Room in the Church for Non-believers?

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nibbler
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Re: Room in the Church for Non-believers?

Post by nibbler » 18 Feb 2021, 09:07

Roy wrote:
16 Feb 2021, 15:14
Thirdly, Nobody puts Nibbler in a corner! :lol:
I'm more of a wallflower. ;)

Tangent/soapbox time (sorry).

I agree with your points. For many, a sense of duty or obligation drives the programs. To be honest, if we're to keep the church operational some of the work is going to fall into that category, it can't be all fun and games... but there needs to be a balance. Programs that people are enthusiastic about. If it's nothing but obligation after obligation it leads to burnout.

The challenge is that we often make programs out of things a few people are enthusiastic about. I think every ward has a Brother/Sister GenealogyNut, someone that's super enthusiastic about doing family history and temple stuff. There's no problem with that, in fact it's a good thing, my issue is when it's presented as an expectation for every member. Members can (and do) opt out but it can make non-participants uncomfortable, like they're being less faithful. It can become a yoke around the neck for people that aren't Brother/Sister GenealogyNut.

Side note: if you have to give regular lessons on the importance of program xyz because people aren't participating, that's probably an indication that there's an issue with the program, not the people.

Trying to get back on track...

Many of the church programs don't have much to offer the non-believer. If you don't believe people need every temple ordinance to be saved there's less desire to participate in temple activities. If the ministering program centers around checking up on how people are coming along with the stake president's goal or if it centers around giving a lesson in something that you don't believe in there's less desire to participate.

I think back to my YSA days. It was a different era, much has changed since then, but I remember really enjoying church. I don't remember there being much structure to social gatherings. We didn't meet to watch a video on the restoration and discuss how we should be handing out BoMs, simply being together and enjoying one another's company was all the gospel purpose we needed.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

Arrakeen
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Re: Room in the Church for Non-believers?

Post by Arrakeen » 18 Feb 2021, 12:26

nibbler wrote:
18 Feb 2021, 09:07
Many of the church programs don't have much to offer the non-believer. If you don't believe people need every temple ordinance to be saved there's less desire to participate in temple activities. If the ministering program centers around checking up on how people are coming along with the stake president's goal or if it centers around giving a lesson in something that you don't believe in there's less desire to participate.

I think back to my YSA days. It was a different era, much has changed since then, but I remember really enjoying church. I don't remember there being much structure to social gatherings. We didn't meet to watch a video on the restoration and discuss how we should be handing out BoMs, simply being together and enjoying one another's company was all the gospel purpose we needed.
See, even I remember things being different only 10 years ago or so. Part of that is because I lived in New England, where the church culture was really different. Maybe I just need to get out of Utah :think: But even then, my ward back then was fairly unique and had a reputation for being the "party ward" because of all of our fun cultural activities (it was also probably one of the most racially and culturally diverse wards in the church). We had the "churchy" things, but they were balanced by going out to eat, playing video games together, celebrating cultural holidays for the various nationalities in our ward, etc.

I think the leadership has been pushing to have everything gospel centered recently at the expense of fun. For example, I've heard seminary students now have to take exams. It used to just be hanging out with a bit of gospel message, and even non-members from our high school would show up sometimes because it was fun. And as a current YSA, I would really appreciate some fun activities instead of the ongoing lecture series on dating, marriage, and porn.

Sometimes it feels like the church has given up on the non-believing or less-committed members to focus on catering to the people who are already super committed and will do any program no matter how boring or uninteresting. Maybe it's a "defensive" posture nowadays trying to hold on to the core membership instead of reaching out to people on the fringes or potential new members.

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On Own Now
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Re: Room in the Church for Non-believers?

Post by On Own Now » 22 Feb 2021, 10:36

I will surprise no one, I suppose, by saying that the resolution to this issue lies more with us than with the Church.

I agree that it is great when the local wards have activities that are more social and less purposeful, but people like us have to allow that it's not the Elks Lodge or a Book Club. The foundation of the Church is faith in JC, acceptance of JS, and adherence to the Church Programs. Social-only gatherings are icing on the cake, not the cake itself.

The Church is a church of believers. If we want to be welcome there, we need to accept that we are guests in their environment and do our best to be people they would want to welcome into that environment.

Back in the first century AD, we know that there were among the Jews in the Mediterranean world, people who were called "Friends of God". They weren't Jews by birth. Neither were they Jewish "Proselytes" (Gentiles who had converted to Judaism). Rather they were Gentiles who had a close association with Judaism, even to the point of being a part of a local congregation, but who were not themselves Jews or Proselytes. I do think the name for these people is illuminating: "Friends of God". The term is telling about how they saw themselves and how they were seen by their Jewish congregations. I think that's how we have to see ourselves and how we have to be seen by our LDS Wards to be truly welcome.

Just as an example, my current bishopric all know that I believe there's no God, but that I also believe in the goodness of the Church generally, and in the New Testament in particular. And, even with all that knowledge, they treat me just like anyone else. They are each friendly toward me, welcoming of me, and have never made me a project. Under this current bishopric, I have been asked to speak in SM and I have had a calling as a SS teacher (both on NT topics, which I love and respect). Apparently, there is room for this Atheist.
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“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
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"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
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DarkJedi
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Re: Room in the Church for Non-believers?

Post by DarkJedi » 22 Feb 2021, 15:04

On Own Now wrote:
22 Feb 2021, 10:36
Just as an example, my current bishopric all know that I believe there's no God, but that I also believe in the goodness of the Church generally, and in the New Testament in particular. And, even with all that knowledge, they treat me just like anyone else. They are each friendly toward me, welcoming of me, and have never made me a project. Under this current bishopric, I have been asked to speak in SM and I have had a calling as a SS teacher (both on NT topics, which I love and respect). Apparently, there is room for this Atheist.
I think there are leaders and wards like yours, and perhaps in these times they're more common that many think. I think I'm well tolerated (which may not be the right word) in my ward. I agree that it's not as much a "church" problem as a member problem, including those of us who are not all in. I think there are intolerant members and leaders though. On the other hand, I need to keep in mind that it's me that changed and not the church or its doctrine (policy is a different story, and I have embraced the policy changes and hope for more). I should also not expect the old school/old guard to change on account of me, but I hope they can see that there is room for those that don't think/believe in the same way they do.
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

Roy
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Re: Room in the Church for Non-believers?

Post by Roy » 23 Feb 2021, 10:07

DarkJedi wrote:
22 Feb 2021, 15:04
but I hope they can see that there is room for those that don't think/believe in the same way they do.
I think one difficulty is that we have a strong conviction in the correctness of our beliefs. I believe that there is room within our current doctrine for us to be wrong or at least limited in our understanding. There is much that we believe has not yet been revealed. What would be the purpose of further light and knowledge if we already had all that we needed to know?

I believe that there is some room for this humility in our doctrine but our culture highlights confidence as the better condition. How can there be respect for/room for multiple perspectives when only one is seen as right and true?
"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

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DarkJedi
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Re: Room in the Church for Non-believers?

Post by DarkJedi » 23 Feb 2021, 15:55

Roy wrote:
23 Feb 2021, 10:07
DarkJedi wrote:
22 Feb 2021, 15:04
but I hope they can see that there is room for those that don't think/believe in the same way they do.
I think one difficulty is that we have a strong conviction in the correctness of our beliefs. I believe that there is room within our current doctrine for us to be wrong or at least limited in our understanding. There is much that we believe has not yet been revealed. What would be the purpose of further light and knowledge if we already had all that we needed to know?

I believe that there is some room for this humility in our doctrine but our culture highlights confidence as the better condition. How can there be respect for/room for multiple perspectives when only one is seen as right and true?
I think one of the things that gives me some hope in this respect is the idea of the "ongoing" restoration or the restoration as a process as opposed to an event. While ensconced in the Articles of Faith I don't think church leaders (of the Q15 variety) talked much about the idea until recently. Granted many of the things are very subtle and may even go somewhat unnoticed by the masses. Some examples might be the change to any baptized member being able to be a baptism witness (as opposed to just certain priesthood holders) or that 11-year-olds can actually be ordained (instead of the hard and fast 12 years old). When we start to combine the (policy) changes there are surprisingly more than we might think. I do think church leaders have been careful in introducing change so as not to shock the Old Guard and at the same time I'm sure some have been thrown into a state of confusion over things they thought were concrete truths. I think people have embraced ministering to some extent, but I also know some who are still stuck in home teaching mode (and may not get out of that rut for a long time).
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

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