When I was 20 years-old, I was a Mormon missionary and helped many people learn about the Church and prepare to be baptized. If you’re talking with the missionaries or know someone who is, you may be wondering how long it takes to become a Mormon and get baptized.
I’d like to illustrate with a few examples, but the answer depends on many things. Some people are baptized in as short as two or three weeks after meeting the missionaries, and some take many months or years. The length of time depends mostly on the preferences and situation of the convert.
Factors that Affect Length of Time Before Baptism
In biblical times, all were invited to be baptized when they accepted the gospel. In fact, Christ himself was baptized and said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Yet, the Bible also shows that before people were baptized, they were taught the gospel of Christ and asked to follow God’s commandments. The same is true today.
As Mormon missionaries visit people and teach them about the church, they also invite people to follow God’s commandments and teachings. For some people, this may already comport largely with the way they have been living, so the transition may be quite simple. For others, they may have lived in a culture or situation very different before they learned of God’s commandments, which may take time for them to change.
For example, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints do not drink alcohol or smoke. They do not make purchases or Sundays, either. If someone is a smoker, it will likely take time for the person to start obeying God’s law of health before he or she can be baptized.
God does not so much care where you are today, but where you’re headed. I firmly believe that.
While I was a missionary in Brazil, I taught a husband, wife, and teenage son in a large city named Osasco. After meeting them at a bus stop one day, I invited them to church and they came. I was SOO excited to see them there! The wife, named Cleo, felt strongly–almost immediately–that she should continue to learn more about the church and perhaps join. The son did also. The husband, John, was more apprehensive.
John continued to go to church on Sundays with his family and was very interested in learning more, but he wasn’t sure if it was right for him to make the change.
I wanted the family to come to church together, but in the end, John said he wasn’t quite ready. So Cleo and the son were baptized, which was a marvelous day. They told me they felt a peaceful assurance when they prayed after being baptized. John wasn’t sure he wanted to change his lifestyle, but after seeing his wife and son baptized, he decided to change as well. A few weeks later, he was baptized as well.
So Should I Wait? I’m Not Sure If I’m Ready.
Neither you nor the missionaries want you to be baptized if you are not ready to follow God’s commandments, or if you are unsure of your belief in Christ. That being said, EVERY SINGLE PERSON I taught on my two year mission felt some level of apprehension about being baptized. It’s normal to wonder about something new and unknown, and it’s normal to worry that you aren’t “good enough.”
So how can you know if you are ready? Fortunately, God has already given us the answer.
The scriptures tell us exactly what you need to do to be ready to be baptized. Here it is:
- Are you willing to humble yourself before God?
- Do you have a desire to be baptized and forgiven of any sins you may have?
- Are you willing to change anything in your life that does not comport with God’s commandments, and ask God in prayer to be forgiven of anything you’ve done wrong in the past?
- Do you have a determination to serve Christ to the end?
- Have you shown by your actions that you will follow God?
Pretty simple right? If you have those desires and are willing to do those things, then God says you are ready. And who are we to disagree with God?
From a more practical standpoint, the missionaries will also teach you many other things about living as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For example, you’ll learn about the Bible and the Book of Mormon. You’ll learn about the prophet today who leads the church, etc. Don’t worry at all about not KNOWING enough. It’s not a test. The missionaries will take care of teaching you what you need to know about the gospel.
How Can I Be Certain That I Believe in the Church?
In the Bible, it says in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that we are to “Walk by faith, and not by sight.” God is not here physically on Earth for us to see him and talk to him like we see and talk to each other. Why? Because we need to learn to walk by faith, and not by sight.
For me, I can remember generally believing in the church as it was taught to me. It just felt right to me. I read The Book of Mormon and heard the words of the prophets and I believed it was true. But I wanted more certainty.
I have–many times in my life–knelt down by my bed and prayed. I don’t mean a casual, typical, every-day prayer. I mean I really poured out my heart to God and prayed for knowledge and wisdom. As I have done so, I have always felt closer to God, but I haven’t always been immediately enlightened with knowledge.
However, knowledge has come. Sometimes when I least expected it. One day the missionaries were at my home teaching my family. I had been baptized many years before when I was younger and very much already believed the Church was true. However, I find that sometimes I still need assurances. Anyway, the missionaries were teaching us about Joseph Smith and I was distracted and tired–not paying as much attention as I wish I were.
But suddenly I felt absolutely clear knowledge come to my mind that what they were telling me was true. That God and Christ really did appear to Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet.
I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me in my life. I can’t say it’s an every day thing for me yet. But more than anything else, I know I am receiving communication with God when I have that moment of clarity. I also know when I feel at peace and comforted by the thought of a decision.
Do not expect to have a miraculous experience the instant you first pray to know if this Church is true. God communicates to us in His own way and His own time. But I promise you that God does hear your prayers, and if you sincerely pour out your heart to God seeking for knowledge, you too can have that clarity and peace to help you know you are headed in the right path.
The length of time it takes for someone to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints depends on many things. But I promise you that it will be worth it. Experiment on the promises in the Book of Mormon and pour out your heart to God in sincere prayer.
If you really mean it when you say you want to know if it’s true, then go to church on Sunday! There is not a single Mormon church building around the world you could go to this Sunday and not receive a warm welcome. Call the missionaries and learn.
If there is a commandment or something that you’re not so sure about then put it to the test! Experiment on God’s laws and allow God to prove to you how He will bless you and make you even more than you already are.