In a recent article in The National Catholic Weekly magazine, a writer brought up the great marketing the LDS church is doing in New York City. His article highlights the Mormon.org billboards that are all over as well as on the taxis, etc. and how great of a missionary tool it is. Something he wrote about in his article stood out to me about his perspective on the traditional Mormon missionary strategy. He writes:
The “I’m a Mormon” campaign, showcases video and print portraits of young, diverse and energetic Mormons — and steers clear of images of missionaries in white shirts and black pants or talk of theology –
“Steering clear of images of missionaries in white shirts and black pants…” is the line that stood out to me.
What is the image that most people who aren’t LDS think of when they see the Mormon missionaries knocking on doors like they have done the same way for probably close to 100 years now? Is that still an effective marketing tool, or should the church shake it up and allow missionaries to wear clothes that match the culture where they are?
I know from personal experience that I felt much more at ease being a missionary without my white shirt and nametag than when I was wearing it. I was a Mormon missionary in Germany for two years and I also lived in Switzerland and worked for awhile after my mission as well. When I was a mormon missionary, people would bar the windows and lock the doors and bring the kids out of the streets the moment we walked into the neighborhood. The white shirt and black nametag turned them off.
However, when I was dressed in my normal clothes as a “regular” person after my mission, I had many more missionary discussions with people who opened up to me because they perceived that I was a “normal” person.
On the other hand, the Mormon missionaries have been branded by the white shirt and nametag and for people who are searching for them, they are easy to identify.
What are your thoughts on changing the Mormon missionary strategy and having Mormon missionaries wear “normal” clothes while proselyting?