Possible Model of LDS Church Phases of Commitment

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SilentDawning
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Possible Model of LDS Church Phases of Commitment

Post by SilentDawning » 21 Oct 2014, 09:29

I wanted to quickly formalize possible stages of commitment to the church. I wonder if I'm unique here or if anyone else experienced these.

1. Stage 1: Engagement

In this phase, you believe most of what the LDS teaches, and had few items on the shelf. You reject most challenges to your faith as the influence of Satan or of little consequence. Your rely heavily on spiritual feelings as my only source of truth. When challenges face you (bad leadership, doctrinal questions, bad interpersonal church relationships), standard Mormon answers are enough to keep you fully engaged and serving.

2. State 2: Unfreezing

In this phase, something happens that really rocks a person's commitment or testimony. It could be the accumulation of several negative experiences, but something happens that makes you seriously question the Standard Mormon Answers. The event or series of events unlocks one's commitment to the church, and the Standard Mormon Answers no longer seem to satisfy. During this period there is a real sense that you are possibly violating God's will in thinking poorly of church leaders, doctrine, history, or the LDS experience. It is a period of risk and darkness, sometimes anger, grief, and fear. It can also be a period of testing family relationships to see if they can withstand unorthodoxy and lesser commitment.

3. Stage 3: Disengagement

During this phase, you embrace the fact that the orthodox approach to the church no longer works for you. You are more open to critical reflection. You no longer felt excited about the mission of the church, serving in a calling, and no longer feel part of the community. The status symbols of our religion no longer hold the same allure. You may continue to go to church, but do so out of obligation, and may even feel like an observer rather than a participant. Confusion sometimes accompanies this period as you no longer know what you believe about the church, just that you no longer engage with its teachings and culture.

4. Stage 4: Reconstruction

During this phase, you start reconstructing what you believed about the church. You might draw on the ideas of people who were not orthodox for new perspectives. You feel free to think on your own about what you really believe as you are no longer engaged with the LDS experience.

5. Stage 5: Exodus or Modification & Re-engagement

During, or after reconstruction, for many, there is an Exodus -- where they leave the church altogether or stop being active. For others, it means modifying their belief system and then re-engaging with the church in new ways. It could mean that you choose not to abide by certain cultural norms, or hold traditional roles in the church. For example, you might see yourself as a purveyor of unorthodox perspective to the traditional believers (a bit like what I proposed to SunBelt Red today, regarding training the leadership in how to talk to doubters) rather than a mainstream member. I see some of this in Dark Jedi, Sunbelt Red, and Ray Degraw. You find a way to make your unique perspective to somehow line up with the church's goals so you can continue participating. [Edit - might add that when this phase completes, you are at equilibrium again -- relatively content with your new belief system. The tension you experienced in phases 2, 3, and 4 is not intense any longer. There is relative peace with your relationship with the church]

So, that is my own model. I hope it is understandable and perhaps even flexible to others transition with its high level concepts of Engagement, Unfreezing, Reconstruction, and then Modification/Re-engagement or Exodus as the final stage.

Thoughts? Does your own faith transition appear compatible with this framework?
Last edited by SilentDawning on 25 Oct 2014, 21:52, edited 3 times in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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SunbeltRed
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Re: Possible Model of LDS Church Phases of Commitment

Post by SunbeltRed » 21 Oct 2014, 10:05

I like this. I think its a good encapsulation of my stages. Though I still feel like I am in four and five and they are happening simultaneously.

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richalger
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Re: Possible Model of LDS Church Phases of Commitment

Post by richalger » 21 Oct 2014, 15:04

This is a good general guide. Though for myself. I did not go as far as you described in 3 and 5.

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Daeruin
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Re: Possible Model of LDS Church Phases of Commitment

Post by Daeruin » 21 Oct 2014, 20:36

I found it to be very close to my experience. The "unfreezing" stage seems to be the equivalent of the actual crisis of faith, the thing that breaks your shelf. For me, the initial crisis stage lasted several months, and trickled on for a couple of years after that as I slowly disengaged. Because of family ties and my own slowness to make decisions, it took me probably 4 years before I basically gave up and completely reached the disengaged stage. Right now I'm very actively in the reconstruction phase, taking slow baby steps towards reengagement.

I would suggest modifying stages 4 and 5. I think the modification portion of your stage 5 overlaps too much with the reconstruction aspect of stage 4. I think it would be clearer if stage 5 were the end result of reconstruction—either exodus or re-engagement. But I also wonder if stage 4 always happens for those who end with an exodus. I know several people personally for whom there was either no stage 3 or a very brief one followed quickly by exodus, with no attempt at reconstruction.
"Not all those who wander are lost" —Tolkien

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SilentDawning
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Re: Possible Model of LDS Church Phases of Commitment

Post by SilentDawning » 22 Oct 2014, 04:32

Daeruin wrote:I found it to be very close to my experience. The "unfreezing" stage seems to be the equivalent of the actual crisis of faith, the thing that breaks your shelf. For me, the initial crisis stage lasted several months, and trickled on for a couple of years after that as I slowly disengaged. Because of family ties and my own slowness to make decisions, it took me probably 4 years before I basically gave up and completely reached the disengaged stage. Right now I'm very actively in the reconstruction phase, taking slow baby steps towards reengagement.

I would suggest modifying stages 4 and 5. I think the modification portion of your stage 5 overlaps too much with the reconstruction aspect of stage 4. I think it would be clearer if stage 5 were the end result of reconstruction—either exodus or re-engagement. But I also wonder if stage 4 always happens for those who end with an exodus. I know several people personally for whom there was either no stage 3 or a very brief one followed quickly by exodus, with no attempt at reconstruction.
The problem for me is that theorists try to make a serial model or a process that is iterative. I think you can ebb and flow between stages. For example, I did have a period when I was teaching Gospel Essentials when I had desires to move back to engagement at times. During reconstruction, there were times when I had flashes of adaptation and re-engagement. So, I think the model really needs to allow for people to exist in multiple stages at the same time. Theory is beautifully and orderly, reality is messy
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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DarkJedi
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Re: Possible Model of LDS Church Phases of Commitment

Post by DarkJedi » 22 Oct 2014, 05:50

I generally like it too. Maybe "stages" isn't exactly the right word to call them, but then I don't know a better word. I do agree with what you and others have said - it's not necessarily clear sometimes what stage one is in. I do agree with your assessment that I and some others here are in stage 5. I consider myself a 5 in Fowler's also. I will say in the disengagement stage I really disengaged, and had pretty much nothing to do with the church or religion in general. For me that stage lasted several years. It would be interesting if there were some sort of statistic about those who reach stage 5 and leave as opposed to those who modify/re-engage. FWIW, I do sometimes feel engaged and sometimes still feel more of the observer - that is, I'm there and not necessarily buying in and not even really necessarily interested in what's going on.
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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LookingHard
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Re: Possible Model of LDS Church Phases of Commitment

Post by LookingHard » 22 Oct 2014, 14:30

DarkJedi wrote:it's not necessarily clear sometimes what stage one is in.
I think that is true after Stage 3.
I would also agree on it being more like waves and you move back and forth and on different issues. An example of that is I am rather :x today after reading Wheat and Tares topic of ""Malcolm Jeppsen's Role in the September Six" and also BCC "Institutional Change: Pulling the Rug from Under the Most Committed" have me back being frustrated with "leadership." This is even after DBMormon had a good long phone call with me about this general topic 2 week ago and calmed me down - somewhat. Thanks again DBMormon for the help. I need to back off those topics a while before I have to start taking blood pressure meds.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Possible Model of LDS Church Phases of Commitment

Post by DarkJedi » 22 Oct 2014, 14:39

LookingHard wrote:
DarkJedi wrote:it's not necessarily clear sometimes what stage one is in.
I think that is true after Stage 3.
I would also agree on it being more like waves and you move back and forth and on different issues. An example of that is I am rather :x today after reading Wheat and Tares topic of ""Malcolm Jeppsen's Role in the September Six" and also BCC "Institutional Change: Pulling the Rug from Under the Most Committed" have me back being frustrated with "leadership." This is even after DBMormon had a good long phone call with me about this general topic 2 week ago and calmed me down - somewhat. Thanks again DBMormon for the help. I need to back off those topics a while before I have to start taking blood pressure meds.

I'm not saying this will work for you just because it works for me, but I can overlook those things as just the "teachings of men mingled with scripture" and get by it. I'm sure some think I oversimplify, but really the only reason I can say I'm at stage 5 is because of that simplification. I believe the gospel of Christ (AKA the doctrine of Christ) is very, very simple and nothing else really matters. We don't know so much more than we do know, and the more I learn the less I seem to know.
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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LookingHard
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Re: Possible Model of LDS Church Phases of Commitment

Post by LookingHard » 22 Oct 2014, 16:08

Thanks DarkJedi,

One thing I have found interesting is how many of us have hot buttons in some areas and other things really don't matter. For me the whole DNA/BOM issue is like "what? who cares?" as I didn't get that pounded into me (somehow). I know others find it as a huge issue.

I don't claim to be in Stage 5, but I know I feel like I am out of the emotional storm I was in about a year ago. Glad to hear what I can expect to feel when/if I progress to Stage 5.

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MockingJay
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Re: Possible Model of LDS Church Phases of Commitment

Post by MockingJay » 23 Oct 2014, 13:55

Maybe "phases" would be a better descriptor than "stages." it seems more fluid in my mind. Either way, I've been at this for a very long time. For a while, I was in stage 5 - re-engagement. Then some things that sent me right back to stage 2. I'm firmly ensconced in stage 3. Your definition is spot on for me and I could have written it. I either can't or don't really want to move out of this stage again. Maybe that's because I have to continue to go to church out of obligation and I don't see that ever changing. I'm OK with that though. I have my own internal discoveries going on constantly and I'm great joy in that. I honestly can't see myself ever re-engaging or exiting.

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