5 LDS Church resources that will be obsolete in 5 years

(Image courtesy Mormon Newsroom.)

(Image courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

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.


Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.


  1. AvatarSharee Reply

    But there are still a lot of older people who are not computer literate. They won’t all have died off in 5 years.

    1. AvatarBelle Reply

      I agree that there are some older folks who don’t feel comfortable with or have access to a computer. I really miss our physical Ward Directory. Our RS would make one ever few years of those names who wanted to be on a list. It would list the Day and Month of the birthday as well. I still have one from over 20 years ago and it’s a fond memory to think of those sisters.

  2. Avatarandrejules Reply

    You both would be surprised as to how many of us older people are computer literate.
    I’m 79, my wife 76 and we use the computer everyday for, among other things, doing Indexing for Family Search.

      1. AvatarDeann Reply

        I think you would be surprised. My husband and I are in our mid seventies, and we and most of our friends of the same age use the computer a lot.

      2. Avatarmajortom Reply

        I think that you left one out…. what about “Genealogy Libraries” ??? Our Stake Library is basically going Unused and is so empty that we the assigned workers are getting discouraged. But who can blame the members? All that the library has to offer is currently available on-line any way. So why waste the gasoline or the time to go to the Genealogy Library??? (Unless the youth are going on TREK and need a name to take with them; then we are busy for maybe a month or so…….

      3. AvatarLIz Reply

        A very small minority? Don’t count on it! I’m 70, my husband is 74 and all of our friends are computer literate. We have to be to keep up with our kids, grandkids, and even great grandkids. We keep in touch with missionary friends (over 200) from our recent mission and they are all “old folks.” I’m loving the computer friendly church!

      4. AvatarMary Ann Chidlow Reply

        I don’t think so. I have contact with all of my older friends and relatives. I am 72 and on my iPad right now as my computer is down. I am in the process of deciding what I want in a new computer. The whole process is very exciting.

      5. AvatarGreatgrand-- Reply

        At 85, I have a relative who will be 100 in a week or so. We both have facebook pages and do email. I spend a lot of time on my desktop, but also have a laptop and Kindle Fire–no cell phone since I like to be able to get away occasionally. Love online banking and would hate to have to go back to writing checks every month. Don’t underestimate us old guys.

      6. AvatarWendi Reply

        I’m in my wards RS presidency and the number of older sisters in our ward without an email address alone is huge. I send out the emails for all of our activities and probably 33% of the older sisters do not receive the announcements due to no technology. So she isn’t to off, it’s not a majority but it’s definitely a notable number.

  3. AvatarRobert Williams Reply

    ….and maybe in 10 years we’ll all be participating in Sacrament Meeting from home via Skype.

      1. Avatarmelinda Reply

        I know of a family who attend sacrament meeting in their home they live remote in Alaska. You can get permission to bless the sacrament out side of church, but you can do it,

      2. Avatardarlene Reply

        you can take the sacrament at home but you must have permission from your bishop or stake pres to do this … we lived in northern bc, where it’s cooold and sometimes even colder — like –30* or less — my former husband blessed and passed the sacrament to us …

        it can be done, but what’s the point? we’re supposed to fellowship with the saints and visit with the investigators … can’t do that from home ….


    1. AvatarTony Reply

      My wife and I are in our late 50’s and early 60’s and we make all of our donations using online payments now. (We are tithing faithful and don’t even know it). Our iPads have the LDS gospel library app for Music, Magazines, scriptures video etc. Access to LDS.org, internet, youtube etc – So its all there if the old want to change, but they have got to want to.

      What we don’t have access to is decent wireless in all our chapels AND Murphy’s law will apply just as you need technology to perform… E.g WHEN YOU NEED IT, IT WONT BE AVAILABLE.

      1. AvatarBonita Reply

        I’m still relatively new in the Church and now have been a part of 2 different wards. I have an Android phone and in the past I’ve had an iPhone. The wireless reception in the two different wards I’ve been a member of seem to not have much reach or power to them. Or, they are ‘tuned’ to the Apple iPhones, iPads, etc. that don’t necessarily need a stronger signal compared to the Android ones.

        Boosting the wireless signal at all meetinghouses will make more members who use wireless a lot happier doing so.

      2. Avatardarlene Reply

        awaiting the chance to pay tithing from home …. ooooh … how much i will love it … driving miles and miles home and back b/c i forgot the *mission payment* and it’s the end of the month …. it would have been ok to go another week, but … it’s something i committed to do and it needed to be paid ….

        can’t hardly wait for online offerings payments … yeaaaaa …. darlene

  4. AvatarBrianA Reply

    Having been a clerk for many years, the electronic donation slip will be a great benefit. However, I personally like the feeling of physically writing a check and handing it to the Bishop. That may change but for now I’m still going to do it.

    1. AvatarKtK Reply

      I completely agree with you. There is something about filling out the slip and personally handing it to a Bishopric member that I really like.

    2. AvatarDianeE Reply

      I too like the feeling of physically writing a check. To me it seems more of a deliberate act than clicking a button on a screen. I guess I’m a little old school in that respect.

    3. AvatarStephen Roberts Reply

      The only real reason for printing checks the last few years has been because of paying our church donations. With this new online payment system, one box of checks will last for the next 20 years. I personally like that.

      1. Avatardarlene Reply

        LOL LOL … the ONLY check i write is tithing/missionary payment … the addy on the check is two addresses ago ….

  5. Avatartulipdjc Reply

    I prefer hard copies of books and lesson manuals. I have just been called into the youth program and am adjusting but as someone who doesn’t have a tablet so I am printing out my lessons – I wish there were manuals!

    1. AvatarMr.H Reply

      If the writings of such authors as John Pontius and Julie Rowe are accurate, this whole conversation will have become irrelevant in far less than five years. I’d suggest bringing along old copies of lesson manuals when gathering commences. The young will still need to be taught the gospel long after all our newfangled electronic thingamabobbers are relics.

    2. AvatarVirginia Reply

      Even when I had a manual, I printed them out so I could write on the paper. Now I use the tablet and ‘write’ everything on there. It is all a progression, baby steps. Enjoy where you are at and try out new things!

    3. Avatarmajortom Reply

      There are still manuals, online and you print them out one lesson at a time. So the manuals are no longer “Free” and included with your calling. You get to buy them one lesson at a time by your use of Printer ink and Paper.

  6. AvatarMark Dixon Reply

    Hooray! My wife loves the new ability to organize visiting teaching assignments from home. Great step forward!

    I’m another old guy who loves the technology advances that make things easier for leaders and members alike.

    I’m really anxious to pay tithing via the web. The Church is one of very few surviving holdouts to whom I write physical checks. But I always look forward to the deacons who collect my fast offerings. I really appreciate their service and hope it continues.

    I’m sure there will always be manual means to pay tithes and offerings for those who lack skills or equipment or just prefer the old way. Sure can’t forget those great folks.

    Mesa, AZ

  7. AvatarSusanE Reply

    Online payment of tithing will require each person to also have online banking, which we do not have and do not want!

    1. AvatarMike Clark Reply

      To pay online all you need is a checking account. It is not tied to an online banking account but comes directly from your checking account. We are using it and it is very handy.

  8. AvatarJones Reply

    I know several older people who have never owned a computer or smart phone or tablet or printer and need to ask for someone to print things for them when needed. Some people cannot afford the copies to be printed of each lesson. Would the expensive colored photos for lessons be required to be printed? I own a printer and would not want to print the 6 or so pictures needed for the Sunbeam lessons each week.

    1. AvatarAllison Reply

      The Gospel Art book has most of those scripture pictures, but not the additional pictures like the animals, kids playing, and other creation props. My ward still provides the manuals (iwth the pictures inserts) to our teachers.

      I refused the Sharing Time book this year since I have a tablet.
      The other day I notice our Primary President had hers marked up (which I can’t do) so I rethought that concept and might get a book for next year.

    2. Avatardarlene Reply

      the ward / stake library has lots of pictures, and, some, have flannel board stories … try the library … darlene, your friendly stake librarian for a few years ….

  9. AvatarSinjin Reply

    My concern is the teaching manuals. I refuse to have a smartphone or tablet computer of any kind. So how am I supposed to teach a class? So many of the lessons revolve around video clips that we are simply expected to use our tablet computer to show the class or links or other such things. Or, I will literally have to print out pages and pages of materials and talks to get the few lines that I would need to teach the class.

    But it is not only teaching, but simply following along in class is now all but impossible: “Please click on the link taking you to this General Conference talk and read the third paragraph.” Nope, all I can do is listen. It is almost getting to the point that if you can’t afford the technology, you can’t really be a participating member of the church anymore.

    1. AvatarDeeB Reply

      I’m computer literate and use it for online banking and family history but I hate!! devices in the classroom. Everyone with their head in their screens and no sense of class collaboration. In this area, I believe the spirit goes out the window when the glare of the screen comes in.

      1. AvatarWicket Reply

        Totally agree with DeeB. Besides what happens when you loose the internet or power or your computer dies and you can’t afford another one. There are also large families that the costs of having to print all the lessons, or the time spent for each person to use the internet to read and/or prepare a lesson could be a problem in itself.

      2. AvatarRené Treviño Reply

        I think this can be avoided if the teacher is in control of the class, talking first with the member and giving instruction to listen, then ask, and if necessary read.
        But chiefly it depends on everyone how much you want to pay attention to the class.

  10. AvatarDiana Reply

    Give me a book over a computer screen any day. And as the wife of an inactive husband, those little paper slips that I fill in each month show my children that I pay my tithing. And it gives me a chance to shake the bishops hand and have some face to face contact with an actual person. Technology is great, but we’re slowly losing ‘touch’ with those about us.

      1. AvatarMary Parker Reply

        The above was “just a test” to see if I could actually post. I agree with Diana that through all this technology we are losing touch with each other. For that reason I doubt very much if we will discontinue meeting together for Sacrament Meeting, etc. (Think of Ephesians – edified with the Saints; no more strangers. . . etc.) We need human contact, particularly with our brothers and sisters.

  11. Avatarbeatrice Reply

    I have a kindle but really don’t know how to use it. I have the kindle manual but it doesn’t make much sense to me. I can’t afford an ipad so I hope the printed manuals are not eliminated in the near future. I’m only 68!

    Does anyone give kindle lessons?

    1. AvatarMarion Warren Reply

      I use the gospel library app on my kindle all the time and do all my study on it now. You can underline passages in the Scriptures on it as well, see all the latest magazine e.g. The Ensign, watch conferences etc. I’m sure someone in your unit could show you especially one of the youth 🙂 It is quite similar to an ipad. Have you asked your visiting teachers. We taught my mum to use a kindle and she was 78.

  12. AvatarMarilyn Reply

    For all of our “preparedness” we seem to be putting an awful lot of faith in the internet. I have a Kindle but I’m glad to have hard copies of church materials. I will always have my paper scriptures. If we put everything on-line we may be sorry if the day arrives there is no internet. Some things should not be classified as “obsolete, old-fashioned or inefficient.” My kids call me for addresses and phone numbers that I keep in my obsolete address book every time they lose their phones!

  13. AvatarEric Reply

    I actually had a hometeachee once who, when he was profiled for the ward newsletter, actually expressed pride in the fact that he chose to be computer illiterate, and that he still used a landline instead of a mobile phone.

    That being said, I am all for the move to electronic media. I’m so over the use of paper resources. 😉

  14. AvatarNadine Anderton Reply

    Internet access is not an inexpensive utility, and computer devices (whether smart phones, pads, tablets, netbooks, or whatever) can be out of the reach of many members. Is some kind member going to donate these to those who are unable to buy them? It seems that those of us who use computers and the internet all the time think that everyone else does, too. Well, guess what? There are still many who either can’t afford to or don’t want to!

  15. AvatarDave Reply

    Especially for children who are learning about tithing, the idea of going solely to online donations makes me queasy. I don’t want tithing to become just another monthly expense, for me, but maybe especially for my children and grandchildren.

  16. AvatarPamela Tueller Reply

    I have a brain injury and on my bad days, I prefer and can only get by with the paper stuff. I’d prefer both still being available.

  17. AvatarRobin Reply

    Everyone needs to relax. Of course you will be able to do both. I appreciate that our church is forward thinking and using the technological advances that are available to us. It gives those of us that want to utilize technology the ability to do so. I’m almost 60 btw.

  18. Avatarkirk Reply

    I would have you consider the amount of money the church (us) saves by going electronic. I do not know the cost savings of electronic verses paper for a world wide church but it has to be in the millions.

  19. AvatarEvelyn Reply

    What will happen to the people who can’t afford the internet in 5 years? Not all of us are rich and get things handed to us for free. We will be giving up a lot of things and computers/internet will be one of the first to go.

  20. AvatarLois Kullberg Reply

    I am 80 and computer literate. I have an ipad for my scriptures, a laptop with Windows 8 for emails. shopping, church resources, on-line banking, and a smart phone which I don’t use except for photos, preferring a land line phone. I still need lessons for all these devices and I prefer to read real books and magazines at my convenience. I hate the kindle and don’t want to order movies for downloading–again prefer DVDs at my convenience. I suppose I will master Skype and Facebook just so I can view what my family is doing as they don’t even send emails very often. Too much technology, not enough person to person interaction.

  21. AvatarMonica Stevens Reply

    I am blind, and must ask a Ward Member to fill out my tithing slip. This has bothered me since circumstances in my life meant that I now live alone. Paying tithing online would be perfect for me. Yes, I can operate a computer thanks to a programme that “reads” all my mail, and “Talks to me.”

    However, Being somewhat handicapped myself, I do appreciate the difficulties others have. I don’t know enough to fix it all perfectly, but I know Church Leaders will solve this dilemma when the time arises.

  22. AvatarAdele Sauer Reply

    Online tithing, church resources, etc have been available in New Zealand & Australia have been available online over the past approx 10 years (all being available one at a time). However, we still have hard copies available for those who simply don’t use electronics for whatever reason. Both electronics & manuals are still available in our countries …. we’ll soon see if it will be that way in the USA also.

  23. AvatarWicket Reply

    We have a large percentage of “older” members who even if they have internet access and use email for family communication only they still don’t WANT to be bothered with using the internet for reading purposes.

    I am as computer literate as most average people and I still don’t enjoy or even ‘like’ to read on the internet. I have a desktop, laptop and a tablet but when reading I want a BOOK in my hands. I like to underline, make notes and mark pages. I also like to go back through the manuals and reread some of them or at least use them for study and research. Sure I could print each lesson out and do this, but I’d MUCH rather PAY for a book. (Besides if I printed each lesson, they would be hard to “store” and refer back to.) If you don’t distribute the manuals, please, please print and sell them to us that prefer books!

  24. AvatarChaya Reply

    I’ve paid my tithing and offerings online for several years in The Netherlands. It goes automatically every month. I see when it is deducted when I do my weekly finances and can’t forget to pay this way. I have an Android phone but since Internet is often not working in the Church building, I prefer hard copy Scriptures and manuals. I would be very upset when I have to print several colour pictures just for a lesson, ink is expensive! My phone is too small for the whole class to see the picture and having my phone going around isn’t an option because the manual is on the phone too!

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