Tuesday, February 10, 2015

If You Want to Be a Force for Good at Church: First, Don't Blame Those Who Struggle

There was a discussion in a leadership meeting I attended once that centered on the question of why members left the Church and what we could do about it. I knew how it probably would go naturally, so I piped up right at the beginning and said that most of the people who have left with whom I have talked personally mention being bored and feeling unfed at church - and that the best thing we can do, in my opinion, is to make our services and classes and meetings at all levels and of all kinds more spiritual and more spiritually filling.

Of course, there was an initial, immediate reflection of that onto the people who don't come prepared to feel the Spirit (as if it's their own fault for not feeling fed and feeling bored), but the conversation eventually ended up focusing on the "standard" idea that everyone needs a friend, something to do and nourishment with the good word of God. I agreed and simply pointed out that it is up to the leadership of each ward and branch to set the example of nourishing with the good word of God and insist that the membership do that, as well, to the best of their ability.

This is one issue where I agree completely with the "standard Sunday School answer". Everyone needs a friend (someone with whom s/he can talk honestly and openly without being judged or condemned), something to do (to not feel like a nobody and to serve others) and spiritual nourishment. One is social; the next is active personal; the last is spiritual.

If all three of these things were provided to every member, there still would be issues - but they would be much fewer, far between and less serious. So, my advice to everyone:

If you want to be a force for good at church, be a real friend to someone at church, find something to do at church that is important and meaningful to you (whether that is an official calling or not) and provide nourishment of the good word of God to those who need it (including yourself, if you aren't getting it directly at church as much and as often as you'd like).

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