What would you want me to tell your bishopric?

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DarkJedi
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What would you want me to tell your bishopric?

Post by DarkJedi » 27 May 2014, 05:48

I have the opportunity to meet in private with bishoprics/branch presidencies. I can say whatever I want in these meetings, but what I want to address is The Rescue from the point of view which is probably opposite the general point of view of a leader - the point of view of the person being rescued, if you will. I have some ideas of what I might say based on my own experiences. I think I will probably say something along the line of not everyone necessarily wanting to be rescued, or perhaps just not ready to be rescued yet. And I will certainly hit on the idea that most who are in a position to be rescued don't want to be part of a program or have an assigned friend - although a real friend who chooses to be a friend of his or her own accord is usually more than welcome.

These conversations with local leadership will benefit those like us - "the ones" who need it most. I am thoroughly convinced that these leaders for the most part do not know what to do or how to approach us. Please help me teach them. What would you want me to tell your bishopric?
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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On Own Now
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Re: What would you want me to tell your bishopric?

Post by On Own Now » 27 May 2014, 06:57

That's easy:

1A) Nobody wants to feel like a project. 1B) Everyone wants to feel welcome.

2) Welcome them as they are, not as you want them to become. If they want to worship with you, that should be enough.

3) Many people on the fringe have a heightened sense of wanting to 'worship', and feel unfulfilled in this desire in our Church. Many have zoned in on Jesus Christ and the Atonement as the basis for religious experience, and feel less conviction about Joseph Smith, the Word of Wisdom, the Temple, the BofM. If the Bishop really wants to make them feel welcome, focus Sacrament Meeting on the worship of the Lord, and let the lectures on Gospel Topics hold sway in the other meetings. More music and less talking in SM would help tremendously. Not giving General Conference talks as 'topics' for SM talks would be very good. Consider having the Sacrament at the end of a worship-based meeting.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What would you want me to tell your bishopric?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 27 May 2014, 10:38

DJ, I am going to link to 10 posts I've written on my personal blog, since copying them would create an extremely long comment - and since I believe DEEPLY that there is a LOT that needs to be said. The titles aren't all focused on church leaders, but the principles are the same regardless of the exact target audience and are appropriate for Bishops and Branch Presidents. They are not listed in order of how I view their importance, so you're going to have to read all of them to see what you want to use. If it's easier to print the posts and share them, feel free - since that would give them time to read and digest the concepts at their own pace.

"What Advice Would You Give a Parent Whose Adult Child Is Struggling with Faith?" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2013 ... arent.html)

"The Advice I am Giving My Daughter As She Departs on a Mission" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2013 ... er-as.html)

"What Advice Would You Give a Stake President about How to Work with Those Who Are in a Faith Crisis?" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2013 ... stake.html)

"Sometimes We Ask too Many Questions" - and the point for leaders is to allow unit leaders to exercise the authority they have in their callings without having to ask permission in everything (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2013 ... tions.html)

"Thestrals, Dementers, Boggarts and Crises of Faith" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2012 ... rises.html)

"We Are Responsible, Largely, for the Experiences of Others at Church" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2012 ... y-for.html)

"A Version of Lucifer's Plan I've Heard Some Members Advocate" - the point for leaders is that it's okay for members to say no to things (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2011 ... -some.html)

"If You Want to Be Loved and Understood by Others" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2011 ... -some.html)

"Honoring (Non-LDS) Parents of LDS Youth" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2010 ... youth.html)

"Loving Those Who Lose Faith" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2010 ... faith.html)
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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cwald
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Post by cwald » 27 May 2014, 11:18

If the church doesn't want to get accused of being a cult, they need to stop acting like one.

I have a much right to remain Mormon, as those people who complain about the Obama administration have a right to remain American.

Sexual sin is not the worse sin, next to murder.

Most NOM types are not luke warm. Most of us are scorching, and simply cared too much.

If the church would simply say "sorry, we made a mistake." Things would probably get better. Stop blaming the members and local leaders for the Q15 and the church's mistakes and faults.



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  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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mackay11
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What would you want me to tell your bishopric?

Post by mackay11 » 27 May 2014, 11:54

Teach them the Uchtdorf principle:

"It's complicated."

I'm hurting today. One of my best friends stayed a few days with his family. His and my wife are also very close friends. On the second evening the subject of people leaving the church came up.

My friend said that people who leave or fail to get an answer to prayers are either not worthy to receive the answer or aren't asking properly.

My wife, who he knows hasn't attended regularly for nearly 4 years tried to explain that she has spent years trying to find a place in Mormonism, that she had sought a personal relationship with God and neither of them had happened. Was it something she had done wrong? Was she not sincere?

My friend said yes, in a long way, but it was clear that she was the problem, not the church.

I've witnessed first hand the sincerity of her attempts to make it work. It hasn't worked, she's better off out of the church. She has left Mormonism AND she has left it alone. Her changed faith perspectives have helped her become a better person.

Ken Robinson (I think) gave a beautiful TED talk about education and talked about a child in a mainstream school who was thought to have ADHD. When taken to the Dr the wise physician had said to the mother: "Your daughter doesn't have ADHD, she's a dancer in the wrong school."

I drew a similar comparison to DW. There's nothing wrong with her and nothing wrong with the church. She was simply a dancer in the wrong place. Now that she's transitioned to a different spiritual "school" she's flourishing and growing.

Sadly my friend would have none of it. He was adamant that there was only one way (even when I pointed out that given 99.5% of God's children would live life in different "schools" that surely that was a part of the plan). We remained amicable, but both DW and I feel bruised by the conversation and I'm saddened by the thought that it might have weakened friendships.

So please teach your bishops that sometimes they don't need to rescue people. Instead they simply need to celebrate the dancer realising they were in the wrong school.

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Forgotten_Charity
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Re: What would you want me to tell your bishopric?

Post by Forgotten_Charity » 27 May 2014, 12:05

I really wouldn't talk but if I could make an impression it would be largely the same as I would suggest to parents or the significant other(spouse/GF/BF). When someone wants you to on board in a group or relationship it's basic common curtsey and respect to not go into it changing them or wanting to change them. It's the bear minimum one can do if they desire that person at all in their group or circle. It doesn't mean they are prefect, it doesn't mean they probably couldn't use help to be a better person. What it does mean is that you except them as is and they not you(the outside person or party in the relationship) decide at their own time and place what and when needs and wants help to be better at what ever area they feel they want need help in making themselves more compete(the exception if they are being abusive or destructive in some way towards others).

It will lead to burnt bridges and quite a lot of trust lost if the plan to make them better is established on their own without the consent or permission asked of the outside person/party.

May also induce depression and or appeasement issues and anxiety. Working with those that express I want and desire for help with what and when they express a desire within context of church available help.

If a person has left it can mean many things. But if a person expresses a desire to return..but... Well then at least you have a common ground of desire to work on. Noting that common desire and acknowledgment of legitimating fears or concerns without trying to be defensive or protective which will put try other person in the sane position and won't accomplish anything except further disconnect.

If you want the person back in your life, work with them and except them as who they are(however imperfect). Work with them at their pace not and established goal or pace that the other party set without them.

With the exception if a few %, no one likes to participate in something they don't feel welcome in as they are. Because real service is the giving of oneself. How can you give of yourself if people are trying to change who you are? That would make service the giving of someone else's self to someone else( ie. not really giving).

Each person is different, even if they have similar problems, the Axiom at church and a lot of places is ..."do unto others as you would have them do I to you". What has been established in evidence as more helpful is "treat others as they want to be treated not as you yourself would like to be". One is a shutgun approach , impersonal and ineffective for many. The other is a individual approach to how that particular person feels valued and treated.

I could say other things but unless people treat others how they want to be treated and accept them as who they are without looking at them or treating them like projects to work on. All else would be futile without that basic respect and value of charity, empathy and compassion. Empathy is probably the one hardest to find at church if you are outside the blueprint life. Probably would focus more on that.

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DarkJedi
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Re: What would you want me to tell your bishopric?

Post by DarkJedi » 27 May 2014, 12:36

Thanks, all, for your replies so far. My first time to sit in council with a bishopric will be this Sunday, so there is some urgency to my request. That said, I am sitting in their meeting, and while I feel strongly (yes, even impressed) I should take the opportunity to share some of my perspective I will likely only have a limited time to do so and I see this as more of a process of sharing over time. Therefore, I'm going to have to figure out what is the most important thing to share first, although giving them reference material (like Pres. Uchtdorf's talk, the BYU Magazine article, etc.) is also an option.

OON, I agree with what you say and in particular I think your first two points (1a&b and 2) are of great importance. While I wholeheartedly agree with 3, I'm not sure they'll be ready for that at first - but I will certainly model the behavior. I like how our HC topics are all "Come onto Christ by....."

Ray, thanks, there's lots of stuff there! (I'm not shortchanging Ray, we've had a pm conversation about these.)

Cwald, I love and respect you and your opinion and I think I can safely and easily get across your second point, and probably the fourth. The others, I think, are somewhat beyond the scope of the bishopric - but I agree with you for the most part.

Mac, as you are aware, I say "It is not that simple" all the time and I will indeed share that idea. Do you object if I share this story? I think it's good and real. I also really like the dancer analogy - I think I can tie that in with the point that we need to take people as they are, not what we want them to be or wish they were. You are absolutely right that some people just need to be accepted as opposed to rescued.

FC, good stuff as usual. Indeed, mental health issues do figure in to this with some people and I tend to overlook that. I will try to incorporate it. Something you said also brought up a question for me. You talked about those who have expressed a desire to come back. I don't know about the rest of you here, but the only place I expressed a desire to return was here - I never mentioned it to any leader, HT, family member, etc. Is there something different I should say to them if they bring up someone who has expressed the desire? I do full well understand how very difficult it is to come back after having been away for a long time, and I got little in the way of advice when I sought it from the bishop and SP. Even having experienced it, the only thing I can come up with is to accept them as they are, and don't push (just attending SM is OK, a calling only if they want one, etc.). I would really like to have some way of having the - and I will be blunt here and say what I really think - idiots stay away, but there's not a way that I am aware of to control that.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What would you want me to tell your bishopric?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 27 May 2014, 12:54

One very concrete "action" piece of advice about which I feel strongly:

If a church leader has the chance to sit down for the first time with someone who is inactive or struggling, go alone to the person's home - NOT as a Bishopric or even a companionship, and not in the church office. When you get there, DO. NOT. TRY. TO. SOLVE. THE. PROBLEM. OR. EVEN. OFFER. ADVICE.

Yeah, I feel strongly about that. So:

Sit down, shut up and listen.

Ask questions only to understand better. Leave having not done or said a single thing that implies the person needs to return to activity if s/he wants to associate with you or any other member.

The principles are, "Seek to understand before seeking to be understood," and, "We love him, because he first loved us."

We can't really love someone, in any way that is individually meaningful, until we understand them - and understanding people involves the ears FAR more than the mouth. We might not be able to understand them or their situation fully, but we can try to understand them as well as we can.

So, again:

Sit down, shut up and listen.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

nibbler
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Re: What would you want me to tell your bishopric?

Post by nibbler » 27 May 2014, 13:22

A phrase for people to remember:
The gospel is a gospel of inclusion, not exclusion.

Then over time you can expound on what it means to be inclusive and things we do that would exclude.

shoshin
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Re: What would you want me to tell your bishopric?

Post by shoshin » 27 May 2014, 13:33

Since I still don't think I understand really where people are at on this site, I can't really offer advice about how to "fix" things. But
"fixing" people is not the right attitude anyway as people have already said here.

I really like the story about the dancer girl. What I take from that is that the church needs to be sure it's the kind of place where dancers too can thrive. That's something the leaders could really influence.

I remember one time I read a book about personality, the Meyer's Briggs model. It was interested to see how some personality types would have a much harder time being church members than others. It seems to me that the church is often aimed at the business/accounting/dentists/etc and not so much at the less common types - artists, intellectuals, even brick layers and ski instructors. From what I've seen, church leaders tend to be successful business types. I guess because they have demonstrated skill at managing large groups of people. And maybe they have the financial security that permits the luxury of time to be a church leader. So it's possible they might live in a bit of a bubble where they don't see non-business types in their day to day lives. This is the problem with many communities in the US now, especially the affluent ones - social balkanization. Everyone has the same kind of job, the same politics, the same background, etc.

If the leaders are like me, they have had little previous contact with the type of people on StayLDS. So maybe start with that great Uchtdorf quote "it's complicated" and then give some examples from peoples' lives that illustrate how it's complicated.

About assigned friends - I've experienced that and it's very offensive. My "friend" stopped being a friend after a while, and it hurt. It's not the way to do it. The gospel is not about that kind of artificiality. The end result could very well be to drive the person farther away.

About keeping Christ central to worship - I totally agree. The church has emphasized that in the past but it's the kind of thing you apparently have to keep reminding about, even though you absolutely shouldn't have to. Christ's example, what he did for us, why it matters - those should be central to church meetings, even more so sacrament meeting.

Listening is always a good idea in any relationship and in any kind of conflict or misunderstanding. I really think most problems in the world are because of lack of understanding and lack of empathy about other people.

I think all members need constant nourishment to their faith and constant encouragement to live according what light they have received. In my life, all the worldly distractions and my own foolish self-centeredness so easily make me forget spiritual things. In general I have to think that whatever nourishes faith and understanding of the gospel would be a good thing. But it has to be in way that is meaningful to people. So that's the question, isn't it. I get that nourishment from the scriptures and from going to church. But maybe that doesn't work for everyone right now.

"[In this life there are really only] two things we can be good at - we can forgive and repent." - Hugh Nibley

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." - Matt. 22

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” - Isaiah 55

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