Excerpts of Mormon missions: Door-to-door approach is out; Internet is in by Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune
In what was billed as a "historic" meeting Sunday, Mormon apostle L. Tom Perry announced that the Utah-based faith's largest missionary force ever — more than 70,000 strong — will tap online tools to help them connect with and teach their "investigators."
People today are often "less willing to let strangers into their homes," he said. "Their main points of contact with others is often via the Internet."
And so, LDS missionaries are now authorized to use the Web "during the less-productive times of day," Perry said, "chiefly in the mornings."
Mormon chapels, which have typically been locked during the week, will now be open so that missionaries can go there to give tours to interested outsiders and to use Wi-Fi to receive and contact interested investigators, to confirm appointments, access mormon.org, Facebook, blogs, emails and text messages.
"Access to the Internet by missionaries will be phased over several months and into the next years," Perry said.
Missionaries' use of the Internet will be closely controlled, he said. "Safety is paramount. We will monitor missionaries online to help them remain safe in all they do."
Mormon leaders said that "missionary use of the Internet and digital devices such as iPads will begin in phases and only in designated missions for the rest of this year," according to an LDS news release. "The church anticipates these tools will be available to missionaries throughout the world sometime next year."