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By Jeff Borders
What percentage of men do missionary work?
This is a really great question.
We don’t have recent numbers as to percentage of young men serving a full-time teaching mission. However, in 1991 a survey was done, which found that 32 percent of young men serve 2-year teaching missions. Extrapolating the growth in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, since that time and from personal experience only, I believe this percentage to be fairly constant. This number has been fairly steady since the 1960’s.
This however doesn’t take into account the young women who are also out serving teaching missions, or both young and old whom serve Church Service missions, like serving in visitors centers, storehouses, distribution centers, or even temples.
We do know of there are currently 65,915 missionaries serving in 407 missions (areas of service) across the world. For reference, Washington State has eight missions. These young men and women voluntarily give up two years and eighteen months respectively, to serve and teach. This sacrifice of time away from family and friends to serve the Lord, is known to be some of the most formative of experiences.
There are a variety of reasons why a young man or young woman wouldn’t choose to serve a mission, too many and nuanced to describe in one article. These young men and young women are however encouraged to continue to serve in whatever capacity they can. For instance, I joined the church in my late teens and didn’t serve a mission, but I still serve in callings (voluntary positions of responsibility), with the goal to help the church grow and bless others.
So while we don’t know the exact percentage, we do know that serving a mission will continue to be highly encouraged within our church. If you are interested in learning more about why so many faith traditions encourage missionary work, you can check on my article “Missionary work a crucial part of faith traditions.”