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StrawberryFields

Inactivity In The Church?

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There have been quite a few threads about why people go inactive or possibly even leave the church. I think that there are plenty of members of this site who have had personal experience with this and they are coming back. Just for the record, I don't much like the word inactive or less active but how else do you describe it?

What makes us become Inactive?

A wise friend once told me that we are each vulrenable to becoming inactive. Her words are kinda like this.

"The active person is one day away from becoming inactive. The inactive are a day away from becoming active."

What do you think, does it happen like that?

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I've become inactive. I blamed it on high gas prices at first but lately I realized it's because I really don't like the people or the way meetings and classes are handled and performed.

I miss my old ward. This new ward is strange. People whisper and point at me. Rooms are too small.

I think I will attend services with my old ward. I don't care about the rules.

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I left the church 20+ years ago because of the way I was treated and I didn't have any friends here. It has been talked about in my family many times that if we would have stayed in the mission field most of us never would have fallen away. We need to remember that the gospel is true even if some of the people in the church makes us want to pull our hair out :)

Yes, you are usually only a day away or even a prayer away, if you want to look at it like that.

We need to follow the counsel that has been given to us time and time again, yet we seem to think that it doesn't apply to "us". Pray and study the scriptures and pray!!

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I don't know what term would be a better one. Some people leave quite quickly in certain situations and with others, I think it happens little by little and there's that last straw. When it comes to returning to the church, I don't know how suddenly it happens.

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At relief society last week (not this Sunday, I was too ill to attend), we talked quite a lot about how to help prevent people from becoming inactive.

Something that keeps coming up locally, with our new members, is the fact that they feel a little abandoned by the Missionaries once they're Baptised..they realise that the Missionaries have to move onto teaching new investigators, and that they only visit less often to do new member lessons, but some have stated how surprised they were to find this was going to happen only after they'd been Baptised, nobody warned them beforehand and they didn't feel they had made enough close friendships with other members of the church to feel included. Some of the Missionaries expressed their own dissatisfaction with the way things work in our ward too, that some of the members are cliquey and that this doesn't help them in their Missionary efforts either, there was even talk of the ward being reprimanded because of it, and possibly having 2 of the 4 Missionaries taken off it unless things improved with existing members...

So, obviously continuing support for investigators and new members is required in order to help them adapt to the changes in their lifestyles, some of them having left behind their old set of friends/circumstances in order to live the 'Mormon' way of life more easily, and less judgemental attitude to those who are struggling are just 2 of the needs that we have in our ward.

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I think your friend has a good point, but I wouldn't express it in those words. Church activity is not directly a matter of testimony or even of resolve. I think Church activity is a habit, and habits take time to form. Each Sunday, I don't wake up, turn to my wife, and say, "Whaddya think, should we go to Church today?" We get up, get the kids up, and get to Church, because that is just what we do on Sunday. If we weren't in the habit of going to Church, it would be much harder.

If an inactive (er, that is, less-active) member wishes to become active, I would suggest that s/he absolutely commit to going to Church every Sunday for three months, come hell or high water. After three months, the habit might be solid enough that there isn't the constant struggle every Sunday morning to decide whether you're going or not. It's already part of the routine.

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This is a difficult question - What type of person becomes inactive?

It's usually new members, with no family and no ties to speak of(Usually). They show up to church, they talk to people. It's all very exciting. They have a calling, they get a chance to help people and everything is good.

Then, their friends go out. Their friends engage in things that were a part of the social structure - Maybe they go grab a beer after work or they throw a big house party.

This person can't go. But it doesn't matter, because they have the truth!

Then, the weeks go by as old friends start to fall away because you can't do the things you used to. If you aren't married, you find yourself utterly alone. The talks are all focused on family. You talk to the bishop and the bishop says to lose yourself in service.

So you do. Maybe you try to help people. You go out. You talk. You welcome new members to the ward and show up to help move people. Maybe you volunteer at the homeless shelter.

Regardless, you've lost your friends. The friends you've made at church probably have families or are immediately going to get married and fall off the social radar and you start spending nights at home alone.

At this point, they either go out and forget the church or they stay at home. They're sad and lonely and, when church comes, they can't bring themselves to go to church to hear another 'Families are forever' talk. They love the church, but it becomes a place of painful reminders.

Joining the church is not easy and following the dictates without support is nearly impossible. That's why many people go inactive.

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Something that keeps coming up locally, with our new members, is the fact that they feel a little abandoned by the Missionaries once they're Baptised..they realise that the Missionaries have to move onto teaching new investigators, and that they only visit less often to do new member lessons, but some have stated how surprised they were to find this was going to happen only after they'd been Baptised, nobody warned them beforehand and they didn't feel they had made enough close friendships with other members of the church to feel included.

That is why missionaries are counseled to include a member of the ward in the discussion. That way there is some permanence.

When i took the discussions, i knew absolutely no body in the ward i was in. A guy who just got off his mission came with the missionaries, and now he is practically family (and soon may be due to his sister and my relationship :lol:)

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Guitarwizard, the Missionaries here do have existing members of the church with them when teaching new members/investigators, I think that Funkytown hit the nail on the head regarding new members, particularly those who are single, finding that the time that some existing members of the church can spend with them is limited due to their own family commitments, and it can be difficult to find other single new members of your own age group to form new friendships with..we are trying to overcome some of this in the single adult programme in our ward currently..

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Someone I know that just recently started coming back shared with me that he stopped going ....because he got out of the habit of going...lots of things stop people from going...they wear their feelings on their shoulders, looking to be offended, wanting to blame someone....or they stopped going cause that Bishop made them mad.

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Regarding the new member thing. This has made me think of the talk Ask in Faith by Elder David A. Bednar.

We properly pray for the safety and success of the full-time missionaries throughout the world. And a common element in many of our prayers is a request that the missionaries will be led to individuals and families who are prepared to receive the message of the Restoration. But ultimately it is my responsibility and your responsibility to find people for the missionaries to teach. Missionaries are full-time teachers; you and I are full-time finders. And you and I as lifelong missionaries should not be praying for the full-time missionaries to do our work!

We do the finding because as we do, at the same time, we are fellowshiping and developing a friendship which solves the problem of the feelings of abandonment.

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Guest HEthePrimate

Mmmm...

I almost became inactive after my wife died. Certain Church leaders and members had treated my wife and I badly prior to her death, and treated me poorly right after her death (believe me, it's not wise to mess with a recent widower!)--basically, a kicking-somebody-when-they're-down situation.

However, I kept going to church. The local institute director, who is also one of my best friends ever, is largely responsible for my sticking with the church. That, and my inborn stubbornness--I was not going to let somebody else's bad behavior drive me out of the church I'd grown up in!! The institute director helped me come to know Christ better, and explained to me that the Church is simply a vehicle to bring us to Christ, but Christ Himself is the point of all this. So as a result, I take Jesus more seriously now, and the Church less seriously--and paradoxically that enables me to remain with the Church. Last Sunday I even went out of my way to shake hands with one of the primary "offenders," so progress is being made.

There are various reasons people go inactive, and I think some do so suddenly, perhaps having gone through some kind of traumatic experience or not having been that well-founded in the gospel to begin with, while others do so gradually. It might also be interesting to define "inactive"--at what point are we to consider a person inactive? How often does a person have to miss meetings in order to be considered inactive. What if if comes to church regularly, but only stays for sacrament meeting? Does skipping church activities count?

Pacem, amici!

HEP

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I am wondering is some people may become inactive due to an overly demanding schedule of Church duties that eventually may lead to burnout.

Just a thought... :huh:

I think there are alot. Especially among new members. New members can feel extremely overwhelmed at the beginning.

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From an earlier post of mine:

People leave for many reasons, not just because of some perceived quirk with LDS history. Some of the reasons I have thought of include:

1. Never feeling worthy. I have heard this often that some never feel good enough because they are surrounded by so many seemingly "perfect" people.

2. Impossible standards. Some people feel that our standards are just to difficult to live by and they will never measure up and they always feel "guilt" over their past even though they have repented.

3. Ward members are cliquish. Not enough fellowshipping and welcoming of new members.

4. No testimony. They were living off someone else's testimony....like the missionaries.

5.Feeling like the Church consumes their life. Time, etc.

6. Temple. Some have gone to the Temple and been put off....maybe they weren't really ready. They don't understand garments and the other requirements.

7. The Church system of "Judges in Israel". Some members fear their Bishops and don't really get that he is there to help.

8. Not really understanding the doctrine. They find what seems to be an easier path, "saved by grace".

9. Historical issues definitely play a big part...especially with the internet.

10. They just don't like the church and want more "entertainment" for their Sunday worship service.

11. They just don't think it's true......God wouldn't have restored his church via such a historical mess.

Just my thoughts......

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its hard. when you don't fit in.

Tried for many years to be able to fit in. So know sometimes I go and sometimes I don't.

I know the truth but need to be able to be happy not miserable.

wish they would find way to fix the problems they have with new members for we won't feel outsides.

:)

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its hard. when you don't fit in.

Tried for many years to be able to fit in. So know sometimes I go and sometimes I don't.

I know the truth but need to be able to be happy not miserable.

wish they would find way to fix the problems they have with new members for we won't feel outsides.

:)

Hi Tammy,

I am fortunate to attend a very loving ward. Awesome members. When I started three and 1/2 years ago I wasn't so sure. Understanding why I go to Church every week, the Sacrament, etc, helped me to not lose focus. Over time these strangers have become my family and closest friends. I hope you will find the same experience...hang in there...the Church is true.:)

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hello everyone. This is my first post and I think its the right time to respond.

Im inactive and have come here looking for a bit of connection with members to see whathappens really.

The reasons I am inactive are none of the above suggested. After years of attending I got very disheartened and worn down by many things in and at church.

1. Peoples constant judgement and critisism-Ive found church members among the most self-righteous people I know. It got to the point where I felt miserable at church because I knew everyone was looking at me just waiting for me to screw up so they could chastise me. Not a great environment.

2. Expectations. I felt like no matter what I did, it was never enough. I felt I was always striving to be perect and could never get there. I heard a few scriptures about being no more than dust and basically how we are nothing compared to God. I really didnt like that, I felt totally unworthy. I feel I am worth something and am a geberally good person. All the while I was at church I felt somehow inferior from the constant reminders that I was.

3. Identity. I realised the church was what defined me, and I didnt really know who I was as I had followed a strict set of rules and expectations my entire life. I started thinking about what I would do in certain situations if I wasnt a member and trealised I couldnt answer. That scared me as I felt I was only defined as being a 'member'. I dont know why that was a bad thing, but it scared me.

4. I kept hearoing all this stuff about the church that at first I refused to believe. But then I wondered where it was all coming from so did some digging and found out a lot of it was true. This upset me alot as it felt like the church Ihad gone to all my ;ife was somehow defrauding me.

All these things, over time built up and I drifted away from church as I felt less and less comfortable there. I do go now and again for my husband and 2 girls (3 and 1) if he is involved in something and needs a hand watching my 3 year old. My one year old stays at home with me most of the time.

I hope thats helped people to understand a bit more about why people leave the church or go inactive. I must admit I was a little saddened to see some peoples responses on this site that people who leave must have sinned somehow or never had restimonies or are looking for 'excuses'. I thought maybe it was just my ward that was like this but Im saddened to see its perhaps a general church thing. I can assure you I had a strong testimony, have not sinned in any way and was not lookjing for any get out clauses. The organisation itself weathered away all that I had until I could take no more.

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I, too, miss my old ward. They accepted everyone with open arms. I now live in a small town where everyone is related to everyone, except us, and i feel like an outsider quite often. What keeps me going? Habit, as others have stated, going to church on Sunday is just what i do. I refuse to let other peoples behavior get to me and tear me away from what i know to be true. And i am desperately needed on the piano. I can't abandon my cute little primary kids, even though this is my third time as primary accompanist (snore) and i'd rather be on the organ.

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I was inactive for several years. I suddenly wanted to return and did. I live in an area with several colleges and most of the membership was students so there was a lot of turnover. I live 45 miles from the church so was not able to attend allot of the community/church functions so I was not easily able to make member friends. I had a hard time going back the first 3 years. I went anyway because I knew I needed to. I felt very alone and sad. I wondered what was wrong, not even the bishop had time for me. Finally, I decided it was my attitude. I pretended to be happy and outgoing and the situation improved greatly just in one week.

3 years later I still find it difficult to make member friends but I do not feel alone. I enjoy going to church now and feel inspired and enlightened. I do not have to have friends, just so long as no one is mean or cruel. I feel the love and friendship of our Saviour.

Attitude can make all the difference.

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Reminds me of the story where a Bishop gets a call from two new families moving in to his ward. Both wanted to know how the ward was. The first family said that the ward they had come from was not very friendly, there was a lot of back biting going on and gossip and that the people were not very friendly. The Bishop said "Well that is probably how you will find our ward too."

When he asked the second couple the same question their was response was. This ward is very friendly, we have lots of friends, everyone pitches in and we will miss the ward a lot. Bishop said "That is how you will find our ward too.

I believe it is more about personal attitude than it is about the ward you find yourself in. Now there are exceptions to that belief but not the rule.

Ben Raines

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Ignore my post, LolaBella because I am probably wrong, but it is a little food for thought.

4. I kept hearoing all this stuff about the church that at first I refused to believe. But then I wondered where it was all coming from so did some digging and found out a lot of it was true. This upset me alot as it felt like the church Ihad gone to all my ;ife was somehow defrauding me.

(cut out some sentences)

I can assure you I had a strong testimony, have not sinned in any way and was not lookjing for any get out clauses.

I am just curious, LolaBella, isn't believing the adversary, Satan, a sin? He's the one telling you that the false information about the Church is true. If you are choosing to believe Satan over the prophets of the Church then it seems to me like you are sinning.

I am sorry I am so blunt, but when I was investigating the Church, I took a look at all that false information as well. I prayed about it and knew that the Church and the prophets are true. If I believe that they are true, then the false information has to be just that, false and it shouldn't be entertained.

Once you start entertaining what Satan has to say, you might find that you start to believe it. He is cunning in his devices to lure people astray. President Utchdorff had a very good talk in General Conference on starting off just a few degrees off and ending up far from where you want to be.

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I don't know what to think about my Ward. I often feel that if I was not there, that few would care. I much more enjoyed going to Church in Utah. I seemed to fit in better. I certainly have no desire to go inactive because of people in the Ward though. I go to Church for me, not for them. I can see things as they happen though. People being ignored, people gossiping about others, etc... It's really a shame. My daughter and son won't go any more because of stuff like that.

Rich

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