The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LDS Church, or Mormon Church as it is sometimes called, has always been a proselyting church. Since the beginning, Mormon missionaries have followed what they believe is God’s will and desire – to spread the gospel to every nation and every people. In fact, every Mormon is supposed to be a missionary, in the sense that they share the gospel with their friends and neighbors.
Perhaps no other world church has quite as active a missionary program as the LDS Church. As of December 31, 2004, there were more than 51,000 full-time Mormon missionaries serving around the world – without pay.
Missionary work is fundamental to the Mormon Church, and, at that, the Mormon missionary has become one of the most readily identifiable characteristics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Young male LDS missionaries, called Elders, wear dark suits and white shirts and bike or walk two by two down the streets of cities throughout the world. Their image is so distinctive that many people (of any faith) can recognize them on sight.
Female LDS missionaries also go forth two by two and are called Sisters. (Although they also usually travel by bike or foot, they wear modest skirts and blouses, not suits.) The Mormon Church also sends out senior missionaries, who usually travel as companions with their spouses. All Mormon missionaries have been assigned by LDS Church headquarters to their area of work, which can be in any part of the world where governments allow them to preach. They pay their own way and often need to learn another language to preach.