At a concert in Salt Lake City last week, pop star David Archuleta of American Idol fame made an unexpected and emotional announcement. After a couple of years of skirting questions about it, he revealed that he will indeed serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though he hasn’t made public where he will be sent.

Mr. Archuleta will join more than 52,000 Mormon missionaries serving in 340 missions, or geographic areas, world-wide. Eighty percent of them are young men who begin serving at age 19. The remainder are mostly young women age 21 and older, along with a small number of retired couples. It is estimated that roughly a third of eligible young Mormon men elect to serve missions.

For Mr. Archuleta, age 21, life is about to change considerably. He’ll trade a life of stardom for the rigor of waking up at 6:30 every morning, studying scripture for a couple of hours, then working 10-hour days teaching interested people in their homes and taking on other community-service projects before falling into bed exhausted. He’ll also join the ranks of other prominent Mormons who have served missions, including Mitt Romney (France) and Jon Huntsman (Taiwan), Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings (Spain), and actors Aaron Eckhart (Switzerland) and Jon Heder (Japan).

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