Although many religious missions are paid for by the church the missionaries represent, those who choose to serve missions in the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints are responsible for paying for their own mission.
The cost of serving an LDS mission—regardless of where the missionary is sent— is $400 a month. This will cover rent, food, and other living expenses, as well as the missionary’s plane ticket to and from her mission. For sisters who are planning on serving, the total cost for the 18 month mission will come out to be $7,200. Depending on where the missionary is called to serve, there may also be additional money needed to get the missionary physically prepared before departure with proper shots, clothing, and other gear. This expense can be overwhelming, but it can also be done.
While finances are personal and will vary from person to person, there are multiple options to consider when deciding how to fund a mission. Three of the most common options are listed below:
- The Missionary
- The Missionary’s Family
- The Missionary’s Home Ward
Paying for an entire mission as a young adult can seem impossible and daunting; however, the sacrifice made when an individual decides to earn the money needed for her mission is greatly rewarded. The fact that the sister is paying for the mission herself gives her an opportunity to work and be excited about the mission while she saves up, and will encourage her to work hard and accomplish much while she is on her mission. Elder M. Russell Ballard stated in the March 2007 Liahona magazine:
“Prospective missionaries … ought to have a job and save money for their missions. Every mission president would concur with me that the missionary who has worked and saved and helped pay for part or all of his or her mission is a better-prepared missionary.”
Follow the counsel of the church leaders and stay away from any unnecessary debt. In addition, continuing to pay a full tithe will give the Lord opportunities to bless those who are faithful and provide them with a way to pay for their mission.While work is the most likely source of individual income, a lack of a job does not necessarily equate to a lack of income. Smaller jobs like babysitting, or money gained from Christmas or birthday presents, can also be put toward a mission. As a sister prepares to serve, she may also consider other options, such as tapping into a savings account or cashing in matured savings bonds. This being said, a sister should not take out loans in order to serve a mission, or use money allotted for student loans to pay for a mission.
The Missionary’s Family:
Most often, an individual’s decision to serve a mission has consequences that affect his or her family as well. When able and willing, some parents or other family members may be willing to help pay for a mission. Those who do so will be blessed for their sacrifice; however, keep in mind that a missionary should not feel entitled to financial support from his or her family.
When considering a mission, the prospective sister missionary should sit down with her parents and discuss the best way to pay for the mission. If the sister cannot pay for all of it, or the family cannot completely cover the cost, it could be possible to reach a compromise or other agreement to have both parties contributing to the financial obligations of the missionary.
Prospective missionaries should keep in mind that parents and other relatives will be more likely to aid in paying for the mission if they see that the missionary candidate is putting in his or her own time and resources toward this cause as well.
The Missionary’s Home Ward:
Most LDS congregations have a Ward Missionary Fund. These funds are set aside for members of the congregation who would like to serve but lack the financial ability to do so. Often times, the way the funds work is through a system of compromise. The missionary might agree to save the money to pay for half, and the ward will cover the other half. If a prospective missionary feels like she cannot pay for her mission otherwise, she should schedule an appointment with the bishop of her ward to discuss her options in receiving help from the Church.
My Two Cents:
While it may seem difficult, or even impossible, those who are planning on serving a mission in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should make all possible efforts to pay for their own mission. Aid from family, the Church, or other outside sources should serve as a supplement to the money earned and saved by a missionary for his or her mission rather than the staple of it. This will better prepare them for service in the mission field and give them a greater appreciation of their time there. No matter how far-off a goal financing a mission may seem, President Boyd K. Packer has promised this to those saving for their missions: “ if you have faith and determine that you will go, there will be a way. Opportunities will come to you as manna from heaven.” (Ensign, August 1983)