The Unauthorized Investigator's Guide to
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints

Commitment Pattern

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does a lot of marketing research about why people get baptized.  The missionaries' training manual, the Missionary Guide, is full of quotes from converts about what they liked and didn't like about the discussions and the missionaries, and what influenced them to be baptized. 

They did a study to try to find out why some investigators embraced the church and got baptized, and others didn't.  They looked at 7 potential factors that lead to conversion, and they found that 3 of them were significant factors in most conversions, and the other 4 weren't.

Guess which ones are the most significant factors:

  1. The investigator feels that the missionaries have strong testimonies.

  2. The investigator feels that the meetings with missionaries teach him and uplift him spiritually.

  3. The investigator believes that he is earnest and seeking for truth.

  4. The investigator has certain characteristics, such as high self-esteem, confidence, and sociability.

  5. The investigator keeps the commitments missionaries have invited him to make, such as studying the Book of Mormon, praying, and attending church meetings.  He feels good about these experiences.

  6. The investigator feels that he tries to act as God would have him act.

  7. The investigator has a good, spiritual relationship with the missionaries that is more than casual friendship.

Did you make your guess?  It turns out that 2, 5, and 7 are significant factors, while the other ones are uncorrelated with conversion. "This activity shows that as you teach the gospel, the most important things you can do are the following: prepare people to feel the Spirit (factors 2 and 7), invite them to make commitments (factor 5), and follow up to help them keep their commitments (factor 5)." (Missionary Guide: Training for Missionaries, p. 215-16).

That is the Commitment Pattern in a nutshell.  Most chapters in the Missionary Guide begin with the definition of the Commitment Pattern:

The commitment pattern is the process of (1) preparing people to feel the Spirit of the Lord, (2) inviting them to make commitments when they feel the Spirit, and (3) following up to help them keep their commitments.

Preparing people to feel the spirit is the most detailed step, and consists of (a) building relationships of trust (this one is talked about so frequently it has earned its own acronym in missionary lingo, BRT), (b) helping others feel and recognize the spirit, (c) presenting the message, and (d) finding out how the investigator is reacting to all this.  Throughout the process concerns can arise, and resolving concerns is attempted whenever they pop up.

The focal point of this is when they invite you to make the commitment.  Once you make a commitment, their are two things the missionaries need to juggle: following up to help you keep the commitment, and starting the process over on the next commitment.  If you make and keep every commitment the missionaries ask of you, you will slowly be changing your habits to those of a dedicated member of the church.  In general, the church doesn't care very much about what you believe, and cares a lot about what you do.  The Commitment Pattern is the tool the missionaries use to turn your actions into those of a Mormon, step by step.

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