The Unauthorized Investigator's Guide to
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints

Mormon Missionary Lessons

The lessons that missionaries are instructed to teach investigators are contained in their training manual, Preach My Gospel.  There are five lessons. The first four lessons are taught before the investigators are baptized members of the church.  After baptism, the first four lessons are taught again, and the fifth one is taught as well.  The manual instructs missionaries to teach these principles in their own words.  That is what I've done here--paraphrased the principles from the lessons into my own words.

As they teach the lessons, they will ask you to keep various commitments.  If you make the commitments they ask of you, you will agree to live all of the required aspects of the Mormon lifestyle and will agree to be baptized. 

While the missionaries want you to understand and embrace the doctrines they teach, they are more interested in you making and keeping the commitments.  In fact, their main objective is to get you to make and keep the commitments that lead to dedicated membership in their church. When they ask you to make a commitment they tend to put you on the spot, asking for an immediate yes or no answer to a question that can have serious consequences and shouldn't be made without serious forethought.  Because of that, it is wise for you anticipate the commitments they will ask of you and to be prepared to respond.

But in order to do that, you should take a moment and clarify in your own mind why, specifically, you are talking to them.  Their objective is to convert you into a dedicate Mormon.  What is your objective?

Your Objective, Strategy, and Tactics

Integrity: Are you one of the few that is truly dedicated to the truth, or would you rather just keep on believing what is comfortable regardless of whether or not it's true?

Why Study Mormonism?  Is there a better use of your time (as well as of mine)?

It Matters What We Believe by  A poem by Sophia Lyon Fahs.

How Much Study Is Required to make a quality decision regarding Mormonism?  Consider this.

How to Investigate:  Some ideas about how to plan your course of study of the church.

Their Tactics

Why Study Their Tactics?  This is a succinct explanation as to why the investigator can't rely exclusively on the representatives of the church for truth about Mormonism.  It also explains why the investigator understand.

The Commitment Pattern is a specific model for achieving conversions that was detailed in the missionary's official training manual The Missionary Guide.  It was heavily emphasized in missionary work from the late 80's through mid 2004.  When The Missionary Guide was retired in the summer of 2004 and was replaced with Preach My Gospel, the term and strict communication format of the Commitment Pattern became passť. 

Nevertheless, the essential elements of the Commitment Pattern are alive and well in the new manual, even if they aren't laid out in such a rigid fashion.  The Commitment Pattern in a nutshell is to first prepare the investigator to feel the Spirit.  When the investigator feels the spirit, ask him or her to make a commitment.  Then follow-up to help him or her keep the commitment.  The following links give more details about each of these steps:

    Build Relationships of Trust
    Help Others Feel and Recognize the Spirit
    Present the Message
    Find Out


Follow Up

Resolve Concerns

Difficult Questions: How are missionaries trained to respond to difficult questions, such as questions about polygamy?

Strategy: The Missionary Guide teaches the missionaries "The purpose of missionary work is to help more people become converted, baptized, and qualified to return to our Heavenly Father."  (Missionary Guide p. 167, emphasis added)  The eternal welfare of souls is in the hands of missionaries, and this section discusses how they go about maximizing the number of souls they help qualify to return home to God.

Commitments:  The goal of the missionaries is to lead you to baptism and dedication to the church by making and keeping a series of commitments that lead there.  These are the commitments.

Baptismal Interview:  After you have finished the discussions, the leader of the missionaries who taught you will give you a baptismal interview.  Its purpose is to make sure you are ready for Baptism.  This is the leader's instructions for the interview, including the sample interview questions.


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If you have a question or would like to discuss these topics, I suggest that you go to a Mormon-related bulletin board (here are some recommendations). If you'd like to contact me with comments or feedback, you may send an email to