Catholics "celebrate" mass, Protestants worship . . . and Mormons attend a meeting in a meetinghouse.

Catholics “celebrate” mass, Protestants worship . . . and Mormons attend a meeting in a meetinghouse.

A couple of weeks ago I attended one of the most memorable and spiritual sacrament meetings I’ve experienced in my twenty years as a Mormon.

After the usual ward business and passing of the sacrament, we learned we were going to do something different than the usual standard. (Which, if you’re not Mormon, goes like this: have a youth speaker for 3-5 minutes; have another speaker, often female, for about 10 minutes; then have the final speaker, often but not always a man, for 15-20 minutes. Choose a general theme that will be the topic for all of the speakers, insert a relevant hymn in the middle, and gently stir. Do not season with spice.)

I’ve written before about how dull many Mormons (and, perhaps more to the point, most visitors) find sacrament meetings. “Peaceful” is an optimistic way of describing them. “Funereal” is another.

Instead, the bishop’s counselor said, we were going to mix it up. I sat up a little straighter.

The format was to have half a dozen members of the congregation speak from the heart about a favorite hymn, sharing a story about why that beloved hymn had lifted their spirits or provided them with revelatory guidance in a particular situation. After each speaker, the entire congregation would sing that hymn, knowing the context for a fellow brother or sister’s regard for it.

A simple format. A very basic switch. Yet to me, the whole sacrament meeting felt new and marvelously unexpected. I felt closer to Christ, and to the people in the pews with me. I also did not open even once the book I always bring to sacrament meeting to fortify myself if things get impossibly dull. Things never did get dull. The congregation was active and engaged.

Why don’t we do this kind of thing more often?

I have heard precisely two stories about sacrament meetings that dared to deviate from their stultifying script. In one story, church ended early because a family was in need. Inspired by a famous General Conference in which Brigham Young canceled sessions to help the stranded handcart pioneers who were perishing in the wilderness, this bishop felt that the entire ward community needed to drop everything to save those who were in trouble in their midst. It made a lasting impression.

In another anecdote, a friend of mine said that when he was a kid, the bishop actually ended church immediately after members had taken the bread and water, saying, “That was the most important reason we get together on Sunday. We’re done now. Go home and think about what Christ did for you.”

That made a lasting impression too.

But these exceptions are just that—exceptions. In general, the structure and language of our sacrament meetings are not intended to ignite the kind of engaged participation I experienced two Sundays ago. And by “language” I mean not only the formulaic things we say during the meetings, but how we refer to those gatherings in the first place.

I am a person who feels that language is important. The language Christians use to describe what we do when we gather on Sundays both reveals and shapes what we expect to get out of the experience.

  • Catholics go to “mass,” which refers to both the centrality of the Eucharist in the Catholic experience and the universality of that sacrament across the world.
  • Protestants experience “worship” followed or preceded by “Sunday School,” a division of inspiration and education that strikes me as fascinating.
  • Orthodox Christians daily “celebrate”—note the triumphant terminology—the Divine Liturgy.

And what do Mormons do? We “attend our meetings” or, in particular, we “attend sacrament meeting.” We even do so in a “meetinghouse.”

The corporate language of the meeting is striking here. A meeting is something that you attend, or that you lead, primarily because you have to, not because you desire to. Some meetings may be more or less boring than others, but at its core a meeting is a duty, an obligation. It is an eat-your-brussel-sprouts event.

Note that in both of the stories I recounted above about unusual sacrament meetings, the main feature was getting out of church early, which is the reaction we have when a business meeting is canceled unexpectedly or school is on a 90-minute delay: Hey, it’s a snow day!

Those were not sacrament meetings to remember; what was memorable was the absence of the meetings altogether. What I long for, and what I felt two Sundays ago, was something hopeful and quite different.

That was worship, not merely instruction. It had the feel of celebration. And Mormons could use a good deal more of worship and celebration when we gather as a church on Sundays.

 

The meeting image is used with permission of Shutterstock.com.

63 Comments

  1. I like the format of the hymn service you describe, Jana, and might use that. The bishop who dismissed everyone after the bread and ware were passed was truly inspired and certainly educated his congregation that day!
    Can inspiration and education be easily separated, especially in the context of faith? I fin one informs that other in a continuous cycle. My experience in the Episcopal tradition is that the sermon given during the service is both inspiration and education. Whether it’s “boring” or not depends on the preaching skills of the preacher (usually a priest), the theme he or she chooses, and how well it relates to my life. And education classes I attend, whether on Sunday or any other day of the week also blend inspiration and education.

  2. I strongly disagree with your characterization of LDS meetings. While we always have room for improvement, I am not sure the situation is as dire as you make it. My ward’s sacrament meetings are often quite good, largely because we have a significant turnover rate (lots of college kids, lots of renters, etc.), And the point of the meeting is, after all, a sacred ordinance. It is my understanding that the meeting is built around, and therefore should reflect reverence for, that event.

    Your post describes alternative meeting formats (to what you drably malign as the “usual standard” and “funereal” and as a “stultifying script”), then ask “Why don’t we do this kind of thing more often?” Well, we shouldn’t go to church to be entertained, but I wonder if “spicing up” meetings would end up taking us in that direction. In any event, you are inaccurately characterizing sacrament meetings in Mormonism. You suggest that the formula never varies, and yet you fail to mention Fast & Testimony meetings, which are held once a month, and also high council speakers, who speak once a month. You do not mention ward conferences, or stake conferences, or General Conference, or Easter and Christmas and Mother’s Day programs, or primary programs. By my reckoning, these alternative formats mean that the “usual standard” described in your post is actually a minority event. Take a look at my ward’s Sacrament Meeting calendar for the first half of 2013 (through June 30):

    Fast Sunday
    Topic: Teaching
    High Council
    Topic:Faith
    Fast Sunday
    Ward Conference
    High Council
    Topic:Priesthood
    Fast Sunday
    Topic:Adversity
    High Council
    Commemoration of Easter
    Fast Sunday
    General Conference
    Stake Conference
    Topic:Atonement
    Topic:Testimony
    Fast Sunday
    Mother’s Day
    High Council
    Topic:Discipleship
    Fast Sunday
    Topic:Temples
    High Council
    Topic:Conversion
    Topic:Commitment

    Out of 25 Sundays in the first half of the year, only 10 are based on the “stultifying script” you so insultingly describe. I also think we have scheduled a primary program, which would take us down to 9 “funereal” meetings. In a six month period. So I think you significantly overstate the problem here.

    You also state that “I am a person who feels that language is important.” So do I. It is therefore irritating to see Church members use language like “stultifying” and “funereal” to publicly malign their own worship services in such an unfair and inaccurate manner. Such armchair quarterbacking is not helpful.

    You also praise other religious groups, such as Catholics and Protestants, because – apparently unlike the Mormons – they use interesting labels for their meetings (“Mass” and “worship”). This apparently makes all the difference. But isn’t Catholic Mass quite formulaic? Yet you treat it respectfully while slurring LDS “Sacrament” meetings (“Sacrament” isn’t sufficiently Latin-ish, I guess). Moreover, lots of other Christians describe themselves as “going to church” or “attending church,” which is just as boring as the Mormon reference of “attending meetings.” You also as describe as “fascinating” the Protestant division between “worship” and “Sunday School.” How this is materially different from the LDS division of “Sacrament Meeting” and “Sunday School” eludes me (except that it somehow garners your respect, whereas LDS practices garner your published-to-the-world contempt).

    You conclude with: “Those were not sacrament meetings to remember; what was memorable was the absence of the meetings altogether. What I long for, and what I felt two Sundays ago, was something hopeful and quite different. That was worship, not merely instruction. It had the feel of celebration. And Mormons could use a good deal more of worship and celebration when we gather as a church on Sundays.”

    Mormons could also use a lot less public navel gazing exercises like the one you just published. I have participated in many wonderful Sacrament Meetings, with the Spirit present and the participants being uplifted and edified. Your post, however, ignores or denigrates LDS Church meetings wholesale. Readers with no prior experience with LDS services will likely expect the harshly inaccurate caricature presented in your post (all the more so given your notoriety as an LDS writer), and will have less interest in attending. I think that is unfortunate.

    Thanks,

    Spencer

    • Spencer, you’re coming off as kind of a bully.

      I’m glad you’re not bored in sacrament meeting. My opinion is that you’re probably in a minority, but that’s just my opinion. If you are not in the minority and Jana is, she is totally allowed to express her feelings about how boring church is and people are totally allowed to agree with her *and* still be good Mormons.

      • I am criticizing a blog post. I have not insulted Jana, nor attacked her character. So your suggestion of bullying is a bit absurd.

        I have also said nothing about Jana’s standing in the Church, nor have I suggested that she is not a “good Mormon.”

        Finally, Jana has put her thoughts out for public scrutiny and feedback. Somehow, I think she’s not so dainty that she can’t take a bit of criticism (since she is so free with dishing it out herself).

        Thanks,

        -Spencer

        • No. You’re being a bully to her and you’re being a bully to me. I didn’t say you said she wasn’t a good Mormon, I just said it was possible to be one and practice differently than you. I didn’t say Jana was dainty, either. I just told you how I interpreted your unbelievably obnoxious comments.

          You might be more effective if you try to be less condescending.

          “Thanks”

          • Gretta,

            > No. You’re being a bully to her and you’re being a bully to me.

            ==No, I’m not being a bully to either of you.

            > I didn’t say you said she wasn’t a good Mormon, I just said it was possible to be one and practice differently than you.

            ==The only person who brought up being a “good Mormon” was you. Your comment was therefore a non sequitur.

            > I didn’t say Jana was dainty, either.

            ==Then she should be able to take a bit of criticism.

            > I just told you how I interpreted your unbelievably obnoxious comments.

            ==Oh, you bully!

            > You might be more effective if you try to be less condescending.

            ==Oh, you bully times two!

            Thanks,

            -Spencer

      • Spencer’s post is overly blunt, but inferring that he is a bully is an slight to real bullies. ;-)

    • Thank you! The only time church wasn’t boring was in my singles and student wards—you never knew how wacky it was going to get.

      I wouldn’t complain about church being borin if it wasn’t SO LONG. Three hours is a long time to be bored.

      • Right. The purpose of Sacrament Meeting is to get “wacky.”

        We are *not* there to participate in a solemn and sacred ordinance, a renewal of our baptismal covenants.

        We are *not* there to worship God.

        We are *not* there to testify.

        We are there to get “wacky.” To be entertained (as evidenced by your complaint that you are “bored”).

        Methinks some of the Saints have a seriously skewed perception of the purpose of Sacrament Meeting.

        Here’s a thought: I’ve been teaching undergraduate courses at a local university for about five years now. I review the anonymous student evaluations about my classes at the end of each semester, and I find them to be consistently schizophrenic. That is, I am simultaneously criticized for being too “simplistic” or too “complex” in my presentation of the subject matter. Some students complaint that I my exams are too easy, and some complain that they are too difficult. And so on. Since these contradictory comments come from students within the same class, I have to chalk up these disparities to the students themselves, to their expectations, their efforts, their willingness to learn.

        Just food for thought.

        Thanks,

        -Spencer

        • FYI, I’ve also taught college, and when I got student evals, I took them as reflections on my teaching and adjusted accordingly, because I’m not a narcissistic egomaniac.

          • > FYI, I’ve also taught college, and when I got student evals, I took them as reflections on my teaching

            ==So do I, sort of. But when the feedback is contradictory (that is, that some students in a particular class feel the subject matter is too easy, while other students in the same class feel the subject matter is too hard), I take the feedback with a grain of salt. It’s possible, after all, that some of the feedback is more a reflection on an individual student’s approach to the class than my presentation of the subject matter.

            > and adjusted accordingly,

            ==I try to do that as well.

            > because I’m not a narcissistic egomaniac.

            ==Nor am I.

            Thanks,

            -Spencer

    • I wish I were in your ward Spencer because, unfortunately, my ward meetings are extremely boring. A friend of mine was investigating the church for several months but ended up going to an evangelical Christian church. The tone of the meetings was one of the reasons she decided not to join the Mormon church. She said that every Sunday felt like a funeral. She’s from Brazil and the music, the active celebration of Christ in the evangelical church was a more powerful spiritual experience for her.

      Spencer, you are lucky to live in a ward that keeps things fresh and interesting. Many of the people who talk in my ward just take their talks straight from the Ensign.

      • > I wish I were in your ward Spencer because, unfortunately, my ward meetings are extremely boring.

        ==Have you expressed your concern to your bishop?

        > A friend of mine was investigating the church for several months but ended up going to an evangelical Christian church. The tone of the meetings was one of the reasons she decided not to join the Mormon church. She said that every Sunday felt like a funeral. She’s from Brazil and the music, the active celebration of Christ in the evangelical church was a more powerful spiritual experience for her.

        ==I can see that. On the flip side, I have a friend who did not join the Church because he felt that the meetings were too informal. He said he found greater satisfaction in the somber tone set in Catholicism’s services, so he became a Catholic.

        ==There are times to rejoice. To clap, to sing, to dance, to laugh. There are also times to be quiet, contemplative, and reverential. Sacrament Meeting is pretty much always going to be in the latter category. That said, I believe that a person can have profoundly spiritual experiences in such quiet times, perhaps even more so than in a loud “active celebration.”

        > Spencer, you are lucky to live in a ward that keeps things fresh and interesting.

        ==Talk to your bishop. I think he would appreciate the feedback.

        > Many of the people who talk in my ward just take their talks straight from the Ensign.

        ==There are a number of factors in play here:

        ==Factor 1: An estimated 75% of all people experience some degree of anxiety/nervousness when public speaking (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossophobia).

        ==Factor 2: LDS meetings frequently involve talks by the laity rather than sermons by the congregational leader. So a lot of Mormons, many of whom are statistically likely to be anxious/nervous about speaking in public, are asked to give talks in public.

        ==Factor 3: We are all progressing at different rates and in different ways. Speaking in Church can be an important way to develop one’s perspective on the Restored Gospel. So even if a person is not giving a top-notch talk by normative standards, that talk can still be important to the individual or to some listening to it.

        In my ward, the bishopric goes through the most recent General Conference issue of the Ensign when setting Sacrament Meeting topics. I actually like this approach. It encourages a review of the talks given by Church leaders, and you’d be surprised at how varied the topics gleaned from these talks can be. When asking Church members to give a talk on a particular topic, the member is told that he/she can use, as a resource or starting point, such-and-such a talk by Elder ___________ or Sister ____________ from the most recent General Conference if they choose. Some members, usually those most nervous about or new to speaking in Church, are grateful for such a suggestion, while others may choose to approach the topic in their own way.

        Again, we all have room to improve. But publishing unfair and inaccurate caricatures of LDS meetings is not helpful. Complaints from armchair quarterbacks are not helpful. Emails to bishops with not-so-subtle suggestions that the meetings they preside over are “stultifying” and “funereal” are not helpful.

        Thanks,

        -Spencer

    • Spencer: Although I have to agree with some of Jana’s observations, I’m more inclined to agree with you. Sure there are some people who are not as accomplished in public speaking and whatnot, but Sacrament meeting is what you make of it. And I agree that Jana’s approach is not only unflattering but also unfair to LDS meetings. Perhaps we should just call our three-hour block the Sabbath Par-tay. Perhaps that would help people fell better about it. Or maybe Beyonce could perform the intermediate hymn. Yeah, that sounds right.

    • Spencer,
      Here’s a thought. I agree with the factual assertions of your post in response to Ms. Riess’ misrepresentations. I feel that not allowing those distortions to stand unchallenged is very important. When you point out the hypocrisy in her stating that she states that she feels that language is important and then uses language so loosely to cast a stone, that is very important as well. I used to follow Ms. Riess’ posts because I wanted to try to understand how she could have such a completely differing experience with the church that I have had. I can’t say that I understand her heart or her motives but I choose to believe that she feels that she is doing a service in her constant criticism of the church. Now, I may be wrong, perhaps her posts aren’t always critical and it is just an editorial choice by others as to why I have never found a post of hers that was uplifting and complimentary of the church or it is only bad luck that I have only come across those that are critical. But be that as it may, the posts that I have read of hers are such distortions of the church and I do believe that is intentional. When I quite following her was when she described a meeting where a young stake leader came in, threw his authority around, even lined up chairs before anyone arrived according to the various positions of leadership that those attending the meeting held, and then proceeded to dictate how things were going to be done. I have to trust that this really happened to her, but for her to then describe this to the world as how the church is run and something that needs to be changed rather than the complete aberration that it is was insulting to our faith and an intentional lie as to how our meetings are run and how they are instructed to be run. I find in her description of that experience a representation of her character and the answer as to why our experiences are so different. If I was ever in a leadership or sacrament meeting like that those that she described, and I have experienced similar situations, I’ve learned that compassion for such an inexperienced leader or unprepared speakers is in order and there are many very good ways to approach these situations that are uplifting and beneficial that can help ourselves and others to grow in a calling that they did not ask for and are volunteering their time for. I would have loved to hear her post a blog of how she approached a leader like this and helped him to see the error of his ways out of compassion and love for that individual. When someone describes Sacrament Meetings as boring you should know that they haven’t grown enough spiritually yet to know that if they personally are truly coming with a desire to worship and to grow spiritually, a loving God will never, ever let them down. They will have the experiences that they are ready to receive. Plenty of testimonies abound of people attending meeting when the speakers were seemingly, even wholly unprepared, or even in error, or definitely lacking any skills in communication or public speaking, but where when those situations are approached with an open heart of compassion and love, some of the sweetest experiences can always be had. The Lord never lets us down, it is ourselves and our selfishness that always lets us down as the onus for having the spirit and having a spiritual experience is entirely on us. If I have ever come out of a meeting that I felt was boring, I can always look at my thoughts and actions and recognize that I did not come to worship or to give as I should have. It was I who was not seeking the Spirit and that is why I did not allow it into my heart. And you certainly don’t have to be LDS for that to be true. I’ve been in many wards, even those that some people describe are cold or uncaring. I’ve never found that to be true when I am the one reaching out to others in an effort to serve rather than to be served. It is still true that whosoever looses his life shall find it.
      Your response from Gretta should let you know that there are many who also feel the way that Ms. Riess does. I mean, I recall a man describing the primary program as boring. My heart went out to that man because he could not see the beauty and the joy nor feel the Spirit in the occasional pandemonium that can exist in a primary program when these sweet, often frightened or completely unabashed children allow us to have such choice and priceless experiences. I guess what I am trying to say is that I appreciated and valued your approach to demonstrating Ms. Riess’ distortions and I would also like to see your skills used in a way that shows more compassion for those who are struggling with these issues. I to struggle with how to approach this situation. We want to defend the church that we love, and we want to do it in a way that does not break bruised reeds or quench smoking flax. I fail miserably at this effort so often but I want to get better.

      • Oh, besides, my wife is in the funeral industry which has allowed me the opportunity to attend a few funerals and viewings. I’ve never been to a boring or unspiritual funeral. They have universally been amazing and deeply worshipful experiences even when I don’t know the person at all and they go way longer than planned. Funerals are beautiful and uplifting experiences that have always caused me to reflect on my own life and live it better.

  3. Good gracious Spencer, you are a buzzkill. I thought this post was beautiful and have sent it on to our bishopric, as I think it addresses my thoughts exactly. I attend on Sundays to partake of the sacrament but otherwise, I often leave our meetings feeling a bit empty. Often they are extremely boring and there most certainly is a standard script that all wards tend to follow, so please don’t pretend otherwise. It is what it is, so notwithstanding your list of topics, it can be dull and uninspiring.

    Thanks for sharing this Jana. I really would love to see something like this happen in my ward.

  4. > Good gracious Spencer, you are a buzzkill.

    ==Funny, that. I thought a post which glibly denigrates and mischaracterizes LDS Church meetings was the “buzzkill,” particularly since people not familiar with our faith will, having read this post, have quite a negative perception of our meetings.

    > I thought this post was beautiful

    ==Describing LDS Church meetings as uniformly “stultifying” and “funereal” is “beautiful?” I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that.

    > and have sent it on to our bishopric,

    ==Yes, I am sure Jana’s bishop will appreciate being advised that the meetings he presides over are, with isolated exceptions, “stultifying” and “funereal.” I am also sure he will be pleased that Jana has decided to publish her criticisms to the world instead of, I dunno, talking to him in private about her concerns.

    > as I think it addresses my thoughts exactly.

    ==More armchair quarterbacking. Published to the world.

    > I attend on Sundays to partake of the sacrament but otherwise, I often leave our meetings feeling a bit empty.

    ==That is unfortunate. But this is totally fixable. I just do not agree that publishing to the world such insulting and inaccurate stuff as we find in this post is a constructive way to fix this issue.

    > Often they are extremely boring and there most certainly is a standard script that all wards tend to follow, so please don’t pretend otherwise. It is what it is, so notwithstanding your list of topics, it can be dull and uninspiring.

    ==And publicly complaining about it helps fix this problem . . . how, exactly?

    -Spencer

    • I guess I don’t see it as complaining. And what I found beautiful was Jana sharing her wonderful experience, one I would love to have myself.

      But I’m pretty sure we will agree to disagree on possibly everything so I’m just going to say I hope you continue to have uplifting experiences at church and wish you well.

  5. > I guess I don’t see it as complaining.

    ==Right. I’d like to see you explain to your bishop that the email you just sent to him – with it’s not-so-subtle suggestion that the meetings he presides over are “stultifying” and “funereal” – was not intended as a complaint.

    ==But what do I know. I’m just a buzzkill.

    > And what I found beautiful was Jana sharing her wonderful experience, one I would love to have myself.

    ==So the way to improve your ward’s meetings so you can have a “wonderful experience” is to suggest to your bishop that the meetings he runs are “stultifying” and “funereal?” Yeah, that’s the ticket! Bishops everywhere *love* that kind of unsolicited advice from ward members.

    > But I’m pretty sure we will agree to disagree on possibly everything so I’m just going to say I hope you continue to have uplifting experiences at church and wish you well.

    ==Same here. Might I suggest that your (and, for that matter, Jana’s) approach to improving how ward meetings are run could, perhaps, merit some reonsideration.

    Thanks,

    -Spencer

    • Spencer:

      Yes, in fact, you are a bully. Your tone and intention is overtly dogmatic and controlling. You are not able(or unwilling) to digest, even in part, what the author is suggesting. The entire article is consistent with the current sunday series of events. Your denial of this fact represents evidence of an inability to recognize the facts. And, if that is the case, your posts are a waste of time…
      I have taken the time to read all of the posts here (yes, it took a long time). What is obvious is that Spencer is attempting to paint the church in a perfect light, no matter what the obvious complaint–true or untrue. His posts have a MLM angle that gives a creepy feel. Do us all a favor Spencer–speak less and try to communicate with more authenticity…the reader will be more inclined to believe what you write…or not…

  6. One big reason that Mormon meetings are “boring” is that they are almost entirely conducted by lay members and clergy. We don’t know much about public speaking, showmanship, and our leaders have required that we not use any kind of props or multimedia for our sacrament talks. It is amazing that we can feel the spirit at all during our meetings.
    But then, that’s the point, isn’t it? … that we feel the spirit, not because we’ve dressed up our delivery, or added the right panache, but because simple people get up and teach simple, true doctrine. Brigham Young was famously converted by the inarticulate testimony of a new convert after being unimpressed by the flowery discourse of a skilled orator.
    You do bring up a good point that Mormons in general are anxious to leave the meetings. If the meetings seem dead to me, perhaps that is more a reflection of the congregation instead of the style of the meeting. Or perhaps… it’s a reflection of myself.
    Compared to the productions of some other churches, yes, our sacrament meetings are boring, but I’d like to keep them that way if making them interesting means resorting to artificial methods to create the illusion of spirit. Our meetings will become more interesting when more people come spiritually prepared. They will become most interesting when we specifically prepare ourselves.

  7. While I find most church meetings boring, I suppose the exceptions wouldn’t be that exceptional without them. The most memorable sacrament meeting I have ever attended came right after The Big Storm that devastated the East Coast last year. We all attended in grubbies, and meetings were dismissed immediately after sacrament so that we could help with the cleanup. It was a great experience. I don’t know if we could do that every Sunday–go somewhere and do something good–but I wish we could, even if THAT might get tiresome, but that Sunday was absolutely amazing. It was a reminder that there’s more to church than sitting in meetings.

  8. I agree that Mormons could use the word ‘worship’ more often, and I try to do that regularly because I’m equally interested in language. (I don’t know why, though, this article neglects to mention that Mormons also have Sunday School, or talks about Fast and Testimony meeting, etc….I find that only two meetings per month, if that, follow the usual ‘Sacrament Meeting’ formula outlined here.) We held a musical Sacrament meeting once that I really enjoyed for similar reasons.

    With reference to the word ‘meeting,’ I don’t hear that and think of corporate meetings at all. Rather, I think of the scripture in the Book of Mormon that says “And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.”

    I definitely wouldn’t call that an ‘eat-your-brussel-sprouts’ event. You can choose to reference corporate culture or you can choose to reference the Book of Mormon when framing the word choice. Personally, I choose the latter. I think of meeting in the literal sense – coming together, not worshipping alone, but drawing strength from others.

  9. Jennifer Gonzalez

    I lived in a ward for several years where the bishopric actively avoided selecting “themes” for each meeting. Instead, they instructed speakers to select their favorite talk from the most recent General Conference and speak on the same topic (not necessarily just share the talk, but use it as the starting point for their own). It resulted in many engaging and inspiring meetings, because (IMO) it really put the spirit and the needs of the congregants forefront in spakers’ minds. It also avoided the issue of 3 speakers sharing essentially the same ideas, scriptures and quotes, which is always a bonus!

  10. Pam Williams

    President Spencer W. Kimball once said that he had never been to a boring meeting because he was never there to be entertained. Instead, he was spiritually and intellectually engaged in the speakers’ topics, restating ideas in his own mind, relating them to his own experience. In my life-long membership in the church, I have found that you get as much out of sacrament meeting as you bring to it.

  11. Spencer, are you not including high council days or Mother’s Day as stultifying topic meetings? I think those are the very most stultifying formulaic meetings; they just don’t have the topic assigned by someone in the ward. So I get a much higher count than 10 on your list.

  12. > Spencer, are you not including high council days or Mother’s Day as stultifying topic meetings?

    ==First, I have not characterized LDS meetings as “stultifying.” Jana did. I have rather strongly objected to this characterization.

    ==Second, Jana has told her readers that LDS meetings follow a “stultifying” and “funereal” “usual standard” which involves a specific formula (“have a youth speaker for 3-5 minutes; have another speaker, often female, for about 10 minutes; then have the final speaker, often but not always a man, for 15-20 minutes”), involves a topic chosen by the bishopric, and that we “do not season with spice,” that attendance is not joyful, and is instead a “a duty, an obligation … an eat-your-brussel-sprouts event,” and that there are only very rare exceptions to this formula. The problem, however, is that this “formula” generally comprises less than half of Sacrament Meeting itineraries. And she also presumptuously – and insultingly – portrays *all* such meetings as “stultifying” and “funereal.” There is much more variety than she lets her readers know about. There is a lot more spiritual edification than she lets her readers know about.

    ==Third, just because Jana denigrates herself and her experiences does not give her license to denigrate the experiences and efforts of thousands of her fellow Saints throughout the Church, or to grossly mischaracterize these experiences and efforts to the general public.

    > I think those are the very most stultifying formulaic meetings; they just don’t have the topic assigned by someone in the ward. So I get a much higher count than 10 on your list.

    ==As you like. Our high council speakers generally do a good job (our last Sacrament Meeting involving a high council speaker was particularly uplifting). If a particular ward or stake needs to improve in this area, fine. But slurring Church meetings as a whole, in public, to readers who have little or no experience with what we do on Sundays, but who will certainly have a lessened view of us after reading Jana’s repellant and uncharitable comments, is not the way to improve the situation.

    Thanks,

    -Smac

  13. This type of meeting (members sharing favorite hymns and then the congregation then singing them) has been specifically proscribed by the Brethren (according to my stake president, who was quoting the area authority in his coordinating council.

    —McKay

  14. No trolling.

    “Musical testimony meeting” has been around at least since 2007, where it started “going viral.”

    Here is a discussion, mostly ecstatic and supportive of this concept, but with anecdotal support for my experience: our stake president reported back that the Brethren from the top down discourage this. There were three or four others (among many more who love the concept) who had had the same experience: stake president told by area authority 70 that the higher ups discourage them (in the comments section).

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2007/07/15/musical-testimony-meeting/

  15. The author may be in Utah. I was raised in the Church in Florida and found the talks always riveting and amazingly heartfelt, well prepared, etc. It seems in Utah, things are just the opposite, I have my theories as to why this is the case, such as members being several generations removed from original converts/pioneers, while in the mission field testimonies are more palpable, personal, and real. You are not a Mormon just to be popular or for social perks in the mission field, you are a member because you know it is true.

  16. At one time I might have been a mite defensive but I have come to the point where I couldn’t agree with you more. Although I don’t know you Jana, thank you for a beautifully written thought-provoking piece.

    I used to always feel the weekend was never long enough, that one really ought to have a 3-day weekend, one day to recover from the previous week, one to actually get things done, and then one for just keeping the sabbath.

    But since I’ve quit going to church and going thru all the motions of ritual worship I find that the standard 2-day weekend is now enough to keep me going until the next weekend. (I work a demanding schedule.) Of course, I could *always* use a longer weekend, but my point is I no longer have an almost entire day written off and I start my weeks at OK, rather than ah, still tired.

    Three hours in church is very long, especially when under fluorescent lights. And it’s also in the middle of the day/morning/afternoon which makes it hard to tackle any other considerable projects as well. And the meetings, you are right, are just so standardly predictable, what’s the point? Eric brings up a good point that most of our members are NOT trained in public speaking soj, yeah, there are a lot of terrible talks to sit thru. But now and then, we DO get some wonderfully inspiring speakers. Yet no matter how uplifting and spiritual the meeting may be, there’s still the headaches when I get home, the Sunday naps which messes up the sleep schedule, not to mention abnormal feeding time which means we’re grazing and snacking and then our appetites are off schedule too as well and what results is… a somewhat restful, perhaps even spiritual, but on the whole an unproductive and consequently, unsatisfying day. So basically, the day’s shot.

    I don’t think the Lord ever intended us to have an unproductive or unsatisfying day. So when I spend the whole day being “spiritual” and at the end of the day feel that my day is just… gone, without much to show for it except a little bit of rest… something is wrong.

    To be clear: I do not wish to put down the Church. I believe its structure is extremely helpful, especially for novices, those unfamiliar with and beginning learning how to live by the spirit. A regular meeting set up like the Church has is very beneficial.

    But as someone who has spent nearly 40 years as a member… how many more times can I mindlessly recite “read the scriptures, say your prayers, go to church, go to the temple?”

    It is true that you get out of Church what you put into it. And I am thrilled that there are many like Spencer who evidently gets much out of the meetings. That is how it should be.

    And yet, there are still others, like Jana, myself, who want something different. Something more. However the church has become so systematized that it’s hard to put something different into it so that we can *get* something different.

    I am ready for the next level. I love feeling, being spiritual.

    However, there isn’t a “next level” in the church because it simply isn’t possible to have a “next level” without a lot of controversy or hearsay so it will always, always, be back to the same old basics. Read your scriptures, say your prayers, go to church, obey the prophets…

    So, as far as going to the next level, I don’t need the Church. The way I see it, the Church is there to help *me.* It’s just not going to be my crutch. Or slave master. Or whatever. Church is a tool. That’s all it is.

    • Anna,

      I completely agree with you. You just described my feelings and what I have been going through that past year. It is nice to not feel alone.

      BLM

  17. If you are going to church to be entertained you’ll most likely be disappointed. You might as well stay home and watch a three hour long movie. It will take about as much time as attending church but at least you’ll be entertained. You’ll get out of church what you put into church. If you are bored and don’t want to be, try asking yourself “What can I do to be more engaged and statisfied in my church attendence and worship?” Istead of, “What should everyone else do to make me less bored?”

    • Well Shorty, it’s not like I go to church to be entertained. I don’t think anybody in their right mind actually expects that.

      When I go to church, I do very sincerely try to feel the spirit, to have the spirit, to partake and be uplifted. But then I come home drained and empty, or tired.

      Your comment of well, just stay home and watch a 3 hour movie instead is quite unworthy of you. It is not an acceptable substitute. It’s an equal waste of time.

      We’re not talking about the time allotment. We’re talking about truly worshiping. I believe for as many varied individuals there are, there are just as many ways to worship, as well as thru the standard 3 hour Church meetings.

  18. My bishop did this once and while I think singing more is fun and invites the spirit in, I thought the whole meeting was super cheesy and was glad when he didn’t do it again.

  19. When I started thirsting after knowledge all meeting became great. There my be a few people that struggle with their delivery, but they need the experience of studying and delivering a talk. I have seen growth in many people by having the experience of giving talks. We must remember that this church is all about getting people grow in many areas. From composing talks to leading in various conditions. Think of all the members who are blessed during those three hours as the try their best

  20. as a member of the church myself, I can honestly say that on the weeks that I dont enjoy my meeting its usually because Im not in tune with the spirit. Not all of us are great orators (same as in any church I imagine) but if we listen in humility and seek the spirit there is usually a message worth hearing.(it might just be that I need to learn that the speaker is doing their best and who am I to judge)
    I happen to say that im off to church, not “the meeting house” talk about splitting hairs,
    Three hours can be a long time to meet especially with children or older people not in best health, but otherwise we would be on the road alot more as we were when I was a child.Get all the meetings over and spend the rest of the day with family and friends. R

  21. Thank you, Jana, for sharing your thoughts. As one can see from the comments, we won’t all agree, but I think raising questions pulls us up out of our ruts and gets us thinking again. I don’t think it is bad to be introspective and to question the status quo. Questioning is how we make life meaningful. Also, stepping outside of the norm from time to time is a good thing.

  22. Thanks, Jana, you woke some of us up. Going back to the ’30’s and ’40’s our chapel didn’t have a microphone at the pulpit so it wasn’t expected that you’d walk up to the stand to say what you had to say in what we called “Test-and-Fastimony” meeting. You simply stood up where you sat to bear a testimony, considering it more important to simply say what you had to say than that everybody – or anybody – heard you. The fear of walking to the pulpit and facing the congregation keeps most of us sitting and silent in today’s meetings. And the use of teleprompters has virtually eliminated oration in General Conference meetings. Dull, dull. It goes from the page on the screen for the reader to the ears of the congregation and through the minds of neither. And that’s progress?
    Jack Frost, Colorado Springs

  23. So should only those with great, strong testimonies and with the right frame of mind enjoy sacrament meeting? Not everyone is at the same level with their testimony or even in tune with the spirit on a regular basis. We are all sinners, we are all imperfect. Shouldn’t sacrament meeting seek to inspire the most fragile members of the ward, instead of just those with the strongest testimonies who come to church in the right frame of mind?

  24. “Meeting” is not a corporate word. It’s a scriptural word. When the writer says, “A meeting is something that you attend, or that you lead, primarily because you have to, not because you desire to,” she is projecting.

    “And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;” 3 Nephi 18:22

    “5 And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.” Moroni 6:5

    “4 And now continue your journey. Assemble yourselves upon the land of Zion; and hold a meeting and rejoice together, and offer a sacrament unto the Most High.” D&C 62:4

    I’m sure it’s possible to describe family reunions in a boring way too. But seeing cousins that you rarely see and hearing about their lives can be lots of fun too–likewise with sacrament meeting. The joyful part is in the meeting others and sharing. If you tune out the social interaction and merely endure being there, I can see how it could feel like a soulless, boring experience.

    I hope she is able to find more joy in her meetings in the future, one way or another.

  25. I take your point about language. As a Catholic, I find it alarming that my niece and nephews, one of them my godson, refer to our assistance at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as “going to church.” “Going to Mass” is pretty standard, I guess, but doesn’t plumb the depths of what It is.

  26. Frankly, the most boring worship services I have ever attended were a Catholic Mass and a Lutheran worship service. In those instances I assumed that the faithful must have been getting something out of it that I wasn’t, and I further assumed that what I got out of it had to be connected to my own emotional involvement in the process.

    The fact that Jana regularly brings a book to sacrament meeting (yes, Jana, it’s called “sacrament meeting” not “attend our meetings”) is not an indication that she comes prepared to invest in the spiritual experience. Reminds me of one ward where this kid in a black t-shirt did Algebra homework every week in sacrament. I suspect he didn’t get much out of it either.

    Bottom line, we get out of these experiences what we invest in them. The sort of soft apostasy advocated by Jana puts all the onus for her edification on the speaker. Jana, when did you last pray for the bishopric to be inspired in their responsibilities? Have you ever prayed silently in sacrament meeting for a speaker? Have you ever looked around in sacrament meeting and asked yourself what the Lord would have *you* do to make the meeting better or to uplift these people?

    The road to apostasy is paved with victimhood and easy offense taking, waiting impatiently for others to measure up to your high standards for them. It’s intellectual hubris to sit in sacrament meeting with your bail-out book in hand waiting for the speakers to screw up. Discipleship demands more.

  27. Dear author, I’m from France and I am a LDS for 7 and a half years now.
    I have never been in to Church in Utah, I just attended it in France, Germany and Switzerland. I don’t know how it feels to be in a ward with 500 people. It may be difficult for everyone to progress in the oratory art… But I assure you that in my ward of 120 people (it’s always around that number during the Sacrament Meeting), the whole meeting is never boring. It could be a little ‘tiring’ at the end (mostly for the children) but never boring. We have different speakers each weeks, and it’s not always the same pattern. Today we had a special ‘meeting': we made a ward travel last week to the Temple, in Francfort, Germany and the Counselor who was leading the Sacrament Meeting asked different members to speak about their experiences of this sejour. One was a new convert who went for the first time to the Temple to do work for her family. A couple spoke about the blessings they have that they finally sealed her children to them. The counselor told us about the way he felt when he did work for his family (a whole new branch he discovered that had been written down from the oral tradition of Cameroun) and then the Bishop. Of course we have sung (four times). And of course, you will say that it was a special Sunday.
    Well, in my ward (or more, in my stake, the Paris one), we always have special sundays. Why? because everytime we have different speakers, different topics, different ways to talk about the Gospel… Perhaps it’s also because we do have a big mix up of ‘ethnicities': no continent is forgotten. And each particularities of these origins add the ‘spices’ you think Church meetings lack.
    The Chuch is a living Church, in the meaning that we are all participants of it. If we come with the spirit of hunger for the Eternal Wisdom, we will be sanctified and nothing will be boring. I wonder how you could find it funereal.
    I am in a country where catholicism is the most ‘important’ church: go to one mass on a winter sunday morning in a little chapel. You will tell me what is boring…
    Better come to Europe or go in the Latin America. Attend church (LDS ones) there and see how the Church is the same and different at the same time. WE do the meetings by OUR faith, or obedience and or desire to follow the Christ. And as one of the commentator said, talk to your bishop about what you feel could be made better. Let him tell you that you have to come prepare to hear the speakings and, that he will also see if things could be more interesting for the audience.It’s not the sole fault of the ‘meetings’ if you are bored. It’s the problem of all the congregation to find again what is the meaning of the Sabbath meetings and teachings. Unity and awareness of the needs of others are the key for a good teaching of the Gospel.
    May you never be bored again at Church.
    God bless you.
    Friendly regards from France.
    Eolia

  28. Beautifully said, Eolia. Thank you. Anyone who comes to sacrament meeting expecting to be bored (bringing a book is a big tip-off) will be. Have I ever been glad for a sacrament meeting to be over? Of course! I’ve noticed that it is usually when I’m paying more attention to my kids than to the spirit, when the speaker reads (mostly terrified teenagers–occasionally belonging to me), or when I am in a ward where I don’t know anyone, so I don’t know the backstory of any of the speakers. When I am in my own ward with people I know and love speaking (even if their language &/or delivery may leave a bit to be desired), I can feel their testimony and I am not bored at all. I am edified. And if they speak from the heart, with personal stories, experiences or strong conviction–well, that’s the best. It happens several times a month at least (and virtually every week in Sunday School and Relief Society classes). I’ve been in a lot of wards in several states and it has always been the same– is your ward an anomaly, Jana? Or are you expecting to be bored?

  29. One good but mistaken man I know claimed he could get more out of a good book on
    Sunday than he could get in attending church services, saying that the sermons were
    hardly up to his standards. But we do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or
    even solely to be instructed. We go to worship the Lord. It is an individual responsibility,
    and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit
    and truth, he may do so by attending his meetings, partaking of the sacrament, and
    contemplating the beauties of the gospel. If the service is a failure to you, you have
    failed. No one can worship for you; you must do your own worshiping of the Lord.
    Spencer W. Kimball

  30. Hey, y’all, I’ve about had it with this comment thread’s criticisms of what Jana reports as her own experience. When you say that if someone is bored in sacrament meeting it’s *their fault* for not being sufficiently in tune, when you suggest that anyone who doesn’t have the same experience that you do is just doing things the wrong way and must not be as spiritual as you are, it’s not only not dialogue, it’s also not compassion, and not empathy. Moreover, it doesn’t recognize that each of God’s children brings something different to the spiritual feast. Read any 1 Corinthians 12 lately? No? How’s about 1 Cor. 13? You should check those texts out, because–thank God–we are all different. Unity and mutual support doesn’t require that we have the same experience. Zion isn’t about correcting everyone who doesn’t feel what you feel; it’s about coming together in spite of our inevitable differences and finding joy and new perspectives in the ways we each experience God. That’s pretty much the point of common worship: to enrich one another spiritually, and to develop greater charity. We can worship the Lord perfectly well on our own. We can only make Zion together.

  31. Eolia’s comments are beautiful. My experience around America has been similar to hers in Europe. Although I was reared in Utah, I left for college on the East coast and have always lived in wards with many converts who have edified me with their powerful testimonies — first in Wash D.C. and then in central Texas. My current Connecticut ward, where I have lived for 25+ years, is made up of 18 different towns, and the new converts’ experiences are so vibrant that our meetings are almost always flooded with the Spirit. Eolia writes, “WE do the meetings by OUR faith.” Sacrament meeting is not just a format but a communal and faith-sharing experience. I cannot tell you how it edifies me to see a convert light up at the revelation (to him or her) that reading scriptures (“didn’t do that in my former church”), paying tithing (“was never asked that before”), speaking at the pulpit (“even women”), giving service (“we didn’t even know the other congregants”), having a temple (“a temple”!) can (yes, really can!) enlighten one’s life. That is the “spice” that stirs up the Spirit and seasons the shared meeting. I am sure it is somewhere in your ward, too. Somewhere. How lucky you have been to have had all this available to you for so long that you just take it all for granted.

    You seem to find only trite sameness in your meetings. As an English professor, I, too, love language and assure you that “meeting” and “meetinghouse” are terms that are well grounded in New England history. To this day, Congregational churches are referred to as “meetinghouses.” There is a long history as to why that is, a history far from boring. And, with the LDS church restored in New England, it is not a surprise that “meeting” should remain a central term in LDS nomenclature. Your assertion that it is merely “corporate language” is uninformed at best and shallow at worst.

    I appreciate your honesty. I sincerely hope you find the spice that I’m sure really is in the wealth of human hearts that make up your ward, and find the Spirit that must be spoken at least some of the time from your pulpit.

  32. I’m tired of reading comments that say, in effect, the two choices we have are to come to church to be bored or to come to church to be entertained. I don’t think Jana is talking about being entertained so much as she is talking about having a meeting/service that helps get people engaged. I doubt that there are many churches (of any denomination) that get people engaged consistently week after week, but certainly we could do better than we do.

  33. Jana Riess

    Goodness, what a lot of passionate comments to log in to on a Monday! Thank you all for your contributions to this conversation. Some of you have given me food for thought, especially those who have reminded me that we tend to get out of sacrament meeting what we put into it, as is true of many things in life. And for established members of the Church, that is likely sound advice; but especially for the prospective converts where I live who visit sacrament meeting once or twice and never return, I don’t believe it is either fair or realistic. These people are our guests, and it is our responsibility as hosts to provide a service that THEY will find uplifting and will learn from, not to teach them to emulate what many of us have done — find silver linings in boredom (“Gritting this out will build character!”).

    I was especially grateful for the constructive stories of what some wards have done to improve their sacrament meetings. Thank you.

    And finally — Spencer, your concern for my bishop’s feelings is touching. Please rest assured that he is far too mature to feel threatened by or to overpersonalize criticism of something that is obviously denomination-wide and not his fault, particularly since the post made clear that our ward is striving to be part of the solution. On Facebook, one of his counselors expressed appreciation for the post.

    As well, you have expressed concern that my complaints about sacrament meeting will drive off potential LDS converts. What I read from your comments is that you fear I have made the Church look bad to non-members. One might wonder also how the reputation of the Church is negatively affected when a male member of that Church suggests to a female member that she has no right to express opinions in the public square, and would do better to keep them to herself.

    I will not be checking further comments on this post, but anyone who wishes to may email me directly. Thank you for visiting this website.

    • Jana,

      > One might wonder also how the reputation of the Church is negatively affected when a male member of that Church suggests to a female member that she has no right to express opinions in the public square, and would do better to keep them to herself.

      ==Oh brother. Don’t hide behind your gender. First, I have said nothing about your comments that pertain one whit to you being a woman. Second, I would have said the same things to a male church member posting remarks such as yours. Third, I have said nothing to the effect that you have “no right to express opinions in the public square,” or that you should keep them to yourself.

      Thanks,

      -Spencer

  34. This post has certainly attracted discussion. I think understanding the following would be beneficial to the mutual understanding of all sides: there are three separate but related entities at play when we talk about the LDS Church.

    First, the gospel. The doctrine or gospel of Jesus Christ is eternal, unchanging, and encompasses all truth and love.

    Second, the Church which teaches the gospel, at times changing policies or procedures to best meet that objective. Also note that it is administered by humans – we all err. Of course our leaders and our meetings aren’t perfect but ideally we grow together as wards/congregations/an entire Church as we serve and worship together. I would echo the suggestion that if you feel you are in a ‘boring’ ward you talk to your bishop about that. You may find yourself in a new and more challenging calling or the bishop may make some changes to help the flow of the worship services. The idea that the Church is a tool is true, but don’t forget what it is a tool for: to help us become like Jesus Christ by loving and serving people who may be hard to love and serve. Judging the people who serve with us will not assist us in becoming fully converted to Christ and loving and serving as He did/does. Lead by example, not by thinking you’re better or better off without each other. We cannot be saved if we neglect each other – that action is distinctly unchristian. If we aren’t acting out of love and compassion, chances are pretty good that we’ve got a case of confusing the beam and the mote. Likewise don’t dismiss that the basic things that build faith and bring us closer to Christ like scriptures and meaningfully renewing our covenants are really the most important things and we humans who err need frequent reminders.

    Third is Mormon culture. This doesn’t always have much to do with either the Church or the gospel, but it is the reason behind some of the common LDS stereotypes I’ve heard such as exclusivity and judging.

    Thanks for listening.

  35. I am a convert that comes from the Baptist tradition. While I agree with Jana that sacrament meeting can be very stiff and can use a curve ball now and again, I also think it is important that we focus individually on why we are there: to renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament. Also, in assigning talks, it is good to remember that the intended audience of a talk may not be the congregation at all, but the speaker. It is often the speaker, who by doing scripture study and reflecting on the topic, who may grow the most as their their testimony is strengthened as they prepare the lesson and reflect on the eternal principles they are being taught by the spirit as they are preparing to teach the rest of us. This may be what a youth or an adult speaker needs to develop spiritualy

    Finally, if we as members come to sacrament meeting with the right preparation we can connect to the spirit in a much different way than may be possible when we are alone. Combined as a ward family, the spirit can be poured out more powerfully upon us, and we can be taught a message that may not be even delivered from the pulpit.

    We certainly can learn much from other faith traditions; many have been developing and changing the way they connect to their members for much longer as institutions than our church has. But, we should also remember that it is the Lord himself who directs the affairs of our church. I think we can trust him concerning the format of our meetings

  36. Just some good quotes to dwell on if you think sacrament is boring or three hours is too long.

    “Elder Henry B. Eyring told of a time when he atended church with his father and listened to what for young Henry had been a “dull talk.” As they walked home, he was trying to think of a way to ask his father why he had been “beaming” during the boring meeting.

    “I finally got up enough courage to ask him what he thought of the meeting. He said it was wonderful… Like all good fathers, he must have read my mind, because I started to laugh. He said: ‘Hal, let me tell you something. Since I was a very young man, I have taught myself to do something in a church meeting. When the speaker begins, I listen carefully and ask myself what it is he is trying to say. Then, once I think I know what he is trying to accomplish, I give myself a sermon on that subject.’ He let that sink in for a moment as we walked along. Then with that special self-depreciating chuckle of his, he said, ‘Hal, since then I have never been to a bad meeting'” (To Draw Closer to God [Desert Book: Salt Lake City, 1997], 23)”

    And one more on boring sacrament meetings,

    “Consider the response of President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) when someone once asked him, “What do you do if you find yourself caught in a boring sacrament meeting?” President Kimball thought a moment, then replied, “I don’t know; I’ve never been in one.” With his long years of Church experience, President Kimball had undoubtedly been to many meetings where people had read their talks, spoken in a monotone, or given travelogues instead of teaching doctrine. But most likely, President Kimball was teaching that he did not go to sacrament meeting to be entertained; he went to worship the Lord, renew his covenants, and be taught from on high. If he attended with an open heart, a desire to be “nourished by the good word of God” (Moroni 6:4), and a prayer—rather than judgment—for the speakers, the Spirit would teach him what he needed to do to be a more effective and faithful disciple. President Kimball was teaching the principle of learning by the Spirit”

    So in other words, I think it is safe to say that if you think church is boring, it is probably your fault more than the speakers’ or because of the way the program is set up. Change your mindset and really look for what revelation the Lord is trying to give you and you will find it to be much more entertaining and worthwhile. If you are going to be simply entertained, you can find many other activities to fit that mold.

    I’m a YSA. I was watching conference with a group and had received a lot of revelation and ways to improve. I asked someone nearby what she got out of conference and she thought for a few seconds and said, “So and so’s joke was really funny.” She also often tends to find sacrament boring.

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