How to respond to missionaries

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DarkJedi
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How to respond to missionaries

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Nov 2020, 10:44

The missionaries called my cell last night and not recognizing the number I didn't answer (despite them actually calling twice, the message was the second time). The message was basically "Hi Brother Jedi, we're just trying to get to know people in the ward and find out how we can help you. Give a call or text back." (They also put in a plug for the wonderful upcoming opportunity to hear the message of hope from the prophet with an encouragement to watch.) I didn't call them back yet and probably won't immediately. And I know the subtext here - what they want to "help me" with is help them find people to teach (which I am generally not inclined to do).

I don't want to be rude or sound mean. I served a mission, I've had kids on missions, I know what it's like under normal circumstances. But now it's way different. They're currently back on lockdown, having only been out a short time. Even when they were out they were not allowed to go inside people's homes. One of them bore testimony in church Sunday and they've reduced themselves to calling sequential numbers trying to find people to talk to (AKA cold call telemarketing, which is some ways I suppose isn't that much different than knocking on doors). I really think I'd go batsh*t crazy under the circumstances and I feel sorry for them. And they have a crazy control freak mission president besides. On the other hand, in times past when the missionaries don't seem to be getting the message I have been very forthright with them in telling them I'm not their guy and I'm not referring anyone or wasting any time with any programs (including praying for them).

What responses have you folks used (or had used on you) that's gentle but effective in getting the missionaries to leave you alone?
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Holy Cow
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Re: How to respond to missionaries

Post by Holy Cow » 18 Nov 2020, 12:03

Meeting with the missionaries can definitely be awkward. I've had a similar experience this past month. Every week for the past 6-7 weeks, we've been finding goodies showing up on the front porch from the missionaries. Cookies, brownies, candles, etc. always with a little spiritual thought attached. Last week, we had them over for dinner. During the dinner, my wife thanked them for the weekly gifts and gave them a gift in return with some snacks and gift cards for local restaurants. One of the missionaries had just been transferred into the area a few days prior, and had a confused look on his face. "Gifts?" The other missionary just kind of quickly told him, "They're one of the families on the list I was telling you about earlier."
Ha! Caught them! Apparently, we're on some kind of project list. Anyway, at the end of the dinner, they shared the usual spiritual message with us and then asked if we'd be willing to share the names of any friends that could benefit from their message. My wife said she'd try to think of somebody. I used my standard answer, "I struggle with a lot of the doctrines of the church, so I wouldn't be comfortable referring a friend when my own testimony is lacking." So far, this answer has always worked for me with the missionaries. They never seem to know quite how to respond. But, it's an honest answer that puts the blame on myself, so it isn't hostile or rude, while also giving a solid no. I don't mind feeding the missionaries, and after I've given them this answer in the past I've continued inviting them to eat with us and they've always been respectful about not being pushy or forcing the issue.
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DarkJedi
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Re: How to respond to missionaries

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Nov 2020, 13:30

Here the missionaries are still locked down (or I should say again locked down). They're looking for a phone or video meeting. Even for the brief time they were not locked down they weren't allowed to go into anybody's home (member or other) and no food.

That said, though, the honest approach may be what it takes HC. I don't really have many issues with doctrine per se (at least what I consider doctrine) my issues are more with church culture and policy. That approach may work though. "There are some cultural aspects of the church that trouble me and I disagree with some policies, such as the treatment of LGBTQ people." On the other hand, with a bunch of Utah boys that could lead to a lengthier conversation that I wouldn't necessarily care to have and it could turn me into a project. (I think I failed to mention our elders are currently in a trio.) And I have my more orthodox wife's feelings to take into consideration, although she's no more eager to sic the missionaries on her friends.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Gerald
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Re: How to respond to missionaries

Post by Gerald » 18 Nov 2020, 16:01

I do feel for them as well. They're just doing their best and trying to make good use of their time. I liked having them for dinner (which isn't happening right now) and I tolerated the inevitable message that followed (they're just doing their job). A month ago, they contacted us about coming over. (It was the third time in as many months). Thankfully (?), I had Covid and we were on quarantine. I felt rather guilty to feel grateful for the excuse. I live where everyone is Mormon (who wants to be). There's honestly very little missionary work that we can do (reactivation is another story I guess) and I weary of their well-intentioned messages. It's like hearing the same sacrament meeting talk over and over again. Okay, now I'm going to go and repent.
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

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DarkJedi
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Re: How to respond to missionaries

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Nov 2020, 16:31

Fortunately dinner appointments here haven't been an issue for a couple of years ("issue" depending on your point of view). The current mission tyrant...er president... first implemented a plan that the missionaries should be out teaching during "prime time" hours of 6-9. So, unless you were having someone they're teaching at your house dinner had to be finished before 6. That pretty much eliminated anyone who works. I don't get home until 5:30-6:00, my wife 6-6:30. After the TBM types who have had it beat into their heads for 20 years to feed the missionaries pushed back the tyrant doubled down and said it was not necessary to feed the missionaries at all and even if you did have someone taking the lessons over the visit should be limited to about 30 minutes with only refreshments (not necessarily for the missionaries). Then COVID hit and the missionaries were locked down (they weren't even here for a while). The Tyrant decreed that we could not bring the missionaries food and even during the brief interregnum when they weren't locked down (they're locked down again with the current COVID surge) no meals for missionaries (because they weren't allowed in any homes) and no taking them food - absolutely no feeding the animals, not even snickerdoodles.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Minyan Man
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Re: How to respond to missionaries

Post by Minyan Man » 18 Nov 2020, 17:17

I can't imagine what it must be like for these young men. IMO it would be more merciful to send them home & be locked down
with family.

grobert93
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Re: How to respond to missionaries

Post by grobert93 » 19 Nov 2020, 09:55

IMO you owe the missionaries nothing. They will, after all, transfer out eventually and forget about you. That's the reality of serving. You're just a name on a list of people to be contacted every 6 months. Take nothing personal of it, they aren't losing sleep worrying about getting in contact with you. They're losing sleep over failing to contact enough less actives, for failing to bring back enough "lost sheep". For failing to baptize enough people. That's what's on their minds. So, you choose if you want them to contact you or not. That's your own choice. But you already know what they will do and say. You've already made up your mind. Why waste your or their time? I understand there is guilt, and that means the church's toxic culture of pressuring us to care about the missionaries is still strong. Don't give in. The church owes the missionaries much better than this.

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DarkJedi
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Re: How to respond to missionaries

Post by DarkJedi » 19 Nov 2020, 11:24

grobert93 wrote:
19 Nov 2020, 09:55
IMO you owe the missionaries nothing. They will, after all, transfer out eventually and forget about you. That's the reality of serving. You're just a name on a list of people to be contacted every 6 months. Take nothing personal of it, they aren't losing sleep worrying about getting in contact with you. They're losing sleep over failing to contact enough less actives, for failing to bring back enough "lost sheep". For failing to baptize enough people. That's what's on their minds. So, you choose if you want them to contact you or not. That's your own choice. But you already know what they will do and say. You've already made up your mind. Why waste your or their time? I understand there is guilt, and that means the church's toxic culture of pressuring us to care about the missionaries is still strong. Don't give in. The church owes the missionaries much better than this.
I agree I owe them nothing which is good because I have little to offer them. They can contact me because I choose to leave basic contact info available on Tools so ward members can contact me if they wish. One approach would be to not respond to the missionaries' calls/messages which I am perfectly capable of doing without guilt. They have not been pesky, this is the first contact attempt at least this year (I can't remember when the last time was but it was well before COVID). Maybe I'll wait until they become pesky, hoping they don't become pesky.

I'll be clear I don't have any guilt in relation to this, although I know people who do/would. I only feel bad for them on a human level because I wouldn't want to be in their situation.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Roy
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Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: How to respond to missionaries

Post by Roy » 19 Nov 2020, 16:02

The missionaries texted me and asked if they could come visit our family.

I texted them back and asked what the purpose of their visit would be.

My community (Oregon) has fast increasing COVID numbers and I am not inclined to accept a visit without a stated purpose. It is not personal.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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On Own Now
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Re: How to respond to missionaries

Post by On Own Now » 19 Nov 2020, 17:37

At the risk of creating a toxic culture of [encouraging] us to care about the missionaries, let me add a few thoughts.

- I think that during the pandemic, it is 100% OK to (and I would even say, please do) tell missionaries we are not having any direct contact with anyone. That should end the interaction. In my area, for a while, at least, the missionaries were doing zoom meetings with the members; doesn't sound like that would be... in line... with your current mission president.

- I think that during non-pandemic times, being as straight-forward as possible isn't a bad thing. I never felt the need to do this myself, so I caveat this by saying it's entirely academic, but I think it would be fine to say something like, "Inviting my neighbors isn't my vibe. So, I'd love to have you come over and chat, and hey, I'd even appreciate a spiritual thought out of the New Testament [..I usually request that...], but if it's going to wind up in an invitation to seek out someone for you to teach, then let's just skip it." Thinking back a few decades to when I was a missionary, I probably would have been a little annoyed, but I would be fine with keeping it about the gospel in general without an invitation. In fact, most of the time when we went into a member's home, it was not to find new people to teach.

- After my own faith crisis, and in a way to stay connected with the Church, but on my own turf, my believing wife and I started inviting more missionaries over for dinner. It actually turned into a really great way to have Church 'activity' without doing the things I didn't like. We got acquainted with dozens...many dozens... over the span of time and it was really nice to do so. I remember two specific sister missionaries who expressed such genuine love that these happenings have stuck with me. Both involved some tears. There was one sister missionary that was just really friendly and energetic... in a good way. We were having them over for dinner in an appointment that had been made previously, but my wife had just received her cancer diagnosis that afternoon. So, when they came over, we had some pizza or some such instead of a regular meal, and my wife confided in them. I just can still remember the sadness that came over this sister missionary and the tears rolling down her face. It wasn't forced... it wasn't faked... she genuinely cared and, you know? It felt good to be loved in that way in that situation. (Conversely, our Bishop told us that the Lord must have something he wanted by wife to learn, which is a joke, because my wife would probably be a future Saint if she were Catholic). On another occasion... different set of sister missionaries that we had gotten to know pretty well... I finally felt I needed to come clean about my beliefs, and when I did, this one really wonderful young woman, who had a heart of gold and a will of iron broke down and cried; totally sincere. She let me know that her own dad was a non-believer as well, so she felt nothing but love and acceptance for me and my situation. In her remaining time in our ward, she never tried to pressure me into reconsidering. Now that I look back across the long struggle of my Faith Transition, I can now say something I didn't recognize while it was happening, but getting to know so many of these really first-class young people helped me to come to a peaceful resolution with the Church. It has affected how I see members of the Church — as really great people who believe in something different than I do, and who sometimes stumble because of the complexities of their own belief, just as I do with mine.

- Finally, and you already have expressed this through the tone of your posts, DJ my good friend, but of course, the missionaries are not responsible for and don't have to answer for the failings of the Church or their current mission president. I am sure that many of them struggle with some of the hardline stuff that they seem to be subjected to. They could probably use hearing a friendly voice once in a while. I had a conversation with one of the elders to came to dinner here a few years ago. He mentioned how some guy driving down the road had given them the finger earlier in the day, and he said that in a certain way, that just motivated him more. The interesting part was when I asked, "So, how often during your mission have you been flipped off by someone?". He said, "Oh, well, at least once every day." So, my takeaway was that, you know, a little more love sent in their general direction probably would be appreciated. Again, going back to another time, when I was a missionary... I had my share of unpleasant interactions, but I also received a lot of kindness... and decades later, it's the kindness I remember.
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“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
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"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." ― Romans 14:13
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