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Temple Recommend Condundrum

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Guest mormonmusic

If you were a Bishop, and a brother comes to you for a temple recommend -- what would you do in this following situation?

This brother pays tithing, keeps the word of wisdom, but tends to be VERY inconsistent and underperforming in his or her callings, unreliable - usually does them at first, and then peters out after a month or two, in spite of strong support and training and encouragement. Been that way for over a decade.

Eventually he's released for non-performance. Comes to Church twice a month or so, but goes to Priesthood only once in a while, maybe once every 6 weeks or two months, sometimes longer. He never volunteers for priesthood projects, and if asks says "I'll come if I'm available", but is never available.

He accepts home teaching assignments, but rarely does them. He's been put with a strong companion, but always has excuses about why he can't go. He might go with his companion to see one family every two or three months, leaving his companion to figure out how to see the other 4 families on his list. Priesthood leaders have interviewed him repeatedly about home teaching, and he always says he's not comfortable talking to people he doesn't know, so he doesn't like home teaching. There have been attempts to put him on to families he knows, but even that doesn't work -- he still doesn't go.

A veteren of the Ward indicates this brother has never done much home teaching in over two decades. He's been asked, and there's no health or other reasons why he doesn't go.

You're a Bishop, and this brother comes to you asking for a temple recommend renewal. You know his full history -- in fact, he's your companion for home teaching!

He's been on the "hasn't been home teaching for 3 months" list many times now when Priesthood Leaders report on home teaching in PEC. You ask "Do You Support Your Local Leaders" and he responds "Yes". He also replies "Yes" to "Do you attend your meetings?".

Would you give him his temple recommend? How would you handle this situation? Do you think temple recommend holding should be tied to a certain minimum standard of home teaching as evidence of supporting local leaders?

Edited by mormonmusic

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a larger conundrum (in my opinion), you have a priesthood holder that attends all his meetings faithfully, pays tithing, does everything the church asks him to do. at home he does not take care of his family, he is emotionally abusive, judgmental, doesn't maintain the home to a point of causing illness to one of his kids..... but it seems has never been called out on his behavior or asked to change his ways. should he be allowed to have a temple recommend?

unfortunately it's not up to anyone but the bishop and stake pres. the bishop has to use the spirit and if he chooses wrong that's between him and the lord. if the bishop really doesn't know what to do he should be counseling with the stake pres. i only have energy to worry about me when it comes to recommends, even if that other person's behavior is hurting me. what's between them and the bishop is between them.

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I just renewed my recommend last week, and the meetings question is more specific that I had remembered: it asks specifically if you attend your"Priesthood and other church meetings." That's something to take into consideration.

I honestly don't know if I'd renew the recommend or not, if it was me. I'd have a very frank, open, and honest discussion with him, and see where that led. I'd stop him after he stated that he supports his local leaders, and talk about his lack of commitment to his callings. I don't really know otherwise, though.

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" don't think there's a 'do you do your hometeaching?' question in the interview. What grounds would you use to consider denying him the recommend? The one about attending his meetings?"

First off, I'm not even sure if denying a temple recommend is the way to go -- I asked the question because I had one Bishop say he'd revoked temple recommends for chronic unwillingness to do home or visiting teaching. So I thought I'd pose the question.

He also said one woman left his office crying when he decided not to grant a recommend due to her chronic years of refusing to do visiting teaching.

The question he may not be answering satisfactorily COULD be the "attending meetings" one, although I think two sacrament meetings a month is probably the minimum standard, in which case, he's probably OK.

The other one "Do you support your local leaders" is another one he may not be answering satisfactorily. People who don't do their home teaching are hard on priesthood leaders who plead for this kind of support over and over again for years upon years.

When people don't do home teaching, leaders, like the Bishop and his priesthood leaders, end up taking on emergencies that should be handled by the home teacher -- and there are many, particularly if the priesthood leader's assistants or counselors aren't functioning. They get heat from the Stake over and over again, when really, they don't have control over what the brethren do -- sure, they can interview, attempt to inspire, etcetera, but there are brethren who simply won't respond and won't do it.

Case in point, our whole priesthood body in our Ward was chastised sternly by the Stake last Sunday for not doing home teaching, along with other things like not reading scriptures, suggestions that brethren were probably looking at "inappropriate pictures" (I won't say the "p" word), or going to the temple. Words like -- "Did you do your home teaching last month???". It was very terse and harsh and said with strong impatience.

In the meeting, there was an exercise where we simulated a court case where one side of the room came out with the excuses for not doing home teaching, and the other side of the room had to rebut their arguments. The side with the excuses was referred to as "the slackers" by a member of our Stake Presidency.

I do my home teaching regularly, so I don't feel the chastisement applies to me on any counts, as I'm doing my part. But have to confess, when they bear down on us like that, it demotivates me. I was planning to do my home teaching route that afternoon and it took the whole afternoon for me to get up the motivation to do it. I finally got to it at 6:3O pm after putting the call to repentence out of my mind, and went out. The visits generated a couple missionary referrals, and also found a few people who had moved from our Ward records, and I got to visit with a good family. So I felt much better afterwards.

But the question I have is this -- if this program is so important to the Church as a whole, and so important spirituality to the brethren, and so hard to make work effectively, and such a sore spot with the Stake and leaders above them, then why not tie it to worthiness for being in the temple. For giving one's time and talents to the work of the Lord?

I know Gwen said she doesn't worry about others; it's between them and the Lord, but I ask this question from a leadership and philosophical standpoint, because I for one am downright worn out from this program. It's not the actual home teaching that gets me either -- I usually enjoy it. But the administrative handling of it is disturbing to me. To see the program be largely ineffective in just about every Ward I've lived in (except one).

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I just renewed my recommend last week, and the meetings question is more specific that I had remembered: it asks specifically if you attend your"Priesthood and other church meetings." That's something to take into consideration.

I honestly don't know if I'd renew the recommend or not, if it was me. I'd have a very frank, open, and honest discussion with him, and see where that led. I'd stop him after he stated that he supports his local leaders, and talk about his lack of commitment to his callings. I don't really know otherwise, though.

One member of our Stake Presidency asks each person he interviews, for any reason, if they do their home teaching. Whether a temple recommend interview question or not.

I'm starting to lean on the side of taking a stronger position on revoking temple recommends, although I know we'd end up with fewer people in the temple as a result.

I have one situation that happened a couple years ago. A brother told me he refused to do home teaching because he didn't like something about my leadership. I told him that as a temple recommend holder, everything wasn't OK if he chose not to be a home teacher -- that he made promises to support local leaders, and as his local leader, this is what I need to feel supported. He told me I had no business saying that -- it was between him and the Lord. I responded that I wasn't doing him a favor by letting him leave the conversation believing it was OK. It was my place to give counsel, and in this case it WASN'T OK for him to refuse to do it and still be on the right side with the Lord.

He stopped coming to Church -- two years later, he shows up with tears in his eyes asking forgiveness and WANTING a home teaching assignment. Personally, if we mandated that you HAVE to do home teaching and make it a temple recommend question, there are people who would step up like this brother did when I forgot about offending him and told him bluntly it was expected. And if they choose not to hold a recommend, they might go and eat husks for a couple years, and then come back humbled and willing like this brother did -- for the long term.

Now, someone might say "where do you draw the line?" -- why can't we attach family history completion to a temple recommend? Or giving missionary referrals to holding a temple recommend? Or holding family home evening? Or attending Relief Society home-making?

My answer -- home teaching is the biggest sore spot with leaders above us. They feel VERY STRONGLY about it, and it's what makes the Church work effectively when there are pressing needs in the Ward.

I'm happy to hear comments to the contrary, as I have't made up my mind, but as a former diligent but unsuccessful priesthood leader on this issue, I see no other alternative with brethren who simply refuse to support their leaders in this capacity.

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I think only perfect people should be allowed temple recommends.

Just kidding.

I think I've heard that one before.

Makes me wonder -- what criteria is used to determine what are the "hard" commandments that keep you out of the temple, and which ones are the "soft" commandments which, when violated, lead to no Church consequences?

The more I reflect, the more I wish that the temple recommend questions included:

"Do you do your home or visiting teaching?"

So many brethren don't do it out of rebellion against the administration.

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Personal opinion is that if the issue isn't addressed explicitly in the interview questions it isn't really grounds to deny or revoke a recommend. I will point out that this is exclusively my opinion though as I have yet to hear anything doctrinally different. As for meeting attendance, as long as he goes often enough to be considered active, I don't think there is much the bishop can do. That said how often is 'active'? Last I heard it was once a month, but I have heard others in the past.

Fully my opinion and thought.

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I think I've heard that one before.

Makes me wonder -- what criteria is used to determine what are the "hard" commandments that keep you out of the temple, and which ones are the "soft" commandments which, when violated, lead to no Church consequences?

The more I reflect, the more I wish that the temple recommend questions included:

"Do you do your home or visiting teaching?"

So many brethren don't do it out of rebellion against the administration.

I sorta wish the temple was open to the public (like Kirtland) and only had one question required for ordinances.

"Are you worthy to enter?"

Obviously there is no solution that would please everyone.

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I believe that it is the individual that is responsible for their preparation to attend the temple. I also believe that for me the interview is not so much the bishop to ask questions but for me to report my stewardship. I have always thought of the “standard” questions as “ice breakers” to get things started.

If I were to interview someone new for the temple I would council with them on the importance of covenants and stewardship. I would explain how a calling is a stewardship as is holding a temple recommend. I would ask if they believe that they are ready to take upon themselves more responsibility in their sacred stewardship – perhaps even suggesting that making sacred covenants in the temple is in part an oath and covenant to help build Zion through the fulfillment of their callings – asking again if this is what they want.

In the end – I believe it is the individual that decides that they want to be more involved. It is the individual that is responsible for holding a temple recommend – not the bishop, stake president or anyone else for granting it. There is a question – usually the last question asked that is something like, “Are you worthy in every way to attend the temple.” Of course none of us really are but we must be willing to commit ourselves to that.

Some take their covenants and commitments very seriously – others not so much. But in my mind a Bishop is a teacher and mentor to help saints understand and prepare for attending the temple. Our leaders are not to be held to account when members misrepresent their willingness to enjoy temple covenants with G-d. All that respond to a temple recommend interview will have their “reward”.

The Traveler

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Here's a quote I like from Preach My Gospel. It represents instructions give to Missionaries when working with members, but it applies, in my opinion, to all leaders in the Church when working with members. Here's the quote, just replace "Missionary work" with "Home Teaching" or "Temple Work" or "Family Responsibilities" or whatever you want.

Many members of the Church have fears about doing missionary work. Many are unsure where to begin or what to say. Many fear that they will lose close friends if they try to share the gospel with them. There are many ways to help the members. For example, help build their faith by teaching them the message of the Restoration and other doctrines of the lessons. Help them feel the Spirit and power of our message. Strengthening their understanding of the doctrine of Christ will do more to increase their trust in you and to build their excitement to do missionary work than anything else you can do. Help them understand that offering the restored gospel will flow more naturally out of relationships where they are seeking to love and serve their family members and friends. Teach them the principles from the “Go About Doing Good” section of this chapter. Encourage members to “join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who [know] not God” (Alma 6:6). In all you do with members, seek to lift and build their faith to help them do missionary work. (http://broadcast.lds.org/Missionary/PreachMyGospel___16_09_FindPeople__36617_eng_016.pdf)

Quotes like "Strengthening their understanding of the doctrine of Christ will do more to increase their trust in you and to build their excitement to do [the right things] than anything else you can do" and "In all you do with members, seek to lift and build their faith to help them do [the right things]" especially stick out to me.

The answer is to teach the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by word and deed- "...by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile..". The message is the method. As leaders, in any capacity, we love and guide our flock, like a good home teacher loves and guides his families into righteousness.

I don't know if any of that even helps in this conversation. I am aware that it doesn't even answer the question. Just though I'd share... :P

Regards,

Vanhin

Edited by Vanhin

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Personally i never like home teaching. It seemed so forced. My companion had a "cheat sheet" with the names, ages, birthdays of the family members and cliff notes of what was going on in their life. We would go in and small talk then read or summarizes an article from the Ensign, the same ensign sitting on there coffee (i mean hot chocolate table;)) table.

I saw a vid on youtube (it isn't working for me) where the home teacher come and knock on the window at 11:55 on the 30th to get 100% status, and i think it held some truth.

I'm not saying my experience is typical but "getting your home teaching done" doesn't mean you got your home teaching done.

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If you were a Bishop, and a brother comes to you for a temple recommend -- what would you do in this following situation?

This brother pays tithing, keeps the word of wisdom, but tends to be VERY inconsistent and underperforming in his or her callings, unreliable - usually does them at first, and then peters out after a month or two, in spite of strong support and training and encouragement. Been that way for over a decade.

Eventually he's released for non-performance. Comes to Church twice a month or so, but goes to Priesthood only once in a while, maybe once every 6 weeks or two months, sometimes longer. He never volunteers for priesthood projects, and if asks says "I'll come if I'm available", but is never available.

He accepts home teaching assignments, but rarely does them. He's been put with a strong companion, but always has excuses about why he can't go. He might go with his companion to see one family every two or three months, leaving his companion to figure out how to see the other 4 families on his list. Priesthood leaders have interviewed him repeatedly about home teaching, and he always says he's not comfortable talking to people he doesn't know, so he doesn't like home teaching. There have been attempts to put him on to families he knows, but even that doesn't work -- he still doesn't go.

A veteren of the Ward indicates this brother has never done much home teaching in over two decades. He's been asked, and there's no health or other reasons why he doesn't go.

You're a Bishop, and this brother comes to you asking for a temple recommend renewal. You know his full history -- in fact, he's your companion for home teaching!

He's been on the "hasn't been home teaching for 3 months" list many times now when Priesthood Leaders report on home teaching in PEC. You ask "Do You Support Your Local Leaders" and he responds "Yes". He also replies "Yes" to "Do you attend your meetings?".

Would you give him his temple recommend? How would you handle this situation? Do you think temple recommend holding should be tied to a certain minimum standard of home teaching as evidence of supporting local leaders?

This is my opinion.....If I am a Bishop and I am aware of a person not doing their callings and they need a Temple Recommend, then we will have a chat about this situation. This would be a perfect time for me as a Bishop to teach this person about the importance of callings. After doing so I would then do what I felt prompted by the spirit. I would not want to send this person to the Temple without seeing some improvement. I do feel thats part of the worthiness interview. As long as they attend church at least twice a month, they would qualify for a recommend on that part.

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a larger conundrum (in my opinion), you have a priesthood holder that attends all his meetings faithfully, pays tithing, does everything the church asks him to do. at home he does not take care of his family, he is emotionally abusive, judgmental, doesn't maintain the home to a point of causing illness to one of his kids..... but it seems has never been called out on his behavior or asked to change his ways. should he be allowed to have a temple recommend?

unfortunately it's not up to anyone but the bishop and stake pres. the bishop has to use the spirit and if he chooses wrong that's between him and the lord. if the bishop really doesn't know what to do he should be counseling with the stake pres. i only have energy to worry about me when it comes to recommends, even if that other person's behavior is hurting me. what's between them and the bishop is between them.

If I am the Bishop and I know about this situation....that person would not be attending the Temple while I was the Bishop.

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If you were a Bishop, and a brother comes to you for a temple recommend -- what would you do in this following situation?

This brother pays tithing, keeps the word of wisdom, but tends to be VERY inconsistent and underperforming in his or her callings, unreliable - usually does them at first, and then peters out after a month or two, in spite of strong support and training and encouragement. Been that way for over a decade.

Eventually he's released for non-performance. Comes to Church twice a month or so, but goes to Priesthood only once in a while, maybe once every 6 weeks or two months, sometimes longer. He never volunteers for priesthood projects, and if asks says "I'll come if I'm available", but is never available.

He accepts home teaching assignments, but rarely does them. He's been put with a strong companion, but always has excuses about why he can't go. He might go with his companion to see one family every two or three months, leaving his companion to figure out how to see the other 4 families on his list. Priesthood leaders have interviewed him repeatedly about home teaching, and he always says he's not comfortable talking to people he doesn't know, so he doesn't like home teaching. There have been attempts to put him on to families he knows, but even that doesn't work -- he still doesn't go.

A veteren of the Ward indicates this brother has never done much home teaching in over two decades. He's been asked, and there's no health or other reasons why he doesn't go.

You're a Bishop, and this brother comes to you asking for a temple recommend renewal. You know his full history -- in fact, he's your companion for home teaching!

He's been on the "hasn't been home teaching for 3 months" list many times now when Priesthood Leaders report on home teaching in PEC. You ask "Do You Support Your Local Leaders" and he responds "Yes". He also replies "Yes" to "Do you attend your meetings?".

Would you give him his temple recommend? How would you handle this situation? Do you think temple recommend holding should be tied to a certain minimum standard of home teaching as evidence of supporting local leaders?

Depends on the Spirit. Home teaching: doesn't matter. Priesthood callings don't matter to holding a recommend. Think about the questions that are asked: those matter.

Edited by dreiko

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Is there some leeway in setting the bar for what people need to accomplish in order to satisfy the recommend writer? Could one set their congregation's bar to 1.5 home teaching visits per month per house hold?

As an earthly gate keeper for the needs of other's eternal salvation, would it be right to act in a retentive manner?

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ya know sumthin funny? I live in Rexburg. All of the hometeachers are no more than 50 yards from their hometeachees. Our ward has 60% home teaching. Is that sad or what?

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I don't think I have any home teachers. If I have, I have never seen them. With no priesthood in our home I would really appreciate them sometimes but I think they just have assignments to visit less active brethren.

So many brethren don't do it out of rebellion against the administration.

That is really sad. The home teachng isn't being done for 'the administration' it should be done for the Lord.

I relate it to the covenant in the temple where we promise to do our all to build up the kingdom of God on the earth. Are we not asked in the interview if we are keeping our covenants?

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Everybody is at a different stage in their understanding of the Temple Recommend interview questions, if for you doing your home teaching is part of sustaining your local leaders and you don't do it say no, if a Bishop gets a prompting that you can't have a recommend because you are ready to gain that understanding fair enough

I just know when I started answering those questions at 16 the understanding of them is completely different at 33. I have had BP unjustly refuse me a recommend however as I see it on his head be it, I know I am worthy and so does the Lord and ultimately that is the most important question on the interview. Are You Worthy to go, my standards of worthiness for myself are far higher than when I first answered that question. And daresay they will be higher again in another 15 years.

To you that is clearly a question you need to answer - to someone else it may not be yet, also you never truly know why someone is not managing things, maybe he suffers from depression or exhaustion, he may secretly be doing service projects

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Personally i never like home teaching. It seemed so forced. My companion had a "cheat sheet" with the names, ages, birthdays of the family members and cliff notes of what was going on in their life. We would go in and small talk then read or summarizes an article from the Ensign, the same ensign sitting on there coffee (i mean hot chocolate table;)) table.

I remember going to Education Week once, as a youth, and there was a class that my mom wanted to go to, but it conflicted with another series she was taking that week. I didn't have anything that hour, so my mom asked me to go and take notes for her. Turns out, it was a class for parents who had kids going off to college for the first time. The only thing I remember from it was that they suggested keeping a cheat sheet when you talk to your kids: notes on classes, friends, boys/girls, etc. so that you could follow up the next time you talked and be able to remember more effectively what's going on in the kid's life. I thought it made a lot of sense. I don't see a problem with doing that with home teaching, especially if the home teacher has a bad memory or something like that.

I saw a vid on youtube (it isn't working for me) where the home teacher come and knock on the window at 11:55 on the 30th to get 100% status, and i think it held some truth.

Was it from the movie The R.M.? There's a scene in there where the guy is looking through the mail slot late at night on the last day of the month, having just ditched his sister's wedding reception because he's determined to get 100% home teaching.

This is my opinion.....If I am a Bishop and I am aware of a person not doing their callings and they need a Temple Recommend, then we will have a chat about this situation. This would be a perfect time for me as a Bishop to teach this person about the importance of callings. After doing so I would then do what I felt prompted by the spirit. I would not want to send this person to the Temple without seeing some improvement. I do feel thats part of the worthiness interview. As long as they attend church at least twice a month, they would qualify for a recommend on that part.

I see a problem, though, with the fact that this man has been in this behavioral pattern of not fulfilling his calling commitments, home teaching commitments, or even church attendance for the last 20 years, yet he's always had a temple recommend. One visit this late in the game isn't likely to change his behavior. Unfortunately, I don't like the alternative, either, which is just to ignore it. Additionally, he's attending Sacrament meeting, but nothing else.

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I remember going to Education Week once, as a youth, and there was a class that my mom wanted to go to, but it conflicted with another series she was taking that week. I didn't have anything that hour, so my mom asked me to go and take notes for her. Turns out, it was a class for parents who had kids going off to college for the first time. The only thing I remember from it was that they suggested keeping a cheat sheet when you talk to your kids: notes on classes, friends, boys/girls, etc. so that you could follow up the next time you talked and be able to remember more effectively what's going on in the kid's life. I thought it made a lot of sense. I don't see a problem with doing that with home teaching, especially if the home teacher has a bad memory or something like that.

Was it from the movie The R.M.? There's a scene in there where the guy is looking through the mail slot late at night on the last day of the month, having just ditched his sister's wedding reception because he's determined to get 100% home teaching.

I see a problem, though, with the fact that this man has been in this behavioral pattern of not fulfilling his calling commitments, home teaching commitments, or even church attendance for the last 20 years, yet he's always had a temple recommend. One visit this late in the game isn't likely to change his behavior. Unfortunately, I don't like the alternative, either, which is just to ignore it. Additionally, he's attending Sacrament meeting, but nothing else.

Thats why I said....I would not want to send him there without seeing some improvement. Its an opportunity to teach and to try and get him so he can go to the Temple.

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Guest mormonmusic

Well, after listening to everyone, I have to reject the broad "do you feel worthy to enter the temple" approach -- it's way too open-ended. If you've ever been a Ward priesthood leader and had the screws put to you from the Stake OVER AND OVER AGAIN about home teaching, and shouldered the frustration for years on end, that approach is simply a recipe for mediocrity, in my view. If the program is so important to chastise brethren and leaders and constantly harp, harp, harp on it, then in my view, it nears or exceeds the importance of tithing.

I like Palerider's approach. I think I would probably raise the issue of their non-home teaching over many years, and get out all their excuses in the recommend interview. I'd address their excuses, and then get a commitment they are going to do better. But there will also be a follow-up visit in two months to review the person's home teaching. I might imply, in gentleman's language, that lack of home teaching over that two month period could jeopardize the temple recommend at the follow-up visit. I would even consider a minimum standard -- like three visits a month with their companion. I'd also work with the priesthood leader to ensure this reluctant brother has families who are REALLY easy to see. Also, make it clear it's the RELUCTANT HOME TEACHER'S RESPONSIBILTY to contact their companion to indicate their availability -- not the companion's duty to chase them.

A risk here is that the person will hate their Bishop, nonetheless, or opt not to have a temple recommend - you can't predict how people will react -- I've seen it happen in other contexts where the person disagrees with the Bishop. As a Bishop, I'd go into the meeting thinking --"if they get mad and keep themselves out of the temple, fine". As I said earlier, I've seen people come back after a couple years of kicking against the pricks and ask for forgiveness, and show a willingness to get with the program for the long-term afterwards.

What IF He Does Nothing by the Next Follow-Up Interview?

Another problem -- what if, in two months, they only went out once a month? Then what?

Options:

1. Let him keep his recommend, but tell him not to go to the Temple for at least 2 months. Talk about all the excuses again. Reset the minimum standard -- and reset a follow-up interview in two months.

2. Revoke the temple recommend. Let him know that when he's aligned his heart with what the Lord wants, he should come back and talk about re-issuing it again.

Also, I'd probably clear this with the Stake President beforehand as I detest it when people go over my head. That way I know if he goes over my head, I'm covered, provided I was kind in the delivery and fair in dealing with the excuses.

Comments? Angles I haven't considered?

Edited by mormonmusic

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If I decide he can't have a TR....the Stake President will be on my side. Stake president generally does not knwo who has a TR or who doesn't unless I tell him or he looks at the list of memebrs holding a TR. The Stake President says that I as the Bishop have the final say in what goes on in Ward.

I would want to review with this person after a month or so...if no improvement, I would still be hesitant to issue a Temple Recommend.

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