Any Practical Solutions or Just Complaints?

Rusty - June 20, 2007

We in the bloggernacle love to talk about how much we like or dislike being at church. Bad speakers. Too long. Bad teachers. Boredom. Kids. etc. I have trouble reading these types of comments without getting a wee bit annoyed. Don’t get me wrong, these are all valid points but these complaints just seem a little too much “what am I getting from church?” and not enough “what am I giving at church?”

Church is not a vending machine in which we put in our tithing, time and talents and in return get a series of engaging lessons, spirit-filled talks and customized inspired counsel…and if we don’t get those things then the machine must be broken. It’s not an exchange program and we shouldn’t rely on other people exercising their agency to determine our own church experience.

So rather than continue the same old whine-sessions, arguing for a 2-hour block (yeah, less time serving and worshipping with the saints will guarantee MORE of the Spirit because everyone will become magically organized and focussed. Right.), why don’t we come up with some actual ideas for ways in which we can improve the existing structure of our church worship. But before we start, try to put yourself in my shoes, a counselor in a bishopric and keep the following in mind:

– The large majority of those you call to speak will make you feel bad for calling them.
– Regardless of topic and how much effort you make to explain and give direction to speakers, some will still give bad talks, most will give mediocre talks and a few will give great talks.
– Even those who give bad and mediocre talks still sacrifice their time and energy to do so. This merits gratitude which often comes in the form of, “thank you for your talk…it was great!” thus perpetuating the status quo.
– Often those in the ward who would be the best teachers are in other, non-teaching positions which are extremely difficult to change (high counsel, RS president, bishopric, etc.).
– The overwhelming majority of those in the class you attend have not studied/prepared for the lesson beforehand. This likely includes you.
– The Spirit works differently on different people
– Nobody is getting paid for their service.

Any practical suggestions? (“practical” means something that we actually have control over, not something that only SLC has control over)

87 Comments »

  1. I actually blame my boredom at Church on myself, not on Church. Practical solutions for myself include being more outgoing, participating more, chaging my attitude, and strengthening my testimony.

    Just this morning the phrase, “Ask not what the Church can do for you, but what you can do for the Church,” has been going through my head. We should be looking to serve, rather than be served. I haven’t quite mastered the looking to serve thing, but I realize that’s what I should be doing, so I don’t fault the Church for my own lack of enthusiasm.

    Comment by Tom — June 20, 2007 @ 9:53 am

  2. Have a nursery available for those wanting it during Sacrament. What a blessing it would be for single parents to enjoy this hour without wrestling little ones. Parents using this nursery could rotate and give each other turns to have kid time and adult time during Sacrament meeting so nobody ends up “stuck” in one place all the time.

    Comment by LRC — June 20, 2007 @ 10:07 am

  3. I’m not clear on if you’re asking what you can do as a bishopric member or what we should be doing as bored attendees. Here’s my advice for a bishopric member (based on how my ward is now):

    1. Always have at least one female on the program.

    2. More musical numbers.

    Comment by Susan M — June 20, 2007 @ 10:09 am

  4. LRC: alternatively, Ask the single parents if they want help and assign another family to sit with them at church, or volunteer yourself.

    Susan M: I think it is important to have musical numbers instead of intermediate hymns. It really helps the meeting.

    Tom: ditto.

    Rusty: Call good speakers more often, and keep a journal tracking who was good and who was bad so you’ll remember. Of course you still have to call bad speakers, but try to call good to be on about a 2 to 1 ratio.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 20, 2007 @ 10:19 am

  5. LRC,
    That’s an interesting idea. Doesn’t taking your kid into the hall accomplish the same thing (assuming there are two parents)? There was a sister in our ward with an autistic child and we extended a calling (or assignment, I don’t remember) to a couple who would take care of this child throughout the meeting so that the mother (with two other children and no husband) would have a better chance of paying attention to the meeting.

    Susan,
    Both. And why always a female? For equality’s sake or because they are generally better speakers or what?

    Comment by Rusty — June 20, 2007 @ 10:21 am

  6. LRC (2),
    Or how about pawning off your little ones during Sacrament meeting. No, I’m serious. I’ve had friends take my daughter when I’m playing piano for and my wife’s singing in the choir; I’ve grabbed friends’ kids and read to them or played with them when my friends look overwhelmed. And I should probably put myself out more as willing, but no way I’d say no to someone who asked if their kid(s) could sit with me and my wife for Sacrament meeting. (Unless, of course, their kid is one of those few kids who assaults my daughter; in that case, better go with our other friends who don’t have assaultable kids.)

    Comment by Sam B. — June 20, 2007 @ 10:21 am

  7. Matt,
    I’d love to but it’s hard enough just getting people to speak, let alone the good ones.

    Comment by Rusty — June 20, 2007 @ 10:23 am

  8. LRC: I suggested this very thing over on another blog. It is what many protestant churches do. I was not LDS as a young child, and in my young childhood church experience, my protestant church had a children’s class during the worship service for all young children who might not sit still during the service. Any children who wanted to attend the main service were welcome, but the option was there.

    My proposal would be to pass the sacrament, then take a few minutes to release the young kiddos, then get into the sacrament meeting program for the last 45 minutes sans screaming, kicking, burping, declarations of “I have to go poop”, “mom, she’s looking at me!” and children crawling from the front of the chapel to the back, and returning again, all under the benches. And yes, I have seen and heard each of these, every week. Asking children to sit still for 70 minutes is hard. It’s hard on the kids and it just zaps the Spirit right out of the frustrated young mother who’s trying to make four young children behave for those 70 minutes. Many moms and dads too ask what the point is when they never get to hear any of the talks.

    Comment by Ben There — June 20, 2007 @ 10:25 am

  9. Rusty, I think it makes a world of difference whether you can actually ever imagine yourself in a position to *do* something about boring meetings! As a woman, I know that unless things change drastically, I will never have any real control over how Sacrament Meeting goes, and that the possibility of my ideas being considered depends entirely on the good will of the men who do have control.

    I’m not saying that I shouldn’t still try to be constructive in any critique I offer, only that it’s harder to think that way when the possibility of implementing one’s ideas is outside of one’s personal control.

    I do work pretty hard when I’m in charge of music to coordinate the hymns and texts of musical numbers to the theme of the meeting–in my experience that can really help make for a more coherent worship experience.

    Comment by Kristine — June 20, 2007 @ 10:28 am

  10. Rusty: (7) I think you have to butter them up and let them know you really think they are a “great” speaker and that you wanted to hear from them and sincerely tell them you prayed about it. And seriously pray about it. I’m sure you already do that though.

    Another Practical thing I think a bishopric can do is train their leaders on what they want to do and then note take appointments during church bu go to classes and “audit” the classes. I think this encourages better performance. Also, if this “not willing to talk in Sacrament meeting” is a major issue, I’d take a 5th Sunday and make that the topic in the ward and talk about it, and facilitate a meeting to make goals within the ward as to what to do about it.

    But I’m just a ward clerk, and not in a bishopric.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 20, 2007 @ 10:33 am

  11. The problem with the solutions in 5 and 6 is that they are only temporary. If you end up spending every Sacrament meeting in the hall, why even go? And yet we have mothers and fathers in my ward who end up doing this. Why not just keep the kids at home until second hour, and let one parent go to Sacrament meeting in peace? Oh wait…there are still OTHER children to contend with, the ones on the bench in front of you, the ones slithering across the floor beneath your bench, the ones bawling in your ear from right behind you.

    Walking the halls and sharing child care with the Young Women or other parents are not real solutions, just quick fixes.

    Comment by Ben There — June 20, 2007 @ 10:41 am

  12. In most of the singles wards I attended, they asked us to fill out a ‘get to know you’ questionnaire with information like callings held, hobbies, mission info and stuff. I suppose we had them because turnover was so high there wasn’t time to get to know people before asking them to do things.

    What about a questionnaire that includes things like:
    “Would you be willing to teach an Enrichment class? What topic?” (I actually had that on a questionnaire once, and I volunteered to teach a class on the freedom of religion cases from the Supreme Court, but no one took me up on it.)
    Or “how comfortable are you with speaking in sacrament meeting?”
    Or “Do you enjoy teaching and/or working with children or teenagers or adults better?”
    Or “What is your favorite kind of calling? What is your least favorite calling” (with assurances that they won’t automatically be given either one.)
    Or “Do you enjoy planning parties?”
    Or “What do you do all day either at a career or at home? Would you like to do the same sort of thing on Sunday, or something different?” (That one so the day care worker doesn’t get called to nursery unless she wants to, and the seminary teacher isn’t automatically the SS teacher for the teenagers.)

    I’ve heard the saying, “information is the basis for inspiration.” Asking people straight out might get you some straight answers on the best places to put people. Of course, you’ll have a bunch who won’t answer the survey at all.

    Comment by Melinda — June 20, 2007 @ 10:41 am

  13. Rusty, I thought the church was based on keep the commandments get the rewards…just like the vending machine you describe.

    If we aren’t getting anything out of our meetings then obviously it’s our fault. We should be more spiritual, more thoughtful, more forgiving, more everything.

    Why should we ask someone else to take our children, learn to control your own chilren, I mean look around there must be a family who has children who can sit thru sacrament meeting…do what they do.

    Grow up people…take responsibility.

    OK, OK, now I’ll take my tongue out of my cheek!

    Comment by Don Clifton — June 20, 2007 @ 10:43 am

  14. Well, I have a very simple suggestion that would make an immense amount of difference for me: if people would talk about the actual gospel of Jesus Christ a bit more often, I’d be much happier.

    By the way, I’m not sure how I feel about your assumption that I’m not giving enough at church. I really do work very hard, participate in whatever ways seem helpful, try to have a useful attitude and avoid expectations. And nonetheless our meetings as currently structured are typically a bit of a barnacle on my spiritual life — aside from the sacrament and the hymns, of course. That’s a fact I haven’t been able to change. I don’t demand that the meetings change to accommodate me. But I do think that it’s reasonable for the costs that the current meetings impose on me, and possibly others, be taken into account.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — June 20, 2007 @ 10:45 am

  15. Kristine,
    Don’t fool yourself into thinking we actually have “control” over how Sacrament meeting goes, we only have control over how it’s planned. But I understand what you’re trying to say.

    I know that women aren’t in bishoprics, that’s something only SLC can control, but suggestions by women aren’t considered any less than suggestions by men. And if the leader is worth his salt he’ll seriously consider it (if it is a good idea).

    Matt,
    Actually, most people are willing to speak, I’ve just said that they make us (bishoprics) feel bad for asking (I mention this distinction in the linked post). Not that it hurts my feelings or anything, it just makes me a little less excited about asking.

    Comment by Rusty — June 20, 2007 @ 10:54 am

  16. RT: if people would talk about the actual gospel of Jesus Christ a bit more often, I’d be much happier.

    I hear that complaint on occasion but I don’t know how legitimate it really is. The gospel of Jesus Christ — even in that passage you linked to — can be boiled down to the first principles and ordinances of the gospel: 1. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 2. Repentance, 3. Baptism, 4. Gift of the Holy Ghost.

    I can’t think of the last talk I heard in a sacrament meeting that was not connected with one of these. For instance, a talk on gratitude is directly connected to principles 1 and 2. A talk on perseverance is as well. This is true almost all speaking subjects in church. What kinds of talks are you hearing that can’t be tied directly to one of more of the first principles and ordinances?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 20, 2007 @ 10:58 am

  17. Geoff, oh dear. That argument really doesn’t work for me. Absolutely anything on earth can be connected back to the gospel of Jesus Christ. So why go to church to hear statements at a third-generation remove from that gospel when I could get the same by staying home and watching the Sopranos?

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — June 20, 2007 @ 11:00 am

  18. I live in a ward where it is not unusual for there to be no women speaking in SM and believe me, you notice a difference.

    I think RT is right. I think talks should be more Christ-centered. I think giving someone a General Conference talk as a subject is usually pretty lame, too, because they just end up reiterating everything in the talk.

    As for what we as attendees could be doing to make church more spiritual…all of the basics—praying, reading the scriptures, participating, etc. I once attended a ward that was so boring I started taking notes during SM just to force myself to pay attention. And I started putting stars next to the times I felt the Spirit. Sometimes I was lucky if there was one star but often I was surprised by how many there ended up being.

    Comment by Susan M — June 20, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  19. Melinda,
    Brilliant. I know I’ve filled one of those out before too. Great idea.

    RT,
    A conversation that focusses on what we’re not getting out of our church meetings has the underlying question, “what am I getting?” This is not to say that you are not giving, I’m just saying that the conversation in-and-of-itself has that underlying question. Never for a second would I doubt your commitment and service to the Church. Neither do I think there is anything wrong with bringing these valid points up (as I mentioned), it’s just that I’m in the position of that has an influence on the quality of these very meetings and feel defensive because it’s much more difficult to do than to say. That’s why I’m asking for practical solutions.

    And FWIW, I completely agree with your suggestion (to focus more on Christ). We emphasize that every chance we get.

    Comment by Rusty — June 20, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  20. You must be joking RT.

    What good is a talk after talk after talk about faith and repentance if there is are no specific principles being focused on? We hear talks about the character attributes displayed by Jesus Christ and we learn to exercise greater faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by repenting and changing our own behavior and character to more closely match His character and behavior. We utilize revelation from God via to the Gift of the Holy Ghost to help motivate that repentance all the while.

    How does watching the Sopranos do that for you?

    (Or you are suggesting gobs and gobs of talks on baptism?)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 20, 2007 @ 11:18 am

  21. In a previous ward, my wife and I kept a score card of when Sacrament Meeting speakers actually mentioned Christ or the atonement, other than in the ritualistic “in the name of…” context. The three-month average was once per meeting. When we have scriptures telling us to preach nothing but, this strikes me as odd. Yet it’s been the norm in most wards I’ve ever attended.

    It’s really not terribly clear to me, by the way, that bishops have the ability to really change how our meetings go. When I’ve seen bishops try, the folks giving talks and lessons typically just disregard it. I mean, bishops do schedule some people and not others, and maybe assign topics — which doesn’t always mean that the topics will actually be used. But it’s hard to get people to really change when they have an established habit, isn’t it? And our meetings are surely a habit.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — June 20, 2007 @ 11:18 am

  22. In a previous ward, my wife and I kept a score card of when Sacrament Meeting speakers actually mentioned Christ

    Oh, gag.

    I feel a grouchy post coming on… stay tuned.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 20, 2007 @ 11:21 am

  23. Geoff, I don’t really get your argument. Read Paul or 3 Nephi some time. Those seem like pretty great examples of Christ-centered discourse, examples I basically never see emulated in Mormon Sacrament Meetings. Talks about budgeting time, working hard at our callings, paying tithing, being nice… Well, it’s all about trying to be good. Which is good. But any morality tale gives you that, and it’s not really the heart of the gospel, is it? The gospel is more, it’s the power of Christ unto salvation and supernatural power for our perfection. It’s not self-help.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — June 20, 2007 @ 11:21 am

  24. RT,

    We preach Jesus Christ when we discuss how to be like him. Saying his name a lot is not preaching Jesus.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 20, 2007 @ 11:25 am

  25. It’s really not terribly clear to me, by the way, that bishops have the ability to really change how our meetings go.

    This is the exact reason I put in the bullit points at the end of my post (and reiterated it to Kristine) and is the exact reason I’m soliciting advice based on that fact. How can we practically overcome it?

    Yes, we could probably mention Christ a little more in our meetings. Great.

    Any other suggestions?

    Comment by Rusty — June 20, 2007 @ 11:28 am

  26. No, that’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ, Geoff. Being like Christ is the goal — but the gospel is the means. That’s what we don’t talk about. We discuss what we want to be — perfect — but not how to get there. A lot of our people don’t know.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — June 20, 2007 @ 11:29 am

  27. RT, I actually agree with you on that need for more “How to” instead of “what to”. I think a concern I have with this is that the “how to” is debateable in some contexts, while in others it is different person to person.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 20, 2007 @ 11:43 am

  28. Once in Utah, I went to a ward where the Youth Speaker read a scripture, then the other speakers gave exegesis. If you have a Youth Speaker participation issue, something liek this may help.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 20, 2007 @ 11:45 am

  29. Our ward has a tradition of every advancement the youth get, they have to come up and share some goals and bear their testimony. Of course every youth says the same thing—get good grades, serve a mission, go to college, get married in the temple—but I think it’s really good for them.

    Comment by Susan M — June 20, 2007 @ 11:50 am

  30. Matt,
    That’s an interesting idea. We don’t have a “youth speaker participation” issue as much as we have a “youth participation” issue. Not very many youth in our ward.

    Susan,
    That’s also interesting. Not a bad idea.

    Comment by Rusty — June 20, 2007 @ 11:55 am

  31. I read somewhere that a majority of people list public speaking as their number one fear. Maybe it would be helpful to use a fifth Sunday combined meeting to teach people how to be better public speakers. Someone from the building library could show what books are available and someone could show how to use the church website to find quotes and ideas. Tips for speaking clearly and relaxation techniques could be practiced. I think this would help people feel more comfortable with speaking in public.

    Comment by Tammy — June 20, 2007 @ 11:56 am

  32. Being like Christ is the goal — but the gospel is the means.

    I’m afraid I don’t even know what this sentence means. However I can tell we are headed for a theological threadjack so I will stop for now on this subject.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 20, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

  33. I’d certainly like to hear more talks centered around specific scriptures rather than conference talks.

    Comment by Don Clifton — June 20, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

  34. This post is where we should start – recognize that sacrament meeting could be better. Several conferences ago, it was mentioned that Sacrament meetings should be given appropriate attention. We can improve the meeting – on many fronts.

    When I served in unit leadership, we set a series of topics for the year. (With the option, of course, that it may need to change.) Topics were based on the LDS Concordance topics so that there would be plenty of scriptural support for the topic.

    We also let the ward music chair know the topics so that corresponding music could be planned.

    Then, since we knew the topic, it was easier to choose speakers.

    And, we tried to make assignments at least 2 weeks in advance. (BTW, not-a-few people admitted that even though they had 2 weeks notice, they still didn’t prepare before Friday.)

    If we felt the person may need help, we would even provide resources. (I’m dating myself – this was way before the internet was common. But, letting speakers know where to get material still can be helpful.)

    We as members in the congregation need to recognize what we can do to enhance the Spirit. Teach – no, expect – no, require our children to be appropriate in meetings. Possibly, they should learn that taking them out when misbehaving is much less preferable than sitting quitely in the meeting. (oh, and, please, before this gets flooded with all the “exceptions,” – I realize this is a generalization – but, one that is a worthy goal.) This really needs to start at home before arrival at the meeting.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 20, 2007 @ 12:16 pm

  35. Tammy,
    That’s a good idea. In the past we’ve spent the fifth Sunday discussing how to be better teachers, but being better speakers would be a great topic too (and applicable in different ways).

    Geoff,
    Thanks. I imagine your discussion at the Thang will be great.

    Don,
    The problem with the Conference Talk topic is that because it’s already a talk, it’s way too easy to regurgitate it. Scriptures not as much. But either way I hate it when people preface a quote by saying, “and here’s a quote by President Hinckley…” as if he were saying it in order for it to be later quoted. I’d like some context and explanation. I hate vacuum quotes.

    Mondo,
    We actually do many of those suggestions right now. We have all the topics for the whole year already planned out. We try to call people at least two weeks in advance, often more (in order to accomodate them and accomodate certain topics). The music coordinator also has access to that list and chooses the hymns and special musical numbers based on the topics.

    Ironically, ever since we’ve become uber-organized we’ve had waaaaaay more people bail on us at the last minute or not even show up to speak (and yes, we call in a reminder a few days before).

    Comment by Rusty — June 20, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

  36. Side comment on surveys… I did one for new members of RS and it was very interesting to me how FEW people would answer the question “what was your least favorite calling.” I had lots of takers on most favorite, but very few people would lay it on the line and even answer the question when it came to callings they hated.

    Comment by claire — June 20, 2007 @ 12:32 pm

  37. “I read somewhere that a majority of people list public speaking as their number one fear.”

    This is true. Number two is…death.

    Comment by Tim — June 20, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  38. Rusty –

    What’s a poor boy to do?

    I really appreciate this post. It’s definitely an uphill battle. But, one that is worth the fight. We just CANNOT be satisfied with the status quo.

    A Church of Christ friend of mine commented when I explained how we do Sacrament meeting, “Oh, well. I guess you get what you pay for.”

    And, if you really think about it, he was right. Are each of us paying the price to have sacrament meetings be what they should be?

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 20, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  39. On nursery: I’ve made the suggestion before that nursery be a stake calling — so it can be staffed by folks not attending sacrament at the time. Which, frankly, I thought was a superb idea for wards/stakes that have buildings which house more than one ward. As for the whole “assign helpers” or “ask for help” idea, it’s a nice thought: but no one wants to be the object of such charity. As harsh as it sounds, I think the most needy parents would probably cringe at the thought of being assigned a handler. The ideal, of course, would be that people befriend these parents and help them out of sincere, organic concern. But that’s not easy to come by… and doesn’t really address allowing the single mom / overburdened parent a chance to really focus in Sacrament meeting, as they’ll be anxious about how their children are impact their fellow ward members. Which brings me back to nursery being a stake calling.

    On speaking/praying: it’s absolutely like pulling teeth to get anyone — even the most “active” people in our ward to speak or say a prayer. Folks think nothing of declining a request from the bishopric — and do so, frequently. Or, as it happened last week, decide to completely ignore the assigned topic in order to pontificate on some spiritual hobby topic.

    On topics: I can’t recall a time (though I’m certain it’s happened) when the central theme of Sacrament meeting wasn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ… and I’ve attended some pretty odd wards.

    RoastedTomatoes: wow… where’s the vitriol coming from?

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 20, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

  40. One problem with nursery during Sacrament: That’s 3 hours of nursery! I don’t think my 3-year old (or many other kids) could handle three hours of nursery!

    Comment by Tim — June 20, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

  41. Tim: who says you have to leave your kids in there all three hours?

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 20, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  42. True. I guess my wife could take them. :)

    Comment by Tim — June 20, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

  43. Or you..

    :P

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 20, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

  44. Maybe this has already been mentioned here, but someone (Russell Arben Fox?) was in a ward where speakers were asked to prepare their own topics 6 months (!) in advance. There were a few check-in phone calls over the months to see how things were going. He said that quality of the talks was much better.

    Another option: ask a really good speaker/teacher to either (1) teach a class (fireside? 5th sunday?) on how to give a talk or (2) to contact each speaker 2-3 weeks in advance and walk through their talk with them.

    Comment by Julie M. Smith — June 20, 2007 @ 1:35 pm

  45. I find that church is much more enjoyable when one is a self-righteous git who likes to cry repentance unto his brothers and sister in Gospel Doctrine and Elders Quorum.

    Comment by Seth R. — June 20, 2007 @ 1:37 pm

  46. While I agree with the organizational elements Mondo suggests, I suggest leaving some slack available for the speaker to speak on what they are interested in, or taking the time to find out what the speaker is currently interested in and then finding a topic that dovetails nicely with their area of interest. It allows the speaker a better opportunity to give a “great” talk as they are interested in it, and it gives you an opportunity to butter them up as a “subject matter expert” on the topic.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 20, 2007 @ 1:40 pm

  47. “contact each speaker 2-3 weeks in advance and walk through their talk with them”

    I have an issue with that. I don’t write out my talks beforehand. That’s not to say I don’t prepare. I just don’t write them out.

    I was once inspired to wait until the afternoon before giving a talk to even think about it. At the time I thought it was crazy but it turned out something happened Saturday morning that I needed to talk about. Or I should say, someone needed to hear about.

    Comment by Susan M — June 20, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

  48. Silus,
    Interesting. So people would go to other wards and act as nursery for the hour that the ward is in their own sacrament meeting and then they’d go back to their own ward for their own sacrament meeting?

    Julie,
    6 months eh? That’s actually not a bad idea. I’m skeptical because people usually write their talk the day before they give it (regardless of how much time they’ve been given). But if there is a regular reminder and they have months to be pondering the topic, there really could be some change. I like it.

    The second half of your second suggestion is interesting, to have someone assigned to help people with their talks. Not a bad idea but I wonder about how some people would take it, if some people would be like, “I can do it myself thank you very much, I don’t need some other member to help me out.”

    Seth,
    The great thing about being self-righteousness is that you’re always right, which really is satisfying.

    Comment by Rusty — June 20, 2007 @ 1:44 pm

  49. Matt,
    We try to do that. We tell them “here are the topics for the next four weeks, which one would you be most interested in speaking on” and usually there is something they are interested in.

    Comment by Rusty — June 20, 2007 @ 1:46 pm

  50. On nursery: in most mult-ward buildings there’s overlap… so ward X is in Sunday School while ward Y is in Sacrament… why not just invite ward Y to use ward X’s nursery during sacrament?

    There’d have to be stake oversight to coordinate and to offer the necessary extra modicum of assurance needed in this new case… not to mention the stewardship issue.

    On talks: I really really like the idea of giving a range of topics available to the speaker. I agree that doing such would likely improve talks. I also like the long lead-time… not because lead times are necessary, but because they might mitigate the “put-upon” feelings of some members… I also like the idea of having some kind of speaker’s meeting.

    Wards used to have a prayer meeting before church for sacrament meeting participants. But that seems to either have been officially nixed or just fallen out of favor… but what if there were a get-together for everyone giving a talk during June some time in May. Folks don’t have to bring their talks… just ideas. Then a member of the bishopric could give appropriate counsel. Including use of online resources (there’s a whole resource section on the Church website for “writing a talk”); what to avoid (mea culpas, atopical material, personal doctrine); bishopric expectations; encouragement to coordinate the speakers sharing the pulpit that day and coordination with the sacrament chorister (requesting special numbers, asking what music precedes or follows you, so you might include passages from the music in your talk); et cetera.

    Anyway…

    Beyond these issues, and returning to the posted topic, I think special fasts can be powerful tools in bringing wards together/improving sacrament meetings. One of the strangest/best experiences I’ve had in sacrament meeting was when the bishop asked us all to kneel in the pews as he offered a special prayer for the welfare of the ward.

    * shrugs *

    * looks around for next commenter *

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 20, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

  51. Silus,
    That’s a really interesting idea, to have a meeting in which the future speakers get together and discuss the topic. I don’t know how that could actually happen (or when) with people’s schedules and such. Perhaps it’s a 15-minute discussion after church every week with the following week’s speakers.

    Comment by Rusty — June 20, 2007 @ 2:15 pm

  52. Hello everyone. Rusty, great topic. This seems quite productive (more so than the BCC one), so I thought I’d join the discussion. I’m in the bishopric, so many of your points hit home.

    1.) We currently ask the speaker 3 months in advance. The theory behind it is that even though most people will put of writing the talk until the last week, they will be aware of the topic. This causes the person to ponder the topic and consider different themes or angles. They’ll often change direction several times before settling on one approach at the end. The feedback we get is that it works, that it greatly benefits the speaker (they’ll learn more in their preparation) and the talks seem to be better than average. Of course, we have to follow up one week before. We’ve forgotten that a couple times and had people not show up.

    2.) Every topic we assign includes “Jesus Christ” in the title, and a reminder to center the topic on Him. (Example: “How to draw closer to the Savior through the law of tithing” instead of just “tithing.”)

    3.) The concern I’d have with the nursery proposal is that nursery is much more fun than Sacrament. We have several families that take their children out of SM and into nursery if they aren’t behaving. However, this creates an incentive to misbehave so the kids can go play in the nursery. Each week, the kids quickly act up so that they can be taken out. Yes, if it was structured you could say there is no incentive to misbehave because it just happens, but when do you bring them back to Sacrament? Age 3? My wife will probably say our 4 yr old, 2 yr old and 7 mo old are all equally difficult. If the nursery option is only for nursery age (18 to 36 months) that doesn’t solve my wife’s problems. But if the nursery option is for all, at what age do you “punish” the child by reintegrating them back into Sacrament?

    In my ward, several of the young women will come and help some of the younger, larger families. Also a couple of my kids will go sit with some of the older couples that are pseudo-grandparents. That seems to work well.

    4.) Lastly, I wish we could turn everyone in my ward into a great speaker. But since we seem to be unable to, the best thing is to have great speakers speak often enough to set a high standard. That way, those who maybe can improve are motivated to try and have the proper example to follow.

    Comment by Joe B. — June 20, 2007 @ 2:15 pm

  53. In my ward when I was a teenager there was a sister in the ward who was assigned to teach a little public speaking class in her home for the teens before they gave their first sacrament meeting talk. I don’t remember many details of what was taught, but I remember her stressing that we should write an interesting introduction to our talks and not just say what the topic of the talk is. I would love it if we could eradicate the phrase, “The Bishop asked me to speak on [blank].”

    Comment by Tom — June 20, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

  54. Do your wards have the speakers meet for a prayer before the meeting? Some of the wards I’ve been in did that, some didn’t. I think it’s an excellent idea.

    I’ll admit I’m a little turned off by the idea of a public speaking class, but I’m someone who’s had one and actually enjoys public speaking. However for me talking in church is almost a completely different ball of wax. I think people need to speak with the Spirit more than they need to know how to structure a speech.

    Comment by Susan M — June 20, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

  55. #51) The 15 minutes after block idea sounds like a good compromise.

    #52.3) I agree that taking children out of SM when they’re mis-behaving and plopping them in playland only reinforces bad behavior… that’s why it would be expected that parents drop children off before sacrament. As for reintegration… that would have to be worked-out. But church isn’t perfect now, so why expect a proposed solution to not have its share of problems. And why not expand nursery to 40 months?

    As for “punishing” children by taking them to sacrament… why “punish” them by bringing them to church in the first place? The problem, here, actually lies with a changing culture… it used to be that there were places where children were required to be quiet that were scattered throughout the a child’s weekly experience. At school, at home, in a restaurant… you name it. But today’s church-going children are likely to have only one place in their lives where reverence is required: sacrament meeting… less that 1% of their week. How can we expect anything but insubordination when we train them in such a way? We take more care teaching our dogs manners than our children.

    But I digress…

    In my mind, the solution is mostly aimed at single mothers whose only spiritual nourishment likely comes during sacrament… and anything we can do to help these sisters who are too often marginalized would be a good thing™ in my book. As for the young sisters idea… our ward has no youth. Only young marrieds and the elderly.

    * shrugs *

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 20, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

  56. Susan: I don’t know about others, but I wasn’t thinking a speaking class so much as a opportunity to coordinate, and an opportunity for the bishopric to drive-home some basic expectations and to encourage follow-through.

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 20, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  57. As a teacher, I know that one of the hardest parts of the job is giving the assignments in a manner that will yield te resulting assignment I actually want. In my experience, members of the branch presidency could really improve. A few suggestions:

    –ask in person, not on the phone or e-mail
    –have the assignment in writing
    –include not only a topic, but some supporting scrpture(s)
    –differentiate topics for different speakers (you won’t believe it, but I had one BP who gave everyone for the whole month the EXACT SAME assignment. Those who spoke on the fourth week were hard-pressed to be original)
    –specifically, and in writing ask the speaker to connect the topic to Jesus Christ and his gospel
    –give the speaker ample time to prepare (at leaset several weeks)
    –check in with speakers one week in advance and a few days before (will probably reduce your no show crisis)
    –give the speaker your number or e-mail so they can get to you with questions
    –specify the time requirement
    –keep the topic and assignment sheet concise
    –write assignment in speaker’s native language if possible
    –express confidence in your speaker

    For new members:
    –make talk preperation part of the Gospel Essentials or new member lessons (I believe there is an appropriate link at lds.org)
    –be available for assistance writing and practicing their talk
    –ask them when they would feel comfortable speaking
    –allow the “practice runs” in smaller settings like SS or RS
    –remember that most people have not had the years of public speaking practice that growing up LDS provides

    Comment by a spectator — June 20, 2007 @ 3:16 pm

  58. Susan (54), the church handbook instructs us not to hold those prayer meetings.

    Comment by Joe B. — June 20, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

  59. You could make participation dependent on private spirituality indicators. No one can speak or teach unless they are praying twice a day and reading scriptures once a day.

    Of course, that might leave you with just four people to run the ward.

    I used to do everything my seminary teachers told me to do. I read my scriptures every day (seriously, I only missed about 4 days in 16 years) and prayed at least twice a day. Now I’m more like everyone else in that I only pray several times a week and read scriptures mostly when preparing my lesson. I can sense a real difference between the lessons I taught when my private worship was up to snuff, and my teaching now that I’m a slacker.

    If you had an anonymous survey asking how many people actually do pray twice a day and read scriptures daily, how many people would be able to say yes? Do you think peoples’ private religious observances affects how well they are able to speak or teach in Church? I think it does. I’ve heard talks on prayer from people who admitted outright that they rarely pray. I’ve heard talks on scripture study from people who haven’t picked up the scriptures since their missions (and say so). Makes me wonder how many other speakers are just regurgitating what they’ve heard someone else say without any spiritual strength of their own to draw on.

    I need a longer lead time to prepare a talk or lesson partially because I have to spend about a week praying and reading scriptures regularly in order to feel like I’m going to say what God wants me to say. Then I finish the lesson, breathe a sign of relief, and don’t bother praying the next day.

    Comment by Melinda — June 20, 2007 @ 4:51 pm

  60. And a p.s. to my comment. The suggestion is tongue in cheek. Of course you can’t ask people how often they pray and read scriptures and base their participation on the answer.

    Comment by Melinda — June 20, 2007 @ 5:03 pm

  61. Rusty’s parents had a rule that it was always more comfortable in Sacrament meeting than being taken out. They also provided some quiet materials for them to use/read during the meeting, but were also required to listen to one of the speaker’s talks – take some notes. They even had a reward system when they were good and could later tell what the talk was about.

    And now look at Rusty, after being taken out of Sacrament meeting numerous times…and being made to feel it, he now wants to make the meeting more interesting…good plan!

    Comment by Don Clifton — June 20, 2007 @ 6:10 pm

  62. I’m amazed how much of this is about nursery. Of course I’m in a singles ward…

    We need more blog posts like this. Observations that lead to thinking, innovation, and practical application, particularly I think after what Pres. Hinckley said in the last Ensign article.

    I’m always for more things music can do for sacrament, whatever it may be…or rather, whatever strengths your ward may have. Getting those with the most talent to perform more often (possibly in ensambles with each other to mix it up), using unorthodox songs (though still doctrinally aligned and in the spirit of the gospel musically, of course) and instruments, etc etc.

    Sorry, that’s all I got, everyone else already made all the good ideas.

    Comment by Bret — June 20, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

  63. I was in a ward where the stake leaders were worried about our spiritual health. The bishopric decided that every week the topic would be the Savior. Every week, every speaker. You wouldn’t believe the variety, and the leaders noticed a difference. (This is not far from the person who said they give topics that include the Savior’s name in the title.)

    I don’t like the nursery idea at all, although I understand the desire for it. The kids get sent away for the other two blocks of time. I want the family together, even if it’s like going to the dentist at times. Those times don’t last forever, and I don’t know how else the children are going to learn to do church if they aren’t in church.

    I also think a good dose of patience and charity can go a long way. To mostly let “the talented ones” speak misses half of the point of giving people the chance to speak. To be honest, I love to speak in Church, and a key reason is because the preparation benefits me so much. Those who may not be the best speakers may be the ones who need the prep opportunity more than anyone.

    I agree that Church meetings can be improved (training, spiritual/gospel focus, etc.), but I think it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that Church isn’t supposed to be all about receiving. A lot of it is about giving, and sometimes the giving is being patient with someone who is inexperienced, or scared, or new to the Church, or disorganized, or who approaches the gospel differently. I am quick to zone out when there is a talk that isn’t doing anything for me, but once in a while, when I think about making the effort (note to self, I need to make this effort more), I try to open my heart to what the person is trying to say, or I try to put myself in his/her shoes, or pray for the person and for the Spirit, etc., I find that my experience is different. If nothing else, I can feel more love for the person, and to me, that is a big part of why we gather together. We nurture each other with the good word, but also with our love.

    Comment by m&m — June 20, 2007 @ 9:01 pm

  64. We’ve been in our ward for almost three years and have never been asked to speak or play the piano or sing or even to say a prayer in sacrament meeting. I’m guessing because I have an expired temple recommend. I wonder if there is a policy about that? It seems extremely odd.

    Comment by Sue — June 20, 2007 @ 9:08 pm

  65. It is important for the children to attend Sacrament meeting. It is an investment in your children. The payback is real. I remember wishing for a quiet, spiritual, uplifting Sacrament Meeting, wishing my wiggly toddlers could sit still, wishing I could disappear when their disruptions called for taking them out of the meeting. I feel different now. I don’t feel annoyed by others taking their children out or by wiggly toddlers. I see Sacrament Meeting as a time to teach children and personal study time as a time to make sure I can feel the spirit everyday, not just at Sacrament Meeting. As your children mature and make choices for themselves you will be so grateful for every effort you made, every opportunity you provided for them to gain testimony of attending church meeting. Young children can feel the spirit, take them where they will.

    Comment by pbj — June 20, 2007 @ 9:18 pm

  66. m&m: thanks for your comments. I agree we need to pray for those who are participating,also for our Bishopric, for ourselves and family members. If we show by example how to get something out of Sacrament Meeting, our children will learn to do the same.

    Comment by pbj — June 20, 2007 @ 9:24 pm

  67. Amen to #65, #63 and #61!!

    Sacrament Meeting is the most important hour of Church. Of the week! I want my children to experience it and learn to love it. They can’t do that running in the halls or playing with toys in the nursery.

    As to other suggestions: Stop yakking about it on the internet and go talk to a human being (a Bishop would be good) if there’s so much desire for increased perfection. Rusty is a lucky Bishopric member to now have so many suggestions, but I doubt everyone here is in Rusty’s ward, so…

    Comment by cheryl — June 20, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  68. All this talk about children and sacrament meeting seems to missing the point that we’re talking about children under the age of three — and probably only the ones that are the most difficult to handle.

    Would you rather a single mother or mother who is otherwise taken-up in a calling that keeps here occupied during the rest of the block to take her child _out_ … or give her the option of letting her toddler stay in nursery until it’s older/better behaved/more manageable?

    Sheesh… I’m not advocating banishing the 5 or 6 year-olds.

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 20, 2007 @ 10:05 pm

  69. Okay, not to be rude, but do you really honestly think that we don’t know the age of nursery kids? Especially since we have them?

    An answer: I would have the members of the ward do what they did with my former Bishop’s wife when she was left “alone” to tend for her two boys, one of which was autistic: They helped her. And she could stay in Sacrament Meeting. One couple even brought things to distract the boys each week so their mother could enjoy part of Sacrament Meeting –and so could they. Why does the option always have to be “take out the kid” or “don’t come”? Why can’t it be “Let’s all help each other”?

    And why do people see nursery time as “babysitting” all the time?! Nursery is a prepatory time for children where they have a lesson, music time, play time, and snack time. It’s not babysitting. Creating nursery during Sacrament Meeting would be seen as babysitting, because they are not a part of the rest of the Ward. Yes, a single mother would get great benefit from nursery during Sacrament Meeting, but the kid sure wouldn’t…

    Comment by cheryl — June 20, 2007 @ 10:22 pm

  70. I have found the answer to not liking church is not going. :)

    Comment by veritas — June 20, 2007 @ 11:02 pm

  71. It’s pretty much complaints here with me.

    But this is a very good post, thank you.

    Although I think anybody who asks me to talk should feel guilty. No offense.

    Shock collars have worked wonders on my dogs. Let’s donate and hand them out at the door, numbered and give the remote to the people sitting next to them. Not their parents. Give it a few weeks, send them to a new ward.

    Then in nursery we could make fake shock collars in cute colors and make up a song about:

    “If I wiggle or give a yap,
    I will get a zap!

    I won’t kick!
    I won’t scream!

    I’ll be nice!
    I’ll think of Jesus!

    Sister Jones loves me I know!
    For the collar tells me so.

    ….And we’d all be in the National Enquirer and the church would get sued and Mitt Romney would definitely lose the election.

    But it sure would be quiet. It’d still be boring though.
    Hey! Maybe we should put them on the speakers! I vote for that!

    Comment by annegb — June 21, 2007 @ 4:43 am

  72. In my ward the Ward Council floated the idea of assigning a general topic a month in advance, letting a dozen members know about it so they could prepare a 10 minute talk, and then have the Bishop ask from the stand, as directed by the Spirit, some of the people to give their talks. I believe some missions do this for zone conferences. The thought was if more people were invested in the topic and prepared, the general spirit of the meeting would increase. I think it was nixed become some felt it would be to lottery-like and the overwhelming stress would detract from the spirit. I liked the idea and thought we should at least try it once, but then I love to speak in church so I was a little biased.

    Comment by TStevens — June 21, 2007 @ 7:03 am

  73. I wasn’t missing the point. My comments are directed to the young wiggly, needing attention, can’t sit still for Sacrament Meeting age children. Some have been or are single sisters, some have been or are ‘single’ mothers in Sacrament Meeting for reasons stated before of the father being in a calling that keeps him from sitting with his family, some mothers are ‘single’ at church because the fathers don’t attend. Children in Sacrament Meeting is part of the experience.
    Ponder and pray for ideas to make it work, if you need help, pray to be humble and accept the help needed. (I realize the children we are talking about may not want others to help, they want their mothers.) I don’t want to make others feel that their family is disruptive, but I would be grateful to help anyone if I knew that help would be accepted.
    My comments are still that the spirit we are seeking for ourselves in Sacrament meeting is also available to our young, wiggly, needing to be taught babies and toddlers. Teach them how and why.
    If the problem is others children, Try sitting closer to the front and find ways to assist where you will be appreciated. We all need help in one way or another.

    Comment by pbj — June 21, 2007 @ 7:27 am

  74. #72 I think in my ward you’d have a dozen less people there that week.

    Comment by claire — June 21, 2007 @ 10:36 am

  75. How strict are you as a bishopric with the dress code? I’ve found there is a strong correlation between the ratio of white shirts (with button-down collars of course) to priesthood holders and good sacrament meetings.

    Comment by Peter LLC — June 21, 2007 @ 11:08 am

  76. Peter,
    You mean strict with ourselves or strict in enforcing a dress code on the priesthood holders in the ward?

    Last week I conducted and wore a pink shirt. Usually those passing the sacrament wear white shirts but not always. Probably 60% of the men are wearing white shirts on any given Sunday. I personally have never found any correlation between shirt color and the quality of sacrament meeting but I’ve never paid attention to it so what do I know.

    Comment by Rusty — June 21, 2007 @ 11:40 am

  77. #75) Peter: what kind of correlation? Positive (more white shirts = better) or negative (more white shirts equals worse)?

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 21, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

  78. Well, since you asked…

    1. Call nursery workers who will let parents bring their children in before they turn 18 months, as long as they stay in there with them. (My husband and I have a toddler who can’t stay in nursery without a parent and an almost 1yo who can no longer sit through SS and RS/PH, so neither of us goes to SS or RS/PH. Ever. If the 1yo could go into nursery with a parent we could take turns and one of us could go to nursery and the other actually attend the adult classes.)

    2. Ask speakers to speak at least 2 weeks in advance (though it sounds like you already do this). Also, for those weeks when you have someone cancel, send around a sign-up for people who would be willing to substitute-speak on short notice (like they do for substitute primary teachers). Some of us actually don’t mind speaking or teaching, even with only half an hour notice. You still won’t get a talk as well-prepared, but you would eliminate a lot of stress and angst.

    3. Get changing tables installed in both the men’s and women’s bathrooms.

    4. Go into the mothers’ lounge. Observe. (Um, probably best done while there are no mothers actually using it.) How many chairs does it have? How many nursing mothers does your ward have? If there’s a large disparity, get more chairs, and possibly set up a bigger room to be used as a mothers’ lounge during SM. Also, does the speaker work? The mothers want to be able to listen to SM talks when they’re in there, but also want to be able to turn the volume down if they’re trying to get their baby to sleep.

    5. Try to keep announcements short. We try to keep the toddler in sacrament meeting until after the actual sacrament (that’s a huge accomplishment for us), so that we can all actually take the sacrament (which is what we’re there for). This is much easier if the sacrament is closer to the beginning of the meeting.

    And yes, almost all of these are aimed at helping young parents with unruly children, but well, that’s what I am right now, so those are the suggestions I have.

    And thank you, Rusty, for asking for input to make things better.

    Comment by Vada — June 21, 2007 @ 7:28 pm

  79. First, I didn’t read any of the 78 posts before this one, so I apologize if any of this has already been mentioned.

    Giving talks:

    – quit assigning lame topics. Either don’t assign a topic at all or give a very broad topic that is based on the basic principles of the doctrine. Why not for the whole month of July choose “Faith” to be the topic. Let the members struggle with the spirit to come up with what should be said.

    - Let’s hear from the leadership in the ward more often. Let them talk about the doctrines that they feel a need to talk about.

    Sacrament meeting:

    -Start and end your meeting on time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It shows a complete lack of respect for those who show up early or on time when you wait for the stragglers to come in. It shows a lack of respect to every teacher / instructor when you allow the meeting to go over time. Take control of the meeting and tell that long-winded high councilor to sit down!

    Priesthood – specifically Elders Quorum:

    - Build us our own room to meet in. If you treat the EQ like an after though, they are bound to act like an after thought. Every other group / quorum has their own room to meet in, but for some reason we are always put in the kitchen, a corner of the cultural hall, overflow area, etc… (this may not be the case everywhere, but it certainly has been my expierence).

    Classroom Setting:

    - specifically for adults, this needs to be less of a lecture and more of a discussion. It’s no wonder people feel like they get more out of reading a blog than they do sitting in a sunday school or priesthood / rs class. This is interactive and everyone can participate. I want to interact with my fellow ward members, but all we get is a lecture so the instructor can show off how much he knows.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me vent. I’ll go back and read the rest of the posts now.

    Comment by JM — June 22, 2007 @ 7:37 am

  80. I actually DID read the 79 comments before this one, though I didn’t intend to when I saw the # of comments already posted!

    So, having read them all, I was a surprised that 2 of the biggest Sacrament meeting “helps” I’ve ever noticed have not even been mentioned. Here are two things I’ve seen done in previous wards that seemed to help my family (yes, with 3 young children) as well as myself, get more out of the meetings:

    1) The conducting bishopric member would always remind us, just before and/or just after the passing of the Sacrament, the purpose of Sacrament meeting. He would focus us on the fact that taking the bread and water, renewing our covenants, and remembering Jesus Christ was in fact the most important part of the meeting — of the week. I really liked that, and even when I had to chase kids down the hall for most of the day’s meetings, at least I felt like I had participated in the most important part.

    2) A bishopric in one ward took a 5th Sunday, being sure as many adults as possible were in attendance (had YM/YW take over Primary so the teachers could be there), and emphasized REVERENCE. He spoke of the principles (experiences of GBH, quotes from BKP) and then had ward members (some w/ young children) speak briefly on how they try to maintain reverence in Sacrament meeting. This inspired many FHEs on reverence in our home, to practice outside of church.

    The bishop also set up some guidelines for us as ward members, which were carried out rather beautifully (with a few occasional reminders) for the ensuing year we were in the ward. One suggestion was to “assume no one in the chapel wants to talk to you,” allowing others that sacred time to listen to prelude music and meditate. What was remarkable about this was that the bishopric followed it too. They set a goal to not conduct business in the chapel and to be in their seats 7 minutes before the meeting started. They took that time to ponder themselves and gain their own personal revelation on ward members, issues, etc.

    They simply enphasized the chapel as a sacred place, and the foyers as the place to socialize and conduct other business. I was amazed at how responsive my children were to the reverence in the chapel each Sunday, and how much more I personally gained from those meetings.

    Comment by Amy — June 22, 2007 @ 8:13 pm

  81. -

    Start and end your meeting on time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It shows a complete lack of respect for those who show up early or on time when you wait for the stragglers to come in. It shows a lack of respect to every teacher / instructor when you allow the meeting to go over time. Take control of the meeting and tell that long-winded high councilor to sit down!

    Here, Here! I totally agree with this one! I have wondered (our stake visitors often run around 10 minutes overtime) if they realize the impression they are giving to the rest of us. I think of all the primary and SS teachers who sacrifice personal time preparing their lesson, only to have their time shortened by sacrament meetings running into overtime. I know this isn’t particularly kind of me, but I think it makes the HC or whomever appear rather arrogant. It’s like they think that because they have a stake calling, what they have to say is automatically more important than auxilliary teachers. I don’t know about just telling them to sit down though? Is there a polite way to do that???

    Comment by AJ — June 24, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  82. Okay, so a bunch of the ideas are to have nursery during SM as well as during the other classes so that the parents can get some church out of church. But what about those who would tend to the children? I have been in 4 different nurseries in 4 years of marriage. I’ve been to Sunday School and Relief Society probably for 6-9 months the entire time because of it. I have learned to hate nursery and dread going to church. (It’s great birth control! I never want to have kids after church is over.) IF you decide to have a nursery during SM, make the calling a three month tops rotating calling, so that the people in nursery get something out of church too, not just the parents. The idea of making it a stake calling is a good idea, but I would not want to do that either, as it would require me to be at church for 4 hours instead of three, and I already think 3 is too much some weeks. Of course, I’m in nursery.

    Comment by Naomi — June 25, 2007 @ 2:31 am

  83. One suggestion I haven’t seen among the many (mostly excellent) ones here: Multiple Gospel Doctrine classes — small enough that there can be real discussion that involves all, not just some, class members. Oh — and teachers of all classes who understand that their call is to teach all class members, not just those who happen to attend. (No Gospel Doctrine teacher can fulfill the call if the class includes practically all the adults on the ward.)

    Comment by JrL — June 25, 2007 @ 7:35 am

  84. JrL

    I think that would be most useful if the classes were being taught at different difficulty levels, so members could gravitate toward the level where they feel most comfortable.

    Comment by Seth R. — June 25, 2007 @ 9:28 am

  85. re:83

    I have been in a few wards where this was implemented.

    It was great! I think in the one ward, we had three different classed. In this particular ward, they did outline different age groups or levels of understanding, but nobody was forced to go to any of them. And none of them suffered from a lack of attendance.

    Comment by JM — June 25, 2007 @ 9:44 am

  86. Are you kidding, Seth? That would just set up a pride battle with most everyone attending the most advanced class even if they shouldn’t!>:)

    Comment by Bret — June 25, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

  87. Well… then they can’t complain when the doctrine careens off into uncharted waters can they?

    Comment by Seth R. — June 25, 2007 @ 9:21 pm

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