NFL football is back. There were wins (hooray!) and losses (there’s always next week). But in the flow of a season and over the course of a decade or two or three, there are Big Wins. Ask any fan, they can tell you about the two or three games (come from behind win against a stronger team) or two or three moments (last-second field goal to win a key game) — Big Wins — that define the team for a generation.

But (transition here) it’s not just teams that have big wins. Companies have Big Win products. Ford Mustang. The iPhone. There are Big Win movies. Star Wars. Here’s the question for today. Can churches have Big Wins? Some event or doctrinal change or new leader that makes everyone feel great and defines that church for a generation? They can certainly have Big Losers. My sense is that lately (the past few years) the LDS Church has had some Big Losers but no Big Wins.

The last Big Win for Team LDS was probably the 1978 Priesthood Revelation (or policy change, depending on your point of view). What was remarkable about that change was that, after years of digging in heels and fighting the good fight, the reaction from the LDS population at large was 99.9% positive. It was almost jubilation. The results of the change in the years following 1978 were likewise uniformly positive. Has there been any similar Big Win for the LDS Church in the intervening 44 years? I think you need a Big Win once in a generation to keep the institutional momentum going. To give hope to the faithful. See if you can name one.

Some candidates? The Larry King interview of Gordon B. Hinckley? Moving the missionary eligibility age for women to 19? Two-hour church? Those are wins maybe, but not Big Wins. Anyone have a better candidate? Here’s my point: the LDS Church really needs a Big Win. It has been too long.

Plenty of options for Big Losers, and that’s the problem. What defines the LDS Church over the last twenty years? The sneaky rollout of the Handbook gay marriage policy in November 2015? The reluctant public disclosure of the Hundred Billion Dollar Fund a couple of years ago? It just seems like all of the Big Events of the last two generations have been Big Losers, with no Big Wins since 1978. That’s too long. At this point, even diehard fans are beginning to lose hope.

Let’s ride the hive mind here and see what we can come up with.

  • Any better suggestions for an LDS Big Win since 1978?
  • Any proposals for what could be an LDS Big Win in the next few years? I can think of a few.
  • I’m sure there are a few contrarians out there who are going to say you don’t need a Big Win, that lots of little wins can keep things going indefinitely. Go ahead and make your case.
  • What if there are no more LDS Big Wins to come? How long can the Church just keep lurching from bad PR story to bad PR story before even reliably faithful members start to wonder what’s going on?