What are the benefits of being a member of the church?

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SilentDawning
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What are the benefits of being a member of the church?

Post by SilentDawning » 20 Nov 2018, 10:32

I guess I'm so far gone I started wondering why anyone would be a member.

I know that I had spiritual feelings that made me want to join years and years ago. But hard experiences have sort of torn away all the benefits I once held based on faith, community, and happiness.

For example, recent experiences, and the internet seem to have lessened the sheer blessings from faith aspect. I find the community loves you if you are mainstream and contributing. But fall off the wagon they can be really nasty and not at all accepting. They will talk negatively about you behind closed doors. Happiness -- all it took was a diagnoses of depression, triggered by church stuff, for me to realize the church experience wasn't conducive to happiness.

Can you describe the benefits you personally feel? It might help me out of my slump.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- 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."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

GBSmith
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Re: What are the benefits of being a member of the church?

Post by GBSmith » 20 Nov 2018, 10:44

For me it's like a neighborhood bar. You want to go where everyone knows your name. The flip side of that analogy is that you're expected to take your turn tending it.

Roy
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Re: What are the benefits of being a member of the church?

Post by Roy » 20 Nov 2018, 13:16

1) purpose and meaning! Life is better with it than without it.
2) Strong families! Nothing is perfect but the church emphasis on families combined with chastity and WoW tends to produce stronger families.
3) community! The church becomes the nexus for those families to band together and serve one another.

I know that as one moves through a faith transition some of these benefits decrease.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Roadrunner
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Re: What are the benefits of being a member of the church?

Post by Roadrunner » 20 Nov 2018, 14:56

Roy wrote:
20 Nov 2018, 13:16
2) Strong families! Nothing is perfect but the church emphasis on families combined with chastity and WoW tends to produce stronger families.
3) community! The church becomes the nexus for those families to band together and serve one another.
For me Roy's 2 and 3 summarize it well. My marriage and children are better off because of the Church. I have some real issues with the Church (capital C) but I genuinely love my ward. They are my 2nd family and in some ways I'm closer to them than my parents and siblings. I could ask for help and people would be on my doorstep in an hour. They drive me nuts sometimes but they are genuinely good people.

I would add that I received a quality church education for a fraction of the cost of my non-BYU alumni friends, and the professional network is pretty strong. My wife and I graduated with no undergraduate debt which was a huge blessing early in our marriage.

Minyan Man
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Re: What are the benefits of being a member of the church?

Post by Minyan Man » 20 Nov 2018, 19:57

For me the benefits are:
- I feel connected to something bigger than myself. Otherwise I expect the universe to revolve around me.
- We have social contacts we wouldn't normally have. I have friends that I can trust & they in return know they can trust me.
- Family History demonstrates that we are all connected over many generations throughout time & eternity.
- I like the idea of eternal progression. We learn & progress in our spiritual life time. Whatever that is.
- When I was in the Methodist Church, everything was a mystery. The LDS church has more certainty. More things seem to be defined.
- The older I get, the spiritual journey seems to be an adventure to be discovered. Fewer regrets.

I hope this makes sense.

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felixfabulous
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Re: What are the benefits of being a member of the church?

Post by felixfabulous » 21 Nov 2018, 08:39

I think there are lots of benefits. The main ones for me are the community and structure for raising children. In Richard Rohr terms, we do first half of life better than anyone. This structure provides people with stability, clear boundaries and ways to find meaning in life. In my experience, this is great for young people (most of the time) and a good motivator to avoid a lot of pitfalls people encounter in their teens and twenties (pregnancy, STDs, alcoholism, drugs, etc.). A lot of adults are very happy to stay in this bubble and it gives them great meaning and purpose. We have great youth programs and provide great educational opportunities, as was mentioned.

Up until now, we have largely refused to acknowledge second half of life questions and viewpoints (moving away from literalism and tough questions about church history and doctrine). We propped up the dam well enough for a long time, but it seems to have burst and we need to find away to lead people through a faith crisis to continue to find meaning in the religion and to be able to continue to participate. Things are getting a little better, but too often we treat people with doubts like parasites and push them out because they make it difficult for others who are happily still in the bubble.

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SilentDawning
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Re: What are the benefits of being a member of the church?

Post by SilentDawning » 21 Nov 2018, 10:54

felixfabulous wrote:
21 Nov 2018, 08:39
Up until now, we have largely refused to acknowledge second half of life questions and viewpoints (moving away from literalism and tough questions about church history and doctrine). We propped up the dam well enough for a long time, but it seems to have burst and we need to find away to lead people through a faith crisis to continue to find meaning in the religion and to be able to continue to participate. Things are getting a little better, but too often we treat people with doubts like parasites and push them out because they make it difficult for others who are happily still in the bubble.
This is VERY insightful! I agree -- the last half of life questions are not addressed. They have tried recently with the 2 hour block, and ministering program -- that has removed some of the monotony, I think. There is this perpetual monotony in what we do in the church. And as health problems and the need to sustain oneself in retirement looms on the horizon, I personally start seeking value out of my church experience. Not a completely selfless experience that ignores my personal needs at the same time. That never seems fair when that happens in any context.

To you, what are the second half of life questions?
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- 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."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: What are the benefits of being a member of the church?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 21 Nov 2018, 11:09

I'm with GBSmith: it's a social contract. The church is just where members meet other members and work together.

When we moved to Singapore, there are social clubs there primarily for expats from different countries. Membership at the American Club was $20k per year. These clubs are somewhat exclusive, but lots of expats told me they would have been lost without it--the club connected them with others there temporarily, people who helped them with advice and connections and so on. But what I discovered was that belonging to the church was literally the same benefit for us, and probably even better because of our organized weekly contact.

I also had a lunch with the Chief Risk Officer of Amex years ago, a man who lived in NYC, but was from India. When he heard I was a Mormon, he was very animated and said it was a great community, and that what he had seen is that when a member of our church moves from one area to another, we have an instant local family via the church, people who help us, welcome us, serve us, and become our friends in the new area. He said this was exceptional, and not something replicated in the other Christian religions he saw, perhaps because they can shop their congregations a little more.

BTW, I wrote up an OP this week that is interesting to think about with social contracts and how early settlers in Massachusetts Bay Colony created and signed covenants in their communities: https://wheatandtares.org/2018/11/20/mi ... -to-today/

There are lots of reasons people criticize this mixing of "secular" and "religious," but all religions are secular once they try to assist human flourishing.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What are the benefits of being a member of the church?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 21 Nov 2018, 11:18

I have a tribe of really good people, even though I see many things differently than many of them (and I see many things similarly as many of them).

It gives a whole lot of people a wonderful sense of self-worth - of being special and divine in an important way.

I like studying religion. I am a social scientist by nature. Mormonism is absolutely fascinating to me.

Most of all, perhaps, I have been able to find my own balance in the LDS Church as an active, "faithful", heterodox member - and I know I am needed as that non-traditional combination.
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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Heber13
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Re: What are the benefits of being a member of the church?

Post by Heber13 » 22 Nov 2018, 23:29

Happiness doesn't come from others in church talking great about you, or the absence of them talking negatively behind closed doors.

The benefits of being a member are in the social contract, which requires some personal sacrifice or compromise to be part of the group and partake of the benefits.

Lose yourself in the service of others, and find yourself.

There are plenty of imperfect and wrong things with others at church, you can't focus on that. You gotta let it go.

I like Malcolm Gladwell's podcast on "Generous Orthodoxy" and how he describes the tension of "generosity" to accept new things and others as they are (like SSM) with the orthodoxy of respecting the institution and way things always have been (which opposes SSM based on doctrine).

Fighting against the institution and also wanting others, who hold it sacred, to like you for doing it, will not likely lead to peace and acceptance. It may cloud the benefits from the dust devils.

There is a balance. A middle way. There are benefits to being part of a group. If you strive to be part of it.

A member of our Ward just went to the hospital with sepsis (blood poisoning). The EQ and RS have been mobilized to help their family. That is one example of the benefits. There are many. But they come with a price.

Pay the entry fee. Do things your way. Shake off what others say about you. Seek inner godliness. Serve others. Find the middle way.
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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