Monday, March 26, 2012

In the Church, Invitations Usually Are More Appropriate than Challenges

For what it's worth, I really don't like the culture of "challenging" that is rampant in the Church. I just don't like the attitude it presents. For example, it's NOT "Moroni's challenge". That word isn't there. It's "exhort" and "invite" - not "challenge".

So, I personally don't "challenge" people very often.  Rather, I extend an invitation - since that removes all of the "machismo" associated with a "challenge" - and since invitations can get turned down all the time when they simply aren't appropriate without any need to "save face" in some way. Appropriate invitations, on the other hand, are seen as a wonderful gesture - even in those times when they still can't be accepted due to reasonable conflicts.


ji said...


I think that EVERYTHING in the pastoral church has to be done on an invitation basis. There can be no commandments or dictates. We are all brothers and sisters, not managers and employees. We err when we let modern notions of management enter into our church relationships. A bishop or stake president is the servant of those he leads.

I say pastoral church above to differentiate between the ecclesiastical church and the church-owned corporations. Church employees have to follow the orders of their managers.

Paul said...

"rampant in the church"?

In our area, we talk a lot more about invitations these days -- everyone from the mission president to our bishop to the missionaries tend to speak (to us members anyway) about invitations.

I think you're right, by the way -- gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned: those are the qualities that should guide us.

Bonnie said...

Ray, I really appreciated reading this short reminder to be sensitive to others. I tend to respond to a challenge very well (not by competing with others but by stretching myself) but I also could probably have been relatively well motivated by being a Marine. When I have struggled, I'd much rather someone grasp my shoulder firmly and tell me to buck up than have them wrap an arm compassionately around me, releasing a flood of feelings that I don't really want to address in that setting. When I gave birth I needed someone to say, "Hey! You aren't breathing! Give that child some air!" When I have served as an organization leader, which I've done 7 times, I appreciated having a bishop clearly challenge our auxiliary to accomplish defined goals. So, I will try to invite more often, but I'll also speak up for the enlisted souls in the church who love the honor of a challenge.

Papa D said...

ji, that's a good point. There is a distinct combination pastoral and ecclesiastical authority in the Church, and I think that combination creates a need for both invitation and challenge. I see the pastoral need as more common than the ecclesiastical need, especially among members who are not Bishops and Stake Presidents; hence, the primacy of invitation, imo - at least as far as rate of occurence.

Paul, I used "rampant" based on my personal experience - but I do beleive that invitation is gaining traction over the last few years. I hear it much more frequently from the very top now, and I really appreciate that.

Bonnie, absolutely, some people respond much better to challenges. Thanks for pointing that out. We really do have to treat each person in the way that is best for that person.

Howard said...

We were having dinner Saturday evening with an attractive middle-aged Christian couple who were explaining how they met. She married briefly after college, it didn't end well and she was shy about dating again. So many years passed until her Pastor was giving a sermon about Peter getting out of the boat to join Jesus on the water and he made point of emphasizing "What is you challenge and will you live up to it?". She realized her challenge was to "put herself out there" by dating so she did and they have been very happily married for almost 7 years now. The outcome would not have been the same if the pastor had softened the challenge by substituting the word invited.

We don't want to be pushed. We don't want to be challenged. We want to change at our own pace which is typically glacier or not at all. Sometimes, often we need a push.

Matthew said...

"I say pastoral church above to differentiate between the ecclesiastical church and the church-owned corporations."

What an interesting disctinction, ji. I like it.

ji said...


I think we also need to distinguish more between the general church and the local churches. The general church owns the properties and produces the curriculum materials and operates the temples. The local churches are our stakes and wards.

A general authority comes around and calls a stake presidency, and then he leaves. That stake president is one of us, a man with a job and a family who lives in our community. He is not an employee of the general church, or an agent or officer of the general church. He is one of us, and he holds the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood and is the Lord's high priest in this area. Similarly, a bishop is not an agent or extension of the general church -- he is one of us, and holds the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood and is the Lord's priest in this area.

I wish I could flesh out these ideas a little more.