Member Missionary Technique #17: Don’t Tell Them You’re Mormon

Rusty - April 28, 2008

This weekend we had dinner at the apartment of a good friend of mine who is single and lives in Manhattan. As we were discussing said apartment (perfect location in the West Village, but very small one-bedroom) and her roommate situation (regularly subleases her living room) she revealed to us her technique for introducing these roommates to the Gospel…she doesn’t. Well, not for a while at least.

She lives with each roommate for only a few months (exactly as she’d prefer it), by the end of which anyone will come to the conclusion that she is kind, generous, thoughtful, hard-working, intelligent, etc., etc., etc. In other words, she’s completely normal. Once that’s clear she’ll likely feel comfortable enough to have a conversation about the Gospel, part of which usually contains the phrase, “You’re Mormon? But you’re so normal!”


  1. Not a bad idea, that.

    Comment by cheryl — April 28, 2008 @ 8:34 am

  2. I do not find this approach remarkable in any way. We are under no obligation to disclose that “every member is a missionary” in our first conversation with a new acquaintaince. In fact, springing the gospel conversation on someone without having developed a relationship with them is just silly and/or weird.

    Comment by fifthgen — April 28, 2008 @ 9:10 am

  3. I live in the southeastern US. This is the only way for me. Get to know someone and then let them know in a natural conversational way.

    Comment by JA Benson — April 28, 2008 @ 9:29 am

  4. A casual acquaintance is a bit different from someone you’re living with, though.

    Comment by Susan M — April 28, 2008 @ 9:49 am

  5. fifthgen,

    I agree that this is in no way remarkable but “springing” the Gospel on people isn’t really that weird or silly, either. What do you think missionaries do every day? I bet that happens to thousands who join the church every day.

    Comment by Bret — April 28, 2008 @ 1:54 pm

  6. What, no Book of Mormon on the nightstand? An Ensign article taped to the fridge? A MormonAd tacked to the front door?

    Comment by Peter LLC — April 28, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

  7. Do any of the roommates every ask where she is going on Sundays for 3 hours? Or who are those 2 ladies that come every month to see you? Or where’s the coffee? Or do you want me to bring you a Starbucks on my way home?

    It seems like it would come up sooner than a few months!

    Comment by Don — April 28, 2008 @ 2:49 pm

  8. I agree that this is in no way remarkable but “springing” the Gospel on people isn’t really that weird or silly, either. What do you think missionaries do every day? I bet that happens to thousands who join the church every day.

    Well, it never worked on any Germans I contacted…

    Comment by Kullervo — April 28, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

  9. Bret: Full time missionaries have a different role to play than the “member missionary.” But, as Kullervo points out, even they have less success if they do not develop some kind of relationship of trust (where have I heard that?) with their investigators. I do not profess to be a great missionary, but someone who brought up their religion before I had some basic relationship with them would make me a lttle uncomfortable. I probably would not move into their apartment.

    Comment by fifthgen — April 28, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

  10. Missionaries are meant to teach discussions and testify of the Restored Gospel – period.

    For mostly structural reasons, they make terrible cultivators of new investigators. That really ought to be the members’ game.

    Comment by Seth R. — April 28, 2008 @ 9:36 pm

  11. My oldest son before his mission was living away at a nearby university. His roommate was very friendly the on first day until he noticed my son’s Book of Mormon on his bookshelf. Then the poor kid clammed up and refused to speak to my son for the entire two semesters. My son would try to engage him in any kind of conversation and the kid just ignored him. My son felt that his roommate was not trying to be mean, but was actually terrified of him. So on the last day my son tells him that he is leaving the university for two years to serve a mission and to have a nice life. The poor kid bolts out the door.

    Comment by JA Benson — April 29, 2008 @ 6:44 am

  12. The technique depends upon the member and the non-member. I think it a problem to conclude that “one” technique is best to use in every situation. As noted above, some have such a distorted view of Mormons that the approach suggested in this post is the best for them. For others, asking them directly is the best choice. For some members, it might be best if they were “good examples” first rather than “good inviters.” I’ve done both and seen both work and both not work.

    Comment by mondo cool — April 29, 2008 @ 11:16 am

  13. Don and Peter LLC,

    Good points!!


    Oh, I totally agree. i just don’t want to discount that as one of the many many ways someone can and HAVE recieved the Gospel:)

    Comment by Bret — April 29, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

  14. Wanna see someone who does a bad job of springing the good news on you all of a sudden?

    I think there’s a difference between what this guy does (and what I uselessly did on my mission) and what most of us think about when we think of tipping our hand early.

    Comment by Kullervo — April 29, 2008 @ 6:59 pm

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