Training for Leaders on Faith Crisis

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Training for Leaders on Faith Crisis

Post by DBMormon » 10 Jan 2013, 14:15

I am putting together some training for the stake leaders. your thoughts. This is to be a resource for dealing with Faith Crisis w/o opening the issues to them that perhaps they are not prepared to handle.

What am I missing??????

A.) Acknowledge incorrect Doctrine

You have to acknowledge that church leaders at times in sharing their opinions taught incorrect principles or doctrine. For example Elder McConkie teaching that Evolution was a heresy while the First Presidenctcy both before and after said the church has no doctrine regarding evolution and members are free to believe either way.

At best the examples below are viable opinions and at worst these are false doctrine

1 – Great and abominable church is the Catholic Church
2- Evolution is a heresy
3 – Earth is only 6000 years old
4- Dinosaurs came from other worlds
5 - Joseph Smith was close to perfect.
6 - Earth is only 6000 years old
7 - Bigfoot is cain
8 - Jesus born on April 6th
9 - God is polygamous
10 - Jesus had multiple wives
11 – It is possible to become perfect in this life
12 - Follow the prophet at all costs, even if it goes against your conscience.
13 - certain specific forms of intimacy between a husband and wife is sin meanwhile others leaders said the intimacy was off limits.
14 - Coffee is excluded because of tanic acid or some other reason
15 - Jesus didn't really drink real wine it was grapejuice only.
16- God doesn't want us to have facial hair in our current times.
17- Thomash Marsh left the church of cream and strippings (primary reason)-
18 - black people were cursed

B.) They need to understand how faith develops and as they understand that they see that struggling in their faith is normal and they are not alone.

1.) This can be done by understanding James Fowler’s “Stages of Faith” or other cognitive theories on belief such as “Perry’s Scheme of Cognitive and Ethical Development” Fowler’s can be taught very simply

C.) They have to confront their false expectations and assumptions. For example many LDS see the prophet as infalliable but that couldn't be further from the truth or doctrine of the church. There are multiple.

Examples of incorrect assumptions

- Prophets and Apostles are infalliable or always speak for the church when teaching.

- Mistakes by Church leaders have not occurred throughout all dispensations.

- Faith Crisis is found primarily among those of the LDS Faith.

- The “BOM” as the “most correct book” implies there is no room for spelling, grammar, or linguistic errors.

- That all rules and laws in the gospel are black and white (Lying)

- Just because someone with more experience in the church teaches something , doesn’t make it accurate

- The Prophet and Apostles must speak to Christ on a regular basis

- Everything the church teaches is all the available truth on the Church’s History or lives of it’s leaders

- Doctrine is a giant tent that includes policies, cultural standards, appendages such as the WOW

- We should follow the prophet blindly no matter what.

- It is possible for all of us to know with 100% certainity that the church is true. The evidence should be dramatically in the church’s favor. That perfect Knowledge is attainable by all.

- A group of Facts can only be interpreted to guide you to a single conclusion.

D.) They have to have resources for their questions to be answered.




- ... eel-story/

- ... eel-story/

- ... mormonism/

- ... aith-pt-1/

- ... aith-pt-2/

- ... aith-pt-3/

- ... aith-pt-4/

E.) they have to see faith as a choice. They have to come to grips with the fact that this journey is about acting in faith and that there is evidence on both sides to leave one to choose Faith or to choose doubt... we are to act and not be acted upon. The Lord is sifting wheat from tares. And it is not a comfortable feeling to be in the middle of the sifting.

Elder Holland –when asked “What about people who question the history of the Book of Mormon?”

There are plenty of people who question the historicity of the Book of Mormon, and they are firmly in this church -- firmly, in their mind, in this church -- and the church isn't going to take action against that. [The church] probably will be genuinely disappointed, but there isn't going to be action against that, not until it starts to be advocacy: "Not only do I disbelieve in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, I want you to disbelieve." At that point, we're going to have a conversation. A little of that is more tolerated than I think a lot of people think it should be. But I think we want to be tolerant any way we can. ... "Patient" maybe is a better word than "tolerant." We want to be patient and charitable to the extent that we can, but there is a degree beyond which we can't go.

Marlin Jensen - We need to do the same for those people who are feeling disaffected – for whatever reason… doctrinally, or socially. I mean, if we really are truly Christian, it has to start there. Being less judgmental. Being more open and welcoming and inclusive. Someone asked Robert Frost once, 'What's the ugliest word in the English language?' And he said, 'Exclusive.' I think it is, too, in a way. So, if that environment can be created, and it should be, but often in the church, when someone comes with a bit of a prickly question, he'll be met with a bishop who number one, doesn't know the answer. Number two, he snaps and says, 'Get in line and don't question the prophet, and get back and do your home teaching.' And that isn't helpful in most cases. So, we need to educate our leaders better, I think, to be sympathetic and empathetic and to draw out of these people where they are coming from and what's brought them to the point they are at. What they have read, what they are thinking is, and try to understand them. Sometimes that alone is enough to help someone through a hard time. But beyond that, I think we really need to figure out a way to live a little bit with people who may never get completely settled."


Lastly this is a tough subject because you can't have this discussion with someone who is unaware of the issues, as it opens a can of worms for them and can cause them to struggle with their faith dealing with a plethora of new issues they had never even considered. On the other hand those struggling, need someone to go to. and there needs to be some amount of awareness.
It is a fine line of saying too much or saying too little and either way to far can be more hurtful then helpful

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Re: Training for Leaders on Faith Crisis

Post by Minyan Man » 10 Jan 2013, 14:30

DB, be very very careful. There are going to be some in your audience that will think you've gone over to the "dark side".

I would try to put it on a personal level. For example, in your position you have interviewed people (or members) who have become
inactive. In the course of your talks, here is a list of the reasons. For some of us, our inactivity had nothing to do with doctrine, teachings of the Church, or hurt feelings. In my case, it had to do with what I considered my relationship with God. I didn't think God
could or would answer my prayers in a time of personal crisis.

Just a thought.

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Re: Training for Leaders on Faith Crisis

Post by mom3 » 10 Jan 2013, 15:16

DB - I love this. I know you've been chatting with Sundance and others. We are very hopeful for you. Ray has a post just yesterday that talks about how the guys at the top are doing. (Reference Q12 thread). Anyway the conclusion we all come to is that okay - the top brass seem to keep alluding to their understanding but somehow the water isn't making it down the rows.

I wish you tons of success. If after reading Mike's point (and it is a good one to consider) perhaps you should start the training by passing out copies of Terryl Givens letter to unbelievers and the other one. Some other Bishop/Stake Leader gave a similar talk in California about it. Not that these are perfect answers but it may validate your points and keep them from shutting down your thoughts.

Good Luck - Keep us updated. Oh and wear a blue shirt ;)
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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Re: Training for Leaders on Faith Crisis

Post by eman » 10 Jan 2013, 15:51

mom3 wrote:. Oh and wear a blue shirt ;)
And PANTS! Don't forget the pants! :)

And +1 for keeping us updated. I'd love to hear how it goes. I've been thinking a lot about this. I know my bishop has NO idea how to deal with someone who loses their faith. I've been in several ward councils where such folk have been discussed (including one who just stopped going a few months ago) and he simply couldn't understand them.
“I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammelled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” (Joseph Smith, Discourse to Saints, April 1843; DHC 5:340)

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Re: Training for Leaders on Faith Crisis

Post by GBSmith » 10 Jan 2013, 18:19

Sounds like a good way to get released. I can't think if mine field or can of worms is a better metaphor but it's your funeral.

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Re: Training for Leaders on Faith Crisis

Post by DBMormon » 10 Jan 2013, 20:09

About ten people have made me aware that they have heard my interviews (mormonstories and FAIR) and all have been positive.
Of yet all fear that this will be frowned upon is unmerited. I understand your fear and I will curb it slightly to reduce the risk but I plan to tell them how Faith Crisis feels and what works and what doesn't.... and no, my experience won't fit everyones.
Anyway, I really really appreciate your comments.... I will let you know
Last edited by DBMormon on 11 Jan 2013, 09:57, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Training for Leaders on Faith Crisis

Post by rebeccad » 11 Jan 2013, 05:54

I would just emphasize that a faith crisis is often the result of things the church encourages: Wanting to develop your testimony, reading, pondering, etc.

It is not the result of unworthiness, being offended, etc.

My bishop's reaction when I approached him with my struggles was to question my worthiness.

Needless to say, I haven't talked to him again.

Also, point out that while their support can be helpful, it is something that the individual needs to be able to work out on their own. Someone to walk with on their journey is nice, someone pulling them to a predetermined destination is not.
"The very same people who are good sometimes are the very same people who are bad sometimes, it's funny but it's true" -Fred Rogers

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Re: Training for Leaders on Faith Crisis

Post by Brian Johnston » 11 Jan 2013, 07:53

There are many examples of of prophets and apostles being imperfect in the scriptures, even making very big "mistakes." Yet somehow we expect our leaders today to be cut from a cloth with no flaws.

-Noah had a serious drinking problem at one point in his prophetic life ;-) First thing he did when the ark landed was plant a vineyard, got drunk and started laying around like some hippie nudist, lol.

-Moses wasn't allowed to enter the promised land because of his sassy attitude of disobedience, and taking credit for the miracles. He was one of the greatest prophets.

-Nephi laments his weaknesses and sinful nature, but has hope in the Lord.
-Joseph Smith's many many quotes on being no better than anyone else, having many flaws.
-Peter denied Christ and was also a hot head with a sword, but was still the rock upon which The Lord was to build his church.
-The many instances of the apostles not understanding Jesus in The Gospels.
-Abraham: his story of the almost-sacrifice of Isaac could also be looked at as following his local false traditions of human sacrifice.

These were all great prophets! They continued on to be prophets even though they were wrong at times.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Re: Training for Leaders on Faith Crisis

Post by Roadrunner » 11 Jan 2013, 08:53

This is a great topic for stake and ward leader training. I'm glad you're addressing it with them in an orderly and thoughtful way.

I assume that this training will take place in the monthly bishop training that takes place with bishoprics, high council, and the stake presidency. In our stake, each trainer typically gets about 30 minutes and I assume that your time slot is similar. My own thoughts are:

* Don't get caught up in questions about doctrine. Just show a few examples, but if leaders get defensive about polygamy, evolution, whatever, it won't be productive.
* Point out that it takes a great deal of soul-searching and courage to question your faith. Most of us aren't in a faith crisis because we're lazy - it's because we're thinking and proactively searching for truth, whether in or out of the church. Mostly we just want truth.
* This might be having a profound impact on our marriages and families. We're often looking for support, feeling ostracized is exactly what we don't need.
* It does not necessarily mean we're changing our values.

The bishop is one of my best friends, and yet I only speak about my faith crisis in the broadest of terms with him because I'm 100% confident that if I were to be completely straightforward that I would be almost instantly released and given a calling in the library. Frankly, I can't imagine this training happening in my stake without the presenter being labeled as borderline apostate himself.

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Re: Training for Leaders on Faith Crisis

Post by Orson » 11 Jan 2013, 09:11

If it were me I would introduce the idea with a segment from Davis Bitton's article: ... the-church
What’s potentially damaging or challenging to faith depends entirely, I think, on one’s expectations, and not necessarily history [or doctrine]. Any kind of experience can be shattering to faith if the expectation is such that one is not prepared for the experience. … A person can be converted to the Church in a distant part of the globe and have great pictures of Salt Lake City, the temple looming large in the center of the city. Here we have our home teaching in nice little blocks and we all go to church on Sunday, they believe. It won’t take very many hours or days before the reality of experiencing Salt Lake City can be devastating to a person with those expectations. The problem is not the religion; the problem is the incongruity between the expectation and the reality.

History is similar. One moves into the land of history, so to speak, and finds shattering incongruities which can be devastating to faith. But the problem is with the expectation, not with the history. One of the jobs of the historians and of educators in the Church, who teach people growing up in the Church and people coming into the Church, is to try to see to it that expectations are realistic. The Lord does not expect us to believe lies. We believe in being honest and true, as well as chaste and benevolent. My experience, like that of Leonard, has not been one of having my faith destroyed. I think my faith has changed and deepened and become richer and more consistent with the complexities of human experience.
and expound on how some members hold expectations of the church that are incompatible with historical truths.

As brother Bitton said: the problem is not with the history or doctrine, the problem is the expectations. ...I think your topics would launch well from there.

I think leaders could be the most help, when dealing with someone experiencing a faith crisis, if they can remember that this member has just experienced a deep loss. Think of it along the lines of losing a loved one - only they have lost a part of themselves. It is a real loss, many people experience physical symptoms or illness as a part of it. The day I realized that my worldview and faith as I had known it had just crumbled, I became physically ill. It was not a convenient time for me to leave work but I was unable to continue my day, I had to go lie down.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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