Why go to Church?

August 6, 2007    By: Matt W. @ 8:11 am   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

Yesterday, I bore my testimony at Church about Geoff, of all people. (The worst is, I couldn’t even keep the facts straight…) Anyway, I was also thinking of a question Geoff asked. This is my attempt to answer.

I love to go to church. I mean I really enjoy it. Yesterday, for example, I got to substitute teach CTR-5, and I enjoyed church so much I was horse from screaming in the classroom and every member of the bishopric, several concerned parents, and the 2nd Councilor of the Primary presidency all peeked in to make sure no one was seriously injured. (You’d think no one else ever let five age five boys reenact Helamen’s stripling warriors vs. The chairs in the room. What can I say? Lessons were learned, chairs were slain, children screamed.) But I digress.

The Point is, I love going to church, and I want everyone else to love going to church too. I am all about getting the rears in the pews, as it were. But why? Why should we all go to church?

Some common reasons I hear are to take the Sacrament, to hear the words of the prophets, and to commune with Christ. I think these are incomplete. First, I have the priesthood, I can take the sacrament in my own home. Second, It is currently 2007. The book has been in existence for millennia now, and add to that television, radio, mp3, the internet, etc, and I have plenty of means of hearing the words of the prophets. Finally, the words of the prophets have taught me to create a sacred space in my own home, to pray in my closet, as it were, and that I can commune with the Almighty anywhere and at anytime. So these reasons, while all good, I think are insufficient.

I think the purpose of Church is to create the proper order so that we can establish and practice the correct type of interdependent society to come unto exaltation. Call it “building up Zion” if you like. I believe the Gospel teaches that we are all in this together, and that we are all weak alone, and much stronger together. It is only when we come together that Christ is with us. Finally, I believe that it is through the order and organization of the church and our communing with one another that we will “all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

63 Comments »

  1. I think the Sacrament is the most important. Your point about taking the sacrament in your home is misleading. Only the Bishop has the keys to that. While he may (due to illness for example) authorize you to administer the sacrament or (more likely) send someone over the administer it, those are all parts of his jurisdiction. You can’t just do it on your own. Those are all special cases too.

    The main reason is to come together and to try and become more spiritual. One can debate how good Church is at this. But ideally we’re following Moroni’s injunction to speak one with an other concerning the welfare of our souls. How the Church does this varies. Much that we do in Sunday services today once were done in separate meetings during the week. And arguably, in many ways Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching are the most important aspects of these – and yet also arguably those are the things we do the worst at.

    I’d say, given our current meeting structure, what is most important is Primary and YM/YW.

    Comment by Clark — August 6, 2007 @ 8:40 am

  2. Clark, is that “Bishop has keys to the sacrament” doctrine or policy?

    Comment by Seth R. — August 6, 2007 @ 8:44 am

  3. Clark, I am confused that your “most important” and “main reason” are not the same. And if Sacrament is most important, and primary and YM/YW is most important…?

    Anyway, on the sacrament and bishops thing, I had considered that, but the Bishop/his superiors could issue a “do it at home” decree, and that’s what I was getting at. In any case I estimate that about 40% of active LDS families have a woman as the head of the household, but getting back to the point, I think a key component of the sacrament is the togetherness. Your other points don’t argue against this in my mind, but for it.

    In part, this is perhaps also a response to a common negative statement I have heard, that people only come to church for the social aspect. While this is a legitimate concern, to be certain, sometimes I feel like we are like the apostles asking Christ which of us will be the greatest in heaven.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 6, 2007 @ 9:01 am

  4. Matt,

    I thought the point of the post was that we go to church for the social aspect of it, but in #3 you seem to be saying your post is a response to that sentiment. Can you clarify?

    Comment by Jacob J — August 6, 2007 @ 9:25 am

  5. I once substituted in Primary (I think the kids were somewhere around 9 or 10 years old), and we reenacted the story when Christ is out in the sea with his disciples, and the storm rages, and they wake him and he calms the sea. There was only a little screaming in our reenactment, but lots of loud, melodramatic fear and protestations of impending death. Then one of the primary presidency people came and told me it was inappropriate and we needed to be quiet. I was most disappointed. After all, I doubt people about to be tossed off a ship into the storm-tossed sea tend to be quiet about it.

    Comment by Tanya Spackman — August 6, 2007 @ 9:26 am

  6. Jacob: It is a response to the negative sentiment that going to church for a social reason is bad. I was attempting to say “Yes we go to church for social reasons, and that is a very good thing.”

    Tanya: I did get a bit of a dirty look, but no one told me I was being too inapproptiate, just too rowdy. Perhaps I was, maybe I shouldn’t have used my hand as a puppet to be the moms of the stippling warriors. I think seeing my poor ventriloquist efforts of throwing a woman’s voice, saying “attack!” may have been more than the average five year old can reverantly withstand…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 6, 2007 @ 9:38 am

  7. I also know that Geoff is true. True to what, however, is a different question. :)

    I think I go to church partly as an opportunity to serve others in ways I would not otherwise be able to. I also go to support the service opportunities of others.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 6, 2007 @ 9:38 am

  8. Eric: I can only say my “Geoffimony” was brought forth due to the circumstances and events of the meeting.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 6, 2007 @ 9:51 am

  9. Eric,

    What do you think I am true to?

    Matt,

    I think your point is a good one. Zion is a social endeavor and God has commanded us to build up Zion. People choose to go to Universities rather than study alone for a reason — good habits, like bad ones, rub off on others. So at church we surround ourselves with people who have high standards and hope such elbow rubbing rubs off and we all can lift each other closer to God.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 6, 2007 @ 9:55 am

  10. Matt (#6),

    Oh, good. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 6, 2007 @ 10:09 am

  11. I actually enjoy Eugene England’s “Why the Church is as True as the Gospel” or something like that article on this subject. Like Matt and Jacob said it is really social. Part of being Christian is being a member of a community. I go to church and am around people I might not be otherwise and this helps me to overcome my selfishness and become more charitable to all. Church truly is a place for sociality and service.

    Comment by Joshua Madson — August 6, 2007 @ 11:32 am

  12. Just trying to be funny Geoff (see the smiley face).

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 6, 2007 @ 11:40 am

  13. I go to church to observe people and get ideas about what I’m going to write about on my blog. :-)

    Actually I go to church to partake of the sacrament and to practice Christianity.

    Comment by Apollo — August 6, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  14. I don’t know why we go to Church. I’m not a big fan of it. I go mainly to partake of the Sacrament. If I could duck out after that, I would, but my wife and I have callings, so we do them. To be honest, I haven’t gotten much out of church since my wife and I moved to the family ward. It’s not for a lack of trying.

    I feel I’m in good company, though. Joseph Smith wasn’t big on meeting weekly for church. He was more interested in building temples. Spencer W. Kimball didn’t go to Church that often either. He took the sacrament during the meeting with the quorum of the 12 and stayed home on Sunday and read the scriptures, meditated, spent time with family, ect. That would be a sweet arrangment.

    Comment by Brett — August 6, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

  15. Brett,

    It seems like you are taking a fairly self-centered approach to church attendence. The only standard I see in your comment is whether you personally get much out of it. What about the points made in the post about building a Zion society together?

    There are other benefits I see as well, especially for my children. Teaching them the basics of the gospel in Primary, passing on the culture and tradition of the Primary songs and hymns, impressing on them the importance I place on the gospel by devoting time each week for family worship (doesn’t really work if I just devote the time to my own study and edification), giving them a place to make friends in the church, consistently reinforcing messages I teach at home through other adults who teach the same things, providing activities as they get older to keep them grounded and give them a support structure. All of this stuff seems invaluable to me and none of it requires that I personally enjoy church.

    Also, even when I say that I haven’t gotten anything out of church for a long time, I suspect that if I had stopped going to church I would have found out that I got more out of it than I supposed. Don’t you think?

    Comment by Jacob J — August 6, 2007 @ 5:25 pm

  16. I can see how my comment is viewed as self centered. I’m all for serving and building up the kingdom, but doesn’t the servant need to be nourished as well? I feel I haven’t got that from Church in a l o n g time. I’ve been too busy making copies in the library and keeping a bunch 9 year olds in line in primary. Honestly, I haven’t gotten much from that.

    I can see going to church would be good if you have kids, but what about newly marrieds? What place do we have in a family ward? I feel I still have much more in common with people in the student branch than I do with people in my own ward.

    Comment by Brett — August 6, 2007 @ 6:14 pm

  17. Brett:

    I can honestly say I know how you feel. When I first was in a family ward, and I was in primary, it was a bit of a buzzkill. It was a lot of work, I hated kids, and it didn’t seem like what I was doing mattered at all. That was 5 years ago when I got maried. Since then, my life as changed (I have 2 kids and I don’t teach primary anymore) but one thing I think has also changed is now I get to like at those kids who were just 5 then and now they are 10 or 11 and they have grown up and having built that relationship with them, they bring me more spiritual fulfillment than any elders quorum meeting ever would have. I know that seems sucky right now, but you are just gonna have to trust me.

    Do you get to co-teach with you wife? As a newly wed I had a hard time just not being with my wife at church. Now our communication is a lot better, so we can be apart more, but when I was first married, it was really hard.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 6, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

  18. Brett,

    Yea, I agree that everyone needs to be nourished. I end up taking responsibility for my own spiritual nourishment for the most part, simply because I don’t get it from most of the lessons in GD or EQ. (I did get a lot out of being primary chorister, but sadly they let me go from that job.) Hymns are pretty good, I wish we sang more.

    Having kids has made church for me worse rather than better. I got a lot more out of sacrament meeting when I wasn’t constantly disciplining children and trying to keep kids quiet during the sacrament. I think it is important for my kids, but they haven’t made it any better with respect to my own worship.

    I sympathize with you as someone who doesn’t get much out of church, but I’ve never though dislike of something was a good argument against doing it.

    If you are venting, or just looking to commiserate, then I am probably responding to your comments in the wrong way. Given that the topic was “why go to church?” I initially thought you were making an argument for why we should have less church. I don’t see an argument for less church in your complaints. That said, I feel your pain.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 6, 2007 @ 9:50 pm

  19. If you are looking for an argument for less church, then perhaps all the apathy towards building up the kingdom would be a candidate?

    When most local leaders are more concerned with maintaining the status quo and keeping up on local tradition, it’s hard to get excited about being with one’s fellow-saints.

    Comment by JM — August 7, 2007 @ 5:04 am

  20. JM, That’s an interesting comment. All I can say is that in the Church it is really easy to “get in the ring” if you don’t like the course things are going on or the pace they are taking.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 7, 2007 @ 7:46 am

  21. Reading over the comments made me think of something. We have a bunch that plays basketball every week. Generally speaking, it is a lot of fun when we have about 13 or 14 show up. But when we fall short and only get 8 or less, it’s a bummer … for all of us.

    In other words, my “fun” depends on others showing up. Others’ “fun” depends on me showing up too.

    I think Sunday church meetings and participating in the ward is similiar. For it to be fun for others and for me, we all need to show up and participate. We all need each other.

    In the famous words of Rodney King, “Can we all just get along?”

    Comment by Apollo — August 7, 2007 @ 9:16 am

  22. I’ve said it before: 1) Social/emotional conversion, 2)rational/practical conversion, and 3) spiritual conversion.

    How great, how glorious, how complete,
    Redemption’s grand design,
    Where justice, love, and mercy meet
    In harmony divine!

    We need all three, and thankfully, we find all three within the confines of the Restoration. How blessed we are. It is a good exercise to enumerate the benefits and blessing of each conversion.

    Do what we’re supposed to do in the spirit we are supposed to have. Nibley said something along the lines of: if we do what we’re supposed to do, even if we don’t understand it, we will be very thankful we did when we do understand and wonder how we could have missed understanding it before. (I know, I completely ruined the quote. Some of you Nibleyophiles can come up with it pretty quick, but I am away from my Nibley quote book. Sorry)

    Comment by Mondo Cool — August 7, 2007 @ 10:34 am

  23. Matt,

    From my perspective, I feel like I’m standing in a different tent…

    Comment by JM — August 7, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

  24. You may be JM. I am no clairvoyant. I just know that while I have felt I couldn’t approach a leader on matters of doctrine (because I believed my leaders simply did not have better answers than I did) I hae never felt like I could not approach them wit a suggestion or a comment on policy which they have control over.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 7, 2007 @ 12:28 pm

  25. Rings vs tents?

    These mixed metaphors are confusing me to no end…

    Comment by Geoff J — August 7, 2007 @ 12:51 pm

  26. I want to be in your Primary class the next time you substitute!

    Comment by RCH — August 7, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

  27. Geoff J. (#25):
    Not necessarily a mixed metaphor if you think of CIRCUS.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — August 8, 2007 @ 6:47 am

  28. I’ve only skimmed the comments, but great post, I totally agree.

    One thing that I think helped my wife in I as newly-marrieds in a family ward was baby-sitting others’ kids. In fact, my wife volunteered us (and some other kidless members of the ward) to baby-sit on Valentine’s Day for some haggered-looking couples. Besides the usual blessings of service, I think this gives us the right, now that we have two young kids, to self-righteously point fingers at complaining couples without kids and say, “man, they have NO idea how easy they have it!”

    Comment by Robert C. — August 8, 2007 @ 7:33 am

  29. Matt,

    By the way, I am not entirely sure how this post answers the question of Geoff’s comment that you linked to in your introduction. Geoff was asking what the goal of retention is, and this seems to be different than the question fo why I should go to church.

    Do you have any thoughts on the goals of retention, or can you tell me how the post answers the question?

    Comment by Jacob J — August 8, 2007 @ 10:11 am

  30. Jacob: what is retention to you? To me, retention is going to church. The answer to the question “why should everyone go to church?” is the question of “why retention?”

    Comment by Matt W. — August 8, 2007 @ 10:27 am

  31. Matt,

    Jacob is right. My question might have been rephrased: Imagine that we succeed in retention efforts and basically 100% of all members on the roles of the church were “active” and showed up at church most every Sunday. Then what would happen? Is retention an end or a means to you and if it is a means, a means to what exactly?

    (I have some ideas but I wanted to see what you thought)

    Comment by Geoff J — August 8, 2007 @ 10:36 am

  32. To me Retention is a means and an end.

    Retention is everyone coming to church and participating.

    Everyone coming to church is the means of how we all build Zion and perfect one another. Like I quoted from Ephesians, it’s all so we all “come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

    Everyone coming to church is the ends of doing all we can to make sure everyone comes to church.

    I’d love to hear your ideas as well.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 8, 2007 @ 10:58 am

  33. I am surprised no one has called me on leaving “to worship God.” off of my list of reasons to go to Church.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 8, 2007 @ 11:16 am

  34. Matt,

    I didn’t call you on it, but I mentioned worship twice myself so your bases are covered. :)

    Comment by Jacob J — August 8, 2007 @ 11:34 am

  35. Matt: Everyone coming to church is the means of how we all build Zion and perfect one another.

    My question in that thread had to do with specifics though. Why would you personally be more likely to become perfect if 100% of your ward was active than if 50% of your ward was active? One could argue that without all that activation work to do you would have less opportunity to become more Christ-like after all…

    (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for 100% activity rates in the church. I just want to explore the underlying assumptions that higher activity rates make it easier to perfect already active saints…)

    Comment by Geoff J — August 8, 2007 @ 12:17 pm

  36. Why do we have to “Make sure everyone comes to church?”

    Why not focus efforts on:

    1) Making church a place where people want to come
    2) Inviting people to come to church

    And then leave the rest up to the individual?

    I’ve been a member all my life. I understand why I should go to church. I’ve been in wards that make me feel like I want to be there. I’ve been in some that haven’t.

    I’ve also attended church services of Baptists, Jehova Witnesses, and Catholics and have felt equally comfortable and welcome as some of the best wards I’ve attended. It’s just that I can’t renew my covenants there and the doctrine isn’t as correct.

    But when the “true church” lets me down, makes me feel unwelcome, and has very poor teaching in sunday school and priesthood, it really doesn’t help. Rather than focus on why Brother JM isn’t attending, perhaps we need leadership that stops treating the symptoms and starts focusing on the root problem.

    Oh, that’s right…. that would take patience and more time and effort than could be expended between quarterly reporting periods. Seems our leaders are always looking for the quick fix rather than digging in for the long haul.

    Comment by JM — August 8, 2007 @ 2:11 pm

  37. JM,

    Which root problem would you focus on if you were leading things? I am asking sincerely. “Bad lessons” comes up a lot but I am of the opinion that this problem cannot be fixed while maintaining a lay ministry (which would be a big thing to change). Do you have ideas for what a church leader could do which would lead to better lessons. Lesson manuals could be better, but it is hard to create lesson manuals that fit all situations and experience levels. What would you focus on other than lessons?

    Comment by Jacob J — August 8, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  38. I think auditing lessons would help Jacob: A problem I have seen is that Sunday School President is a calling given out willy nilly, and the Bishopric never gets to go to lessons, so they don’t know what’s going on in lessons. Most Sunday School Presidents don’t do their jobs.

    I’ve been thinking about Geoff’s new question all afternoon now, and I guess I don’t believe 100% activity rates are possible, and I think striving to have 100% activity rates is the only faithful option. Perhaps we should clarify that retention is not reactivation? If reactivation is needed, retention didn’t work.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 8, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

  39. Matt,

    Ward Sunday School presidents generally have no real power whatsoever. The Bishop holds all the cards when it comes to calling teachers and the best a SS president could do would be to try to help teachers not suck at teaching or recommend they be replaced. The former is not an easy task and the latter is often seen as either being a hassle to the bishop or sometimes as questioning the inspiration of the calling to begin with. So I don’t think it is safe to pin bad teaching on SS presidents at all the way things are set up these days.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 8, 2007 @ 6:13 pm

  40. Matt,

    I don’t really know what use separating retention from reactivation would be to this conversation. If we are still talking about my original question that clarification is really moot.

    I was really thinking about what achieving 100% activity rates would means when it comes to the general goal perfecting the saints and the specific goal of perfecting already active saints. Anything at all?

    Comment by Geoff J — August 8, 2007 @ 6:16 pm

  41. Jacob,

    I think it goes way deeper than that. Manuals don’t make a lesson, people do. All lesson manuals should be are a springboard for discussion.

    Let me share something that illustrates what I see as being one of the root problems.

    I was at a stake priesthood leadership meeting. In this meeting, there was a bishop of a YSA ward giving a talk. I believe he was talking about convert baptisms and retention in the ward. He used the parable of the talents and changed it like this:

    Stake president took three bishops and gave one 50 converts, one 20 converts, and one 10 converts.

    First bishop took those 50, kept them active, and increased by another 50 converts. The stake president said, well done thou good and faithful bishop, come and vacation with me at my cabin at the lake.

    Second bishop took those 20, kept them active, and increased by another 20 converts. The stake president said, well done thou good and faithful bishop, come and vacation with me at my cabin at the lake.

    The third bishop took his 10 and did nothing with them. Bishop said he was afraid if he contacted them too much or gave them callings, he would scare them away. No additional baptisms.

    The stake president said, thou wicked and slothful bishop. Thou knewest that I gathered statistics where there weren’t any, and created callings where there were none.

    And he took the 10 converts and gave them to the bishop who had 50 and banished the slothful bishop to a calling in the nursery.

    Now, at this point, it was all I could do to remain in my seat and not jump up and punch this idiot in the face.

    But what really got me was that the entire stake priesthood leadership thought this was funny.

    And this is the problem. We have leadership that feels that certain callings are better than others. Now, I don’t know about you, but when my children were nursery age, they were the most precious things I could claim as mine. My children mean everything to me and my wife and I would hope that these bishops would recognize how special little children are and try to put the absolute best leaders in nursery. I think of how Christ was with little children because that’s how I felt about my little ones.

    But clearly, in that stake, little children are an afterthough, not worthy of the consideration of the high and mighty priesthood leaders with their fine clothing, and fancy educations. Makes me wonder how inspired the calls they extend really are.

    The root problems I see are:

    – Apathy towards each other
    – Apathy towards reverence
    – Apathy towards meaningful gospel discussion
    – Instructors / teachers who are more concerned with showing off their intellect rather than bringing in the spirit
    – A lack of understanding of the three-fold mission of the church and what each mission actually is
    – marginalizing the Elders Quorum and Primary
    – cliques
    – A lack of understanding of what testimony is
    – Church culture upstaging doctrine
    – Poorly designed and executed quorum/ward/stake goals
    – Lack of following the church handbook of instructions

    Show me a leader willing to tackle those over the long-haul and I’ll show you a ward I’d love to be a part of.

    Comment by JM — August 8, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  42. Well JM… Sounds like you didn’t find that guy’s joke very amusing. Comes with the lay ministry territory I suppose.

    Let’s say you never get into a ward that meets your criteria for a good ward during this life. What will you do then? (Keeping in mind the covenants you have made with God himself regarding the church of course…)

    Comment by Geoff J — August 8, 2007 @ 10:53 pm

  43. Wow: Tough to keep up sometimes.

    Geoff (39)- My point exactly. SS presidents have no power and are usually just bell ringers who sit in the hall. Bishoprics do not go to sunday school lessons and make no effort to audit sunday school teachers to see if they are good teachers. The only way Bishops get to know someone’s teaching pattern is in Sacrament Meeting Talks. What is good in Sacrament Meeting may not be good in Sunday School. There is a gap there.

    (40)- My personal satisfaction and happiness is dependent to an extent on my ministry and service to others. If one of my children, whom I love like I ought to love everyone, fell away, it would cause me great emotional pain and stiffle my ability to have a fullness of joy. Of course, this is still going to happen, but I think the challenge of wanting to help others, even against unwinable odds is important to becoming like our father.

    (41)- JM

    If the punchline had been, say, toilet cleaner? Would you have been less offended? What was the point the speaker was trying to get accross? I’m curious.

    As for your points, They may all be valid, but frankly, you seem to be looking at your fellow members as objects and not as people. (Sorry to be harsh). One of the hardest things for me when I first joined the church was learning to accept that children are noisy at church, but it’s better to have noisy children at church than no children. (I also went through a stage where I doubted anyone had as much of a testimony as I did. seriously. I was a jerk.) The Church is full of imperfect people. The trick is finding the tactful christlike way to help them, and not fall into the trap of being “Holier than thou”, which if I can be frank, is the vibe I am getting from you.

    (42)- As for the lay ministry, I’d take it anyday over the alternative, having been an Episcopalian, a Catholic, A Methodist, an Atheist, and a Disciple of Christ. (But not in that order)

    Comment by Matt W. — August 9, 2007 @ 7:27 am

  44. JM, you include quite a long list of what you call root problems. Have you ever considered that those problems we have with each other are actually the point?
    Maybe we have church with all its humanity and messiness precisely so that we can practice Christlike behavior on each other.

    Comment by C Jones — August 9, 2007 @ 8:05 am

  45. I think we’ve all danced around it, but conversion, retention and reactivation all involve the aspect of the church and church services having something to offer – a reason to change, a reason to stay, or a reason to come back. If the “needs” are not met I don’t see how you can see much of any of the three. While there are particular needs for individuals, the question, IMHO, is what are the reasons we should be emphasizing in our Sunday meetings. What converts? What keeps? What brings back? And, are they really that much different from each other?

    Comment by Mondo Cool — August 9, 2007 @ 8:12 am

  46. Geoff,

    I’m in one of those wards right now. I go, take the sacrament, pay my tithing, and attend my classes. Anything extra I avoid.

    Matt,

    I believe he was trying to get across the idea that we should pay more attention to proclaiming the gospel and retention of new converts. In doing so, he spoke volumes about his perspective on the importance of different callings and different groups of people in the church.

    I think you misunderstand my concern with reverence. It’s not that children are noisy. That’s a part of life. Reverence goes far beyond that, and much deeper. Reverence for the gospel, the chapel, each other means so much more. It’s more than being quiet.

    The problems with reverence I see are things like the young men throwing a football in the chapel on their activity night and the leaders and parents not caring.

    I’m sorry your getting the vibe. I am anything but holy. I just can’t stand the apathy and the double standards. Jacob asked about root problems. I offered some.

    C Jones,

    You’re probably right. I just find that in some wards it’s easier to care and get involved.

    Comment by JM — August 9, 2007 @ 9:01 am

  47. Hey Matt,

    Any thoughts on my last paragraph in #40?

    It’s tough for me to imagine what good actually achieving 100% retention/activation as a church would do most of us who are already active members. Or in other words, what would be the spiritual upside to individuals of living in a real Zion? If such a thing is literally supposed to happen during the millennium as many people assume, how would living in that situation help people in those folks progress spiritually? Seems to me that having virtually no spiritual opposition would not help at all but would lead to spiritual atrophy…

    Comment by Geoff J — August 9, 2007 @ 9:06 am

  48. Mondo,

    I think the answer to your question is “The Holy Ghost”.

    My feelings and frustrations are amplified right now because there is such a lack of the spirit in my life. I know I need to do more on my part, but it can be difficult to fight the fight and endure.

    Probably the only time I feel the spirit is when partaking of the sacrament. That’s all that is really keeping me there. And it’s just enought let me put up with the gospel doctrine know-it-all and the mindless elders quorum lesson.

    Comment by JM — August 9, 2007 @ 9:07 am

  49. JM,

    You are of course free to do the minimums in any ward you are in. Tons of people in the church do that. However, assuming you have been to the temple you have made promises to God that you would do much more than just the minimum to build up and strengthen the church in your life. I suspect God will want an accounting of that promise/covenant when we meet him is all…

    Comment by Geoff J — August 9, 2007 @ 9:09 am

  50. JM,
    For me anyway, nourishing and maintaining spirituality is turning out to be a much bigger challenge than I anticipated. I used to wonder about all those scriptures and comments in talks about enduring to the end. I think I’m starting to get it!

    In #48, you talk about putting up with mindless lessons, etc. Yet you are right on about the problem (and therefore the solution) in your second paragraph.

    The process of spiritual rebirth is something that we have to engage again and again. It’s not an easy thing and the natural man/woman is always giving us that nagging sense of unworthiness. Hence the dissatisfaction with those also imperfect people around us.

    Comment by C Jones — August 9, 2007 @ 9:36 am

  51. (48) JM, I am confused, I thought you were teaching the 9 year olds, how are you in EQ and SS and teaching Primary? I am sorry, I must be confused. Anyway, are you having FHE, do you and your wife do daily scriptures? These are out of church spiritual nourishment that I believe halp us come to church with the capacity to help others. As for teens throwing a football in the chapel, I agree that is wrong. You should tell them it is wrong.

    Geoff (47) Sorry, I misinterpreted what yo uwere asking in 40, that was my attempt at an answer. I tihnk 100% activity removes a lot of temporal strife on the active, in that there are more people to pick up the work load of perfecting the siants and having callings, etc. 100% activity also means more time can be focused on other things besides inactivity.

    Think of this, if when you went home teaching you knew everyone on your list was going to be at church every sunday and really loved the Gospel and weren’t at church because their bills were being paid.

    Finally, if I can get metaphysical on you, I like to think the story of the battle of Ai in Joshua 7 holds up in this scenario. The unrighteousness of the one can and does affect the whole.

    Mondo (45)- I agree, but the catch is we all come to the gospel and church with different needs. We know too many who have come to get their needs met without ever coming to meet the needs of others. The Church, being a volunteer organization, will fail if we do not come not just as a participant, but also as a volunteer.

    C Jones: (50) eloquently stated. We have a tendancy to justify ourselves based on our caricatures of others.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 9, 2007 @ 9:59 am

  52. Matt,

    I suspect that I am getting back to the point I was making in this post. I don’t think spiritual progression is even possible without real spiritual opposition. It is just like lifting weights as far as I can tell — the greater the opposition the greater the growth opportunity. Take away all the opposition (the weights) and atrophy is inevitable.

    This is more of a philosophical observation than anything else of course. I am not saying we should change our course of action.

    So I suspect that if 100% of church members were active we could focus a lot more energy on missionary work. And perhaps if the whole world were active members of Christ’s church and Zion were fully established there would still be sickness to deal with — though I am not sure because if we were Zion there would be no poverty and presumably we would be so spiritually in tune that miraculous healing would be extremely common too…

    Anyway, I tend to be a “begin with the end in mind” kind of guy and I can’t help but think the stated goal of establishing a worldwide Zion would not be actually sustainable spiritually. I wonder if the value is in the striving toward that goal and not in the achieving of it.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 9, 2007 @ 10:29 am

  53. JW (#48) & Matt W. (#51):
    I agree, but we have the duty as individuals and as members to act in stewardship over our spheres of responsibilities – individual, spousal, parental, familial, ecclesiastical. We must prayerfully assess each situation and plan what we must do to meet the needs of each. I am confident we will be richly rewarded if we humbly seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost in this effort.

    And, I agree that the perfunctory attitudes and efforts of others is disheartening – but they cannot be controlling.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — August 9, 2007 @ 10:39 am

  54. Anyway, I tend to be a “begin with the end in mind” kind of guy

    Hmmmm… Are you saying there is an end, then? :-)

    Comment by C Jones — August 9, 2007 @ 10:46 am

  55. Geoff: I guess I see having everyone coming to church on sunday (100% activity) as a long way yet from no opposition and Zion established.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 9, 2007 @ 10:46 am

  56. Matt,

    I don’t recall saying that I was teaching 9 year olds, although that would be a welcom change!!! As for your other recomendation, I agree 100%.

    Everyone else,

    Thanks for your listening ear and the opportuinity to vent. Your advice is sound and most welcome, although hard to see with this beam sticking out of my eye! Although I agree with the solutions, sometimes I feel I need a sabbath from the sabbath.

    Comment by JM — August 9, 2007 @ 10:49 am

  57. Matt — It looks like you didn’t really read my last comment again… I went well beyond just 100% activity rates.

    C Jones — Sure; there’s an end to anything that begins. Joseph taught that right? :)

    Comment by Geoff J — August 9, 2007 @ 10:57 am

  58. JM- seriously, talk to you Bishop and ask for a calling away from those problem areas.

    Geoff J- I did read you last coment, which was a respone to my answer to your initial question:

    what achieving 100% activity rates would means when it comes to the general goal perfecting the saints and the specific goal of perfecting already active saints. Anything at all?

    My answer was, I thought, simple: 100% activity takes the concern of inactivity off the table and increases the labor pool.

    You responded that you felt opposition was necassary, and that perhaps the point is “striving toward that goal and not in the achieving of it.” (which I agree with, since I said that back in #43 (but you seemed to say was not an answer to your 40, so I tried a different route.)

    Comment by Matt W. — August 9, 2007 @ 11:05 am

  59. Oh, and JM, sorry, I was confusing you with Brett…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 9, 2007 @ 11:08 am

  60. I think when you achieve 100% activity, your next step would be to re-evaluate what you consider “Active”. I’m sure our current standard is very low.

    Comment by JM — August 9, 2007 @ 11:58 am

  61. JM, excellent point. Currently the Church considers once a month attendance to 3rd hour meetings, and average sacrament meeting attendance over a month period as the activity of a given ward in a given quarter, but I not sure how this translates over to the individual. Often I have heard that the “official” active innactive line is once a quarter attendance, but I see no evidence of this, and I was using the simple mental qualifier of 100% of members in church every sunday when talking with Geoff, which is not a good measure either.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 9, 2007 @ 12:32 pm

  62. I believe the “once per quarter” metric comes from the fact that we send in (or use to send in) statistics reports each quarter and if you were attendant once in that quarter, it counted.

    This may have changed though with the current computer system being able to receive weekly updates.

    They could always change the metric to include things like holding a current recommend, daily prayer, scripture study, etc… although that would feel a little “1984” knowing that the church was keeping track of those sorts of things.

    Comment by JM — August 9, 2007 @ 12:41 pm

  63. JM, and those things can be lied about…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 9, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

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