Dear Elder Ballard: Mormon YouTube Progress Report

Last year Elder Ballard told graduates of BYU-Hawaii to use new media to spread the gospel, and the exhortation was repeated to all church members in a cover story in last month’s Ensign. Among other things, members were encouraged to "create videos that illustrate aspects of your membership in the Church and post them on video sharing sites like YouTube."

In the grand tradition of Bloggernacle presumptuousness, I’ve presumed to take it upon myself to compile a preliminary progress report for Elder Ballard. Humbly submitted: the good, the bad, and the ugly of Mormons on Youtube.

Genre: Missionary FAIL
I’m not sure what exactly accounts for the large number of contributions in this category. To be expected of 18-21-year-old males? (Sister missionaries seem disinclined to participate.) Acting out subconscious fantasies about escaping the rigors of mission life by any means necessary, even on a stretcher? In any case, the quality of missionary fail videos compares favorably with the overall (non-LDS) market of fail videos. Excellent work, Elders!

Genre: Future Movie Moguls
Borne of copious amounts of free time, home-brew production values and no shortage of enthusiasm for quirkiness of Mormon culture, do these spoofs and re-enactments provide a peek into the future of Mormon cinema?

Genre: Missionary Dancing and Lipsyncing
This could really be a subgenre of FAIL, i.e. self-respect FAIL. Missionaries like singing and dancing for the camera.

Genre: EFY Shenanigans
EFY is a week-long co-ed summer camp for LDS youth. Like missionary videos, the vast majority of EFY-related videos are of people singing and dancing, or doing silly pranks. Young men at EFY seem especially prone to excruciating musical self-humiliation. But, at least according to the text provided with the videos, this can sometimes, somehow, be successful in attracting girls.

Genre: Tear-jerkers
There are innumerable videos consisting of quotes and photos/art set to music slideshow-style. They’re generally too schmaltzy for my taste. But no Mormon YouTube roundup would be complete without some “spiritual” stuff. I found these videos of youth singing to be very touching.

  • These missionaries in Mozambique aren’t bad singers, and something about seeing so many with their arms around each other gets me misty-eyed: Army of Helaman
  • If you liked EFY: EFY Medley sung at EFY

Genre: The Professionals (Memory Lane)
If you were around during the 80’s, you’ll remember these ads for the church from the famous “Homefront” series. It’s interesting to see in these the same perky, campy, music-laced aesthetic that we see in so many of the homemade YouTube videos listed above. Is this art imitating art (individuals mimicing the church-produced media), or do both spring from some common deeper cultural causation? Thoughts to ponder while you stroll down memory lane.

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  1. This is a good idea, Cynthia L., and your list is useful. I’m looking forward to going through all your links.

    I think the Missionary FAIL category is so massive it could be divided into several sub-genres, including bicycle FAIL, P-Day FAIL, investigator FAIL, and so on.

  2. P-day FAIL.

    At least I hope it was P-day.

  3. Mark, this one is a great missionary FAIL (actually it is bike thief FAIL, missionary WIN). I left it out because at the very beginning there is an f-word (skip to 0:30 to avoid), and I’m also fairly convinced it was staged. But funny nonetheless. link here

  4. Apparently, a couple of months ago a U-Tube video of some missionaries in the area where I live singing a song in the car got noticed by the First Presidency and the Mission President got something of a testy call. Those missionaries didn’t fare so well.

  5. Steve Evans says:

    I look forward to watching all of the old Homefront commercials on YouTube. It would be one of the smartest things the Church ever did. Thank you for this complete and thorough investigation SB2.

  6. “your list is useful”?
    “this complete and thorough investigation”?

    I find it a little disturbing that anyone would describe this post useful or an investigation, much less a thorough one.

  7. Aaron Brown says:

    it was useful in getting me to waste 30 minutes of my life on YouTube, sister blah, which ain’t nothing.


  8. Steve Evans says:

    Cynthia I expect nothing less than total commitment to your BCC posts, therefore this youtube post must be entirely useful and scientific.

  9. Steve: useful was in my contract, but scientific costs you extra.

  10. Kevin Barney says:

    Does my whole mission count as a missionary FAIL?

  11. Cynthia’s contract included “useful” as a condition? Why is hers different than everyone else’s?

  12. Kevin, I think in light of those missionaries who got to drive a Ferrari on their mission, every other missionary’s whole mission counts as a FAIL.

  13. There are also a number of videos of people opening their mission calls, and they are pretty hilarious. I like the ones where the person gets to the bottom of the call and says “some dude signed it” and everyone in the room laughs because they don’t recognize President Hinckley’s signature.

  14. This isn’t YouTube, and the stories aren’t “funny” but they are about Mormons…

  15. I will never get the last 38 minutes back…

  16. so, how are missionaries getting hold of all this unapproved music to goof around to? What gives?

  17. Little Sister says:

    The HomeFront ones are the best!!! I’m sad I don’t ever remember seeing those on TV.

  18. My humble contribution is to video-document amiable diversity in the Church. Only three postings so far but I hope to add more during my perambulations.

  19. Matt Rasmussen says:

    After 10 minutes of these, it’s clear there needs to be an updated version of the missionary handbook forbidding missionaries from posting video of themselves on You Tube. At least get the mission president’s approval first…

    I wasn’t the best missionary and I’m not the greatest member ever. So putting all the stupid, boring, lame things I do for the world to see as an example of our church doesn’t help. How do they not get this?

  20. Somebody has to have seen this one.


  21. Capt Jack says:

    This has to be the worst missionary video:

  22. what does FAIL stand for?

  23. Meredith C says:
  24. anon #22–As far as I know it doesn’t stand for anything. For some reason it’s slang version (used in photos like these) is typically written in all caps. I don’t know why, just one of those things.

  25. mapinguari says:

    These videos should be indexed and archived for eternity at Granite Mountain. Nice work.

  26. I started a web page – – that has links to over 250 entertaining LDS videos on YouTube. Let me know what you think at

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