Hate Your Ward? Here are 7 Ways to Start Loving Church Again

men sit together in elders quorum on sunday

Have you been secretly loving this COVID-19 lockdown because you get to avoid Sunday meetings? Hey, no judgment here. Going to church every week is dreadful when you’re unhappy with your ward.

While Sunday worship is about our relationship with God, having connections with the people around you is an important plus. Let’s talk about how you can improve the situation if you currently don’t like your ward.

Related: New Ward? No Problem. 8 Tips for Making a Ward Feel Like Home

My Experience

When my husband and I first got married, we felt this way. We were young, newlywed college students, and the rest of the ward were older folks who had been there forever. Though they invited us to the activities, we never really felt wanted.

Even after making a couple of friends, we still dreaded attending church every Sunday. We didn’t feel welcome or needed. After over six months in the ward, people were still asking us for our names. It was quite disheartening!

After doing some research, I realized that almost everyone has felt this way at some point. While it feels helpless, there are actually things you can do to improve your situation. Let’s dive in!

Take a Look at Yourself

young woman laying on the grass reading the book of mormon

A 1985 Ensign article says,

Before we turn to anyone for personal counseling, it is important that we try to resolve our problems on our own, seeking the inspiration of the Lord in our own behalf.

If you’re not feeling a connection with your ward, maybe this time away because of COVID-19 is a good thing! Take this opportunity to reflect upon yourself. Look inward and see if there are any problems that need resolving. Do you need to forgive and let go of something? Do you need to repent? Is there a specific person bothering you so much?

Take time to pray. Counsel with the Lord. Read your scriptures and hear what He has to say to you about everything. I promise that He cares about these issues and wants to help you resolve them!

Turn Outwards

Once you have focused on yourself and worked through any personal problems, focus your efforts outwards. I think ministering is a great place to start! If you don’t have an assignment, reach out to your relief society or elders quorum presidency, and ask for one.

On a Reddit thread I discovered, a user wrote,

We’ve actually found most of our good friends by doing our visiting and home teaching. Especially amongst many of the less actives, who are usually a lot like us but just couldn’t take going to church anymore.

My husband and I had a similar experience. Our only friends in the ward came from ministering because we found ways to relate with them. Plus, serving others always seems to help with my problems. Heavenly Father blesses those who serve Him!

Attend Activities

young woman helps girls plant flowers for a church activity

Attending ward activities is much easier said than done when you’re struggling to connect with a ward. However, I’ve seen it help a lot in my life. I took the terrifying leap and went to an activity by myself. I was quickly welcomed by people I had never expected! I slowly realized that there were people I could become better friends with.

Perhaps you could go with one of your ministering brothers/sisters! You could even go with someone who isn’t in the ward. Whatever gets you there, I promise it will be worth it. Putting yourself out there can be stressful, but successful.

Speak With Leaders

However, some of us can’t bring ourselves to attend activities. Especially not if we’re struggling with specific needs or specific people that would be there. In these cases, please speak with a leader. Go to your relief society or elders quorum president. Schedule an appointment with the bishop. If it’s severe, talk with your stake president.

These people are usually more than willing to help. Talk to them about your needs! Ask them to help you forgive someone who may have offended or wronged you. I have found much strength through forming relationships with these spiritual people.

Leaders have the unique ability to suggest or give us callings. There is no shame in asking for something specific that might help you socialize with others! Having a calling brings you a lot of responsibility and a sense of belonging in a ward.

Problems With Leaders

man reading his scriptures at a table

Unfortunately, there are times when one might not feel comfortable talking to ward leaders. There are many reasons that this could be the case. I found a great Ensign article that discusses this issue!

It said that if a leader has offended you in some way, to have a face-to-face conversation with them about it. D&C 42:88 says, “If thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled.”

The article also discusses cases in which a leader is a close friend, you feel unworthy, you’re afraid they won’t keep things confidential and more. I highly recommend reading it if you’re in this situation!

Remembering the Savior

No matter what your reasoning behind dreading church is, we all have one thing in common. We are all children of a Heavenly Father who loves us. We go to church to worship Him and remember His Son, Jesus Christ.

A great article I read stated,

In order to hear the word of God, follow Him, and walk in the path of discipleship, we need to go to church. That’s why we should be there. A pleasant social atmosphere at church, while an ideal that should be strived for, isn’t necessary for our worship. The basics are. So even though it can be extremely uncomfortable and even emotionally painful to go to church with people who can’t stand you and you can’t stand them, focusing on the basics can help ease that pain and discomfort. It will also help you progress spiritually and develop a spirit of charity.

Focus on the sacrament. Remember your covenants. Set goals and make plans to repent and grow closer to your Savior. I have seen these things help me to find joy in my Sunday worship, even when I don’t have the community I hoped for.

Take Care of You

woman exiting the temple after attending

Finally, make sure to take care of yourself. If you need time to heal and forgive, do it. I’m not sure if you can suddenly adore your ward overnight. This is a process that takes time! The LDS Living article continued,

You’re not perfect and the people in your ward are not perfect. It may take longer than you thought to forgive them, but the gospel can help you get there. You will need to turn to the Savior and ask for help to heal, and that’s okay. Do whatever you can to heal, even if that means taking it slow for a while as you work on forgiving others.

Related: How to Avoid Taking Spiritual Steps Back During Quarantine

I wish you the best of luck as church starts back up around the world! I pray that you will soon find renewed joy for our Sabbath Day meetings. Don’t forget to comment below if you have any extra advice!

Brooklyn Gittins is an enthusiastic member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has written for food and lifestyle blogs but is currently sharpening her skills as a writing intern for Third Hour. She enjoys spending time with her husband, petting dogs, and eating buttered noodles.