Jonathan's 388 Project

Jonathan's 388 Project - IS CONVERSION A SCIENCE? A STUDY...

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Unformatted text preview: IS CONVERSION A SCIENCE? A STUDY OF THE FACTORS LEADING TO BAPTISM JONATHAN BONHAM 1 Abstract Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spend two years proselyting in various parts of the world in hopes of improving lives and bringing people to the church. A key stage in this process is baptism. This paper explores the relationship that going to church and committing to a baptismal date have on the probability of being baptized, in the context of a single missionary in the New York, New York South Mission. The purpose of this study is to create a forecasting model for this missionary, and thus is not meant to produce generalizable results. The study finds that committing to a baptismal date increases the probability of baptism, while the number of people at church produces mixed results. Introduction Every year, tens of thousands of nineteen-year-old boys leave their homes, their work, their studies, toys, friends, family, and girlfriends to live in another part of the world for two years. Living is probably an exaggeration, as these boys spend very little time focusing on their own lives. From 6:30 am to 9:30 pm, Monday through Sunday, they put on a shirt and tie and knock doors, visit families, and work to convert people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. One would expect that working 90+ hour weeks would be grounds for hefty compensation, perhaps comparable to young investment bankers or consultants who work similar hours. Wrong. Most of these boys pay their own way, receiving nothing in the form of monetary compensation. So what is it that makes these boys leave their homes and their studies for two years during the prime of their lives? The answer: to help people. Most missionaries firmly believe in the teachings of their religion and are convinced that those teachings bring happiness. Many have felt that happiness in their own lives and want others to feel it to o. The crux of a missionary’s purpose is to help people to change their lives so they can be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Missionaries track a host of other “key- indicators” such as the num ber of investigators who attended church, who are committed to a baptismal date, and who agreed to allow the missionaries to visit them. Other indicators include the number of lessons taught and the number of referrals received each week. 2 Many missionaries believe that these indicators do a good job of capturing the quality of a missionary’s work. Others believe that a focus on “numbers” undermines the softer and more difficult-to-measure skills that are needed to help people on their path of conversion. The conflict posed above leads to an interesting question: since baptism is such an essential piece of a missionary’s work, can an empirical relationship be found between baptism and other countable measures?...
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This note was uploaded on 02/29/2012 for the course ECON 388 taught by Professor Mcdonald,j during the Winter '08 term at BYU.

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Jonathan's 388 Project - IS CONVERSION A SCIENCE? A STUDY...

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