6 Things to Avoid When Doing Online Missionary Work

6 Things to Avoid when doing Online Missionary work

You are probably be here because of the online missionary work post. I hope you are anxiously engaged in this cause. It is a worthy cause that has huge potential. Click here to learn why it is so important to get involved.

If you engage in online missionary work, you will undoubtedly run into opposition. You will be persecuted. You will need to come back to truth a lot in your heart and mind. For this purpose, I have created a support group where you can come and share your experiences, receive encouragement and guidance, and find inspiration to do more. Optimally, you will have people in your ward who you can invite to be a part of this group. That way, you not only have support online, but in person every Sunday. Join the group by clicking here. With that said, here is our running list of things to watch out for:

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1. Trolls

These are blatant attackers who are vehemently opposed to the church and constantly strive to tear it down along with anyone who supports it. My advice: don’t engage with them. Just block them and delete their comments. If you are commenting on a different post (that you are not the author of) feel free to reach out to the admin of the blog or page or group and tell them what is going on. Vituperative conversations go nowhere. Contention through typed conversation will lead only to darkness. Don’t spend time with those who want to fight. They aren’t looking for answers. And the probability of you helping them or convincing them that they are wrong is next to nothing. It will only frustrate you. This is time you could be spending finding and helping the millions who actually are genuinely interested in seeking truth – people who have real questions. Just delete and block and get them out. Every major platform (like facebook, Google+, twitter, instagram, etc.) has a way to report abuse and block people from interacting with you. Use this and move on. If you do read their junk, read this post to help pump you back up. Then move on.

2. Bullies

Most trolls are bullies as well. But there are people just out there to cause problems for some reason. Avoid them. Don’t engage with them. Just do the same as you did with the trolls. Block them, delete their comments and report them for abuse.

3. Anti-Mormon Websites

These will not help you. There are some who actually like getting into arguments. If you enjoy this, you have your agency and you can try to convince people, but I can tell you from a social psychological perspective, you probably won’t convince anyone of anything without real human interaction. Online social interaction does not thrive in contentious “you’re wrong – I’m right” environments. You are wasting time. I was in Israel with my wife once and we were considering going to Egypt when an Egyptian revolution broke out. They were killing Americans in the streets. Obviously, this was not the place for us to be. Even though Americans are good people, running into Tahrir Square in Cairo to convince Egyptians who had guns that Americans were good people and to stop their revolution. They would just shoot us. And you will just get “shot” if you, as a Mormon, go running onto blatantly anti-Mormon sites trying to engage with these people. If these people ever desire to understand and come back, this will not be the time that they do it. It will be on their terms in their own time. So avoid these places.

4. Anti-Mormon YouTube Videos

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Don’t click on these. Not only are you drinking right out of their cup of confusion, but you are also helping their rankings. Even if you only go and click the thumbs down button. This is actually helping their ranking and it will get them even more views because Google ranks it based off of real human interaction. So even videos with a lot of thumbs downs will get more traffic because of it. Just don’t go there. You won’t do anything by commenting on these. Even the crazy people who put the temple ordinances on YouTube. Don’t try to go tell them that they are breaking the law. They already know that and the church also knows about it and they are doing everything they can to get them taken down. So just don’t go there or to any other anti-Mormon stuff on YouTube. There are TONS of other productive things you can do (in the list above) that will actually help people who are seeking. This will only cause anger and contention in your heart. Avoid it.

5. YouTube Video Comment wars on Good videos that promote truth and promote the Church

Once again, don’t get into these battles. They are pointless. It will only make you angry at people. And you won’t ever win a comment war. Typed contention is pointless and without real human connection, I believe you can’t resolve contentious wars of words. Don’t waste your time. Posting any comment does help these videos to rank higher. However, you should post a positive comment on this video that is original to you (not a reaction to others). This will also help the video to get more views.

6. Contentious Debates with Active LDS people online.

Some people think that this is useful. There are a lot of debates between members out there. Posts about women and the priesthood or about same-sex marriage or about misunderstood church policy or about whatever is the latest thing that Satan is using to cause contention. Satan knows that there are a lot of faithful members out there. He can’t get them to do bad things, but he can get them to argue about policy or about these fleeting issues. There was a controversial LDS post about Frozen that got almost 2000 comments. Most were people who were just getting into arguments about it. I won’t say whether I agree or disagree with what was said, but what if 2000 active members of the church spend the same amount of time doing one or two of the things on the list I created into a post to actually help people who ARE interested and curious? Just sayin’. That is a lot of time that could have been spent helping people who are seeking truth. I am not saying that we shouldn’t help to clarify in conversations where other members are sincerely asking. All I am saying is that Satan will do anything he can to distract good members of the Church by getting them involved in a battle of words in the comments section of a blog post and I personally believe that when there is contention involved, no comment can help someone resolve an issue that they have.

avatar Andy Proctor (42 Posts)

Andy is the creator of T​he Returned Missionary (this blog)​, encouraging the tens of thousands of LDS missionaries who come home every year to continue to be productive, hardworking, faithful, and happy long after their full-time mission has ended. His goal with this blog is to help people know how they can live the gospel while living their dreams. He just launched his first book for RMs, called ​Live Your Mission: 21 Powerful Principles to Discover Your Life Mission after Your Mission, which is the first book in the L​ive My Gospel​ book series. He also owns and manages the LDSmissionaries.com blog. He is a regular contributor to Meridian Magazine and has been featured on the Mormon.org blog as well as LDS Living and Deseret News.


10 Comments

  1. avatar Greg Trimble says:

    Nice post Andy! I’m inundated with everything you just listed. Well done.

    • avatar Andy Proctor says:

      Greg, thanks. Good to see your face on the blog! You do great things on yours. Keep up the good work brother. 🙂

  2. avatar Jerr Nolan says:

    There needs to be a printer friendly version of 101+ and 4 reasons

  3. So like Greg above you just want kudos? We’re just supposed to take this on face value and accept these terms? So yes, here I’m disagreeing with your last point by commenting.

    My take on this article from the other article is there isn’t much to do — because this article basically tells us to not set people straight. Especially true of the last point where members (or others representing themselves as members) can mislead by stating things about the Church that are not universal and sometimes are openly false. My role is to set things straight.

    You are correct that the trolls, bullies and those deliberately “balderdash slinging” may not be moved or changed; but, others are reading and they need the truth.

    • avatar Andy Proctor says:

      Good point Brent. We are on the same team here. The fact that you are reading this says a lot about you to me. Thank you for your feedback. There is definitely a place for getting involved in the conversations in the comments of a blog or a video. I just personally believe that some activities are more effective than others in the realm of online missionary work. But I’m glad for people like you who help to clarify the truth when someone needs clarification. I just also hope that people don’t get torn down by all the personal attacks that happen in these comment wars that I have seen. It just hurts my heart to see members of the church bashing each other in comments when they could be doing good in other places that significantly help other people who are seeking for answers.

  4. There’s a big difference between polite discussion of different beliefs and opinions and any form of bashing. The former is wonderful; the latter is a waste of time.

    The latter can be recognized by the tone (angry, abusive, offended, etc.) and style (name-calling, put-downs, etc.). Don’t be drawn in or drawn down. Recognize that other readers will see it for what it is — without your response.

  5. As far as #3, a few months ago I stumbled across a “former Mormon” or “post Mormon” site or something like that. I posted a comment and experienced much contention. I tried to respond to these comments respectfully and it just spun out of control. These “anti” websites are not places where constructive and respectful conversations thrive and should be avoided for the most part. However, there is some validity to the “setting things straight” strategy so it is a tough call. I think of the missionary strategy of stating that we are the Lord’s church and the restored gospel and NOT tearing down the beliefs of other Christian churches – this was one of the things that attracted me to the LDS Church when I converted five years ago.

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