RE: #FlyoverRadio: American faith and the rise of the ‘nones’
Lead image from the Standard Examiner
I was about this close 👌 to being on the radio today (I mean hey, I do have a face for radio, but I digress). It was about religion in this day and age and how many people ages 18-35 are leaving and why some chose to come back.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter named “the Church”), I strongly believe that this Church has figured it out, almost to the t what these people need at a critical time in their lives when they need to figure out what they believe and the program in place helps to solidify those beliefs and share them with future generations.
The program so far as I was tuned in to it mentioned several different reasons why people of this age group leave and ways that churches have either succeeded in or could provide to bring these young people back. These reasons are
- viewpoints seem irrelevant or political.
- worship services meant for families and not focused enough upon individual needs.
- focused on financial gain or just another corporate business venture.
- they want to attend a church that isn’t just for Sunday worship.
- the idea that churches teach they are the “one true church.”
- they just want to get to Christ/God.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Way
Church Teachings Seem Political
As we all know, there are many issues that are quite divisive these days and I’m not going to list them. They are political, social, moral, etc. The purpose of church whether it is for some 18-35 or 35-108 is meant to be a nuetral, safe place to specifically focus on Heavenly Father, God, and his Son, Jesus Christ.
Sure as you learn about Christ, you will learn from Him and His teachings about things that we might be struggling with that we may not particularly agree on. These aren’t the teachings of the Church, but rather the teachings of Christ. He welcomes us as we are but He doesn’t expect us to stay as we are.
Sadly, despite the perfectness of the Church, it is still mortally ran my exactly that, mortals. Personal viewpoints, even though with the best intentions, often slip into our comments at church, even though they are not taught by Christ.
However, commandments from Christ are just that–commandments. We will struggle from time to time on what seems like such easy things to follow but we aren’t commanded to “be ye therefore perfect” now, but eventually.
Worship for the Same Age Group
Many people need support for exactly what they’re going through. Rightly so. The Lord has inspired through His divine pattern of revelation how that is to be done. This is through the Church’s Young Single Adult program (hereafter called YSA or YSAs for plurality), which involves young adults ages 18-30, which covers a majority of what the radio program covered.
The YSA program has two options, either one can join a dedicated YSA congregation or participate in a YSA congregation’s activities and attend a family ward setting or where YSA congregations aren’t available there are YSA based activities that occur on a regular basis.
When attending either a YSA congregation or YSA activities, these programs foster a safe place to have a fun time, to learn, to grow, physically and spiritually in a setting geared towards just for people in that age. Like I said before, all are welcome, because we all have things that we’re struggling with and we aren’t there to shame others shortcomings, but rather to encourage all to come unto Christ by learning about all the gifts He has given us.
Churches are Established for Financial Gain
Okay, I understand a thing or two about the Church’s financial income (not all things, only one or two things). The Church does teach about the law of tithing, which is sacrificing ten percent of our income to God through His Church. This is not a new practice taught by the Church, it is shown in Malachi chapter three, verse ten, so it should be taught by any good Bible-fearing Church.
However, one thing is different in the Church from other churches. We have no paid clergy in the Church. All people who serve in the Church, with the exception of those few who are needed to run the basic day-to-day needs of securing land for new church buildings, construction, and dissemination of materials, etc do get paid, but the ministry who actually controls the Church’s budget and financial needs and expenditures aren’t paid, they have no need to be paid. It allows the Church to operate fully, without an unnecessary worry that there will be a lack of money, because it allows the work of God to push forward, reaching the teachings of Christ to all who are able and willing to listen.
Some are also put off of Church by seeing those who attend Church and seem “well off.” Perhaps they are, but sometimes we forget that some actually may not be. However, we would all be wise to remember that just attending a Church does not mean that the Lord is going to hand us large sums of money, even though we exercise Faith. We are promised from God, that through our faith, we will be okay. God will be on our side, and we won’t have as much of a need to worry.
The Church Should Be a Way of Life, not Just on Sundays
There is an important need to attend Church every Sunday. It is critical to receive the Sacrament of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is symbolic to the Lord reaching His helping arm out to us and us needing to put forth our effort to receive it. That said, this is not the only mission of the Church. It isn’t just about putting time in a pew.
The Church is also primarily ran, particularly on a local level by those who aren’t a) paid, and b) it isn’t their full-time job. When one joins the Church, they are given responsibilities to serve. Some of these are leadership responsibilities, teaching at church, even some basic clerical work. These responsibilities here are just the beginning though. These are just for the operation of the Church.
Ministry in the Church
The Church’s teachings include serving our fellow man. I can’t tell you how many talks in just the Church’s most recent October General Conference taught about how we must pray for and then seek opportunities to serve. There is also several programs Home Teaching for Men and Visiting Teaching for Women, which is meant to fellowship the Saints, by being a friend, offering service, and teaching as a representative of Jesus Christ.
Those who seek a longer term form of service towards God through others are offered opportunities to serve eighteen month missions for women and two year missions for men. These opportunities allow these men and women to serve, with a heart dedicated to God, by studying about Him and sharing His word through words and deeds.
The Church Teaches That It is the One True Church
The Church does preach that we have all of the truth about Jesus Christ and His everlasting Gospel. However, we are all trying to draw upon the power of Jesus Christ which He received because of His atonement. While we would love for all to come unto the Church, any church that teaches about God is good and every good thing is from God. However unlike many churches, we have a gift we feel no other church can match. We have the gift of a place called a temple, which has the highest ordinances of exaltation, not just salvation (like baptism).
The Church is a Blockade to Get to God
This is not true. The Church isn’t the door to get to God. However, they are a catalyst or a conduit to get to God. The Church’s mission isn’t to say who can be saved or can’t or who can receive exaltation or who can’t. Rather, it teaches what we must do to be the best person we can be. We can’t earn salvation or exaltation. We won’t be perfect in this life. The Church doesn’t preach that we can be. However, the Lord teaches us that should “be ye therefore perfect” eventually. The Church teaches how we can be as good as we can through the teachings of Christ.
Another false belief that I’ve heard is that the prophet is a blockade to get to God. We know that God speaks to us, he speaks to us through both the Prophets and the Scriptures and also through us. What the gift of Prophets and Scriptures offer us is a way to make sure the revelation that God gives to us personally is correct. What a gift that is.
To learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visit Mormon.org to begin chatting with a missionary.
The viewpoints of the author are not meant to be an official voice of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are expressly the views of the author, even though most of the content found may align with the teachings of the Church.