In March 1995, President Howard W. Hunter (who was president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time) wrote in the Ensign, “The role of technology in this work has been accelerated by the Lord himself, who has had a guiding hand in its development and will continue to do so. However, we stand only on the threshold of what we can do with these tools.”
In the 20 years since that statement, the Church has continued to develop technology to hasten the work of salvation and to simplify processes for Church members. Here are five Church resources we predict will be obsolete by 2020.
1. Tithing slips
In five years, many Church members — at least in the United States — won’t have to find a little white slip outside the bishop’s office to pay tithing. The Church has approved a website for online payment of tithing and other charitable donations, which is being rolled out to congregations in the U.S. throughout 2015.
Though members still have the option of hand delivering physical receipts and payment to their local priesthood leaders, in five years, most Church members in the United States will be handing it all online.
2. Member and Leader Services (MLS) in Clerk’s offices
Ward and stake leaders have used Member and Leader Services software to administer their callings for years. However, leaders usually had to go to a Church building to use the software in the ward clerk’s office.
However, the software is now being made available as a web-based application. The transition from “MLS Classic” (the software) to “MLS Web” (the web-based application) began in 2011 and is still in process. However, by 2020 we predict, most unit leaders will be able to organize callings; make home and visiting teaching assignments; manage budgets, income and expenses; make and submit reports; and more without setting foot in a Church building to do so — some leaders already have access to the online-only option.
3. Missionaries’ area books
For years, full-time missionaries used physical day planners and paper area books to make plans, record investigators’ progress and create reports. However, both of those physical record books are being replaced by iPad apps — at least in certain missions.
The iPads distributed to full-time missionaries include an app called Area Book Planner, where missionaries can plan their time and record investigators’ progress. They also have the Gospel Library app downloaded for gospel study and teaching resources.
4. Lesson manuals
With all Church lesson manuals and many resources available on LDS.org, the need for physical lesson books is decreasing in areas with readily available Internet access. Some wards are slowly phasing out the distribution of printed materials, while others distribute them only by request. In five years, this process will likely have progressed to the point that printed lesson manuals remain on hand for emergencies only.
5. Ward directories
Online ward directories have been accessible online for years, both via LDS.org and through the LDS Tools mobile app. If your ward is still holding on to the printed directory, it will likely have stopped in five years. However, even if paper directories aren’t widely distributed, it’s wise to have important phone numbers written down in case of emergency.