An invitation to "come unto Christ" is the mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Therefore, go ye into all the world; and unto whatsoever place ye cannot go ye shall send, that the testimony may go from you into all the world unto every creature" (Doctrine and Covenants 84:62).
"The joys and blessings of serving a full-time mission are so personally sacred, they are hard to express adequately. Thirty-five years after I served my first mission, I received a letter from a family whom I had taught but did not baptize. The letter shared that their family of four little children whom I once knew now consisted of four temple marriages, three full-time missionaries, three bishops, a Relief Society president, and a dozen grandchildren maturing and developing in the gospel. You can well imagine the thrill and joy I received knowing that I had helped to find them and to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ." — Elder Earl C. Tingey, April 1998 General Conference.
Shortly after the Church was organized in April 1830, the first formal missionary activity began. A brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Samuel H. Smith, traveled through neighboring towns in New York with copies of the newly published Book of Mormon.
Today there are over 52,000 missionaries serving in 348 missions (reported as of December 2007).
Each mission is an ecclesiastical unit of the Church in a designated geographic area and is presided over by a mission president who serves full-time for three years. Each missionary serves for up to two years. This service is voluntary with missionaries and their families generally pay the costs of serving.
Missionaries use the scriptures (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price) to teach persons interested in the Church. Missionaries also use a Church publication, "Preach my Gospel" to guide their efforts.
Preparation for missionary service begins in the home as children are taught and begin living basic principles and doctrines of the Church. Unmarried men, ages 18-25, and unmarried women, ages 19-39, may be called to serve missions of 18 or 24 months. Older members and married couples often serve missions of 12 or 18 months.
Once assigned to a mission, a missionary receives on-the-job instruction from a senior companion or other mission leaders. A missionary's daily endeavor includes studying scriptures, seeking and teaching those interested in the Church and providing service to others.
People interested in the Church are encouraged to read and study the gospel and to pray concerning the messages they receive from missionaries. They are also encouraged to attend Church meetings and begin living the principles of the gospel prior to being baptized and confirmed as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
"Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
"Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
"For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
"And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work." — Doctrine and Covenants 4:1-5