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Comments about ‘Ask Angela: Is this a social hour? Or is this church?’

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Published: Saturday, Sept. 14 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Hamath
Omaha, NE

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.

G L W8
SPRINGVILLE, UT

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.

Gildas
LOGAN, UT

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.

utah cornhusker
NORFOLK, NE

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.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

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.

Dennis
Harwich, MA

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.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

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.

joe5
South Jordan, UT

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.

Gildas
LOGAN, UT

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.

Pssst
LOGAN, UT

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.

Kralon
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA

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.

GK Willington
Salt Lake City, UT

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?

Kings Court
Alpine, UT

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

jrgl
CEDAR CITY, UT

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.

joe5
South Jordan, UT

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

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

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...

aureliorodriguez
Raymondville, TX

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.

jeanie
orem, UT

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.

Kinderly
Riverdale, MD

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.

ImABeliever
Provo, UT

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

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