32,000 Mormon missionaries to get iPad minis

​Elder Rodney Mills, left, knocks on a door without response while Elder Robert Keach waits for someone to come to the door in the background in the Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia, Penn.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Mormon church is expanding a program that gives missionaries iPad minis and broadens their proselytizing to social media.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a news release this week that a test program that began last fall with 6,500 missionaries serving in the United States and Japan went well. That has prompted the church to expand the initiative.

Church leaders expect to have the specially configured mobile devices in the hands of more than 32,000 missionaries by early 2015. Most missionaries will cover the cost of the $400 device.

Church scholars say it is the latest example of the LDS church's gradual embrace of the digital age and its recognition that door-to-door proselytizing is not the most effective way to expand church membership.