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LDS missionaries to begin using social media


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SALT LAKE CITY — Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in a special broadcast Sunday that missionaries will soon start using the Internet and digital tablets more than the traditional method of knocking on doors to find potential converts to their faith.

The 70,000 LDS missionaries across the world will soon start using the Internet and social media to find investigators of their faith. This will take precedence over traditional tracting — walking through a neighborhood and knocking on doors of non-member's homes. They will also spend a portion of their time in LDS chapels, giving tours and answering questions from people who may be interested in their faith.

"There will continually be improvements in the way we perform missionary work," said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Missionaries will use Facebook, blogs, email and Mormon.org to track interested parties and answer questions.

"The Church must adapt to a changing world," Elder L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said.

Missionaries serving within designated missions will begin using the Internet and digital devices like the iPad in phases this year. The church anticipated the tools being available world-wide sometime next year.

Missionaries by the numbers
58,500 missionaries serving in Oct. 2012

+70,000 missionaries currently serving

85,000 missionaries expected to serve at the end of the year

14,650 female missionaries are serving — about 20% of missionaries

408 missions will be open by July

It's a change that Latter-day Saints believe will ultimately reach more people who are not of their faith.

"People who may not be as open to the missionaries — someone they don't know — knocking on their door, they will be a lot more open to a friend on Facebook or someone they have a connection to," said member Kalin Orgill.

The announcement comes as the church's missionary force is expanding: The church expects 85,000 full-time missionaries in the fall and 58 new missions will open around the world next week.

While the church is sending more young men and young women on missions, leaders encouraged local members to work with the missionaries in their own communities.

"Until you know a person's name and face, the Lord cannot help you to know his or her heart... Good leaders, like good parents, take actions because of love," Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in the Brigham Young University broadcast. "When they act in love, the spirit will guide them and help them to understand that each person requires unique care for them to gain the joy of life lived in the Lord's way."

President Thomas S. Monson told members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a worldwide message following the original broadcast that they have a duty to assist in the church's missionary program.

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Sam Penrod

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