I admit to enjoying this past General Conference. It was a pleasure to see the President of the Church up at the podium, strong and engaged. I enjoyed many of the talks, and maybe like you, were happy to avoid some of the more controversial topics. I know so many wished they were addressed
But this was indeed a different Conference from recent years. If ever want to see contrast, listen to Conferences in the early 70’s and 80’s Your hair will stand on end (except for you Mormon bald guys).
The elimination of the Home Teaching/Visiting Teaching Program was finally long overdue. The number crunching only proved over and over ago how ineffective it was. Replaced by ministering, which by the way is the correct term, it allows tremendous flexibility to actually MINISTER to people in the Savior’s way.
In my Ward, there is a significant amount of ministering that goes on a regular basis by unsung heroes in the Ward who did it anyway without assignment. When assignments need to be made, we often have more people than need. We had a small assignment the other day and a Brother showed up a few minutes late and we were done. It’s the little things that count. Luckily we don’t have to count a “honk and drive by” anymore.
I also like the combining of the Priesthood Quorums. In some Wards and Branches, it was pretty much a necessity Now I think it a unity move and a lining up with the Relief Society to be more effective. We will see.
Now to my topic at hand. – Re-activating the “Active “Church
Even though the Church reported 16,118,169 members for the end of 2017, it is pretty common knowledge that those classified as active (Attending Sacrament Meeting once a month) is probably 1/4th to 1.5th of that number.
But then again, how “active” are these “active?”
- Busy, busy, lives – In many cases, both spouses have to work which leaves very little family time, on top of callings, lessons, Temple, driving kids to Churc
h during the week, outside sports and school function, etc.
- Can’t get to Church on time, no matter what the time is. I understand what it is like to have to corral multiple children and get them ready, especially if it is a spouse alone, while the other is in a meeting. We had five, so I get it, but we were seldom late. But we have chronic later comers that fill up the back on the cultural hall when it starts. Many miss the Sacrament Service, which may, in fact, be their intention, I don’t know.
- Won’t Take Callings – Some refuse to take callings, or ask for a specific calling. I found this with many thirty-sometimes (see number one above). Some elderly are “retired” from the Church as well.
- Sacrament Meeting Talks– Once in a while, a Sacrament Meeting talk is so good, you sit up, wake up and take notice and remember it. Some are very touching as families, both new and old relate trias and tribulations and how grateful they were to The LORD for his comfort and help.
But yet, many, many talks are just not good, whether it is time to prepare, just do it to get through it, or almost reading a Conference talk without the person’s own insight.
- Phones And Social Media – No place in Church, except for emergencies. Adults, youth, children (it’s used as a babysitter) refuse to turn it off for even just an hour (“oh, I’m studying my scriptures”). Ward Bishoprics plead with members to put them down. It doesn’t work. (a great topic for later)
- Lack of Social interaction – Back in the day, the Church had activities all the time, dances, Speech competitions, Roadshows, Sports of all kinds, Gold and Green Balls, Regular Ward Socials. It was too much and as lifestyles changes, things got eliminated). I imagine some Wards still have a lot of socials, but ours are few and far between. We have a couple in the year that untouchable, but in the winter months, things can get cancelled due to weather. But this lack of social interaction is wreaking havoc to stay connected to Ward members who show up at activities, who might be on the fringes, willing to come back.
- “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ……” 2 Nephi25:26. Do we?
- Testimony or no Testimony? Hard to tell. I”ve heard beautiful ones and I’ve matter of fact ones. Much of this malaise I feel can stem from lack of real convictions.
- Other problems – Church History, Local Leaders, LGBTQ issues, utter shocking revelations in the news are all contributing factorings.
So to summarize, as I listened to Conference, with the stories of helping people one on one, putting ourselves out there as Ministers, I could not help thinking that this was all about “Reactivating the “Active” Church.”
Now I’d like to hear what you think of my premise and what possible solutions you can think of. I didn’t want to put mine.
So, please discuss inn a polite manner.