Friday, June 17, 2011

Why Church Activity Sometimes Is a Facade - and the Solution

The following was my initial response to a post on Mormon Matters a couple of years ago entitled, The Facade of Activity, written by Jeff Spector:

It is interesting to me that "the Church" keeps saying, over and over and over, that it can only be a supplement to what happens at the individual level and in the individual home. I think a lot of members just don't get that idea - that they equate "the Church" to the entity that is responsible for their spirituality and righteousness.

Thus, the "facade" (imo) is the gap between what they want "the Church" to be and what it actually is.

I don't think that will change EVER for ANYONE until leaders at the local level and individual members focus on preaching Jesus and His life more than Christ crucified and programs implemented. Christ crucified (and resurrected, of course) saves us, but Jesus of Nazareth showed and taught us how to live and become. That's what truly converts, imo (repenting [changing] and becoming more like Jesus) - and truly converted people use activity in church (and all kinds, really) to bless and love and serve others, not for themselves.

I get tired of people trying to come up with "how to reach people". If it were a matter of creating some program, it would have been created by now. Programs and activities are important for what they do (bring people together for a chance at mutual edification), but that's about all they can do - they can't provide the actual edification.

For example, one of my former Stake Presidents talked once to the Bishops about serving in the community simply to bless and help others - NOT as a "missionary tool". He talked about not seeing people (inside and outside the Church) as potential converts or projects, but instead simply as brothers and sisters in need. He talked about not accepting others for who we want them to be (conditionally), but simply loving them for who they are (unconditionally) - hoping they will grow with us to be "new creatures in Christ" but loving them completely even if we never see any change.

To me, that is the heart of the difference between activity as a "facade" and activity as a sign of conversion.


Christy said...

Here, here (or is it hear, hear)! This explains why I have an aversion to missionary work...I cannot get over the feeling of trying to sell something, even though I love the gospel, know it is true for everyone, and see it as the greatest thing in my life. If I can change my thinking to that of that stake president, maybe things will change for me. Having said that, after teaching seminary for four years to a bunch of kids who are a bit rough around the edges, I have learned that the most important thing for me to do is love them. Oh, and probably next to that in importance is my own personal worthiness.

Funny, isn't that what you just wrote about?

Love your posts.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I do, however, think that it isn't so black and white.
I have children. You can't expect teens to come to church and have it be all about how they can serve others. It is just unrealistic. They really do need to have "programs" to help them learn and mature in the gospel and in life. By programs I mean positive experiences that involve the gospel but also involve other things like good fun, social interaction, life skills learning, intellectual learning, personal development, opportunities for success, etc.

Papa D said...

Thanks, Christy. That is a central issue I have seen over the years.

Anonymous, I agree totally wth regard to children - and I certainly don't see very much in black and white. By "program", I meant more "extra stuff outside the regular stuff". The "regular stuff" we have in place is fine, imo - IF it actually is implemented as intended with the right outlook. I don't think we need "new programs"; I think we need the right attitudes in the current programs. If that leads to "enhanced programs" . . . great!

Nora Ray said...

I think programs are important for the children and youth but also for new members. Staying LDS requires a lot of support in the beginning. Programs can provide a structure for that support.

Papa D said...

Nora Ray, I agree that programs are important for what they do. I don't want to do away with programs; I just don't want to spend time trying to figure out new programs.