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:
The investigator feels that the missionaries have
The investigator feels that the meetings with
missionaries teach him and uplift him spiritually.
The investigator believes that he is earnest and
seeking for truth.
The investigator has certain characteristics, such as
high self-esteem, confidence, and sociability.
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
The investigator feels that he tries to act as God
would have him act.
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
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.