Let’s face it. Most of us look at the clean cut Mormon missionaries that peddle the streets of our city and knock on the doors of our houses as somewhat out of date. Although they are kind and well spoken young men, when they knock on our doors we either don’t answer or tell them we are already Christians who reject Mormonism and bid them good day. We think to ourselves how "behind the times" these young people are forced to be when they are required to do door-to-door evangelism for their religion. We reflect on how grateful we are that we have the truth once and for all delivered to the saints. We may even think about how much more superior our youth ministry strategies are compared to theirs.
Or are they?
- Mormons expect a lot out of their teenagers. We don’t.
- Mormons ordain their young men into the ministry at the age of twelve. We don’t.
- Mormons require their teens to attend seminary every day of high school. We don’t.
- Mormons ask for two years in the field of every graduating senior. We don’t.
Maybe that’s why we don’t meet a lot of ex-Mormons, while there are hundreds of thousands of former church attendees in the true church of Jesus Christ (of everyday saints) who flee the church after graduating from high school.
Maybe that’s why Mormons give more, work harder and are exploding as a religion. In 1985 there were 4.5 million Mormons and now there are over 12 million.
When many of our teens graduate from high school, they grab their books and a beer and go off to the college dorm (A.K.A. "The Party Zone"). When Mormon teens graduate from high school they grab a backpack and a bike pump and go off on a mission.
They know what they believe and why they believe it. They’ve hammered out their theology on our doorsteps. Their souls and minds have been steeled and sealed into Mormon orthodoxy through their fanatical commitment to the accomplishment of their version of the Great Commission.
Meanwhile we compress most of our mission work into one week in Mexico once every year or two. And even that is comprised mostly of building houses, not necessarily advancing the kingdom of God and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There’s a great line in the movie Braveheart where Robert the Bruce is commenting on William Wallace to his father. He says, "He believes. I want to believe like he believes."
When I look at the Mormons I think to myself, "They believe. I want to believe like they believe." Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to believe what they believe. Mormon theology is far from what the Bible says about Jesus, God, sin and salvation. It is, by no means, a truly Christian religion.
Having said that, Mormonism pushes their kids harder and takes them deeper and farther than even the most ardent of evangelical youth ministries would ever dare.
Can you imagine a youth group that challenged every teen in the youth ministry to meet at 6am every day of the school year for a class on Christianity? That’s exactly what Mormons do with their high schoolers and their belief system!
We get excited if once a year at 7:15am, while Mormon teens are coming back from their daily seminary lesson on Mormonism, our teens gather around a pole and pray.
I’m not saying that we copy the Mormons specific strategy. I can’t foresee our teenagers racing Mormons to the door in a battle of the bicycles. Nor do I believe the answer lies in a daily early morning class. We don’t need to copy their strategy. We do, however, need to adopt their philosophy.
We need to push our teens. We need to turn them into active activists. We need to build consistent opportunities for service, outreach and training. We need to equip them to share their faith and then go with them, leading the way. After all, we are youth leaders.
Somebody may accuse me of looking at this as some sort of competition. It is. We are in a competition with Satan for the souls of our young people. And we are getting our rears kicked.
My problem is not with Mormons. It’s with us. Let’s learn from the Mormons and turn our kids into missionaries. Armed with the power of the true gospel (not some aberrant belief system) our teens could mount a comeback and help us win this thing.