While it’s true every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives of their time differently, what’s certain is that few Christians give of their time like us Mormons.
Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught in Lectures on Faith that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” Members of the Church today don’t sacrifice everything they have, but they do give up a lot.
Church meetings, callings, activities and service opportunities can (and do) eat up a lot of hours every week. But most Church members serve willingly — almost automatically — and are glad for the privilege.
“How can all this be truly measured?” said Bruce Miller, a bishop in Cedar Hills. “Do we include voice mails, emails, phone calls, neighborhood events, ward parties, baptisms, the standard Church block of time, home and visiting teaching?”
Any report on how much time Church members sacrifice can offer only estimations, but we gave it our best shot. Here’s approximately how much time active Church members sacrifice in Church, family and community service.
Scripture study/meditation: Usually at least a few minutes per day; full-time missionaries study 2 hours per day
Youth Seminary classes: 1 hour
Church attendance: 3 hours
Other church meetings: Varies depending on your calling. Stake presidents, bishops and auxiliary presidents can spend up to 20 hours per week or more serving in their callings; someone with a less demanding calling might spend less than an hour.
This time includes leadership meetings and training, presidency meetings, interviews, lesson preparation, planning and attending activities and so on.
• Young Women/Young Men activities: 1-2 hours at activities; more spent individually on Personal Progress and Duty to God requirements
• Scouts: 1 hour per week at activities; more spent individually fulfilling requirements
• Primary Activity Days: 1 hour
• Family Home Evening: 1-2 hours
• Date Night: 1-4 hours; many local church leaders have encouraged a weekly date night for married couples
• Home Teaching/Visiting Teaching: 1-2 hours (depending on how many families you visit)
• Weekday Relief Society Meetings: 1 hour
• Child of Record Baptisms: 2 hours
• Scout campouts: 2 days
• Parent/Children interviews: 5 minutes to 2 hours
• General Conference: 10 hrs (four 2-hour general sessions, one 2-hour priesthood session and one 2-hour women’s session), twice yearly
• Youth Conference: 1-2 days
• Girls Camp: 3-5 days
• Scout Camp: 3-6 days
• Pioneer Trek: 3-5 days
• Stake Conference: 2-6 hours (2-hour general session, 1-2 hour adult session, other leadership training sessions)
Variable time frame:
• Temple attendance: 2-3 hours per endowment session; a temple visit can be longer or shorter depending on travel times, wait times and what ordinances are performed.
• Service hours (providing meals, helping families move, humanitarian projects, cleaning church buildings, etc.): Anywhere from 1 to 20 hours per project
• Family history: Anywhere from a few minutes to several hours per week
• Talk preparation: A few hours every few years, or more frequently for high councilors and others who speak frequently
Other significant time commitments:
• Full-time missionary service (male): 2 years
• Full-time missionary service (female): 18 months
• Full-time missionary service (retired): 6 months to 2 years
• Full-time missionary service (mission president and wife): 3 years
• Church-service missionary service: At least 8 hours per week, usually for 6 months to 2 years.
• Temple ordinance worker: 6 hours/week for several months or years
But the true story of time and sacrifice isn’t told by numbers, no matter how impressive those numbers are. Church members sacrifice physical and emotional energy to serve others, and the number of minutes spent isn’t always a good indicator of the level of sacrifice.
“I may only meet with a couple on the verge of divorce for 30-45 minutes, but there is no ‘leaving it at the office’ much of the time,” said Michael Jensen, a bishop in Provo. “I am thinking of them the rest of the day, in my prayers at night, and through the week, hoping and praying that they follow God’s counsel and that when we meet again, things have gotten better. Until we meet again, it’s kind of always with you, even though you aren’t actively taking time with them.”
At the end of the day, Church members sacrifice their time because they believe that, in doing so, they are serving Jesus Christ. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, “Our lives of service and sacrifice are the most appropriate expressions of our commitment to serve the Master and our fellowmen.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, described this aspect of Church membership in his October 2013 general conference address “Come, Join With Us”:
“Once there was a man who dreamed that he was in a great hall where all the religions of the world were gathered. He realized that each religion had much that seemed desirable and worthy.
“He met a nice couple who represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked, ‘What do you require of your members?’
“‘We do not require anything,’ they replied. ‘But the Lord asks that we consecrate all.’
“The couple went on to explain about Church callings, home and visiting teaching, full-time missions, weekly family home evenings, temple work, welfare and humanitarian service, and assignments to teach.
“‘Do you pay your people for all the work they do?’ the man asked.
“‘Oh, no,’ the couple explained. ‘They offer their time freely.’
“‘Also,’ the couple continued, ‘every six months our Church members spend a weekend attending or watching 10 hours of general conference.’
“‘Ten hours of people giving talks?’ the man wondered.
“‘What about your weekly church services? How long are they?’
“‘Three hours, every Sunday!’
“‘Oh, my,’ the man said. ‘Do members of your church actually do what you have said?’
“‘That and more. We haven’t even mentioned family history, youth camps, devotionals, scripture study, leadership training, youth activities, early-morning seminary, maintaining Church buildings, and of course there is the Lord’s law of health, the monthly fast to help the poor, and tithing.’
“The man said, ‘Now I’m confused. Why would anyone want to join such a church?’
“The couple smiled and said, ‘We thought you would never ask.’