone?

Well, they aren’t. I can tell you from personal experience. Now, you’ve read about some of these missionaries, about boxed B, from Saints Volume one. They’re incredible stories about people who helped establish the Church in areas all around the world.

Faithful men willingly left wives and young families to serve throughout the world. Faithful women willingly shouldered the full responsibility for raising the children and sustaining the family in their husband’s absence. They often served for two and a half years with absolutely no verbal communication until they arrived back home.

The prophet did not ask any of those called if they wanted to serve. Or if it was going to be inconvenient for them to serve. Each received an official call they believe came from the Lord. And whether by my voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. And so they willingly went. They made these extraordinary sacrifices because of their temple covenants, and because they had faith in the living God. There was nothing convenient about the timing of their calls to serve. Service has never been convenient. It’s supposed to be inconvenient. That inconvenience anchors us to our covenants and allows the Lord to help us remind us of what we really hold dear and near to us.

It hasn’t been convenient in my life or our lives, Sister Pearson and I, and I suspect the same has been true for each of you as well. But serving has blessed our lives and our family in ways we could have never imagined possible. We have met and served with people all over the world who have blessed and enriched our lives. We are much better because of our relationship with them. So it’s still the greatest work on the earth today. And Latter-day Saints still carry the great responsibility for this work through our sacred covenants, brothers and sisters.

And still today, the call to serve can come quite unexpectedly and at the most inconvenient times of our lives. Some of us are witnesses of that here today, but Box B is no longer used as the return address. Yet the call to serve remains. Tonight as an area presidency, we reiterate the words of President Russell M. Nelson. “Your decision to serve a mission, whether a proselyting or a service mission, will bless you and many others. We also welcome senior couples to serve when their circumstances permit. Their efforts are simply irreplaceable.”

Brothers and sisters, you are desperately needed and simply irreplaceable. As was mentioned earlier, there are over 213,000 senior members of the Church here in Utah who are active members of the Church with no dependents living at home, who have never served a full-time or service mission and who are currently not serving as a temple ordinance worker, nor have a leadership calling at the present time. Only 14% of the 256,000 senior members in Utah have ever served as senior missionaries or temple ordinance workers.

Senior members in Utah account for one third of all senior members in the Church. But when you look at that percentage across the world in the Church in terms of who is capable and has the capacity to serve, that percentage goes up exponentially.

Do you see where I’m going with all this?

We have an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference in the church and throughout the world. You do. We do. It is simply unprecedented to have this kind of capacity, this kind of untapped capacity, with potential for so much good in the world. The Lord has blessed us with this capacity. And surely, brothers and sisters, He expects us to use it to engage in the greatest cause and greatest work on the earth today. Now, we’ve invited you here tonight because we want to extend an invitation to each of you to serve.

This is your, this is our box B speaking to you tonight. Will you prayerfully consider serving two missions? Not one, but two?

A full-time proselyting mission, if your health permits, and a service mission here in Utah as well.

The sequence is not important, but the call to serve is crucial. Of course, we understand that there are some who, for health or other reasons, simply may not be able to serve missions away from home.

We understand that. But we believe, brothers and sisters, that there are tens of thousands of our members who could be engaged in this meaningful service. We can promise you that it will be one of the very best decisions of your entire lives.

Elder Holland has said, “We need thousands of more couples serving in the missions of the Church. Everywhere they serve, our couples bring a maturity to the work that no number of 19 year olds, however good they are, can provide.” Amen to that statement.

Having served as mission leaders, Sister Pearson and I can testify, senior couples, senior couples, brothers and sisters, are far more valuable in terms of increasing convert baptisms and moving the work forward than 18, 19, and 20 something year olds are. We need them to serve so that they will become converted and to develop leadership for the future of this Church.

But you have far greater capacity to touch people’s lives and to help people find the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and become and to help people find the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and become converted to the Savior. You know more, you understand more, than the very best young missionaries we have serving in the Church will ever know and understand during their full time service.

“So bishops and stake presidents,” continuing Elder Holland’s quote, my beloved brethren. “Discuss this in your councils and conferences, sit on the stand in your meetings and prayerfully look into the congregation for impressions about those who should receive a call. Then counsel with them and help them set a date for service. What greater gift could grandparents give their posterity than to say by deed as well as word, in this family we serve missions.”

Now, you’ve heard tonight, brothers and sisters, that there’s a tremendous need for senior couples. I hope that that’s been abundantly clear to you. Here in Utah, there is a need for nearly 2000 additional senior missionary couples. Church-wide there is a need for an additional 6000 couples immediately, right now.

The COVID pandemic absolutely decimated the senior missionary force worldwide. There’s also a significant need here in Utah for part-time senior service missionaries in a variety of opportunities from service in the Wasatch Front Service Mission to My Hometown and to the Salt Lake City Headquarters Mission.

You’ve heard about some of those tonight and seen and heard some wonderful examples of those who are serving. In addition, there will be a significant opportunity for service as temple ordinance workers, as the as 14 temples currently under construction or renovation are dedicated in the next 3 or 4 years.

Area presidencies and mission leaders around the world inquire daily of the missionary department, sometimes multiple times each day, pleading for more available senior couple missionaries, pleading for the assignments to be met in their areas and for the needs to be addressed. There just simply haven’t been enough of us to go around just yet.

Too many senior couples wait too long to serve. I’ve met so many couples who said, it’s our life’s dream to do it, we just haven’t pulled the trigger yet. And for one reason or another, health, health status changes. Other things change, and those dreams go unfulfilled. So we encourage you to serve while your health profile allows you to serve away from home, where you are, where you are needed so greatly.

We promise there are tremendous blessings and great joy awaiting you, brothers and sisters, as you serve. Will you please prayerfully consider our invitation to serve? The need for your service is great. King Benjamin said it so well, “When we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of our God.” But the blessings that will come to you, to your marriage, to your children, and your grandchildren are also great.

Your service as missionaries will also bring great happiness and joy, as well as lifelong friendships with those whom you will serve. Tonight, we pray that the Holy Ghost will send your own box B spiritual message and confirmation. It will always be inconvenient, but it will absolutely be worth it.

The Lord’s words to Joseph Smith’s Sr. are still the clarion call to all. “Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work. Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you. “

We testify from our own experience that the Lord is most merciful to those who love and serve Him. As you serve, the Lord will awaken within you a renewed sense that indeed there is nothing happening on the earth today that is more important. You will be blessed with greater faith in Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. You will be blessed with eyes to see with greater clarity the magnitude and the magnificence of what the Lord is doing through His Church here in Utah and across the Earth.

You will be blessed with a greater measure of charity, the pure love of Christ. You will feel closer to the influence of the Holy Ghost in your life. You will experience a greater sense of joy in your life. Your marriage relationship will increase in love and appreciation for one another. It will be good for your love affair. You will be closer to each other and to the Spirit of the Lord. And the Lord will bless your children and grandchildren with the things that they need most.

The things that, honestly, you and I can’t give them. Your service will become a living legacy of faith to your families. Countless individuals will be blessed by your selfless and devoted service as you witness the Lord literally working through you in blessing their lives. This will be indeed the best time of your lives and one of the very happiest. You will look back on your experience and thank God for the blessing and opportunity you had to serve.

Now, brothers and sisters, we live in unprecedented times. We have been blessed with great abundance in our lives. We may not only sing, but live the words of the beloved hymn that will close within just a few minutes. “There surely somewhere a lonely place in Earth’s harvest fields so wide, where I may labor through life’s short day for Jesus the crucified. So trusting my all to thy tender care and knowing thou lovest me, I’ll do thy will With the heart sincere. I’ll be what you want me to be. I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, over mountain or plain or sea. I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord, I’ll be what you want me to be.”

We testify, brothers and sisters, that this is still the greatest cause and the greatest work on the earth today. There is truly nothing happening that is more important. We are deeply grateful for your faith and your faithfulness. Surely, there is not a more faithful people anywhere in the world. The Savior’s Church continues to move forward because of your faith fullness in keeping His commandments and your sacred covenants. We witness to you that God is our loving, Heavenly Father. Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. This is His Church and kingdom here upon the earth. We are led by a living prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, and living prophets. May our thoughts be especially drawn to the Savior as we approach April General Conference. Conference will be held on Palm Sunday, commemorating the final days of the Savior’s mortal life. His infinite Atonement, the crucifixion and the glorious resurrection on Easter morning. May we all endure to the end in following the Savior. Is our prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Elder Kevin W. Pearson, LDS General Authority Seventy and President of the Utah Area
March 19th, 2023 The Best Time of Our Lives: Senior Missionary Opportunities Broadcast (52:04)

The Sales Pitch to Seniors

This whole broadcast reeks of salesmen, marketing spin, and emotional manipulation. Before the main speaker they show a professionally products commercial which is a sales pitch to become a senior missionary.

This film creates an emotional sell and convinces the attendees that serving a mission is what they want to do already. It disregards common hesitations, like missing family at home or struggling in the mission. It presents many senior missionaries claiming that serving a mission brought them true happiness. They remark that they still participate in family events via video calls and that they are even allowed to go home a little bit. They are told that their family is also encouraged to visit them on their mission.

Many senior missionaries do not want to miss the fleeting years of their beloved grandchildren growing up. The commercial makes claims like “through loving the Savior and doing His work is the only way that I can have the love of those grandchildren throughout eternity.” They also say, “The best thing that we can do is just be here and work the best we can be, and take care of God’s children over here as He takes care of our children at home.”

The commercial also touts that serving a senior mission will bring you closer to your spouse with statements like, “I honestly have felt closer to my husband here than I have any place else,” and feelings of a renewed relationship.

These missionaries, like all missionaries (except perhaps Mission Presidents), must pay their own way to serve a mission. They use their retirement savings to travel across the world and work for the church for free. While the church does claim that there is no paid clergy, the top leadership does receive what they call a “living allowance” totaling $178K each year. This increases annually and doesn’t even count the extensive reimbursements and benefits given to the top leadership. The church then expects young and senior missionaries to foot their own bill. They even state in the film that serving a mission is a time to work for the Lord rather than to work for money

The final claim in the video is from a senior missionary claiming “yes, I’ll miss my family, but I’ll be with them for eternity. And that’s because I’m serving a mission now.” This message sets the assumption that serving a mission is basically a calling and election made sure. He’ll be with his family for eternity, because he’s serving a mission now. Is this a direct correlation? Is this a requirement? They’d like all seniors to think so, it’s free labor! The church gets hundreds of thousands of hours of work for free, because they make the members feel like it is their responsibility to serve the church. This is a form of spiritually coerced slavery. All the while they require members to pay tithing to receive temple blessings, and are investing the tithing and paying themselves (from the interest).

As I thought about serving a mission, I thought about leaving my family, my children, but especially my grandchildren. Grandchildren, grandchildren, grandchildren. Were are we going to miss any major events with our kids? Baptism. Graduation from high school. Four grandchildren were baptized while we’ve been gone. We participated in both of those events by a FaceTime. You can stay in touch with them every day if you want. We try to be very flexible with senior missionaries to identify certain key family events. And even here in the Philippines, which for most of them is a half a world away, we’ve arranged for missionaries to travel home for a couple of weeks.

But we do also encourage families to come and see their parents while they’re serving. And I’ve had a niece, and two nieces actually, come. I’ve come to the conclusion that through loving the Savior and doing His work is the only way that I can have the love of those grandchildren throughout eternity. That He’s the one that’s made that possible. The best thing that we can do is just be here and work the best we can be, and take care of God’s children over here as He takes care of our children at home.

Missionary service has really brought us closer together. And it’s been incredible to be able to get to know each other again. I honestly have felt closer to my husband here than I have any place else. The idea that I’m doing this work, which he is actively engaged in on the other side, has brought that renewed relationship as well. We had worked long enough for money, and it was time to work for the Lord.

Senior missionaries, they’re just irreplaceable. I mean, they fill a role that a junior missionary cannot fill. If we don’t have senior missionaries, I don’t see how we could move forward to work with the Lord. We’re out promoting the principles that Christ taught. It is part of the work that’s laying the groundwork for the return of our Savior. You will be satisfied. You will feel a real swelling in your heart for doing something good for the people you’re serving and you’re working with. Where at home, yes, I’ll miss my family, but I’ll be with them for eternity. And that’s because I’m serving a mission now.

To the senior missionaries, we need you. We need you.

Senior Missionary Commercial shown at the March 19th, 2023 The Best Time of Our Lives: Senior Missionary Opportunities Broadcast (44:00 – 52:04)

The commercial video displays alarming elements of emotional manipulation. It paints a narrative of prioritizing the needs of a religious organization over personal and familial needs. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Emphasis on Sacrifice:
    • They emphasize leaving family, children, and especially grandchildren to serve a mission. This framing sets the tone for a sacrificial narrative, where personal sacrifices, including missing major family events, are portrayed as noble and necessary. Many people grow up in the church seeing their father and/or mother serving in the church and neglecting their family duties at home. The church will take and take and take anything and everything anyone can give, and always make them feel that they aren’t doing enough.
  2. Use of Repetition:
    • The repeated mention of “grandchildren” and the insistence on the speaker’s dedication to the mission suggests a form of reinforcement. Repetition can contribute to the Illusory Truth Effect, making the idea of sacrificing family for the mission more acceptable and unquestionable.
  3. Technology as a Facade:
    • The speaker mentions using FaceTime to stay in touch with family and participate in key events remotely. While technology allows some connection, it creates an illusion that the sacrifice is minimized. However, the emotional and physical absence during important family events remains.
  4. Appeal to Eternal Love:
    • The speaker ties the concept of eternal love for family with serving the mission. This appeal suggests that the only way to ensure eternal love for grandchildren is through missionary service, subtly placing emotional pressure on individuals to comply with the organization’s expectations.
  5. Renewed Relationships:
    • The narrative suggests that serving a mission brings couples closer together, creating a sense of unity and purpose. This can be emotionally manipulative, as it implies that by prioritizing the mission over personal desires, couples can strengthen their relationships.
  6. Shift in Values:
    • The speaker mentions a shift from working for money to working for the Lord, framing the mission as a higher purpose. This can be seen as a subtle way of redefining values and encouraging individuals to prioritize the mission over personal financial and familial considerations.
  7. Importance of Senior Missionaries:
    • The video positions senior missionaries as “irreplaceable” and suggests that without them, the organization cannot move forward in its work with the Lord. This statement adds a sense of duty and importance to the role of senior missionaries, potentially making them feel indispensable.
  8. Promotion of Organizational Goals:
    • The promotion highlights the idea that missionary work is laying the groundwork for the return of the Savior. This framing encourages individuals to see their efforts as part of a larger divine plan, reinforcing a sense of duty and purpose within the organizational framework.
  9. Appeal to Satisfaction:
    • The message assures potential missionaries that they will feel satisfaction and a “real swelling in [their] heart” for doing good in the service of the organization. This appeal to emotional fulfillment is to entice individuals into sacrificing personal needs for the perceived greater good.

The video portrays an emotionally charged narrative that encourages individuals to prioritize the needs of the organization over personal and family needs. The use of emotional manipulation, repetition, and appeals to eternal love and higher purpose contribute to a coercive atmosphere that influences individuals to serve the organization’s mission at the expense of their own well-being and family relationships.

What do you feel about the strong emotionally charged urge to have seniors consider serving not one, but two missions? Does it seem that the church is trying to keep members too busy to ask questions? If they can keep members overwhelmed with calls to serve, they will never have the time to research their questions or even think about their shelf. Is your family serving a senior mission? Are they serving two? Did this mindset help or catalyze your deconstruction? Share your thoughts at!

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