Time to Pivot

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felixfabulous
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Time to Pivot

Post by felixfabulous » 16 Jul 2019, 06:36

I don't know if anyone saw this excellent opinion piece by Jana Reiss in the Salt Lake Tribune https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2019/07 ... atter-day/. She articulates so well that truth and authoritative claims are less and less relevant in today's western world.

If there is one thing that has been consistent in our history, it's that we, as a Church, have been good at adapting and staying relevant. We are in the middle of another period of major change and our living through the painful transition. In a previous world, which Christian church was true and had God's authority was a hot topic and we made our case as well as anyone. Set aside the historical problems with many of these claims that are presented with the internet age, now, a lot of people don't really care about which church is true and has the authority. They are wondering why they even need religion. The questions our missionaries should be answering are "would my life be better with religion?" and "how can I find meaning and community by participating in the Church?"

I think Jana Reiss is spot on, I would like to see a shift away from truth and authority claims in our missionary efforts. I think we present ourselves as an amazing community with great youth programs, activities and service projects. I'm not sure we will be able to make that shift soon enough, but I see it as the way forward. I would like to see us shift our resources toward improving the Sunday worship experience and having more fellowshipping activities. I think part of the secret sauce is giving people a chance to contribute in callings and work side by side. I just got back from youth conference. It was a lot of work, but the youth really bonded and the leaders did too. You get to know people in a different way when you are playing cards in your swimming suit with them at 10:30 at night or when you are up making breakfast with them. I think the beauty of the Mormon experience may be one of the most true things we have.

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SamBee
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Re: Time to Pivot

Post by SamBee » 16 Jul 2019, 07:18

truth and authoritative claims are less and less relevant in today's western world.
If this is the case, why do we hear them so frequently? And not just from the religious/right wing quarter?
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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felixfabulous
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Re: Time to Pivot

Post by felixfabulous » 16 Jul 2019, 07:47

Are you talking about different ideologies claiming authority and to be right or different churches claiming to be the one true church with God's authority? If you are talking about ideologies, I agree with you. But, I think more people are seeing religious claims as being in the eye of the beholder and having less absolute truth. I'm not sure if many millennials spend much energy worrying about whether Isalam or Buddhism is the true path.

nibbler
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Re: Time to Pivot

Post by nibbler » 16 Jul 2019, 08:42

The missionary arm of the church does appear to be much more focused on selling a need as opposed to filling an existing need.

The church in general works that way. Church meetings are often focused on selling me on what my needs should be; you need to be taking names to the temple, you need to be doing missionary work, you need to be meeting the stake and ward goals that were set for you, etc. The experience is very take it or leave it, kind of like Henry Ford's, "A customer can have a car painted any color he wants as long as it’s black."

If Millennials are in search of a community I feel like the church is headed in the dead opposite direction. Maybe this is another case of your results may vary depending on your ward but I feel like there's been some concerted effort from the top down to replace time spent community building with time spend indoctrinating. There are less activities than there once were. Every activity must have a gospel purpose. Heck, when we moved to the two hour block we made sure to get rid of announcements, hymns, even prayers to make room for more instruction time. Pay attention at church for a three month period and you'll hear all the instruction you're ever going to hear. I don't know why we've got to make more time for instruction, it's been done to death already. In fact more instruction may have the opposite of the intended effect.

I think this focus on instruction is because leaders genuinely believe people are leaving church because they simply don't understand the importance of church. But this is another manifestation of trying to sell a need to people. If it's -20 degrees outside, holding an ice cream social outdoors is going to be a hard sell regardless of how much time you spend convincing people otherwise. I don't think more time and focus spent on getting people to want what you want them to want is the answer.

The importance of religion has waxed and waned over the years. There could be a period in the future where more people become interested but we appear to be in a period of declining interest.

I don't think it's all due to religions not providing what people need. I think many up and comers see a lot of hypocrisy on display among religions. Religions are not only failing to meet people's needs, they are actively turning them off of religion.

Minyan Man
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Re: Time to Pivot

Post by Minyan Man » 16 Jul 2019, 10:11

nibbler wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 08:42
...Church meetings are often focused on selling me on what my needs should be; you need to be taking names to the temple, you need to be doing missionary work, you need to be meeting the stake and ward goals that were set for you, etc. The experience is very take it or leave it, kind of like Henry Ford's, "A customer can have a car painted any color he wants as long as it’s black."
I have no idea what our stake goals are or even if we have any. I know very few of my Stake leaders & that's by design on my part. The Missionaries can do a "hard" sell when they come over for dinner. I understand where that's coming from. I like their innocence & wide eyed optimism.

Like I've said before, when it comes to the programs, goals, callings, commandments, testimonies & lessons taught, I keep what I can use & leave the rest. In the process, I refuse to feel guilty, ashamed or angry.

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SamBee
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Re: Time to Pivot

Post by SamBee » 16 Jul 2019, 10:17

felixfabulous wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 07:47
Are you talking about different ideologies claiming authority and to be right or different churches claiming to be the one true church with God's authority? If you are talking about ideologies, I agree with you. But, I think more people are seeing religious claims as being in the eye of the beholder and having less absolute truth. I'm not sure if many millennials spend much energy worrying about whether Isalam or Buddhism is the true path.
I see this all the time. Look at the transgender or abortion debates - both sides say that they have the absolute truth on their sides.
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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felixfabulous
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Re: Time to Pivot

Post by felixfabulous » 16 Jul 2019, 11:16

I agree with that. Both sides will use data to to prove their points. I think those ideological "hot-button" issues are what spark passionate debates in our time. Those issue debates usually involve both sides presenting data and trying to argue that their position is the most logical. But, I don't think the same is true with religious debates--at least not now.

I would say in the time of Joseph Smith, people were passionately debating which church was true and who had the proper authority. The source of authority and data was the Bible. With more exposure to world religions and less credence in the Bible, I see the view shifting to be more of a consumer view of religion--all religions and spiritual practices can offer something and it's up to the individual to decide what works for them. If I were buying a car and the person selling it was talking about the line of succession from Karl Benz to the present time and why this was the only true and correct brand of car on the earth today, I would lose interest and leave. I'm worried about a whole different set of issues in looking for a car and if I find one that I like and it suits my needs, I'm not super concerned if it's the best in the world.

nibbler
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Re: Time to Pivot

Post by nibbler » 16 Jul 2019, 11:27

Minyan Man wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 10:11
Like I've said before, when it comes to the programs, goals, callings, commandments, testimonies & lessons taught, I keep what I can use & leave the rest. In the process, I refuse to feel guilty, ashamed or angry.
Agreed. It's a good approach.

Personally I've found the "what I can use" pool to be ever shrinking and "the rest" pool ever growing. Perhaps others find themselves in a similar position and that is why religion is losing people. It's a matter of relevancy. Will we change in order to remain relevant or will we continue to place the burden on the members to conform to something that isn't feeding them?

Arrakeen
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Re: Time to Pivot

Post by Arrakeen » 16 Jul 2019, 12:21

I find it interesting that at the same time we're becoming more comfortable with a diversity of religious belief, we're becoming less comfortable with a diversity of political beliefs. The "us vs them" mentality seems to be declining in religion and increasing in current ideologies, and an argument can be made that some ideologies have become a new sort of religion.

I think traditional religion has lost a lot of power in the public sphere, so religions are more likely to put aside their differences to work together. Also, since individual religions have less influence, there is less of a perceived threat that your neighbors religious beliefs will be forced on you, so you don't have a need to compete with other religions. Without as much competition between religions, the "one true church" idea doesn't make as much sense.

I noticed as a missionary that many of the people we taught did not care at all about Joseph Smith or the Restoration, and were only concerned with things like prayer, the nature of God, and the sense of community. The truth claims came up more when arguing doctrine with other churches.

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Holy Cow
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Re: Time to Pivot

Post by Holy Cow » 16 Jul 2019, 14:26

felixfabulous wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 06:36
In a previous world, which Christian church was true and had God's authority was a hot topic and we made our case as well as anyone. Set aside the historical problems with many of these claims that are presented with the internet age, now, a lot of people don't really care about which church is true and has the authority. They are wondering why they even need religion. The questions our missionaries should be answering are "would my life be better with religion?" and "how can I find meaning and community by participating in the Church?"

I would like to see us shift our resources toward improving the Sunday worship experience and having more fellowshipping activities.
Amen to that! The shift toward more instruction time has not felt like a constructive change to me. I skip SS & EQ more now than I ever did when we had the three-hour block. Mostly, because the class feels so long that it gets to the point that we're just trying to fill the time. I would get more out of a quality 20-minute lesson than a long, rambling 50-minute lesson. I love that we cut an hour out of the block, but making the 2nd hour instruction time longer has led me to skip the 2nd hour more often than not. At least I was able to go to the Gospel Essentials class in the past, where there weren't as many of the us vs. them lessons. Without the option of a more basic SS class, I think we've taken away some of the "visitors welcome" mentality. At least this year, we're talking about the New Testament. What will a visitor's first experience be like in the years when we're talking about BofM or D&C? Many of the changes being made feel like a step in the right direction, while others feel like re-entrenchment. Not necessarily one step forward and two steps back; but maybe one step forward and 1/2 step back.
My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6139

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