The current requirements for adult baptism in the LDS church are very minimal compared to some other religions. In the Catholic church they go through an almost year long process called Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). To convert to Judaism requires months and sometimes years of study. But the LDS church is much like most Protestant religions, making it easy to get baptized and get the name on the membership roles. What if the LDS church changed the requirement for baptism, so the person getting baptized had full informed consent into what that were getting into?
What if the rules looked like this?
Must attended church for 6 months
Must receive 30 hours of formal lessons spread out over that 6 months with topics covering:
1. New Testament and Book of Mormon, emphasizing Atonement and Christ’s teachings.
2. Church History (Polygamy, first vision, priesthood)
3. Book of Mormon; Translation, seer Stone
4. Temple Endowment. What it is, why they will be expected to go after one year. (Review TR questions)
5. Callings in the church, what they are and the church’s expectation in accepting them
6. Tithing, Fast offerings: What is expected of them when they are baptized.
7. Doctrine and Policy of the church
What would be the results of these new requirements? Obviously the number of baptisms would drop dramatically. But I would predict that the percent of new baptisms that are still active after one year would be close to 100%.
This takes us to the reasons for our current (almost) anything goes baptismal requirements. If the reasons are for high numbers to make the church look good each April Conference, then the church should keep the status quo. But if the real reason is to bring people closer to Christ, and keep members active in the church, and to create truly converted members, then something need to change.
In the past twenty years in my ward, there has only been one Husband/Wife/kid family that were baptized. The kid is inactive now as an adult, but the husband and wife still go. We had a medical doctor get baptized after he married an LDS nurse at his hospital. He lasted about six months then left. All the other “convert” baptisms have been single people, and I would say maybe 20% are active. Most just disappear. I think most TBMs in the ward just think they moved away or something, so they don’t have to deal with the high rate of inactivity of new members.
So what would you add to the requirements of LDS baptism so they the new member is truly converted? Do you think current investigators that choose baptism are making an informed decision? Can they give consent without knowing all they are getting into?