There have been many changes for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this year, and another change recently took place. The Church released a new missionary handbook Friday.
“A lot of it really has changed, but a lot of what we found is a lot more principle based than…detailed on what we’re supposed to be doing exactly,” says Elder Bourne, a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The handbook addresses a lot of the new changes that have been made for missionaries in the past year. Some of those changes include guidelines about missionary daily schedule, technology usage and even sports – the new handbook doesn’t exclude missionaries from playing full court basketball.
Even though the new handbook won’t take effect until the new year, it’s still important for them to become familiar with the changes because missionaries use the handbook every day. They use it so much that many also refer to the handbook as the “white missionary Bible.” Over all, studying it now is preparing them for when the change takes place.
Latter-day Saint missionaries across the world are reading up on the new missionary handbook.
“The greater the agency, the greater the growth,” says Elder Gourney. The new handbook focuses more on agency. This gives missionaries more opportunities to adjust to the needs of their assigned areas.
Returned missionary Ben Anderson says the changes are going to help missionaries establish “a relationship with the book” in a way that allows them to focus on their personal efforts.
Since the new handbook won’t take effect until the new year, the only way to access it now is digitally through the Gospel Library app. Missionaries are not sure when the physical copies will be distributed. Meanwhile, teachers at Missionary Training Centers are also implementing the new handbook with missionaries in training.
“I typically start the class by reading normally like a section or at least a couple paragraphs from the handbook at the beginning of every class,” says Katie Long, a Samoan teacher at the MTC in Provo.
As far as what this change means for the Church, Long also says, “The Church isn’t so focused on making good missionaries, but more so on making good disciples of Jesus Christ.”