Why So Many Latter-day Saints Can’t Stand Church (And How to Fix It)

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Why So Many Latter-day Saints Can’t Stand Church (And How to Fix It)

Post by SamBee » 28 Dec 2018, 15:39

DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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Re: Why So Many Latter-day Saints Can’t Stand Church (And How to Fix It)

Post by Minyan Man » 28 Dec 2018, 18:19

That is a very good article & should be required reading at Church. It would make a great class presentation & discussion.
At the end there is a quote:
Elder L. Tom Perry once said that the gospel “answers all of life’s questions and problems that face us.”
The only qualifier I would add is: God never said when the answers will come.

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Re: Why So Many Latter-day Saints Can’t Stand Church (And How to Fix It)

Post by Heber13 » 29 Dec 2018, 01:48

I like these thoughts in the article. I do think it requires us to be brave to be so honest in church, but that vulnerability can pay dividends if we are sincere and loving...not just pot stirrers. Brave makes it less boring.
Elder L. Tom Perry once said that the gospel “answers all of life’s questions and problems that face us.” The purpose of church classes is to learn that gospel. But how will we ever be able to apply the gospel to our problems if we don’t apply the gospel to actual problems? Sure, it’s something we can work on at home (and indeed, our learning should be home-centered and church-supported), but let’s take advantage of the allotted time we have together. As we address personal doubt, uncertainty, and discouragement in church, the Spirit will operate more freely, class engagement will dramatically improve, and lives will change.
This is good...I think if we talk about doubts and uncertainty and discouragement...we will connect with others who also have those. There are more there at church with similar feelings to us as we sometimes think.

I'm teaching priesthood this Sunday. I will be using this approach to ask real questions, prompt thoughts, play devil's advocate and try to uplift all who go to church who are not perfect...which is everyone.

My lesson will focus on these thoughts:
Our Heavenly Father’s goal in parenting is not to have His children do what is right; it is to have His children choose to do what is right and ultimately become like Him. If He simply wanted us to be obedient, He would use immediate rewards and punishments to influence our behaviors.
But God is not interested in His children just becoming trained and obedient “pets” who will not chew on His slippers in the celestial living room. No, God wants His children to grow up spiritually
- Elder Runland
I am nervous, because I may share too much of the depths of my disbelief with the class. But I will hope to be guided by the spirit...and simply share what is real to me...and if they don't like it...they can stop asking me to teach. Until they stop asking me...I will ask honest and true and sometimes unconventional questions and the dilemma in life...and let them discuss.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: Why So Many Latter-day Saints Can’t Stand Church (And How to Fix It)

Post by nibbler » 29 Dec 2018, 08:50

Church is a spiritual hospital. People are in serious pain. Sometimes, injuries prove to be fatal. Sometimes the Spirit, through the ward, manages to stop the bleeding before faith dies. ... That’s why so many Latter-day Saints simply can’t stand going to church anymore. They’re dying, and sometimes we’re not acknowledging their wounds.
They're dying because we're killing them.

I don't know the best way to approach this subject, so bear with me. Often when I hear people being vulnerable at church it seems as though the bulk of their pain is the result of not living up to an impossible cultural standard. They're good people but they are carrying the burdens of guilt and shame for not being a good enough Mormon.

The problem is that quite a lot of living up to the cultural standard doesn't have anything at all to do with being a good person or a bad person, the standards are often just programs or goals meant to keep people busy. Saying "no" or establishing boundaries at church is frequently frowned upon by the culture so it creates this environment where members are expected to fully participate in everything, it creates an impossible standard because no one can do it all. Reading the scriptures daily, reading the BoM before some time period elapses, inviting a friend to hear the missionary discussions before the end of the month, attending hours and hours of meetings each week, performing the duties of one or more callings, ministering, FHE, home church. As the article hints:
The list goes on and on.
And the kicker... our church meetings usually center around how well we're doing these things. An entire lesson dedicated to the SP's goal he set for you to invite at least one friend to hear the missionary discussions. SM talks about how important it is to follow the prophet's goal of reading the BoM before some time period elapses. An entire lesson dedicated to "ministering" and how ministers have the obligation to ensure their families are doing FHE.

Now, what if you haven't invited a friend to hear the missionary discussions? What if you haven't read the BoM? What if you haven't done your ministering visits and your assigned families are right there in the same lesson with you? Maybe that drives people away. This guilt and shame they feel because they aren't doing the things that they're constantly being asked to do in our meetings, things that have nothing to do with whether they are a good or bad person but they've convinced themselves that they are a bad person because they aren't doing them.

Why would they come to be reminded of all the things that they aren't doing? To feel less than until they are able to work in all the additional tasks that the culture heaps on them?

Perhaps people don't attend because we don't share our vulnerabilities and pains at church. Perhaps people don't attend because the church creates more pains for people to endure. Saying "no" to a goal or request at church shouldn't cause pain. How much of the pain we feel at church is entirely self inflicted?

This isn't me. This is the unspoken pain that I'll sometimes pick up on when reading between the lines of what people are saying at church. To the leaders' credit, I'm hearing more and more language and seeing more and more policies being put in place to address this very issue.


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Re: Why So Many Latter-day Saints Can’t Stand Church (And How to Fix It)

Post by nibbler » 29 Dec 2018, 09:07

This is one of my many soap boxes but it's hard to overcome the sort of thing that is described in this article because we have a lay clergy. We're dealing with human nature and when there's a lay clergy it introduces competition. Like it or not, there's prestige associated with certain callings and the prosperity gospel fuels that competition. The most obedient are called to the most prestigious callings.

We have the tendency to measure ourselves against one another. There's a strong incentive to bury our vulnerabilities, we do not want to appear weak or be marginalized because we don't measure up to the cultural standard. We like to appear to be the most obedient and most knowledgeable. Advertising weakness undercuts that goal.

The article gives a few suggestions; play devils advocate when asking questions and ask the class the questions you want answered. Ages ago I taught during PH and I frequently used those suggestions. I was essentially crowdsourcing to find answers to my own doubts. No guile, I actually wanted to hear what people's answers were.

I think it's easier to do that as the person that's giving the lesson but it's much harder to be vulnerable when you're in the position of listening to someone else's lesson. Like sitting in on someone's lesson that only asks butterfly questions... and they've had the calling for years. It's much harder to raise your hand and say what feels like the equivalent of, "I'm not a good Mormon. I've just knocked myself down 5 rungs on the social ladder. You will all shun me." Or what's worse - sitting in on Brother Butterfly's lessons and always having to be the one that raises your hand to ask the real questions. A few weeks of that and people will :roll: :roll: when they see your hand go up.

Some people like the butterflies. Thing is, some people are bored senseless by them and church should really be ministering to everyone's needs, not just the people that like butterflies.

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