Seminar for mission presidents: Gospel of Christ improves lives


Latter-day Saint missionaries hope that families and individuals will invite them into their homes, said Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve. "Then, in turn, we may invite them into our home."

Speaking to new mission presidents and missionaries during the 2012 New Mission Presidents Seminar, Elder Perry explained that as a Church "we invite because we love."

"We know that if children of God accept our invitation to enter our home, which is the house of the Lord, the gospel will bring them salvation and exaltation. As missionaries this will be your primary and most important effort.

"But it is also important for you missionaries to know that those who you invite to be converted and join our Church-home will enjoy increased happiness, health, joy and opportunities for meaningful service during their mortal sojourn here on earth. Our Church-home is a home we can feel pleased and eager to invite others to enter — after all it is the Lord's home."

During his address, Elder Perry shared some recent independent data prepared by the Church's Public Affairs Department in conjunction with Elder Larry Y. Wilson of the Seventy, which outlines the statistically measurable benefits associated with dwelling in a Church-home.

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve says those who are invited to join our "Church-home"
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve says those who are invited to join our "Church-home" will enjoy increased happiness. | Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver

"I present these statistics not in a spirit of boasting, but in a sincere effort to help us all better understand how the gospel of Christ improves the lives of its members both in the eternities and the here and now."


Elder Perry said Dr. James Enstrom at the UCLA School of Public Health studied Mormon populations that have been practicing the faith for an extended period. The 25-year study focused on members on the Church in California and concluded that these members — particularly those who were married, had never smoked, attended Church weekly and had a least 12 years of education — had total death rates that are among the lowest ever reported for a group followed for 25 years.

2012 Seminar for New Mission Presidents at the MTC in Provo, Utah
2012 Seminar for New Mission Presidents at the MTC in Provo, Utah | Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver

"Latter-day Saint sisters have a life expectancy of just over 86 years — five and a half years longer than that of comparable females," Elder Perry said. "Latter-day Saint brethren have a life expectancy of over 84 years — almost ten years longer than that of comparable males."

Life satisfaction

Early in 2012, the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religious Life released a broad study titled "Mormons in America." This comprehensive look at Latter-day Saints showed that the overwhelming majority of members are satisfied in their lives and content with their communities. "Nearly nine out of ten reported satisfaction with their lives," said Elder Perry. "That is well above the public generally, which is 75 percent."

In addition, 92 percent of Church members age 40 or younger are satisfied with their lives.

Elder Perry also said that seven in ten Latter-day Saints show high levels of religious commitment — higher than any other religious group surveyed and more than double the general public.

Family life

Elder Perry noted that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Utah — which has the highest concentration of Latter-day Saints in the United States — has the highest percentage of households headed by married couples in the country and the highest percentage of homes with children.

2012 Seminar for New Mission Presidents at the MTC in Provo, Utah
2012 Seminar for New Mission Presidents at the MTC in Provo, Utah | Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver

"According to Pew, more than 80 percent of Church members say being a good parent is one of their most important goals in life. Just half of the general public says that. And nearly three out of four Latter-day Saints believe that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in life, compared with just one third of the general public."


Elder Perry said various studies have confirmed that the more education a Latter-day Saint has, the more likely he or she is to be actively involved in his or her church. "In most churches, it is the opposite. But the Pew Center's survey found that members who have graduated from college attend church more often than those with less education."

He added, "The Church's multifaceted program of religious education begins in the home and is bolstered through Church programs that support the individual and family's learning."

Scripture knowledge

According to one recent survey, Latter-day Saints were the most knowledgeable about Christianity and the Bible and were third only to Jewish survey participants and, oddly, atheists in knowledge about various world religions, Elder Perry said.

"We welcome truth from whatever source, and take the pragmatic view that where religion and science seem to clash, it is simply because there is insufficient data to reconcile the two."

Elder Perry said the Pew Center's survey also reported that 80 percent of those who served missions said it was a very valuable time in preparing them for job or career success, and 92 percent said it helped them grow in their own faith.


A recent University of Pennsylvania study by the School of Social Policy and Practice concluded that the average Church-attending Latter-day Saint spends approximately 430 hours per year volunteering — nearly nine times more than the general public.

"This pattern is repeated for charitable giving," he said. "According to a study by the University of Indiana, the average annual rate of giving by practicing Latter-day Saints far exceeds that of other citizens; this holds true even if one does not count the biblical tithe that the Lord asks of us."

2012 Seminar for New Mission Presidents at the MTC in Provo, Utah
2012 Seminar for New Mission Presidents at the MTC in Provo, Utah | Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver

Elder Perry said the statistics say something significant. "They are a glimpse of how Latter-day Saints make their faith a way of life," he said.

Near the conclusion of this address, Elder Perry said that Latter-day Saints, as with members of any other faith, have their problems. However, he added, "The information compiled from the surveys shows that we are good neighbors in the communities in which we live."

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