SALT LAKE CITY – The common image of Mormon missionaries has long been two young men wearing white shirts and ties walking through neighborhoods, knocking door-to-door.
But in a few years, that image may be replaced by one of young Mormons sitting with an iPad, typing messages on Facebook.
Recognizing the world has changed, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Sunday night that missionaries will do less door-to-door proselytizing and instead use the Internet to recruit new members.
The shift reflects the growing importance of social media and people’s preference to connect online rather than open their homes to strangers, church leaders said.
“The way in which we fulfill our responsibilities to share the gospel must adapt to a changing world,” said Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a presentation to mission presidents in Provo, Utah, that was broadcast worldwide.
The move is the latest example of the LDS church’s gradual embrace of the digital age, and a recognition that door-to-door proselytizing is not the most effective way to expand membership, church scholars said.
Previously, Internet use for missionaries was limited to once a week and only for communicating with friends and family back home or accessing official church sites.