One of the most frequent questions I get on Mormon Mission Prep is about the process of starting the paperwork, getting the application in, and details about when and how the mission call comes. This article is designed to give a high-level overview of the mission call process, from meeting with the bishop, to fill out your mission papers, to getting your call letter from the prophet. For more information on the time to expect each step in the process to take, see my overview article on the Mission Application Timeline or my more detailed example of times needed for the Mission Application and Preparation to Serve.
Before the Paper Work
- Prepare spiritually: Study the gospel, read the scriptures, pray and build a testimony of the Savior, His Atonement, and His restored Church including Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon (so be sure to read it!). Keep yourself spiritually clean and worthy to serve a mission.
- Prepare temporally: Save money, stay physically fit, and remove any obstacles such as unpaid debts, legal issues, weight and health problems. Familiarize yourself with the requirements to serve a mission.
- Meet with the Bishop: At least four months before you’re able to leave on a mission, set an appointment with your bishop for a personal interview. He will give you the mission application form, or the information you need to log on to the online missionary recommendation system if the online system is available in your area. Your bishop will also conduct a thorough worthiness interview at this time. He will discuss the qualifications to serve a mission and help you through the repentance process if their are any sins you need to clear up before going on a mission.
- Doctor and Dentist Visits: Make appointments with your doctor and dentist for evaluations. In the paper work the bishop will give you will be medical forms that they will need to fill out.
- Missionary Candidate Information: There are several sections of personal information to complete, and whether you do it online or on the paper application it will be the same. You’ll fill out background information about yourself, including your desire and ability to learn a language, your schooling, and how your mission will be financed. You’ll be asked to submit a photo (uploading it or mailing it in) with your application, so make sure that in this photo you are dressed according to missionary standards (i.e. conservative hair and clothing styles, etc. See my post on Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards).
- Meet with the Bishop Again: Set another appointment with your bishop after all of the forms are completed, and he will review the application. He will conduct a thorough interview to determine your worthiness to serve a mission, your ability to serve, and your testimony of the Savior and the restored gospel.
- Meet with the Stake President: After your interview with the bishop, he will tell you how to set up and appointment with the stake president. Your bishop and stake president will complete some additional parts including their own written recommendations for your missionary service. This will be the final step before the application is sent to Church headquarters (usually done by the Stake Clerk).
- Assigned to a Mission by Prophecy: Your mission application is received by the Church and you are assigned to a specific mission by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who has been authorized by the President of the Church. The mission assignment comes after prayer and revelation. See my article about how missionaries are called by God for more information on this process.
- Mission Call Letter: After the mission call is made, a packet is mailed to you. It will contain information on your assigned mission, the date to report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC), a list of specific items you should bring with you, and other helpful information. See my article on the mission call letter for more information about what you’ll find in the mission call packet.
Though there are a lot of mechanical steps to go through in the process of getting your mission call, it’s important not to lose site of the spiritual–the spiritual preparation by the missionary and the spirit of revelation in the issuing of the mission call. Here is what President Henry B. Eyring said about the inspiration of each mission call:
“I have had [many] experiences feeling of the Holy Ghost…But I’ve never felt what I have felt as I have…participated in the assigning of missionaries…Because of technology, it is possible for us to have your picture and the information about you displayed. And then quickly, on that same screen, all the missions of the Church with all of their needs are displayed. Within minutes, and sometimes less than a minute, the impression comes so powerfully that it would be, if it were a single instance, something that you would never forget. Can you imagine sitting there for hours at a time, having that happen time after time without interruption? I testify to you that it is real…[The Lord] somehow not only knows you but loves you enough to ensure that your call is where He needs you to go to teach the children of our Heavenly Father.” (Pres. Henry B. Eyring, “Called of God,” address delivered at the Missionary Training Center, Aug. 26, 1997).