Elder Uchtdorf recently gave a devotional to all missionaries world wide. He is the chair of the Church’s Missionary Executive Committee.
Sometimes the progressive Mormons look to Elder Uchtdorf as their leader, but lets not forget that he didn’t get to where he is at by being a loose cannon!
Here are some interesting quotes from his talk.
Presently, some 400 missionaries in missions worldwide have extended their service, unable to return home
They did NOT extend their service, they are stuck! I wonder if they have a choice to be released in country so they can just chill doing non-missionary activities? Would the church give them an honorable release if they completed their two years, and demanded to be released? It would have been great if we could have “seen” into the future, and knew to bring these missionaries home before the travel restriction hit. Is the church funding these missionaries extension, or are the parents footing the bill?
“These are challenging times for our worldwide missionary service,” he said, adding that God has not been surprised by the events that have put the world in commotion.
God wan’t surprised, but our Church leaders that claim to to speak with him were. Did God want to make missionary work harder?
“It has been said that the recent pandemic may have been a ‘divine reset’ that could help us recalibrate our efforts to reach more people — and especially a younger audience.”
Could God not have done this “divine reset” without killing 838,000 people (as of 8/29/20) or infecting 24.8 million people? I can think of a much easier way to “re-calibrate” the missionary service that doesn’t involve mass death and global economic turmoil.
Past missionaries may have limited their thinking about how to take the gospel to the world, using technology only when forced to by geographic distances(note: not a direct quote, but paraphrase by The Church News)
Now here is some major gas-lighting! It was the missionary’s fault that they didn’t use Facebook and their iPhones more in the past! They should have just brought their iPhones with them on their mission five years ago, and went to the internet cafe to get on Facebook several hours a day. No, their limited thinking was not at all influenced by strict mission rules that prohibited any and all online activity, and forbid the use of cell phones. It was just their limited thinking that needed a “divine reset” to push them in this new direction.
What are your thoughts on Elder Uchtdorf’s talk? Is he just trying to paint a rosy picture, when in fact the missionary program is in free fall? Or do you think the missionary program is as good as it has ever been with all the new technology?
I would be very hesitant to ascribe intent to Elder Uchtdorf here. What we are really reading is what the Church News reporter wants us to understand. The Church News exists to paint a rosy picture of the missionary program and ignores or introduces a contrary slant to any information about the missionary program that may be perceived as negative. Thus, we need to see a full transcript of Elder Uchtdorf’s talk before we could make an informed conclusion about what he intended to say.
That said, I agree that the missionary program needs a significant overhaul and that we are too rooted in tradition and history and not rooted in what actually would be effective missionary work. Elder Uchtdorf recognized that fact, but we don’t know what else he said about it.
I would agree with his comment that this situation is an opportunity for a ‘divine reset’, but that is not limited to missionary work and taking the church to the world. It’s applicable to just about every single aspect of our lives. It’s such a unique situation where you don’t have things like church, the movie theater, or sports leagues for the kids available for several months at a time. We have the chance to really step away from those things long enough to take a fair look at them and be selective about what we do add back into our lives when the pandemic is behind us. My kids and spouse have NOT missed the YM/YW activities one bit, and they’ve all openly said that they don’t relish resuming those activities. I say the same about church in general, I honestly have no interest in going back.
So I think that the church needs to understand (which it will eventually, one way or another) that this reset opportunity is going to be taken by members and that some won’t resume church participation at all, and many others will only resume it at a minimal level and be much more selective about what activities they support and participate in than before. If past general social trends are any indication, the senior church leaders will be very slow to recognize and acknowledge this when it happens, and then will ascribe it to the usual reasons (people want to aim, they are lazy, deceived by the world, sifting of the church membership, etc).
I just baffles me how youth are taught their entire life that going on a mission is the most Christ-like service you can give. (which it is be at moments only because of self and not the missionary system). But then once you arrive it is the missionaries fault that people do not join the church, it is the missionaries fault that people do not show up to sacrament. As a missionary you are (sometimes) mistreated by companions, and especially mistreated by leadership DL, ZL, AP and Mission Presidents. It becomes a boot-camp that has nothing to do about Christ and all about numbers and obedience to bizarre rules that mission Presidents make up rules beyond the white bible ones. And then for anyone in the Q15 to state “past missionaries may have limited their thinking”.. how insulting !! How about past Q15, past mission presidents have limited their thinking and their approach to be like Christ. How about they start acting like Christ instead of the fake facade they present. To reset the LDS mission how about starting with free-agency instead of manipulation.
The LDS mission is an exercise in mental cruelty. I feel for those 400 who are stuck out there. Not just the LDS mission system, but the entire church needs a reset…….but each person, and each family needs to take control of their own destiny and reset. If you want to be more Christian you do not need the LDS intuition to tell you their rules of the decade (because they will change from generation to generation). Christ is ashamed to what the LDS system has turned into. So Uchtdorf can take his nice sports car and his 2 multi-million dollar homes and live in luxury, as he lectures how we are supposed to live out lives ? Give me a break.
My child is on a mission so I want to be supportive BUT once I realized “adjustments” were not revelation and that Pres Monson was using recycled talks, and am learning more about the nuanced life of Joseph Smith, it feels like I am convincing myself 124 billion times a day to stay in the boat (feelings not yet disclosed to TBM wife).
It’s hard to see the missionary program as anything more than a youth retention effort.
The whole Covid thing has caused almost every institution of modern life to rethink how goods and services are delivered to customers and members. Everything from airlines and hotels and large employers to the neighborhood school and the corner grocery store are rethinking established practices and revamping physical layouts and person-to-person contact.
So absolutely yes, the way church is done on Sunday and the way LDS missionaries do their contacting and teaching and service work needs to be reviewed and redesigned. The Church typically resists changing anything until its hand is forced. Well finally the missionary program is being forced to change. Let’s hope it is positive change all around. Better health care for missionaries ought to be Priority Number One. I’ll bet it’s down the list at number six or seven for the leadership.
Hey Bishop Bill. Do you have a post somewhere here that tells a little bit about who you are, your belief system, whether you are what they call an “active” member of the church?
I think it’s fine to look at tragedies and problems as opportunities to learn and improve, and overall I appreciate President Uchtdorf’s optimism and ability to see silver lining, but to suggest that God would intentionally afflict the earth with this to encourage the church to change up the missionary program is (1) incredibly self-centered – like that Mormons are the center of the universe and the only people God cares about; (2) paints a picture of a pretty cruel God I’m not interested in worshipping; and (3) begs the question why were our leaders so out of tune with God that when a change needed to happen God had to send a plague to get their attention???
I sincerely hope this triggers significant changes in the missionary program (more service oriented, more flexible, etc) but it’s hard to imagine it won’t just go back to normal after this is over. We’ll see. In any event, that’s not really “revelation” it’s just being smart and able to recognize when something is not working and needs to change.
Really, really sorry for the missionaries who are stuck.
bwbarnett, here is my intro from a few years ago. https://wheatandtares.org/2017/08/30/bishop-bill-introduction/
I think the missionary program is in free-fall and have a lot of concern for these young people serving right now. I think a lot of them will experience mental health challenges and there will be many that aren’t being fed enough by members or have sufficient funds to feed themselves. I don’t understand why newbies are still being sent out in these conditions? Plus I think the whole program needed a reset long before covid. I’m disappointed in Uchtdorf but like Andrew said – perhaps reading a complete transcript would improve some of the takeaways.
Bishop Bill, thanks for providing that link. I have a cousin, a former member of the church, who used to go downtown to temple square during general conference and stand out on the sidewalk “heckling” members as they went to conference. Not sure if “heckling” is the right word, but you know, one of those guys who stand on the sidewalk during general conference. He has since moved to Texas, where he still has his ministry. (He’s actually a great guy and I love him tons.) When he went to general conference, I believe his goal was to make members of the church question their beliefs, question church doctrine/policy, question their prophets (past and present), and then eventually do as he did, leave the church. Help me understand how his goals/motives differ from yours.
I’m not sure anyone here has to justify him or herself to anyone else here.
These are ideas and opinions. As such, they’re all as valid and as valuable as anyone finds them to be.
If anyone wants to enter into the discussion, fine. If they want to take exception, fine. If they’ want to question or challenge anyone else’s motivations or legitimacy, I think they’re in the wrong place. …not that anyone is here by or despite my permission, you understand.
Hi Alice, I’m not sure why asking about someone’s motivations is not valid here?? As to questioning someone’s legitimacy, I agree. Each should have as much right as another is voicing himself/herself. Did I say something that questioned Bishop Bill’s legitimacy? I apologize if I did. I believe that the motivation behind someone’s comments, stories, i.e., “voice”, should play a role in our communication, in our desire to understand each other.
I hope Uchtdorf is being misquoted. I need someone to hope for.
In my area we had 3 lady missionaries locked in a small flat forb4 months.
We now have 3 male missionaries in the same flat.
Have not seen either of these groups.
Not sure how they survived.
bwbarnett, did you somehow miss that what you wrote amounts to “I suspect you’re a subversive provocateur; please prove to me that you’re not”?
Chet: I’m with you 100% when you say “It’s hard to see the missionary program as anything more than a youth retention effort.” The Missionary Department recognizes what we all see: the average missionary has very little impact on his or her community in terms of Church membership and baptisms. But those who serve missions are much more likely to remain in the Church, pay tithing, serve as local leaders. That’s why we have a missionary program and that’s why the lack of production (i.e., baptisms) isn’t really an issue. The Church may change the program at the margins but you’re not going to see an increase in baptisms as a result. The changes will simply reflect changing realities in the world (the use of social media, etc.) and the fact that the youth in the Church are less likely to sacrifice 18-24 months of their lives for 3 or 4 baptisms.
Prediction: The Church will modify the program so that missions are much less than 18-24 months.
Hi Alice: I’ll admit I had to lookup “subversive provocateur” to make sure I understood what you meant.
subversive: seeking to overthrow or undermine a governing power
provocateur: a person who stirs up public feelings especially of discontent
Based on the definition of provocateur, it seems to me like Bishop Bill’s original post here is stirring up feelings of discontent among the minority here on this forum. Based on the thumbs up and down, I suspect I’m in the minority. So maybe it just depends on whether you agree or disagree with Bishop Bill’s posts. The minority may find him at times to be a provocateur because he is stirring up feelings of discontent within us. Then when one of us speaks in opposition, the majority finds us to be provocateurs.
Also, please explain why you said I was questioning Bishop Bill’s legitimacy. You never responded to that one. Also I’m still interested to hear why you think questioning someone’s motivation has no place on this forum.
bwbarnett- You appear to be setting up an ad hominem argument instead of responding to the actual content of the post. That’s why you’re getting the pushback. You don’t want to engage with the material, instead character assassinate the author.
Hey bdb, thanks for you candor. I can definitely see how my responses here look like an ad hominem argument. Alice and I kind of went off track a little bit. You’re right, I wasn’t very interested in responding to the actual content of the post, but rather I was interested in learning why someone who considers themselves an “active” member of the church would post and say things that, at least to me, seem to make other members of the church question church doctrine/policy and prophets & apostles. So far, nobody has cared to comment on my primary request after learning a little about Bishop Bill.
Primary request: “Help me understand how his (my mormon heckling cousin’s) goals/motives differ from yours (Bishop Bill’s).”
If Bishop Bill were a former member or less-active member, I probably wouldn’t have posted anything at all…
BTW, I realize I’m teetering on the edge of the “rules of commenting” posted for the Wheat & Tares forum. Looking back now, perhaps I would have been better off just to comment in opposition to the content of the post, whose purpose seems to be to cause people to question church doctrine/policy and prophets & apostles. Would this approach have been more in line with the rules of commenting?
Bwbarnett, since your recent comment opens your original question up to everyone, I’ll take a stab at it. Hopefully it’s not a too much of a threadjack.
I don’t speak for bishop bill. I no longer claim to believe in the church. I refrain almost entirely from asking any questions at church. However it has been my experience that both believing and non believing people have these questions.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Should missionaries really spend time tracking when it is so extremely ineffective? Why did Joseph Smith give different accounts of the first vision? Why doesn’t the Book of Mormon mention proxy ordinances? What is the best path for happiness for gay members of the church? Etc. These are valid questions, that true believers can have. They should be able to ask them somewhere. In fact, I wonder if a person can really have a well examined faith if they haven’t tried to answer hard questions about it. Personally, I would prefer that Sunday school try to deal with hard questions. That was my feeling when I was a believer, and that is still my feeling today.
Of course a person can ask the same questions in a setting and a tone that amounts to an attack on the church and it’s leaders. I think a person can also question the leaders on certain topics without intending to subvert belief in them. I’m not sure that a person should have to worry about whether they are causing people to question leaders. If they are what they claim to be then they should be able to bear scrutiny.
Hey Rockwell, thanks a lot for your response. It has helped me understand this topic a little better. I agree with you that there are some good, hard, valid questions that all of us have and that promoting an environment that prevents or discourages these questions is bad. I liked how you suggested that:
1. “a person can ask the same questions in a setting and a tone that amounts to an attack on the church and it’s leaders.”
2. “a person can also question the leaders on certain topics without intending to subvert belief in them.”
With regards to Bishop Bill’s post, I was leaning more toward #1. I’m guessing that most others here were leaning toward #2.
Also, your final two sentences are very interesting:
“I’m not sure that a person should have to worry about whether they are causing people to question leaders. If they are what they claim to be then they should be able to bear scrutiny.”
I definitely agree with the second sentence – the apostles and prophets should be able to bear scrutiny. Not sure how I feel exactly about the first sentence?? Should I worry that my words might cause other people to question the apostles and prophets?
@bwbarnett if it’s important to you personally that your words not cause people to question authority figures you are welcome to police yourself in this regard. Accusing others of that motivation here is probably not productive. Either they don’t have that motivation and you’re being unfair, or they do and they won’t really care if you accuse them. So I’d stick with what’s been said—wrestle with the ideas. If you think what’s being presented unfairly characterized Uchtdorf—explain why you disagree with the characterization. If you have a different view of those remarks or Uchtdorf—share that. But keep to ideas and not questions about personal motivations.
I don’t know about the rest of the people here but I’ve spent most of my life carefully policing my thoughts and words lest I disagree or appear to disagree with “the brethren.” I’m tired of that. I’m not interested in doing that anymore. I think a lot of people who come here do so because they can be free to think what they think, feel what they feel, and express those thoughts and feelings and wrestle with hard stuff without being accused of being a bad Mormon or apostate or whatever else you want to say. There aren’t a lot of Mormon spaces that let people to that and plenty of spaces that won’t allow or will condemn the kind of behavior you’re talking about.
Certainly I wouldn’t say in a church meeting 99% of what I say here because I understand that wouldn’t be appropriate or constructive there—but this isn’t church.
I’m not a mod here but from what I can see no one is kicking you out—but I don’t think you can fairly expect that kind of discussion to be super well received here. Personally, I’ve explored a lot of the Mormon blogosphere and I haven’t found a spot that’s as accepting of both traditional and non-traditional views as this one (but I fully acknowledge this leans very progressive).
Hi Elisa, thanks for the great input. Unlike you, I have not explored a lot of the Mormon blogosphere, so I am learning. Without having extensive experience in the Mormon blogosphere, it surprised me a little bit that “active” members would speak out against the brethren. But now I know that some do 😉
As I mentioned a couple of posts ago (and as you suggested in your comment), I probably should have commented about why I “disagree with the characterization” of Elder Uchtdorf. I will take that approach in the future. Thanks again.
I would mostly agree with you. Yes, W and T leans very progressive. It has become much more tolerant and accepting in recent months of contributors and commenters who are not part of its prevailing liberalism, but there was a period of time that, in my opinion, W and T betrayed what I would call a definite self-righteous hostility and nasty crankiness toward people who do not fit its prevailing orthodoxy. As in, “I am outraged and mystified that there are those who would disagree with such an obviously correct (progressive) position. What is wrong with them?”
I prefer to leave that approach to the Millennial Star, except for MS, it is a nasty insistence on the correct (conservative orthodox) position.
I can’t be sure about the reason why, but several months ago, there was a definite improvement On W and T in favor of “free minds and free exchange of opinions, without resorting to personal attacks.“ Maybe the moderators started taking their job more seriously.
In any event, a welcome change. I value W and T because I enjoy discussing issues with people whom I disagree with. I learn more that way. Echo chambers, whether liberal or conservative, dull the mind. And I really value discussing issues with people who do not have their views set in stone. A rigid mind, whether liberal or conservative, is a tragedy.
For bwbarnett: I understand that you are surprised that active members would speak out against “the Brethren.” Most of us who inhabit the posts and comments of W and T have gone through this personal journey. The Church has long made it clear that one can disagree with positions that the Church takes, but should not engage in personal attacks On Church leaders.
Unfortunately, some local Bishops and SPs act as though disagreement IS a personal attack. They should read statements by J. Reuben Clark and excerpts from DOMcK! And when you have a come-to-Jesus moment with a truly awful leader (mine was a District Presidency Counselor who was a friend, whom we found out was sexually abusing his stepdaughter), you realize that to stay in the Church, you have to grow your Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy testimony into something more adult that realizes leaders are generally good people who can make mistakes.
Not alwa if s comfortable, but I am grateful to have made the transition.
Well said, Taiwan Missionary!
What I’m confused about is the mission calls I’m seeing on Facebook of U.S. kids to foreign missions. I’m curious as to when these kids are leaving (July 2022?) When is that going to happen? I thought the Church had sent all missionaries home. Surely by this point, it would be safer? But it breaks my heart that some missionaries are stuck far away from their homes and families. I see the missionaries here in Utah out and about with masks. It seems dangerous to be risking their lives for a work that doesn’t seem necessary now.
And to bwbarnett: W&T is one place I can come to read and discuss and not feel alone. We’re constantly told “The Brethren” are infallible, but then criticized when we ask legitimate questions. I did not enjoy Pres. Oaks’ “joke” about the sister who wrote to him about her place in the celestial kingdom if she married a widower. Yet anytime i’ve expressed discomfort with that, I get a “how dare you” or being told my response is wrong. It’s refreshing to be in a place where we can question why a Church that claims to be the true Church didn’t see this coming and hasn’t done more to support its missionaries (and it’s members who do not have access to the priesthood).
Thus, as I look at the early uses of the word “missional,” the ideas there were focused on a sent church, indigenous to its culture, being the incarnation of Christ in that context.
Dubose explained it this way in God Who Sends. When Dubose refers to “universality,” he is referring to the universal mission call on all believers and churches. He knows that all believers are called to “it.” His concern is that the “it” was not defined as biblical mission.
We first have to go to the Bible with the expressed purpose of discovering the idea which developed ultimately into the worldwide missionary enterprise. In his book DuBose indicates that his central approach is that missional means “sending.” He explains: