Ask Angela: Is this a social hour? Or is this church?


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  • desert Potsdam, 00
    Dec. 2, 2013 10:20 p.m.

    Earthquakes and storms are all happening around the world, everyday we get news of the worse.
    Media is calling demandful expectations, and who is to blame ?

    We cannot force silence, we cannot change people overnight.

    But what we do through out life passes our awareness, we are so occupied.
    In church we want to unload stress and relax for the day.

    What we hear and what we see is not what we should, we are missing on the spiritual part, not because of earthquakes or loud neigbors, but because we have not yet learned about our inner peace and focus on devine meanings that would shut off the rest.

  • pogo8702 SOUTH SALT LAKE, UT
    Oct. 17, 2013 12:14 p.m.

    As a current member of a bishopric, I would want to hear from you. Just remember it cannot be changed overnight. Also remember that you will be part of the solution. This can be solved by individual members and the bishopric. We would start on Ward Council level and work down through the priesthood and RS to make it better....but start with the bishopric.

    As a former member of a singles ward I can sympathize with your frustration. This is a huge part of the reason (imho) that the church does not fully embrace having singles wards everywhere. When I quit worrying about my unmarried status and settled into a family ward my life took a major change for the better. I'm divorced now with a daughter who is not a member. Serving in this ward for the last 10 years has been the best time of my life. Give it some thought. It's not easy making the jump and some family wards are easier than others....but that's where we belong. Singles can contribute so much .... and members of all wards are slowly starting to figure that one out.

    Good luck and good hunting.

  • moniker lewinsky Taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 12:56 p.m.

    I find it curious that she has such a hard time finding anybody in the ward who is as spiritual as she perceives herself to be. It is possible that people are attending church for social reasons and still enjoying whatever spirit they feel is there. I had a friend back in my single days with a similar "problem". The friendship did not last because she had a very hard time finding people up to her standards of righteousness and I was apparently one of them.
    My only advice to her is that she keep up the uptight, judgmental, condescending attitude and before she knows it, she will wake up one day and have aged out of the singles ward. From then on, it will be family wards where dating prospects are not all that great.

  • Craigo Ivins, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 7:10 p.m.

    Also... (Ran out of space)

    So, in conclusion, I have had some similar feelings after attending church.. The problem is, if we just stop going, we will miss 3 things..
    1. A chance to take the sacrament.
    2. Have fellowship with others.
    3. We will miss those gems or times when the speakers WERE inspiring.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Craigo Ivins, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 7:03 p.m.

    I share some of the same thoughts as this person. If at anytime, someone makes a comment about the quality of a sac meeting etc.. they are told that its their fault, their attitude etc. I think this true to some degree.. but not always.

    The standard of teaching in our church can be horrible. How many talks are given where there was no preparation .. The excuse? "We are a lay ministry" is code for "I dont need to understand the scriptures"

    Even the lamest public speaker and be very motivating if they would simply prepare and think about what they are saying.

    1. Never start a talk by telling the audience how they received the assignment.
    2. Never start a talk with Joke.
    3. Never start a talk telling us how you and your wife met.
    4. Every talk should revolve around the atonement, Jesus etc.
    5. Never read the whole talk. Look up sometimes.
    6. Use the scriptures.
    7. Dont read a conference talk, we can read it ourselves when we get home..

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 18, 2013 6:37 a.m.

    Last comment.

    Twin Lights: You're right. Most people I know attend church because they really want to. They enjoy the social aspects but that is not their focus.

    Alma 48 pays a great tribute to Captain Moroni ("If all men were like unto Moroni ..."). But immediately after, Moroni is compared to the sons of Mosiah, Alma and his sons, and Helaman. then it mentions that there are others who were "no less serviceable."

    I have met many men and women who "are like unto Moroni." Most are the rank and file of the church. They may never be bishops or RS presidents but they sacrifice and serve without applause.

    I think of the apostle Andrew, almost completely overlooked, but I admire him. He introduced Peter to Jesus. When Jesus fed the 5,000, it was Andrew who pointed out that there was a boy with five loaves and two fishes. How did he know that? Because he was willing to serve on the sidelines. I picture him as a friendly man, a minister among the followers of Christ. I've found many people like that wherever I've lived. In my opinion, they are the backbone of the church.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Sept. 17, 2013 7:52 p.m.


    Joe5 is not as much of a minority as you might guess. I and many of my friends and acquaintances at church would say the same.

    Seriously. Out here (and in Mass and NH when I lived there) few if any folks went to church due to social or familial pressures.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Sept. 17, 2013 7:05 p.m.

    @Joe....excellent on your part. Seriously. But I also believe you're in the minority.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 17, 2013 8:49 a.m.

    Dennis: Has it ever occurred to you that I go to church every week because I enjoy it, because I love to discuss the doctrines of the gospel, that I need it to rejuvenate my run-down batteries from a week among the harsher environment of our society? Has it occurred to you that it affords me a moment of peace in a very unsettled world.

    Take testimony meeting, for example. I you offered an open microphone in any other circumstance, what would you get? Angry voices? Prideful voices? Vulgar voices?

    But what do you get it testimony meeting? Expressions of humility, gratitude, worship.

    Do you not even grasp how that would be preferable to the cacophony of the world?

    I get the chance to travel on business now and again. Guess what? When I'm on travel, I usually try to find time to visit the nearest temple. If I'm on travel over a weekend, I always try to find an LDS church to attend. Does that sound like someone who is there due to peer pressure or sociality?

    Don't paint others with your own self-view.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Sept. 17, 2013 6:46 a.m.

    I'm not judging anybody. I don't care what anybody does, says or believes.
    I raised my family in a small community where "not" going to church took extreme effort. The congregation was full of friends, neighbors and associates that simply went to keep the peace with themselves and others. For those of you that attend every single week, try not showing up for about a month. See what happens. Cultural mormonism is alive and well. AND, it happens in other religious congregations as well. Mormonism doesn't have a monopoly on it.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    Sept. 16, 2013 12:48 p.m.

    To "Church Goer for Now" assuming that you still live at your parent's house or are there most weekends, go to your parent's ward. You are never "assigned" to go to a YSA ward. You get to choose to attend that ward or not. You also have the ability to shop for a ward that meets your expectations.

    Go, ward shop, or just attend with your parents. Who knows, maybe you would love to teach Primary or YW?

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    Sept. 16, 2013 11:41 a.m.

    Attendance is a commandment. If this commandment is easy for you (great!) because you enjoy being there and socializing, be thankful for that blessing. For others of us, if it were not a commandment, I wouldn't be there. The hardest part is people saying hi, shaking my hand and "making the rounds" -- the excuse being to be friendly. Just leave me alone! Close second is the din, the cacophony of noise of people who can't take it outside or at least into the foyer -- the "party" before the meeting as a member of the bishopric stands there clearing his throat, the organ prelude drown out, and the eruption following the closing prayer's amen. Between you get the tittering chatter (even during the passing of the sacrament) and noisy/disruptive (meaning uncontrolled irreverence, not normal BABY noise) children who haven't been taught to sit, shut-up and listen. Of the latter, the issue is parental expectation; kids rise to those expectations.

  • Cowboy Dude SAINT GEORGE, UT
    Sept. 16, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    Stop worrying about what you can take from church and start attending with what you can give. Get a calling is great advice.

    Church is like scriptures. Some read and study hoping for a spiritual experience and some apply the teachings by helping others.

    You can't help others by just being reverent.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    Sept. 16, 2013 7:46 a.m.

    LDS Liberal-

    Why does attending church as a non-republican in Utah make you uncomfortable? Why is politics on your mind when you go to church anyway? This isn't even an issue. Church is much more fulfilling by focusing on baptismal covenants that need to be renewed and also learning to serve those around you with Christ-like love.

    You might also want to consider to stop generalizing that divorced or hispanic members are somehow shunned or judged in the church in Utah (or anywhere). This is nonsense and you know it. Perhaps church will be more fulfilling if you re-focused your thoughts and attention to things that truly matter.

  • EternalPerspective Eldersburg, MD
    Sept. 16, 2013 5:42 a.m.

    Dennis & Red Corvette

    There are people who outwardly appear to be what is termed "cultural Mormons" whose testimonies seem undeveloped and involvement is lukewarm at best. But, inwardly, we don't know the state of these individuals and cannot judge. Regardless, anyone who believes the Church does not stand without the culture has never developed, or lost the strength of their own testimony by breaking covenants and/or commandments.

    This is not a statement of condemnation, rather an invitation to seek the counsel of the Bishop to express concerns and help with the repentance process. Everyone who has made sacred covenants upon Baptism and other ordinances has the right to receive true testimony after all they can do to seek it. But, where sin "lieth at the door", the Spirit may not be present very often, which quickly allows Satan to use worldly distractions and deceptions to lure someone away until apostasy.

    The Lord invites all to repent and come unto Christ to receive sacred covenants and be transformed by the authority in His Church from the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. Such is only realized upon principles of action to live the Gospel more fully each day.

  • JonathanPDX Portland, Oregon
    Sept. 15, 2013 9:18 p.m.

    Attending Church meetings should be both spiritual AND social, in that order. They are a chance to escape the cares of the world for a short time and commune with the Spirit and learn more about aspects of the Gospel. They are also times to hep stay in touch with each other in a more spiritual atmosphere.

    Many members have a strong testimony of the Gospel and that is what keeps them returning to Church, not because it's the socially acceptable thing to do. For those who do go just to keep up appearances, eventually their feelings will become known to others and hopefully the Priesthood steps in to help them regain their testimony.

    The Lord has given us the Sabbath to rest from our labors and to keep our minds single to His glory. The best way to do that is to start with ourselves, ensuring we are in tune with the Spirit and thus be a light unto others.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Sept. 15, 2013 7:01 p.m.


    Try attending Church as a non-Republican, someone who is divorced or Hispanic.
    In Utah, that's enough to try ANYONE's testimony!

    It's like walking around the puritans with a big old Scarlett Letter.

  • Deliriousdd Benicia, CA
    Sept. 15, 2013 6:13 p.m.

    I think we have to take people for where they are in their spiritual development. For some of them, it really is more about the social experience. But if they keep coming, hopefully they will mature spiritually and eventually become those adults in your parents ward. But by all means don't stop attending church over this. If you really have tried, and still feel uncomfortable, I believe you have the option to attend a family ward.

  • Sandee Spencer Longwood, FL
    Sept. 15, 2013 11:29 a.m.

    If there are few people actually in class (most running around the halls) how much more important it is that you are in class. If there are few people giving insightful, thoughtful, spirit filled comments how much more important that you are there doing that. There will always be those that for whatever reason are on a different path or going at a different pace than we are. All the more reason for us to focus on doing a beautiful job of worshipping, participating, serving, including, inspiring.

  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    Sept. 15, 2013 10:10 a.m.

    Be the change you want to see. :)

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Sept. 15, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    @ImABeliever....Just because he said it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

  • AnonSMF Sacramento, CA
    Sept. 15, 2013 3:38 a.m.

    I think the key to getting along under such circumstances is to talk to your bishop for starters about a calling if you don't yet have one. Also continue to conduct yourself in a quiet and reverent manner. Reverence is of vital importance and sometimes people can forget where they are. Many years we were in an area where we drove many hours to get to one of the larger temples that had a chapel waiting area. After the area we live in got one of the smaller temples with no chapel, some of the patrons seemed to forget where they were and chatted away in places where small talk isn't the accepted norm. When I talked to the temple president about my concerns he suggested it was perfectly acceptable and appropriate to let them people know that they were being too loud. All I had to do was turn around and even without saying anything or giving a dirty look, the message was conveyed. Convey the spirit you would like to feel in what you do. It will catch on. Others maybe also wishing for more reverence and might really appreciate it. Go for it!

  • ImABeliever Provo, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 11:43 p.m.

    I tend to believe in the Quote by Boyd K. Packer, "The Church is NOT a Social Club."

  • Kinderly Riverdale, MD
    Sept. 14, 2013 7:36 p.m.

    I agree with another commenter, talk to your bishop. Maybe there could be a discussion in ward council. If the bishopric train the leaders and the teachers to prepare well and then to expect and ask for reverence and thought provoking discussion from everyone else, things could really change. Church Goer for Now could also set a good example by her own participation in class discussion and so on. Also make some good friends in the ward--I'm sure there are some genuine people who would go along with your effort. I've noticed that one or two really good comments can totally shift a discussion that's going down a non-spiritual or non-doctrinal route.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 7:17 p.m.

    It's not our place to judge other's motivations in their church attendance - fashion show, cultural pressure, social club, etc. It is our place to judge our own motivation. The spirit can speak to us even in less than ideal circumstances if we remain open and we can be a tool in the Lord's hands in whatever pot we find ourselves planted.

  • aureliorodriguez Raymondville, TX
    Sept. 14, 2013 6:39 p.m.

    Church IS a social place and also a spiritual place . I love it! Of course, members who get unruly and out of hand during or after our meetings need to be nicely reminded about reverence but Church shouldn't become a no-fun zone either.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 6:15 p.m.

    I always found single wards sort of curious things. It is the admission of sorts that church is indeed a social thing. I mean the gospel doesn't change does it from ward to ward? But I think the LDS church, and many other churches as well, do realize that church serves a social function. When I was attending a singles ward, there were even "linger-longers" after the services where refreshments would be served and I guess singles encouraged to socialize with each other...

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 5:34 p.m.

    jrgl: So what? Seriously, why do you care?

  • jrgl CEDAR CITY, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 4:42 p.m.

    Have you ever been to a ward that feels more like a fashion show than sacrament meeting? Ours is getting that way. Where did you get that dress, what brand of makeup are you wearing & who cuts your hair win over spiritual pursuits. I feel like the letter writer, it feels a lot like high school.
    It goes deeper Dear Angela than "get involved, get a calling". It's shallowness, an upper middle class thinking that what's on the outside trumps what's inside a person. Status is more important than spirituality.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 3:20 p.m.

    Church is just another way for one to keep up appearances.

  • GK Willington Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 3:02 p.m.

    per Red Corvette...

    In Utah IMO alot of the time, Its about pretenses/projecting an image.

    How else do you explain people being at church at 9:00p on Friday night or Tuesday at 7:30p?

    Sept. 14, 2013 12:33 p.m.

    Without judging, attending church should be a different experience for everyone not only because we are all different but we are also at different points of progression in our lives.

    All church needs to do is refresh your spirituality and help you progress. If you are not getting that from attending church then you can look inward to see what you can change in yourself or seek an experience that is better for you. Don't try to change others except through example unless your position is one of responsibility for those others, then motivational words might be helpful, in addition to example.

  • Pssst LOGAN, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 12:30 p.m.

    Reverence is a basic teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The General Authorities are concerned about it and local leaders often give it high priority too. Missionaries bring investigators to the local ward and they usually are concerned first that their visitor is welcomed and second that they are impressed with what they witness in their new environment. To a point a visitor from another ward or a recent convert will be affected by those same things. Depends on whether the socializing happens in the chapel not the halls. Sociability in halls and so on is acceptable to most.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 11:36 a.m.

    I think there could be more sympathy for this person. I know at times people can be superficial and this can be hard on a more earnest and serious person. It's hard for them to take it all on their own shoulders or for the more light-hearted to consider any critic as a "sourpuss". Maybe there's a point to be learned from this rather than just turning on this newcomer.

    I know there is such a thing as projection (of one's own faults on to others) but I certainly didn't get this impression with the quoted letter. I had the impression that someone who was thirsty went to the well, and the well was dry. Let's hope it was just a bad week for the ward, and / or for the disillusioned member. God bless him or her. You are needed; you are part of the solution; keep going; don't give up. Great things lie ahead if you remain faithful and stay on the path.

    There is a difference, in my experience, between the Church culture, properly considered, and this or any other local culture. Just a thought.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 11:03 a.m.

    Less focus on others. More focus on self. You will never feel the spirit while judging others.

    Though worship service is done in groups for the mutual benefit of all, it is also an intensely personal event. If you let the trappings get in the way, you lose the real benefit of the meeting.

    Dennis and Red Covette: I've learned that people tend to view others as they view themselves. If you are honest, you tend to trust others as being honest. On the other hand, if you cheat on your taxes, you tend to believe everybody cheats on their taxes. Or if you use profanity, you tend to think everybody uses profanity. If you perceive others are social Mormons, it is almost a surety that you are a social Mormon. I've found that those who judge the character of others are usually just revealing themselves.

    The amount of sacrifice I see others put into church callings, service outside their callings, going to the temple, raising their families, etc tells me that most are much more than social church members.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Sept. 14, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    Dennis & Red Corvette,

    I suppose there is some. Perhaps moreso in heavily LDS areas. But in Massachusetts? Not that I ever saw. Not in New England generally nor here in the south.

    People go because they want to go. And if they come here as "cultural Mormons" they soon either gain a testimony or are not seen.

    In the conversion process (whenever or where ever it takes place) they must make their own decisions.

    I do agree that the church culture is unique. But for me (and more than a few converts I know), it was an adjustment.

    The church is certainly not "all pretend". The amount of love and sacrifice displayed by hundreds of members (if not more) within my own circle of acquaintance disproves that.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Sept. 14, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    I sincerely believe that well over 90% of the membership are "cultural" Mormons. They find comfort in the community, in having something to do, in having structure to keep themselves from having to make the own decisions.
    Take away the culture and you lose the Church.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    I can relate to going just to sacrament meetings. My favorite times at church was when it was raining and hardly anyone came. The Spirit of things was thick and real a immortal experience, everyone heart was glowing in their eyes.

  • utah cornhusker NORFOLK, NE
    Sept. 14, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    Omaha i agree with your thoughts. As a single person, i attended singles wards because I didn't feel at home in family wards. Now after being married and living in a ward where there are so few of us, Yes, we socialize but we also go to feel the spirit and take the sacrament. I love my calling and our bishop makes sure everyone that is active has a calling. Do service for people in your ward if you can. Put it before the lord in prayer and he will help you. I love going to church, it is so uplifting.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 7:50 a.m.

    I think that "Churchgoer for Now" is badly needed in the assigned ward, to exemplify a more sober attitude towards church attendance and participation, and I suppose could legitimately attend the parents' ward for a break now and again.

    The Church, said Paul, is for "the perfecting of the saints" among other things, so there is not perfection to begin with. Still I feel very sympathetic towards people with the feelings expressed. Sometimes one person can make all the difference. Hopefully there will be some person or persons at that ward who thinks and feels the same.

    Sept. 14, 2013 7:11 a.m.

    Is this ward a young single adult ward? That is not mentioned, but my experience serving in a YSA Bishopric (I'm married with family) showed another side: the YSA's pushed me spiritually with their enthusiasm and budding testimonies of the gospel. The social aspect of YSA wards is important. But it needs to be kept in perspective.
    Has the letter-writer talked to his/her bishop (gender is not mentioned in the letter) about the concerns he/she has? That might be a starting point. Getting or dedicating oneself to a calling is also important. But also try to look for the positive things that are happening--specific to the ward--and thank the Lord for them daily in prayers. Some things are easy to overlook when one gets too negative or critical.
    I believe these things are applicable to any ward, YSA or not.

  • Hamath Omaha, NE
    Sept. 14, 2013 5:22 a.m.

    I've felt this at times too. The advice her is great. The problem is that while many people are coming to church for the wrong reasons at times, the author of this letter is too to some extent in my opinion.

    Get involved in others, learn to love them, learn to serve them, then all of these other distractions will not only stop bothering you as much, but when they do get out of hand, you'll be able to make suggestions out of Christlike love that will actually make change like that teacher. I've too often been the one that walks away steamed and judging my brothers and sisters rather than helping them actually change. Although that has improved a lot as I've become somewhat better at learning to make charity, hope, and faith the foundations of how I live.