Bar the Exits! (Weekend Poll)

by: wheatmeister

November 23, 2013

Which way to the exit?

Church attrition is a big problem across all denominations, one that is discussed often in the bloggernacle.  What should the church do to retain those who wish to resign?

What should the church do about member resignations? (choose your best answer)

  • Consider changes that make the church more welcoming to diverse individuals. (40%, 51 Votes)
  • Find better ways to support and reach out to people in friendship. (37%, 48 Votes)
  • Keep the most orthodox members away from them. Crack down on judgmentalism and cultural imperialism. (17%, 22 Votes)
  • Focus on more converts, and if people don't like the church as it is, maybe it's not for them. (4%, 5 Votes)
  • Bid the apostates good riddance. They only bring us down and will never be satisfied. (2%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 129

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What efforts have you seen that have been effective at helping people stay or come back?  What efforts have you seen that have been ill-advised?  Why?

Discuss.

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23 Responses to Bar the Exits! (Weekend Poll)

  1. ji on November 23, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    How about all of the above? Honestly, how about all of the above, each where it is most appropriate?

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  2. Newconvert on November 23, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Don’t baptize til adulthood. We r leaning towards that with our kids yet exposing them to music but limited primary. Some kid asked about how Jesus died and my kid has been freaked out since. We told her if the atonement but not the method. We hope she will choose this for herself as an adult. Unconventional, I know.

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  3. NewlyHousewife on November 23, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    You can also give them iPads.

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  4. Sandy Liscom Emmons on November 23, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    One thing the church has done, which I am not sure it is intended to keep the youth active once they leave the nest, is to lower the age of missionary service for males and females. The youth who become inactive after they leave home is a serious problem. The attrition rate for new converts is the other side of the attrition rate issue. New members are very often denigrated as inferior members by the “BIC” crowd. Our new converts bring life and vitality what would otherwise be a very dull group indeed. Many members try to “out church” their brothers and sisters in the gospel with attitudes of superiority and piousness. “I come from pioneer heritage.” “I was born in the covenant.” “My Uncle is an Apostle.” None of these are actually due to anything they themselves have accomplished. New converts want to be included and feel they have worth and friendship.They need to feel they have something to offer too. Their testimonies and enthusiasm are a breath of fresh air and should be embraced and honored.

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  5. Jeff Spector on November 23, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    People leave for many reasons and I think it would be useful to really understand them better. Being more welcoming and less judgmental might be a start.

    Perhaps a year long study of Church history might be useful. Or maybe actually trying to be like Jesus and not the rich family next door?

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  6. Kullervo on November 23, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    I don’t know that anyone goes to the trouble to formally resign because they felt unwelcome and judged.

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  7. Will on November 23, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    The parable of the wheat and tares provides the right course to take. If we all hold hands and sign kumbha,this parable told by the Savior is pointless. Be bold but not over bearing and let the tares blow by the wayside.

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  8. Daniel on November 24, 2013 at 8:45 AM

    Will: In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the servants are commanded not to pull up the tares for fear of harming the wheat.

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  9. fbisti on November 24, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    The recent intensifying of “missionary work,” (not that the “new” onus on members is apparent where I live) is (IMO) largely a result of the increasing attrition of members.

    The “keep the orthodox away from them” is closest to my preferred course of action. I have long thought we needed separate classes in both SS, RS, and Priesthood for the heterodox that want to actually discuss, query, and learn something more than the basic 12 lessons (pablum for those that cannot handle and/or are not interested in “the truth”) that are repeated year after year. And, this separation would reduce the judgmental, heretic labeling that is so common (if not always apparent) in the current classes.

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  10. Will on November 24, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Daniel:

    Correct, but also understand:

    After an extraction process, the final step has the worker grabbing a bundle of wheat stock with a pitch fork and throwing in straight up in the air — the more solid wheat falls to the ground and the lighter tares blow by the wayside (thus what I said)

    After an extraction process, the more solid members will be grounded by the truth, while the tares will be carried away by the winds of false doctrine. I believe the final separation process is the internet.

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  11. brick on November 24, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    The internet?

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  12. Brian on November 24, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    “The parable of the wheat and tares provides the right course to take. If we all hold hands and sign kumbha,this parable told by the Savior is pointless. Be bold but not over bearing and let the tares blow by the wayside.”

    Just when I was beginning to think Will is human.

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  13. Daniel on November 24, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    Will: What you are describing is called winnowing. Winnowing removes chaff, not tares. Winnowing and other types of sorting do occur in a few of the Lord’s parables but the action of sorting is generally performed by the Lord himself or by angelic action. As far as I can recall, sorting is never performed by His earthly servants in any parable.

    The parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt 13:24-30) is one of the strongest arguments for toleration that the Lord ever provides. In it the servants of the kingdom find that tares have grown up among the wheat and they offer to pull them out. They are commanded not to for fear of damaging the roots of the wheat. Both are allowed to mature together and they are only sorted at the harvest by the reapers (not the servants who asked to pull out the tares).

    The Lord gives His own interpretation (Matt 13:36-43) of the parable and He identifies the harvest as the final judgment at the end of the world (not the internet :) ).

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  14. Carol on November 24, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    I know several people who have left the Church because they felt unwelcome and judged, including my daughter and son-in-law. They are kind, good people but were both abused as children (my daughter was raped by a neighbor; my son-in-law was terribly abused by his active LDS father.) A little fellowshipping, a loving bishop, and kind neighbors would have made a big difference. I’m not blaming anyone for their decisions, but know that the Church has a difficult time embracing those who are suffering from the effects of abuse. I have seen this happen to close friends and family members.

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  15. Jenn on November 25, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    I have a suggestion: don’t treat doubt like a sin. I would feel more at home in church as a “sinner” (drinker, smoker, cheater) than as someone who once believed and now doesn’t. We have such a culture where “I KNOW this church is true” is seen as a correlation of righteousness that no one dares say “well, I actually am not sure about a few things”.

    Oh, and have a REAL sunday school class. Where we can discuss things that don’t make sense to us. Maybe for endowed members only (to be honest I had hoped the temple would be the place for this kind of further learning) so as to not scare off newbies but… there must be some forum where people can ask questions and share insights for things that correlated lesson manuals don’t account for.

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  16. PaulM on November 25, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    I wish the Church would make resignation and readmitrance easier. The administrative consequences of resignation for previously endowed members is the same as if they were excommunicated. If said members later wish to rejoin the Church there are enormous hurdles that must be overcome. That may help discourage many from formal resignation but does nothing to help stem the tide of inactivity in the Church. Is the Church better off with rolls swollen with inactive members? Are inactive members benefitted by remaining on the rolls even if they don’t wish to participate? My bias is to answer negatively to each of those questions.

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  17. Brian on November 26, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    “Is the Church better off with rolls swollen with inactive”

    It gives the illusion that all is well in Zion and that the church is an indomitable force constantly surging forward. The church announcement of growing membership numbers worldwide is a tremendous source of pride as well as a confirming testimony of the truth.

    The important thing is feelings not reality.

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  18. Jenn on November 26, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Brian, even those who have resigned their membership are still counted in membership numbers. So whether they are inactive or resigned, they count towards the 14-15 million. Ugh.

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  19. New Iconoclast on November 26, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Jenn, I’m not sure what you mean by “resigned their membership.” If they have formally petitioned to have their names removed from the records of the Church, they are no longer counted as members.

    Many inactive members would probably be OK with doing just that, if they’d ever hold still long enough to have a home teacher or EQ presidency member tell them how to do it. At least in my ward, we haven’t been too reluctant to inform men and women in their 30s and 40s of the process to have their names removed, especially if they were members of record and baptized in inactive families as kids (the “prospective elders” list), and never really had a chance to experience the Church. If they have no interest at all, there’s no more sense in chasing them down and bothering them, or even keeping them on the “letter list,” than there is in continuing to bother a missionary contact who has quit investigating and asked the elders to stop calling.

    Our cultural attitudes in this regard tend to be molded by the Utah model, and Utah thinking exported to the real world by transplants, that all of those inactives are dormant Mormons just waiting for the right moment. In my neck of the woods, some of them have no more idea about the Church than your average Lutheran. If their names are removed, and they someday have an actual conversion experience, they can be happily rebaptized and all is well.

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  20. Jenn on November 26, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    Iconoclast, that’s a common misconception. If you resign or are excommunicated you may not be on the official ward lists but you are still counted in the total sum of church members. It is yet one more way those numbers are inflated.

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  21. New Iconoclast on November 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    I guess that wouldn’t completely surprise me, but I’d like to know how we know that. That would also mean that there are significant numbers of (long-inactive, possibly resigned, long out-of-touch) dead people on the rolls, and there would be a significant Culture Conflict&tm; between keeping up the count and anal-retentive accuracy in record-keeping. ;)

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  22. sba on December 2, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    A separate, “real” Sunday School class? For people who “actually want to learn something”? I can see the ward bulletin: Sunday School for smart people in the High Priests’ room, mindless losers in the Scout Room. Think again, folks. Wasn’t there something about “if ye are not one, ye are not mine”?

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  23. Jenn on December 2, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Um, we already have gospel basics and gospel doctrine, not to mention high priests, elders… I’m pretty sure “if ye are not one, ye are not mine” wasn’t referring to the need to have everyone in sunday school together.
    Also, please don’t put quotes around “actually want to learn something” unless you are quoting someone. I certainly never said that. There is much to be learned in Sunday School, I’d be a fool to claim there isn’t (I certainly taught it long enough)- however, the subjects that are covered ARE restricted, and perhaps for good reason.
    There are many “deeper” mysteries in the church that we don’t want to toss like “pearls before swine”- or perhaps the better expression would be “milk before meat”. There is a reason we don’t open up missionary discussions with “by the way, Joseph Smith married the wives of his apostles without those apostles knowing”.

    There has been a remarkable “dumbing down” of correlated curriculum over the years, a return to gospel basics. Which is fine- I can see the need for repetition and refreshing the basics. HOWEVER, there is a complete and utter lack of an appropriate forum to discuss with other believing and informed members some of the more complicated aspects of the gospel (other than the bloggernacle which is hardly a “safe” zone).
    Even in Seminary, or at BYU, or in the temple, I have never found a place I could ask questions (or help give the answers I think I’ve found). It’s one reason so many members are turning to google and wikipedia for help- there is NO church-sanctioned place to get more information.

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