When is a sacrament meeting talk by a just returned missionary NOT a missionary speech?
When he never mentions the word mission or any missionary experiences whatsoever.
Twice in the past couple of years I have listened to two returned missionaries in their home wards giving their "homecoming talk" and neither elder never mentioned his mission in any way.
It was just all about the assigned subject and sadly boring too for the 20 minutes.
All I can say is the pendulum has swung too far the other way now.
Maybe before some policy changes, such talks were too "homecoming" oriented before, with family members even talking. Perhaps there were a few too many jokes made before about various cultures.
However, there was certainly not a young man in the audience of the two talks I am referring to who was any more excited about serving a mission after hearing these pointless talks than he was the day before!
I don't fault the missionaries.
I believe returned missionaries DO NOT need an assigned subject.
Why would they?
They just spent two years, 24/7 serving the Lord. If they can't be trusted, then who can be?
They can and should be talking ONLY about their mission - especially their most spiritual experiences.
All they need is a time limit.
If church leaders want more potential full-time missionaries, they need to get young men excited about missions and the current assigned subject policy for returned missionary talks isn't helping that to happen.
UPDATE: April 28, 2013: I hear another returned missionary talk. Again, he seems too concerned about his assigned subject and only mentions 2 missionary experiences in 15 minutes. I know he had more experiences to tell that that.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Oct. 18, 2015: Another returned missionary talk in my home ward. All about the assigned subject, nothing about his mission. Boring.