Tracting, or sending missionaries house to house, has since the 1830s been a pillar of the church’s expansion that helped it grow to over 15 million members.
Tucker, a square-jawed 21-year-old from Syracuse, Utah, will tell you he used this gift to be a more effective missionary.
Only, in his case, his “tongue” was the language of email, texting and instant messaging.
In an age of Internet-enabled instant gratification, the church is betting the demand for instant salvation can’t be far behind.
The shift on social media actually began over five years ago, in 2008, with a quiet experiment at the Referral Center Mission in Provo, Utah.
Despite its conservative reputation, the church has actually been an early adopter of any tech that might deliver baptisms.
Just as it did nearly 200 years ago, when the church pioneered mass-market distribution of its Bibles by printing a half-million texts, and a century ago, when it released a feature film on the Book of Mormon, now it is pinning its hopes on the marketing muscle of a technology with even broader reach: the web.
“It’s going to be a lot more efficient.” For Mormons, this about-face on social media was a radical change, as startling as if the church had dropped its ban on beer.
Until the June announcement, the Internet had been off-limits to missionaries to shield them from “worldly entertainment,” like the Times and Twitter, that could distract them from their religious calling.
Ryan Tucker, a missionary who helped convert him in the church’s chatroom, hailed it as a journey “from troll to testimony.” "Those chats were so amazing," says L'Espérance.