An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

The admission of leaders that the Mormon Church is losing significant numbers of single members in the 18 to 30-year-old age bracket caught me by surprise. Official Church statements rarely include negative information about Church growth or retention problems. The replacement of student wards with Young Single Adult wards and stakes is an interesting response to the problem.

Reading about the YSA meeting held at the Conference Center in April to announce the change, I was shocked to read Elder Russell M. Ballard’s comment to the young members he and other leaders want to retain: “We hope you’ve got the message. You have no option to bounce around. We know where you are. We’ve got our radar focused on you.”

Maybe someone should tell Elder Ballard that young adults may resent being lectured to as if they were naughty Primary children hiding in the rest rooms or escaping to the parking lot to avoid Sharing Time. Church is a voluntary organization. Young singles have multiple options for meeting their social and spiritual needs with groups that don’t send them an authoritarian message informing them that Big Brother is watching.

Reorganizing ward and stake structures strikes me as similar to the oft-quoted analogy of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I doubt many young singles leave the church because of student wards. Do church leaders have any idea why young people are leaving the church of their birth? Elderly General Authorities who see 18 to 30-year-olds as children needing firm parental guidance may be part of the problem. Maybe GA’s need a crash course on accessing the Bloggernacle to find out what young members say outside of meetings. I recommend the following post and comments on Feminist Mormon Housewives as a starter.   Also, Mormon Blogosphere lists scores of Mormon blogs for anyone interested in what young Mormons are really thinking.

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Comments on: "The Message Is the Problem" (4)

  1. fuzzyoctopus said:

    A lot of the replies on that thread I agree with. The 3 hour church block on sundays plus any meetings/time for a calling is a big setback for me now. Sunday is the only day my husband and I both have off work, and I feel our time as a family is better spent

    A one hour meeting on Sunday that focuses on the Savior would be an ideal change from my spending half of the day either at church or traveling to/from, chasing a toddler around during sacrament and listening to talks about how many earrings I should have and the importance of wearing a white shirt to pass the Sacrament. I feel like the good parts of the Church get buried in the minutiae of Mormon culture too frequently and what I get out of going to church is not worth the cost I would pay to do so.

  2. Well, the shorter meeting block correlates with young people finding the Church irrelevant. Most of those who drift away are just becoming mildly post-Christian, and are unmarried and unsocialized to the Church or that community.

    • Stephen M
      I’m not sure how the shorter meeting block correlates with young people finding the Church irrelevant, but I think you’re right that most of those who drift away are not necessarily replacing the Church with another organization.

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