There are several different ways to look at what a Church is.
The first is what is the bare minimum. What do Noah, Abraham, Elijah, Paul and Nephi have in common (excluding everything else). That bare minimum is very little. Pretty much just teaching people to obey what are referred to as the Noahide Laws or The Seven Laws of Noah.
The other axis is that a Church is an extended family. In which case, it includes everything that makes up and supports an extended kinship group. That includes cultural events, performance and other art, sports and community programs.
There are also various approaches that are somewhere in between.
The most common in-between place is the one pointed out by Elder Holland, above, that includes repenting in this life for our sins and caring for the poor, exemplifying the love of Christ. Teaching people to remember Christ and to be righteous.
What does that mean?
But what constitutes righteousness in God’s eyes? Over and over again, the Bible and Book of Mormon answer this question decisively: it’s treatment of our fellow man with kindness, consideration, empathy, mercy, and respect.
We can’t let our egos overwhelm us with a desire to be above our fellow beings. We can’t pursue our own satisfaction or triumph to the point where we’re willing to vilify those who we think get in our way. We don’t try to force our will upon others, nor demand they make sacrifices or suffer in ways we’re not willing to sacrifice or suffer. We don’t consider ourselves better or more important than others.
We try to emulate God’s attitude towards us, as described by Nephi in 2 Nephi 26:33: “[H]e inviteth [us] all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”
If we want to live by this standard, we have within us the power to do so. A person like that you and I naturally love. You can be that person, even in a presidential election year and its aftermath. And if we all keep plugging away at this elevated behavioral standard, eventually, we’ll become everlastingly happy. It’s an irrevocable promise from God.Scott Mitchell, Former District Attorney at Clark County District Attorney’s Office
Personally, ever since I heard a general authority discuss the matter, with a lot of analysis, around 1985 or so, I’ve thought about the question.
And I’ve asked myself, how do you structure an organization so that its members seek to compassionately respond to the poor and to each other, as they would family members? That seems to me to be what makes a church the Church of Jesus Christ.
What do you think?
- What should a church do?
- What kind of programs should it keep?
- What should it prune away and leave to the larger community?
- What leads an organization to reach out to the least in the community as they would to family?
- What causes an organization or a church to reject those who would be burden?
- What do you consider to be the essence of the Church of Jesus Christ?
The temple actually hinders members from giving service to other people. Instead of going out and helping those in need, people are encouraged to go sit down and watch a movie, over and over. Nothing done in the temple actually helps living people outside the temple. The number of wasted hours that could have been spent in actual service is incalculable. Imagine if all those hours were devoted to helping folks.
I am old enough to remember when the church had custodians. As a little girl, our ward had a man who lived in a small trailer behind the church building. He kept the church building clean and took care of all the chair and table set-up and take-down needs. He was someone who struggled intellectually but was able to support himself due to the money he made working for the ward.
I am old enough to remember when Relief Society was organized like Junior League. Women were individually asked to join. RS had its own budget. They had successful fund raisers and maintained their own bank accounts. They did massive community service projects. They had investments.
I am old enough to remember a ward directory that included paid advertising from local businesses.
I am old enough to remember road shows, pageants, dance festivals and a ward dinner that included a paid Las Vegas entertainer and an amazing sit-down dinner .
I am old enough to remember when Modesty was not lectured or enforced so harshly to our young women.
I am old enough to remember a time when membership in an LDS ward was more about inclusion than exclusion. There was more of a general acceptance of people with all their weaknesses, struggles and quirks.
I remember a time when kindness was a bigger part of Mormonism.
Where did it all go? What the hell happened?
After Elder Kearsons talk in General Conference some years ago, I felt inspired that use my calling as the young men president to involve the young men in local charities. I struggled to live up to it though. It competed with what the bishop wanted more of (skills and outdoors), what the stake wanted (dance festivals or performances), what the young men wanted (come follow me was supposed to be largely youth driven), and also myself (I struggled sometimes to fulfil my calling at all). In the end, we went to a soup kitchen about once a year and did the occasional service project for a ward member. I wish I knew the secret to getting our church to serve more outside itself, but I haven’t figured it out. On top of that, I thought that I would get more involved if I didn’t have a calling, but I was released a year ago and never became more involved, do it’s hard to say how much was me and how much was others.
Not related, you might be interested. Australia and India are playing a cricket series in Australia. At present we have just finished day 2 of a 5 day test match.
Indias major sponsor is BYJU’S which is an Indian educational institution. It is difficult not to see BYU, when I look at it.
I would like to see the church separate itself from republicanism, because the gospel of Christ is not in harmony with those philosophies. And trumpism has made it worse.
The church should be helping us to love our neighbours, to judge what is moral, to make the world more zion like for everyone. The political right compromises that. You can only love certain of your fellow man, only in certain ways. Governments can not help the poor only individuals or churches; except that only governments can redistribute wealth, uplifting all the poor. Provide universal healthcare, arrange to combat institutional racism, and climate change.
So much of loving our neighbour is opposed by right wing politics, and Americas right is so extreme.
The gospel of Christ isn’t in harmony with those philosophies? What the heck are you talking about? You need to stop confusing people’s opinions and actions with the gospel. If they are not in harmony, that’s on the individual, not the “church”. I’m an active member of the church even though I don’t necessarily believe the truth claims or agree with everything I hear from the pulpit. I try to live the gospel of Christ, those philosophies aren’t mine.
It’s interesting how you want the “church” to move away from politics yet you never write a post that doesn’t include it.
Damascene, I am old enough to remember all that too. And “what the hell happened” got started with correlation, when everything was put under priesthood direction, rather than RS general presidency direction, or direction from the general primary president. In the pre-correlation days, each organization wrote their own lesson books, and the chain of command went from general RS president, through stake RS presidents., to the ward RS president.
I am going to focus first on RS, because that is where the male take over is most glaring and damaging. The bishop could make suggestions to the relief society in his ward, but it was a women’s organization, run by and for the women. It was not a men’s organization with minimal input from the women, run by the men for the women as it is today. The women voted for leaders, they were not selected by the men (priesthood, still men). Women wrote the lesson books, not a committee appointed by the men. Today it is *not* the “biggest women’s organization in the world” as the church claims. It is not even a women’s organization, but an auxiliary of a men’s organization, and the agenda, the leaders, everything is dictated by men. And the have the audacity to call it a women’s organization. Nope, it is a men’s organization for women. The difference between a children’s tree house club, which is a children’s club run by the children, and day care run by adults for children.
But with everything under the bishop and him being required to be involved in everything, bishops quickly hit burnout.
Things also changed after the church redefined tithing from being on increase (income on top of outgo) to being on total income, even gross instead of net. This different definition was not announced as such, just how tithing was explained changed and the church started defining “ increase” as “income” . Now there was more money and the church went from being in debt to the over 100 billion in the slush fund it has today. So, the church could pay to build buildings that belonged to the church institution instead of the ward members building the building as a community and owning the building as a community.
But I remember when our ward was formed, breaking off two other wards in south Provo, Utah. We quickly had to become a community and raise enough money to pay for our building. Now, I was a kid, so I don’t know if the corporate church put in half of the money or some arrangement, but each family was asked to put in about 10 thousand toward the building. Of course that was impossible for many of the families, mine among them. Our home wasn’t worth that much and we were still paying off the mortgage, so we could not take on a second debt that size.
But don’t worry, the ward had us covered (although we were second class for not donating our assessment). There were big fundraising events where everybody helped by donating item to auction off (we got our first TV from an auction like that) donating baked good for sale!running a carnival type game booth, and so forth. The ward held these every three months. And each month there was a big dinner where each family brought a food assignment then paid to eat. These fundraising events and ward dinners brought the ward together as a community. It accomplished far more than raising the money. It made us family and made us feel pride and ownership of that building.
The church tried to recreate this pride and ownership in our building by turning us all into unpaid custodians. But it is not the same kind of community activity as fundraising was, let alone community ownership of the building. Not cutting it.
And I could still tell you the names of every family member and where they lived of almost everyone in the old ward when it was still a ward family from 50-60 years ago. But my current ward, I can tell you the names of all family members and where they live of only about 4 families.
I agree with the comment the temple keeps us from serving one another. I just do not see the Savior of the bible laboring hour after hour in some building performing temple work. I also agree the Church should remove itself from right wing politics. The republican Party has evolved into this soulless belief system devoid of compassion and reality. Tithing funds should be used to assist those in need instead of building this enormous business empire.Compassion and service should rule the day.
I think there’s a very basic question about the Church’s fundamental mission statement(s) that needs to be addressed: Is the purpose of the Church to help us move towards Christ by providing us a community of saints, or is the purpose of the Church to provide a checklist of items we must complete (sometimes over and over) in order to “qualify”? Some faithful members might see these two as the same but I believe they are quite different.
A Church that is trying to bring us to Christ is going to have to do more than change its logo and conference talk themes. This kind of church would focus on the life and service of Christ and then provide us opportunities to follow his example inside And outside of the ward unit. The main value supporting this effort would be love and acceptance and a lack of judgement.
A church that is focused on qualification is going to have a major active To Do list up and running at all times. This list of activities may or may not have anything to do with Christ and basic Christianity. This kind of church will provide a major target objective (celestial sealing) that will require certain behaviors (temple worthiness) in order to execute. And of course, in order to be “worthy”, one needs to comply with several requirements (WofW, garments, etc.) including ones that involve private finance (tithing).
Side note: the qualification church is set up so that one can be fully engaged and qualified per the organization’s requirements without any focus on Christ or Christianity at all. I’m not saying that active members who pursue the programs of the Church are not good Christians. What I’m saying is that you can be a fully active member of the Church, checking off all of the qualification boxes, without a hint of Christianity in your behavior. I used to be on the leadership fast track at Church and I was very good at this kind of thing but I didn’t see a lot of Christ in anything we did during those hours and hours of meetings.
So what is a church? A lot of different things apparently, most of which has little to do with Christ
This is what a church should do. This is what justifies the special status of a tax exemption. Not real estate holdings, investment slush funds and putting hundreds if not thousands of janitors out of work in such a terrible employment market.
I’d like the church to foster more interfaith service to build community ties. Global efforts seem to be established but local efforts rarely happen. I wish tithing donations could be split between the church and charities personally supported by families and individuals. If such donations could still be counted as tithing it might get more of us involved in supporting community charities.
Lots of profound questions. I couldn’t possibly answer them all, nor to any satisfactory extent. I will say that I have friends in other Christian denominations whose churches focus a good amount on getting its members interacting with the homeless, refugees, the sick, and the elderly. I have attended their church and participated in their many activities. The focus on charity can be felt very strongly. It is very hands-on. I don’t feel that at the LDS church. I hear too much harping out how gay marriage is so bad, how the world is so evil, how we need to pay tithing, attend the temple more, blah blah blah. And then I find out that the church is one of the richest organizations in the world with over $100 billion just sitting there. The church can do more in terms of charity. Way more. And it isn’t just about asking members to take their own initiatives. Charitable initiatives are far more effective when initiated from the top through the leadership and carefully coordinated with local leaders. I read the Gospels and charitable acts is what Jesus was all about. Giving, caring, sacrificing.
Damascene and Anna –
I remember much of that, too. The last roadshow I participated in was in 1990. All of that really did strengthen friendships, build unity.
However, with everything I understand about the church now, that level of church involvement in my life sounds suffocating to me. It was great as a devout, naïve kid, not so much anymore.
A church’s number one purpose should be to “respond to the poor.” This message was the key take away from an interview that McKay Coppins’ had with Elder Ballard: to reach out to “those people running for their lives all over the world.” Or President Nelson’s message in the same article: “we exist to make life better for people.”
President Monson made helping the poor one of the 4 missions of the Church. I would suggest that it be elevated to the Church’s number one priority. Particularly considering that half of the membership now lives in developing countries. This mission ought to supersede temple work. The latter is less urgent if one believes that we live for the eternities.
The Church ought to broaden the subjects in its SS, Priesthood, and RS lessons and activities. Missionaries can certainly do more humanitarian work; more of the Church financial and intellectual prowess can certainly be dedicated to helping the poor. Leadership just needs a vision.
A church starts and ends with this: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NRSV)
A couple decades ago Community of Christ (not coincidentally, around the time in 2001 when we began to use the church’s new name) defined its mission in five categories:
Invite People to Christ
Abolish Poverty, End Suffering
Pursue Peace on Earth
Develop Disciples to Serve
Experience Congregations in Mission
To go along with this, nine Enduring Principles were deliniated:
Grace and Generosity
Sacredness of Creation
Worth of All Persons
All Are Called
Pursuit of Peace (Shalom)
Unity in Diversity
Blessings of Community
I wish I could say the church has fully lived up to its potential in expressing all this in its corporate life, but at least we’re trying. The church today is definitely not the church I was raised in a half century ago. Being the kind of person I am, I like to turn it around with this statement: If what you (as an individual or congregation) are doing doesn’t fit somewhere in all these categories and concepts, then just stop doing it!
The LDS “system” is an efficient wealth generator. Amongst Homo sapiens that tends to overshadow literally everything else. Many here ask why, with it’s great wealth, the Church is not more socially/environmentally involved. An honest answer from the hierarchy’s perspective would very likely be, “if it’s not broke don’t fix it.”
If I could rewrite the LDS Church’s four missions I’d cut “redeem the dead” (for reasons expressed above re temple worship) and “proclaim the gospel” (I think missions should be service-oriented and I’m so sick of the guilt trips that we should be converting our perfectly happy neighbors – and basically none of my friends would touch a patriarchal, anti-gay church with a 10-foot pole so good luck).
I’d change “perfect the Saints” to something like “support the Saints” or “nurture the Saints” (because perfection – yuck, so judgy, and makes it sound like our job is to call each other to repentance or something) and then I’d keep “care for the poor and the needy”.
I think church should be about fostering community both within our congregations (nurturing each other) and in our greater community (caring for the poor and needy). I think if we did a better job of this, we would keep a lot of people who are leaving over doctrinal or historical issues because they’d still find meaning in participation. There’s very little meaning in redeem the dead, perfect the Saints, and proclaim the gospel when you don’t believe the truth claims anymore and Church becomes a little pointless.
Side notes in response to some comments above:
1-correlation: I wasn’t around pre-correlation but I do remember a lot of other things people mentioned that created more vibrant ward communities (activities, road shows, etc). I think the problem is that those depended on stay at home moms who could pull all of that off. A ton of free labor. I don’t think we can or even should bring a lot of that back but I do think we’ve become pretty sterile and could think of ways to foster community that work with our cultures and schedules now.
2-tithing: absolutely agree the church should use way, way more of its resources to care for the poor. I also think they should either define tithing differently, make it optional, or include charitable donations to other organizations as tithing. I do know some people who spread their 10% around other organizations and either declare themselves full tithepayers (without going into details with their bishop) or actually tell their bishop that’s what they are doing and he’s said if they feel that’s a full tithe that’s what he will put down. YMMV widely on that but I think more people ought to try, might start trickling up to the powers that be. If they feel like their choice is to keep collecting *something* and keep people engaged by letting them donate elsewhere as well vs people completely opting out because they feel it’s all-or-nothing, maybe they’d change the policy. I totally agree that tithing separates us from seeing the needs of our own communities because most of us view that as checking our “charitable donations” box.
I’m pleased to see discussion above about the fourth mission of the church to care for the poor and needy, but I’m not completely on board with the claim that “President Monson made helping the poor one of the 4 missions of the Church.”
I mean, he announced the change, but I don’t think I have seen an ounce of evidence that anything actually did change. So I might agree with he announced the mission, or tried to make it the fourth mission of the church, but the jury is still out on whether helping the poor and needy actually is a mission of the church.
For those of us that want to see the church do more for the poor and needy, it would be good if we discuss this mission of the church frequently, and not only in blogs and comments on blogs. And hopefully a there is our soon will be some mention of the fourth mission of the church in some official church publication other than the conference where it was announced.
Elisa, thank you for your comment and observation. I have grown very much to enjoy and respect your perspective on things in this forum. As a recently released bishop outside the western U.S., in my ten plus years of experience in local leadership the first reason people leave the Church is not doctrinal or historical, but lack of community. The majority of people I personally know that have left, and this numbers over 100 in the past decade, have left because they do not feel our people and culture provides the type of community they, and their children wish to exist within. One brother, a really, really good man and his family who left about two years ago came to me and put it this way, “bishop we just don’t want to play with this band anymore. It’s just not where we are at as a family at this point.” Most of the people I personally know that have left simply get to the point where they do not feel they can safely and in an emotionally and spiritually healthy way exist within our community. Yes, there are many who also develop, over time, deep, significant and in many ways valid reservations with Church doctrine, history and practice, but the majority of people I have sat with, listened to and tried to love leave because they feel we do not provide a safe, nurturing and loving environment for them and their kids. From my perspective that is the real tragedy of where we find ourselves as a people. I know it is something I try and work on and deal with in my own life and choices. As God’s children we are all very complicated and each very much our own people, and if we cannot appreciate and accept that about each other beyond a mere surface level, then we will continue to bleed members over this very real issue of community. Again, thank you for your thoughtfulness in your comments.
In most first world countries, churches are seen as being part of the political left, because not only do they do this Christlike stuff, thay also campaign to have governments do it.
In America religion has become part of the republican party. So whether our church can change to caring for the poor etc, without distanancing its self from republicanism?
An example in Australia churches were involved in the campaign to have the death penalty removed. The last execution was in 1967.
The person 70% of mormons voted for has approved the execution of 10 people since july, and likely anothe 3. A record for law and order, since 1890. 17 years since last execution, and never in lame duck period.
In most of the world, religion is a means of pushing governments to be more caring and Christlike. In America the right of politics influences religion to be less caring and Christlike.
This may explain more my understanding of the relationship between politics and religion. I prefer the way religion operates in the rest of the world, though sex abuse etc. Has damaged that brand too. America claims to be the most christian country, but?
@Plutarch thank you, and thank you for sharing that perspective. I had a hunch that many people who have issues with history and truth claims might stick around if they still felt like part of the community even with differing beliefs, but I don’t have the visibility into that the way you’ve had. Those numbers are significant.
Given that you were in local leadership do you get the sense that the higher ups have a clue about this? Because it doesn’t seem like it. Rather than making a bigger tent it feels like they are closing ranks, but locally I find a lot of good big tent folks.
I thank others for their perspective.
I would reverse plutarch”s order that the final last straw reason many people leave the church is not feeling a sense of belonging after years of dealing with the system; it is not the first…..then throw in history and the other nonsense
I agree with Elsa that I and others would still be going to church…despite its many issues if we would have been included and had a voice in our local ward and stake, despite the nonsense.
Those that are active are just one bad bishop. Stakr pres away from opening their eyes
The gottman ratio explains this…..why some stsy in the church and why some leave (after years of membership).
Many on these blogs mention how their local congregations are better than slc higher ups.
I observed in many of my wards, especially the last…it was a big clique …using the name of God and follow the leaders, but for their own benefit of church leadership ladder climbing. I lost faith in several bishops and stake pres…long before the Q15. After having a corrupt MP and dealing with bad local leadership…..i finally realized the Q15 are inept, or just part of the same problem. The cliques go all the way to the top if you look on who their kids marry and how their kids and realatives are called to decision making callings. They mock God’s name in suppressing the general membership.
My mother told me about Henry Moyle going to visit a stake in Alaska to release all the leaders and start it anew due to nepot8ism and friend favoritism. Why does this not happen mow? Christ would clean the temple.
If the church wants a restart post COVID and act like a church that represents God….start with releasing all callings. Make serving in nursery and primary obligatory for everyone for at least 1 year after a high priority calling.
That is what Christ would do….but they circle the decision making amoung themselves and ignore the general memebership along with the children. They do not ignore the youth because that is the generation to pad their stats and numbers, once released and married in temple you are a number…unless part of the clique.
I have been in leadership……but even at that your opinions do mot matter unless you join the church of tbe clique. I want to be in the church of Chriat.
Good morning all. Elisa, thank you for your reply. Yes, the numbers are significant, and sad. I wish with all my heart we were doing better in this regard and not shedding people because we do not seem to be able to create a meaningful, loving community in so many places. (I 100% agree that many of the people with valid, legitimate doctrinal, policy and historical concerns would remain if we could do the community thing better.) I am not suggesting that the number I used of “over 100” were all from my home ward or stake. This number includes friends and loved ones that live all over the world. Yet, they are all people I am personally familiar with and talk to. As to your question regarding the “higher ups,” having any awareness about this “community issue” allow me to respond in the following manner. First, our current and last stake presidents, both men I have known and worked with for years are certainly aware of this issue, but I would say both of them more or less choose to ignore it. I have never once heard them either in a private group meeting or public forum speak to the issue of our community, or lack thereof as a reason for people leaving other than one on one when I would bring it up in a PPI or other setting like that. And even in these one on one meetings with me, they quickly sought to move to another topic. Second, I would also say that all of the local bishops I have served with or around in the past decade plus are aware of the issue with varying degrees of concern, but overall not a significant focus of their efforts to try and address in some meaningful way. One thing that is certainly germane on this topic concerning my own ward is that it is the least affluent economically in our stake and has very much an inner-city flavor to it, which we love and which always heightened my awareness and concern regarding this subject of community. My point in bringing this element into the discussion is that in our ward we have tried (I hope) to be much more open and accepting of each person/family and tried to see to their inclusion in the ward because we need and want every person we can get. (More on Faith’s well put insights as it relates to this and other observations in a moment.)
Now finally as to the awareness/concern of people above our stake level, I honestly cannot say with any certainty. While I have had some limited interaction with the General Authority/General Office level people over the years, I honestly cannot speak to their specific level of awareness or concern on this particular issue. I know this sounds like a copout statement, but it is an honest one. My sense from the hundreds of hours I have spent in leadership type meetings over the years is that this issue is something the general level leadership is certainly aware of and concerned about at least in some general sense, but has very little concrete ideas about how to work on it and this is where Faith’s observations and comments come into play.
Faith, yes without question I have experienced “the church of the clique.” (Well said!). Every ward I have ever lived in from my youth on up, this was the case. It was the case on my mission, at BYU, when we lived in Utah, etc. Unfortunately, even given what I hope were my best efforts to combat this as bishop it still exists in my own ward now. (It drives our family nuts as it is so clearly out of line from the life and teachings of Jesus.). It also seems, to me at least, that this behavior clearly exists at every level of the church, from the first presidency on down. Let me give you an example of how I experienced this in my own time as bishop.
One of my counselors was a single man in his 40’s that has never been married and is just the most wonderful guy you’ll ever meet. He was the prototypical “quiet assistant ward clerk” type when I was called as bishop, and I wanted to give him an opportunity to serve as my counselor because I thought it would bless him, me and our ward greatly. I consulted with the Stake President regarding calling him and this request was met with resistance. I was told to go “pray about for a week and come back.” The specific objection was that this man was not married and never had been in a calling that required him to be a High Priest. However, what also became abundantly clear over the next few months, after he was called as my counselor was that the real objection was “he did not fit the mold and was not in the club.” So, he was called and it was a great experience for him and our ward and I would do exactly the same again. However, there were several long-time families and members of our ward that once he was called were really uncomfortable that I had put him this position. Again what became clear over time was that people were upset because he “was not in the club.” People said things like, “bishop he’s only lived here a short time. He is not married.” My personal favorite, (not really) “can he be trusted with the youth?” And other various objections, but you get the point. The net result of this situation was some people, including the Stake President were not thrilled with this man as my counselor because he did not fit the mold and was not in the “club.” Needless to say, this upset people in the “church of the clique.” What is so interesting about it all in the end was that his service was great, it worked out well and given who he was, he was able to serve several of our youth and members in a way no one else could in our ward, but he did not fit the mold and this bothered certain people and groups within the ward and stake. So this is a long winded way of supporting your point and experience with my own.
Finally, I love your idea that everyone going to primary after having been bishop or whatever one might consider a “high priority calling.” When I was released as bishop, my stake president who was not happy with me for any number of reasons at the time of my release wanted to save face and put me on the high council. I simply told him that was not something I wanted to do. Besides everything “above” the level of bishop in the Church is all talk anyway. Frankly, having been on the high council twice, and having served for over ten years in three bishoprics, including the one where I was the bishop I just want to try and exist in a community where we do our best to work together, love and serve one another and try, try to actually behave like Jesus once in a while. Personally, I am done serving the institution, the local community is what matters, period. It is where the two great commandments play out and those two commandments at the end of the day are the ONLY things that matter. The ONLY things that matter when all is said and done.
Thanks all for listening to me share. I will step back now and be happy to listen. I appreciate very much the forum and opportunity to share at W&T. Believe me it offers a world of catharsis for the weary “former” local leader. I love the intelligent and varied views. It is a lovely thing to be a part of. Everyone keep up the good work. A good, peaceful Sabbath and Christmas.
Plutarch, you are a good man !! Thank you for your service and love towards others If more leaders had your attitude and approach the church would be better off and there would not be so much questioning and heartache.
I supposedly fit the LDS mold, grew up in SLC, serve mission, married, kids, business owner, prior leadership, check all the boxes. But i occasioannly and reasonably questioned their choices and insane methods and after all 45+ years realized, it is not what it appears to be. Its been 5 years, they do not care and have never reaxhed out to us. Just watches us walk away. Except for sending a bill for my sons mission.
I still try to be a Chriatian, my kids still are going to LDS church quarantine style at the house, but the church is NOT what it claims to be. Until the church repents and changes its ways it will continue to bleed membership. Both BIC longtime mebers, new inter city converts, the youth thd old, the non conformists. I really think they do not care, or they would change. The church of Christ is designed for ALL, the LDS church is for a few, under its current fomat.
The past stake president became a mission. present, along with the rest of his nepotistic family. The apple polishers keep entering the door as the seekers of Christ leave.
I have experienced and witnessed clergy spiritual abuse after abuse and know that this is NOT the way or church of God.
Really appreciate the post and comments as always. This conversation has prompted me not so much to think about what the Church should be, and like most of you I have plenty of issues with the Church, but more about what kind a person, what kind of person I should be. The comments about serving, helping, donating resonate with me. I do some, but could do a lot more. I think we could all be more Christlike in our actions and attitudes toward others – and to ourselves. I know I can.
Plutarch – thanks for your comments on community. Could you also provide more insight on how those people you mentioned experience the Church as an unsafe and unhealthy environment?
@Rockwell and @Plutarch, I think this relates to both comments (about the fourth mission not being emphasized and leaders not really caring): I just think it would require a pretty significant shift to reorient the Church to community and caring for the poor. You can’t just slap on a fourth mission when the whole Church is built around the first three (and the first three take up all of everyone’s time). You can’t just add more “to-do’s” without shifting priorities away from the original to-do’s. Unless we shift away from a focus on personal purity (or define purity more broadly to include the concept that you can’t be “pure” if you ignore the plight of the poor) and the nuclear family being the center of existence (which I think fosters actually a bit of selfishness and insularity) I don’t think we can get there by occasionally talking about helping poor people like it’s an afterthought to temple worthiness and worship (and internally thinking “at least they’ll be warm and happy in heaven, this life is short,” which I really do think we use to excuse human suffering here and now).
The people in my life who are the most generous with the poor and needy are members of a different Christian faith, and the Mormons I know who are most involved in improving their communities are not particularly active in their wards. I know that’s just anecdotal but it’s my personal experience.
Can’t help thinking about the quote from A Christmas Carol (which I watched last night, and which every year indicts me to get outside of myself and my family and my ward and actually pay attention to the poor), “mankind was my business!” The most important business.