First let me say that I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. That is the actual and proper name for our church. Our church is often referred to as the LDS Church, or the Mormon Church. This series of posts was at the request of some of my friends on Facebook. You can read more about that here–on my Landing Page or introduction for the Write 31 Days Challenge.
Choosing to serve a LDS Mission is a big investment, not only in time, but also financially. Missions are generally self-funded and out-of-pocket. Once upon a time, all missionary expenses were at the expense of the missionary and their family. Some missions are definitely more expensive, while other missions are cheaper. Since all missionaries are assigned where they will be serving by the Church, (I’ll explain how this happens in a future post), the Church recognized that not all families could afford to send their missionaries to some of the more expensive missions.
To solve this problem, the church set up a plan where you can plan on paying $400 per month for the support of your missionary, no matter where they serve. The idea is that everyone pays the same, and the money is dispersed accordingly by the Church. Those serving in more expensive missions are subsidized by the less-expensive missions. This allows the church to send their missionaries wherever they feel the Lord would have them serve, and finances aren’t an issue.
Now, to be honest, $400 per month is still a lot of money for a lot of families. If you are sending out an Elder (male) missionary, you can plan on that expense for 24 months. This comes to $9600 over that period of time, and doesn’t include all the preparation and extra expenses that sometimes occur. Sister missionaries serve for 18 months, so the cost is $7200. Still a rather large sum for the average family. Now consider the fact that some families have more than one missionary out at a time. There isn’t a discount for sending out more missionaries. It’s still $400 per month for EACH missionary. It is a definite financial sacrifice, but a sacrifice that LDS families are willing to make.
So how do families afford to send their missionaries out? Well, there are several ways to make it happen, even if funds are tight. First, future missionaries are encouraged to save for their missions while they are young. This is not only to help off-set the cost, but to help the future missionary to feel like they have contributed to their own support. Second, parents often pick up the tab, either taking money out of savings, or working extra jobs to make the money available for the mission. And third, church members often help and offer support to help make up the difference. If a family honestly cannot afford to send out a missionary, the local unit, or ward, will support the missionary, making up the difference after the family has done all they are able to do.
When it came time for my own mission, I worked two jobs to earn money to help get my missionary clothing and pay my medical and dental expenses before I left. My parents sacrificed and paid for the rest.
Church Service Missions are a little different as we have discovered. We are responsible for ALL of Chandler’s expenses as a Young Church Service Missionary. To some, it may seem like it is cheaper for us, but honestly, it comes out to about the same or just a little bit more with all the transportation costs and other expenses we are incurring. But we are glad to do it as he has the chance to serve his Heavenly Father and we know we are all being blessed for the sacrifices we are making.