My post last week was on statistics and factors related to those leaving the church. It brought out some excellent comments.
While some people miss the enmeshed cultural community that existed twenty years ago, others felt it was overwhelming.
In short, the balance between “not enough” and “too much” social activity differs on a person by person basis.
The same is true of the balance between calling leaders young, to develop them, and relying on older leaders with more crystallized knowledge. Too much of one and there is no institutional knowledge, too much of the other and there aren’t enough people to keep an institution going after the old guard passes.
Much of what makes a church, or a society, or a family — any group really — is balance.
It is easy to see flaws (or what we think of as flaws) in the balance that do not favor our preferences but hard to see those that favor us but not others.
Especially when a group extends into many places, the overall balance is much harder to see.
Can you share a story of when a balance favored you but was bad overall? Or when a change you thought you wanted turned out not to be the solution you thought?
Each individual or family needs to determine their own balance. If 3 church hours were too much, members always had the option to attend only 2 or 1 or none. If you have too many church callings or a church calling that is too much, you can always “no.” If the top leadership reduces socialization opportunities, the ward can always compensate. And, heaven forbid, you can always socialize outside the church. Reading groups, bridge clubs, volunteering, neighborhood activities., etc. Maybe the current trend in limiting church activities is intended to encourage members to get out in the world more.
I once lived in a semi rural area, where there were a group of progressive families, and a number who had served in bishoprics, we traveled 45 minutes each way to meetings, and whenever we had interviews pointed out that a small branch in our area would be good We assumed we could have a nice progressive branch.
Eventually a branch was formed, but they chose a newish member who was the most conservative member in the group to be branch pres. The first sunday he was called, he gave a talk about how he expected obedience to his commands, when he said to jump our only question was how high.
He was a teacher at the local high school and I was president of the parents and citizens group. He was campaigning to stop the sex ed programme, the p&c were asked for our input, so we asked for a demonstration of the class and were very impressed with it. The branch pres had a talk with me on the way to a leadership meeting soon after, and a few nights later turned up on my doorstep with a letter, that I was to answer charges of apostasy, and not supporting the priesthood leaders(him).
I went to the meeting, and he had this great plan where he would make a statement, that incriminated me, and if I didn’t agree I was defying the priesthood. So once I underdtood his plan I just told him he didn’t have the authority, and left. I was a high priest. There was terrible bad blood, because the Stake Pres. didn’t want to do anything either way.
The bp was released after 6 months, and a more ballanced bp called, and I was a councillor. The original bp got transferred to another school, and went inactive, the Stake pres involved is also no longer active.
I served in bishoprics through most of my thirties and fourties, but would do things differently in hindsight. I remember on a number of occasions my wife saying why did you make such a decision as a bishopric, did you not realise how it would affect the women? I was also an acting bishop, when the bishop went inactive. Again the SP didn’t want to look bad by calling a new bishop too soon after the last one. A more conservative brother was eventually called as bishop, and after a few years disfellowshipped for paying his bills with church money.
I have had problems with leaders being called based on their conservatism. The best leaders I have had have been balanced, or at least representative of the group.
Surprisingly, I’m with Geoff-Aus on this one. The best bishops weren’t either of liberal or conservative; but carefully considered each situation and relied heavily upon inspiration and listened to others. I was in several of these situations a clerk, not a counselor, and yet he listened to me as carefully as he listened to a counselor.
Spencer W. Kimball was also careful about situations; “the words used to clear up thinking in one individual will put ideas into the mind of another”. He was speaking of those bishops that ask very directly questions that the young man about to go on a mission may never have even considered possible, such as having sex with animals which was the question on the table for that example.
My wife worries often about our (recently released) past bishop and stake president, both of whom had some dispute with us. She fretted about bishop excommunicating us, and I said, I am a high priest, there’s not really a lot he can do. As for the Stake President; if he tries it there will be quite a fuss and ruckus. I’ll give up my membership when I choose to do so.
I was thinking on it this morning; activity in a ward is one thing, it is social. Membership in the church, specifically blessings of the temple and/or priesthood, are something else entirely. I can easily choose not to attend church while still valuing those blessings; hoping for a time when local leaders are more of one thing and less of another thing. But that day may never come if I am myself not willing to step up and be the leader I wish others were.
“The same is true of the balance between calling leaders young, to develop them, and relying on older leaders with more crystallized knowledge. Too much of one and there is no institutional knowledge, too much of the other and there aren’t enough people to keep an institution going after the old guard passes.”
I was thinking more along the lines of how calling young leaders has the potential to create an imbalance in the home. Young leaders typically have several young children and leaders in the church are often called upon to sacrifice many hours outside of their homes for their callings. The kid years go by quick but church callings will always be there.
As Fred says, Our present Bishop, and one of his councilors, are both in their late 30s with 5 children each. The councillors family usually sit in front of us and we try to help. They have twin boys just under 1. The wife had to take the boys out of sacrament on Sunday, and the other children followed them out. My wife said if my husband sat up there and watched me struggle, and did nothing, I would not be happy.