The Threefold Mission of the LDS (Mormon) Church in This Life

A Simple Explanation of What the Mormons Do and Why They Do It

I'm a Mormon billboard in Times Square New York City
"I'm a Mormon" billboard in Times Square. Photo courtesy of © 2011 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon) has a three-part mission, or purpose. Former President and Prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, taught the important duty we have as members of Christ's Church to fulfill the threefold mission of the Church. He said:

We have a sacred responsibility to fulfill the threefold mission of the Church—first, to teach the gospel to the world; second, to strengthen the membership of the Church wherever they may be; third, to move forward the work of salvation for the dead.

Stated succinctly, the threefold mission of the Church is to:

  1. Teach the gospel to the world
  2. Strengthen members everywhere
  3. Redeem the dead

Every belief, teaching, and behavior fits under one or more of these missions, or at least it should. Heavenly Father has stated His purpose for us:

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

As members of the Church, we sign on to help Him in this endeavor. We help Him by sharing the gospel with others, helping other members to be righteous and doing genealogy and temple work for the dead.

1. Proclaim the Gospel

The purpose of this mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world. That is why we have tens of thousands of missionaries currently serving throughout the world on full-time missions. Learn more about LDS missions and what missionaries teach.

This is also the reason the Church engages in many publicity efforts, including the "I'm a Mormon" campaign which is evident throughout the world.

2. Perfect the Saints

The focus of this mission is to strengthen members of the Church throughout the world. This is done in a variety of ways.

We help each other make progressively more difficult covenants. Then we support each other in receiving the ordinances for these covenants. We constantly remind and help each other to keep the covenants we have made and stay true to the promises we have made to ourselves and Heavenly Father.

Regular worship on Sunday and throughout the week is geared toward helping people in their responsibilities of the three missions. Specific programs are adapted to the maturity level and age of the members. Children are taught in Primary at a level they can understand.

Youth have programs and materials designed for them. Adults have their own meetings, programs and materials. Some programs are also gender specific.

The Church provides many educational opportunities. There are several church schools in higher education and specific religious programs to augment high school and college.

Besides efforts aimed at individuals, we try to help families as well. No church activities are held on Monday night; so that it can be devoted to quality family time, specifically Family Home Evening or FHE.

3. Redeem the Dead

This mission of the Church is to perform the necessary ordinances for those who have already died.

This is done through Family History (a.k.a. genealogy). Once the proper information is compiled, the ordinances are performed in holy temples and is done by the living, in behalf of the dead.

We believe that the gospel is preached to those who have died while they are in the spirit world. Once they learn the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are then able to accept or reject the work that is performed for them here on earth.

Heavenly Father loves each one of His children. No matter who we are, where or when we have lived, we will have the opportunity to hear His truth, accept Christ's saving ordinances, and live with Him again.

The Three Missions Are Often Pursued Simultaneously

Although identified as three distinct missions, they often overlap a great deal. For example, a young adult may enroll in a religion course on how to be a missionary while attending a church school. The young person will be attending church weekly and serving in a calling where he or she helps others. Spare time may be spent indexing online to increase the records available to people to research their family history. Or, the young person could be attending a temple and doing work for the dead.

It is not unusual for adults to shoulder several responsibilities to help with missionary work, strengthen members by serving in multiple callings and making regular trips to the templs.

Mormons take these responsibilities seriously. We all spend astonishing amounts of time on the three missions. We shall continue to do so throughout our lives. We have all promised to.

Updated by Krista Cook.