I told a friend that non-Mormon churches are much more child friendly that Mormon wards. At other denominations I’ve attended, church facilities include play equipment. My friend replied, “Church isn’t for fun. Church is for worship.”
“How much worship is there in Mormon services?” I asked.
The sacrament is really the only portion of the 3-hour block I would call worship. And even that doesn’t work for parents of young children who spend the time struggling to maintain some degree of quiet and decorum on their family bench.
I don’t know about you, but prayers that repeat stock phrases like, “We bow our heads before thee to give thanks for this beautiful building in which we can meet,” and ask for “thy spirit to be with us,” sound more like vain repetitions than worship of a higher power.
Worshipping with songs of joyful praise is not part of most ward services. Dispirited congregational droning of hymns hardly qualifies as music let alone worship.
What do Mormons do for most of their worship service? Younger members check Facebook or surf the web on their phones. Older members nap. Children punch each other and munch Cheerios.
It’s not like music, prayers, and talks can’t be worshipful. And it’s not like activities for children can’t be fun as well as uplifting and instructive. Worship comes from the heart—it touches the emotions. Allowing individual creativity and opening up the music canon to include joyous, uplifting music outside the hymn book could increase the spirituality of Mormon meetings—as would allowing use of instruments besides piano, organ, and violin.
Uplifting messages that increase gratitude for God and reverence for His creations are also worshipful. Is it really so important to guard against false doctrine creeping into a congregation that everything except the standard works and Church publications are banned from lessons and talks?
Do we really believe that out of all the peoples of the earth in recorded history, God has only given inspired messages to a score of Old Testament prophets, the apostles of the New Testament, and Mormon general authorities? Confucius, Buddha, Plato, Sufi and sages from many other times and places recorded gems of wisdom—of which most Mormons are unaware. A message from a teacher of another time and place might awaken members who now doze through the overly familiar messages served up every Sunday.
If Church leaders want to improve attendance and retention, they could start by offering real worship for adults and children on Sundays.