Anyone else think your mission was run like a business?

rusty123 Mar. 2013

Was anyone else surprised when they got out into the mission field and realized how much the mission seemed to be run like either a military or a business instead of being run like an EFY or the one and only true church?

I was seriously shocked by the amount of pressure put on us to produce NUMBERS. We had to call our leaders every night and report our numbers for the day. When the numbers were below average we got yelled at, asked what was wrong with us, if we had faith, if we were sinning! I couldn't believe it! I was busting my butt off all day literally walking miles on end in the extreme heat talking with everyone in the street, every single person on the bus (except the bus driver), knocking on doors, asking members for referrals, literally losing weight because I'm busting my butt so hard, trying my hardest to keep every little rule right down to the fine print, and here you are judging me like I'm on vacation or something, not to mention I'm doing all this on my own dime.

One weekend my companion and I got taken out of our area to help some other missionaries in theirs. When it came to report our numbers that week we didn't know whether to include the lessons we taught in that other area or not. Someone told us that usually you let the missionaries in the area you're in count your numbers on their report. So we let them count our lessons, as a result my companion and I were way below the standard for number of lessons that week.

The next week happened to be interviews with the mission president, who was big on a quote that said "Any excuse regardless of what it is weakens your character." I sat down, he looked at my numbers, and said "What is this? These numbers are really low!" What happened? Thinking of his famous quote all I could come up with was we tried but will do better. Then he looked me in the eye and said, and I will never forget this, "'re condemning yourself!" I was seriously shocked. First I thought this guy doesn't have a clue, then I thought if I'm busting my butt off only to go to Hell then why am I here, I'd rather be out partying if I'm going to go to Hell anyways.

Although that being said I finished my mission still working hard but for some reason always thought that my mission was some kind of weird exception and that other peoples missions were run more like the one and only true church. But then I talked with others and my sister about her mission and it was exactly the same as mine, even as a sister she got yelled at regularly by the elders and her mission president.

Those are my thoughts, always made me wonder about the church because if most of the missions are like that it must be coming from the top.

Re: Anyone else think your mission was run like a military/business?
My first MP was former US military so you can just imagine the focus on numbers, discipline and fear of failure. Even more scary than all of this however, was just how quickly I and the majority of missionaries fell into line and simply accepted it.

It's very easy to see in retrospect the workings of a cult and mass blind obedience to every whim of an authoritative and charismatic leader.

Re: Anyone else think your mission was run like a military/business?
Seems like your experience is par for the course when it comes to mission experiences.

I lived with the zone leaders in one of my areas. Each Sunday night they had to report their numbers to the AP's. One Sunday night I was in their room chatting, and the phone rang. Both the ZL's began fighting with each other over who's turn it was to answer the phone and talk to the AP's. They were genuinely horrified at the thought of the tongue-lashing they were about to receive from the "leaders" for not performing up to snuff.

How sad is that? These were hard-working missionaries. They gave their all to the mission. What kind of organization is this that instills fear, guilt, and shame into young, impressionable men in order to increase the number of baptisms? Certainly not any organization I want to be a part of. Christlike attributes my ass.

Re: Anyone else think your mission was run like a military/business?
I remember that in my mission too. I used to wonder why there was so much disapproval when we were living the gospel more closely than at any other point in our lives: 60 hours a week of proselytizing (usually tracting), putting off dating, college and career, etc. -- and we're being yelled at?
Stray Mutt
More like a gulag.
With a bit of psych hospital thrown in.
charles, too lazy to log in
Re: Anyone else think your mission was run like a military/business?
Thanks for sharing that. I got ptsd just remembering all the business themed pressure to keep up numbers: hours, teachings, studying, baptisms. Yeah, like we could predict with statistical accuracy each contact's baptismal schedule. I was shocked by how there was no talk about encouraging listening to the holy ghost, or the holy spirit or whatever the heck we now call it, so that they could gain a testimony. Holy shiz, that was a real shocker.

And the strategies they teach you. Amway type opening lines, putting on the pressure to read the damn golden book, even on half educated people who read neither their mother tongue much less English. Damn.

King Brigham I
Re: Anyone else think your mission was run like a military/business?
Here's something I posted elsewhere:

Ours was one of several missions being visited by Hugh B. Brown -- an apostle at the time -- and during a casual after-dinner chat at the mission home, he said:

"Let's not lose the shepherds while we are gathering in the sheep."

He was referring, of course, to the shift to push the missionaries to get as many baptisms as possible, no matter what the cost.

Unfortunately, the message didn't faze my mission president.

Mr. Neutron
Re: Anyone else think your mission was run like a military/business?
I heard that all the time on my mission. I had one companion who was brilliant at getting the numbers to work and the baptisms to flow. But I never had to worry so much about it myself. Somehow, I always knew it wasn't about the numbers, so I ignored it.

But that always bothered me about the church. Meetings in the church are like business meetings. They even use business language. Business suits, business offices, meeting minutes, overhead projectors, manuals, instructions, legalism, etc. I chalked it up to a temporary situation within the Lord's church and ignored it. Now I know exactly what it is: a business.

Mr. Neutron
I used to think all the leaders were like Hugh B. Brown.

Not logged in
Yes rusty! You are describing my experience to a T. I was a sister missionary, hoping to offer the truth to anyone who was ready and wanted it. I was really disillusioned by those 18 months. I was shocked to find that the MP didn't think our job was to find those who were ready, it was to MAKE people ready. The pressure was unrelenting. I am a person who tends to be a people-pleaser and I was the type who always looked and felt guilty, even when I had done nothing wrong. This is not a good match for a mission.

I got so fed up with it, then when our MP started this big thing about getting a revelation that our previous goals (which were outlandishly high) were just not high enough. I couldn't believe it. The MP had the APs do a tour of the mission right before Christmas, telling us that the baptismal goals should be at LEAST 2-3 times higher, because GAWD himself told our MP in prayer that this was so. Anybody who couldn't produce a minimum of 8-12 baptisms per month was a slacker and a major disappointment to Jesus. Oh and don't be bitching about not getting any mail at Christmas because it might not get through.


I got to thinking that my nevermo family did not want me on this adventure in the first place. My TBM boyfriend was already home from his mission waiting for me. (That was not meant to be - but that's a whole other saga.) I got to thinking that if the Lard wasn't happy with what I was doing, then there really wasn't any point to me continuing. This percolated in my mind for a week or two. And the next time my companions (we were in a trio at this point) got into an argument, I just snapped. I'm going home. I'm done. I will not do this anymore. We went to the ZL's house and told them. They called the MP and I had to talk to him. I was afraid of him and found I didn't have the courage to tell him that his "revelation" was the final straw for me. So I made up a story that I couldn't deal with having to work until 11:30 every night (to make up for the siesta) and still supposed to get up at 6:30 every morning. (Actually, that was true enough - it just wasn't the reason I wanted to quit.) Instead of sending me home, they transferred me to a US mission as a spanish-speaking missionary. So I got to go home at 9:30 instead of 11:30 for the last 7 months.

To be honest, the 2nd mission assignment wasn't nearly as strict as the first. But the PTSD was already well established and I found that I did not fit in at all with the 2nd location because I was in constant fear and a bundle of nerves.

I finished my 18 months and got an honorable discharge. I was almost manic when I got home. And fortunately, a revelation of my own got me out of the church only about 6 months after my return. But it took a lot of therapy to get back to normal. One of the biggest helps to me was a non LDS show on PBS in the mid 80s about mormon missionaries. It showed the experiences of several who were in Central and South American missions. Their MPs were EXACTLY like my first one was. I was so surprised and relieved that it wasn't just me. But I felt so sorry for those guys because I knew how much they were suffering.

There were some good things that came from my experience, but it was a horror on many levels.

Re: Anyone else think your mission was run like a military/business?
Missions run like military/business? Tell me about it. Picture this - The Italy Rome Mission, back in 1982. At the time the president of said mission was a retired U.S. Marine sergeant. I did you not. During one zone conference he instructed us of his epiphany/new plan of action. As per his instruction, we missionaries were to no longer do regular tracting, but instead, enter the professional offices of the upper class in Rome - lawyers, doctors, accountants, the high fashion stores, etc. I'll never forget the look on the poor lawyer's face when my senior comp and I entered his office where senior comp blurts out, in Italian of course, "Excuse us sir, but we have an important message that's important for you and your family!" I'm pretty sure, at first, he thought there was a mafia hit involved. But not long after the story of Joseph Smith began, we were promptly shown the door.

Ah, I remember now.
I didn't quite get it right. My companion told the lawyer, "Sir, we have an important message that will help save you and your family!" That was it.
Franklin Planners
When I arrived in the mission field we were required to purchase a Franklin time management seminar. It was a planner book and a video that we all watched together. It was a few hours I think. The whole package cost almost $100.
I diligently used my Franklin (and throughout my mission we voluntarily ordered stuff from Franklin as a hobby, which gave a missionary discount...soon I had a leather Franklin binder and Cross pens). I still have the filler pages today, which acts as my mission journal.

The outgoing MP had elders tracting both sides of the street at the same time to double their exposure. The incoming MP discontinued that but kept the Franklins.

We freely admitted to each other that we were using sales methods and that the church was run like a corporation. We were proud of the church's financial and recruitment means. I specifically remember saying I was only willing to do this for the Lord, and that I wouldn't take a job like this.

The "Committment Pattern" itself was sales. In the MTC and weekly district meeting training we practiced the CP more than the gospel.

Finally a visiting GA said don't waste your money on Franklins, use the "inspired" "blue planners", a standard form printed by the church, instead.
But, the blue planners didn't work well. It was just an appointment sheet on the front and "goals" on the back. I still had to carry a notebook and manage "floating pieces of paper", a phenomenon that the Franklin seminar had taught was inefficient and unreliable...ironic. And, the blue planner didn't fit well in my shirt pocket.
"Simplifying" to the blue planner actually increased my stress (thinking that my tasks were no less than monumentally eternally imperative and my own and others' souls depended on me being organized).

But, niether Franklins or blue planners increased our numbers. The blue planner just made be feel bad because the arbitrary "goal" we never met was always right there on it. Even as a TBM I hated church "goals", both as a missionary and from wards and stakes thereafter. I thought they were arbitrary. A good goal isn't arbitrary, it has some natural meaning. But so often a missionary "goal" is just some number you make up that has no rationale. The only rule seemed to be it HAD to be at least double what had ever been done before.

Re: Anyone else think your mission was run like a military/business?
I could have only wished my mission was ran like the military. Soldiers are allowed to; date, watch TV, or play video games, surf the internet, read regular media, or go off on their own in their off hours. Soldiers actually get off hours. Soldiers are not expected to wear their uniform from the time they get up in the morning, until they go to sleep, unless they are in a combat zone. Soldiers get liberty, and are allowed to drink or smoke during such hours. Soldiers get paid, and most of them actually do something useful for their society.

I'm sorry, other then the hard physical conditioning soldiers are inspected to participate in, they get treated a lot better then cult members.

I also forgot to add, when military members are given something to wear, in order to protect them from harm, it actually works.

Re: Anyone else think your mission was run like a military/business?
Much more like the military than a business....obedience to stupid rules was far more important than actual job performance.

"Recovery from Mormonism -"