I saw a bunch of sweaty young men get on the PATCO train to Collingswood on Monday afternoon, all dressed in dark pants, white button-down shirts and ties, each with a nametag: Mormons! “Don’tsitnexttome don’tsitnexttome don’tsitnexttome,” I quietly intoned to myself, not wanting to spend the ride discussing theology with a never-shaved 20-year-old who carries the title “Elder” in his church. And I missed the bullet: One of the young men sat next to the guy behind me, turned and said, “Have you heard about my church?” For the next 15 minutes or so, my neighbor was trapped.
All of which is to say, I can’t decide if this is great or potentially awful:
Recognizing the world has changed, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders announced Sunday night that missionaries will do less door-to-door proselytizing, and instead, use the Internet to recruit new church members.
The new focus on social media will likely come as welcome news to young, tech-savvy missionaries, said Matthew Bowman, assistant professor of religion at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and author of the book, “The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith.”
“This generation knows social networking, they know how this works,” Bowman said. “It’s much more appealing work than going door-to-door knocking and hoping somebody doesn’t slam the door in your face.”
Just be warned, Mormon folks: There are lots of people who get really irritated seeing lots of Tweets about A) football or B) Mad Men every Sunday. If Americans don’t want to hear about the glories of Don Draper online, you can bet you’ll find some resistance to evangelizing there, too.