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NeedleinA

Encouraging Temple recommend renewals?

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Looking for your thoughts on how to encourage members to renew their temple recommends?
Stake leaders have spoken on this subject fairly recently, several times, with little to no movement towards success. Members just seem to be rather resistant to getting it done. 

Do people feel the need to only renew their recommends 'if' a temple is open? 
Do you try to keep a current recommend regardless of temple availability?

Are people lazy? Disinterested? How about in your area?
All other key indicators in our area are back to normal or better than pre-Covid times... except this one area and we haven't been able to pinpoint if there is a common theme/concern yet. 

Thank you!

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Encouraging is a good start but from pre-covid experience real progress in this area only happened when executive secretaries started working the expired recommend list setting up appointments with the bishop. This got the lazies in and those with worthiness issues progressing towards worthiness again. Some things just require that one on one level of effort. Either that or maybe a temple recommend lottery. 

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3 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

Looking for your thoughts on how to encourage members to renew their temple recommends?
Stake leaders have spoken on this subject fairly recently, several times, with little to no movement towards success. Members just seem to be rather resistant to getting it done. 

Do people feel the need to only renew their recommends 'if' a temple is open? 
Do you try to keep a current recommend regardless of temple availability?

Are people lazy? Disinterested? How about in your area?
All other key indicators in our area are back to normal or better than pre-Covid times... except this one area and we haven't been able to pinpoint if there is a common theme/concern yet. 

Thank you!

Yes, you should always have one current.

Yes, they have always been lazy as well as disinterested. Covid increased the numbers a bit, but people are lazy with all kinds of things both in and out of church. I can't tell you how many requests for interviews I have had from people who have had theirs expired for some time...and only need it to attend a wedding they have the following day. They usually call me last minute as I am eating dinner with my family, or even the morning of the temple event as I am starting work.

A sad truth is that many people don't ever attend the temple on their own. They only go to family fuctions to save face and look like they are good card carrying members to their family members. Our bishop used to allow people to renew their recommends even if they never attended church. This is no longer the case since the questions have been revised. We also have many folks who just don't keep the commandments. An example is tithing...lots just choose not to pay it. Even a former bishop of our ward around 11-12 years ago is currently in this category.

We have not been able to increase our numbers despite multiple requests.

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3 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

Looking for your thoughts on how to encourage members to renew their temple recommends?

Have the Executive Secretary call people to schedule a TR interview.  And stay out of people's business unless it's within your stewardship.  :)

Edited by NeuroTypical

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3 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

Looking for your thoughts on how to encourage members to renew their temple recommends?
Stake leaders have spoken on this subject fairly recently, several times, with little to no movement towards success. Members just seem to be rather resistant to getting it done. 

Do people feel the need to only renew their recommends 'if' a temple is open? 
Do you try to keep a current recommend regardless of temple availability?

Are people lazy? Disinterested? How about in your area?
All other key indicators in our area are back to normal or better than pre-Covid times... except this one area and we haven't been able to pinpoint if there is a common theme/concern yet. 

Thank you!

Personal opinion, I always thought it was strange that it was stressed to keep a current recommend purely just to have. If you have a temple nearby and it is opened, yes, always have one Current… but if it isn't open, or the nearest temple is 1000 miles away, I dont see the importance.  Not saying it isnt important, just that I don't see it. Always seemed like an unimportant thing to stress over. 

Edited by Fether

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1 hour ago, Fether said:

Personal opinion, I always thought it was strange that it was stressed to keep a current recommend purely just to have. If you have a temple nearby and it is opened, yes, always have one Current… but if it isn't open, or the nearest temple is 1000 miles away, I dont see the importance.  Not saying it isnt important, just that I don't see it. Always seemed like an unimportant thing to stress over. 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Elder Djarot Subiantoro shared the following:  

Quote

The Lord has commanded us to make the temple the center of our lives, which in turn requires us to always keep a current temple recommend.

What does it mean to always have a temple recommend? Having a temple recommend is a good indication of our worthiness for celestial glory. No matter where we are, we need to prioritize having a current temple recommend and make the temple the great symbol of our membership in the Church. If we strive to keep our recommend current and live the gospel to its fullest through faith, repentance, and renewal of covenants throughout our lives, we will qualify for eternal life.

 

2 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

Have the Executive Secretary call people to schedule a TR interview.  And stay out of people's business unless it's within your stewardship.  :)

At least in this particular case, it is my next HC speaking assignment. 

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Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley 

Quote

“It would please the Lord if every adult member would be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families

 

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13 minutes ago, NeedleinA said:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Elder Djarot Subiantoro shared the following:  

Quote

The Lord has commanded us to make the temple the center of our lives, which in turn requires us to always keep a current temple recommend.

What does it mean to always have a temple recommend? Having a temple recommend is a good indication of our worthiness for celestial glory. No matter where we are, we need to prioritize having a current temple recommend and make the temple the great symbol of our membership in the Church. If we strive to keep our recommend current and live the gospel to its fullest through faith, repentance, and renewal of covenants throughout our lives, we will qualify for eternal life.

I’m familiar with the explanation behind it… I just don’t see that as a compelling reason. Not having a temple recommend doesn’t mean I’m going to stop praying, paying tithing, and start living a riotous life. Have a temple recommend in my wallet that says “expires: *some future date*” doesn’t give me spiritual strength. It indicates to others my worthiness, but not myself. I have scriptures, words of the prophets and church literature to teach me whether I am living righteously.

I will likely keep it current all the time regardless of temple accessibility because of such counsel. But this very much seems like a stats or law of moses type suggestion so it makes it difficult for me to emotionally and seriously get behind.

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37 minutes ago, Fether said:

I’m familiar with the explanation behind it… I just don’t see that as a compelling reason. Not having a temple recommend doesn’t mean I’m going to stop praying, paying tithing, and start living a riotous life. Have a temple recommend in my wallet that says “expires: *some future date*” doesn’t give me spiritual strength. It indicates to others my worthiness, but not myself. I have scriptures, words of the prophets and church literature to teach me whether I am living righteously.

I will likely keep it current all the time regardless of temple accessibility because of such counsel. But this very much seems like a stats or law of moses type suggestion so it makes it difficult for me to emotionally and seriously get behind.

I think having a temple recommend is largely symbolic and the power of that symbol is largely what we make of it. It begins with our approach to the interview. When viewed as an interview with the Lord it can become a profoundly sacred experience. There is a big difference between those who are there just to answer the questions right and those who see the opportunity to express the depth of their conviction and love of the Lord. Both may be considered worthy but the experience seems to mean so much more to those who recognize the importance of the principle taught over and over in the temple of returning and reporting. It is something that happens at various intervals: daily in prayer, weekly with the sacrament and every two years with temple recommends. I think for these people the physical recommend is a reminder of that ultimate report we all will have with the Lord that the temple prepares us for.

 

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 @NeedleinA, I’ll raise my hand as one of those people that is hard to schedule, despite being an active very believing lady. . Here’s the OCD honest reasons, all of which work together, but last is the biggest —

-The shortage of time is indeed a factor.  Both for the interviews themselves and actually attending the temple. 

- My non-member husband, while supportive of me believing and participating locally, is complicated when it comes to matters of tithing and me being gone for a 6 hour tremble trip.  Especially when I was working 100 wks, and we did/do have little kids at home without outside support.  

- While I love the principle of the temple, my experience actually going ... has been a mixed bag. There’s a lot of complicated emotions there. 

- (The biggest reason) I love the gospel deeply, and all of the above are very delicate- close-to-the-matters of great importance.  And to be frank, I do NOT trust my local leadership to discuss them with the needed delicate reverence.  I either don’t know them at all (majority of them) or I’ve been trampled by them in the past and had trust very broken, and it’s not the type of broken that having a conversation will fix anything.  

 

I believe in the Gospel deeply. And the time of temples being closed will pass. Regardless of whether or not it’s open, I’m going to keep living my life worthily. But I really don’t want to open up to a man whom I don’t know well and/or has hurt me badly in the past.

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45 minutes ago, laronius said:

I think having a temple recommend is largely symbolic

I thinks it is largely for statistics. Which I would be 100% fine with if they came out and said that, I would love to valiant in helping our leaders keep track of where we as Saints were as a whole… but I also recognize the many Saints may have trouble with that

 

46 minutes ago, laronius said:

When viewed as an interview with the Lord it can become a profoundly sacred experience. There is a big difference between those who are there just to answer the questions right and those who see the opportunity to express the depth of their conviction and love of the Lord. Both may be considered worthy but the experience seems to mean so much more to those who recognize the importance of the principle taught over and over in the temple of returning and reporting. It is something that happens at various intervals: daily in prayer, weekly with the sacrament and every two years with temple recommends. I think for these people the physical recommend is a reminder of that ultimate report we all will have with the Lord that the temple prepares us for.

I would be completely down for this view too, I would probably always be in the mood for a temple recommend d interview. But the setting and environment had never been like that. 
 

All of my experiences in getting interviews have been sitting in a hall waiting for my appointment which is 15 minutes late. I sit down and the bishop asks me the questions verbatim and I respond with 1 word answers. I remember once I expressed a question and thought on the question about being honest with our fellow men and it was simply blown off since it wasn’t part of scripted conversation. Then when I go to the stake presidency, there is even more of a assembly line feel.

I get the sentiment, I just don’t buy it

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20 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

 

I believe in the Gospel deeply. And the time of temples being closed will pass. Regardless of whether or not it’s open, I’m going to keep living my life worthily. But I really don’t want to open up to a man whom I don’t know well and/or has hurt me badly in the past.

I don't mean to sound inconsiderate, but what conversations are you having in a temple recommend interviews? Other than the initial chit chat, my interviews consist of questions being asked and answers given. I can only think of a couple of interviews that had conversations and that was because I asked questions to gain clarification on questions that I had been thinking about. 

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Thank you for the variety of answers thus far. 

If I were to try and summarize the reasons given so it appears to be:

a. Not a priority to even attend the temple, so why do I need a recommend for a place I'm not interested in attending and serving in.
b. Avoid recommend interviews since they are not living the standards to enter the temple anyways.  
c. Recommend holds no spiritual value by itself
d. Lack of time for interview
e. Avoid the experience/wait/rush/privacy of the interview itself

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1 hour ago, beefche said:

Other than the initial chit chat, my interviews consist of questions being asked and answers given. I can only think of a couple of interviews that had conversations and that was because I asked questions to gain clarification on questions that I had been thinking about. 

I'm in the same boat and always have been. 

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@LDSGator & @MrShorty, thoughts or ideas to add to this list?

3 minutes ago, NeedleinA said:

a. Not a priority to even attend the temple, so why do I need a recommend for a place I'm not interested in attending and serving in.
b. Avoid recommend interviews since they are not living the standards to enter the temple anyways.  
c. Recommend holds no spiritual value by itself
d. Lack of time for interview
e. Avoid the experience/wait/rush/privacy of the interview itself

 

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A couple things that came to my mind of why there might be hesitancy:

~ Sometimes people really aren't aware it has lapsed and a call from the exec sec is what it takes. (not everyone lives close enough to a temple to attend on a regular basis so don't notice the exp date)

~ Shallow but - knowing that the bishop you don't jive with (putting it nicely) will be released soon and/or you'll be moving so just wait to avoid said bishop.

~ Less than pleasant experiences in the past (ie along the lines of guilt/grilled - 'why haven't you come sooner'; 'when was the last time you attended the temple').

Edited by Manners Matter

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As far as encouragement - people respond to being inspired, not told. I've read/heard a couple things in recent years that helped me see the bigger picture/different perspective which in turn led to having a better view of the importance of keeping it current regardless of proximity/ability to attend. Unfortunately, my memory is vague but one was along the lines of 'if you're anxious to experience the Millennium, the temple will be a big part of that so you may as well adjust your attitude now and give temple/fam hist a higher priority and show that you're ready to participate during that incredible time period. (this could be worded better but that's a rough idea)

Also, a reminder that the things we're asked to do are for our benefit.

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7 hours ago, beefche said:

I don't mean to sound inconsiderate, but what conversations are you having in a temple recommend interviews? Other than the initial chit chat, my interviews consist of questions being asked and answers given. I can only think of a couple of interviews that had conversations and that was because I asked questions to gain clarification on questions that I had been thinking about. 

Due to my non-member husband, the tithing part is complicated and not a one word answer.  Also, my bishop is very specific view of "attend your meetings" (covid conflicts there).  

8 hours ago, Fether said:

I thinks it is largely for statistics. Which I would be 100% fine with if they came out and said that, I would love to valiant in helping our leaders keep track of where we as Saints were as a whole… but I also recognize the many Saints may have trouble with that

 

I would be completely down for this view too, I would probably always be in the mood for a temple recommend d interview. But the setting and environment had never been like that. 
 

All of my experiences in getting interviews have been sitting in a hall waiting for my appointment which is 15 minutes late. I sit down and the bishop asks me the questions verbatim and I respond with 1 word answers. I remember once I expressed a question and thought on the question about being honest with our fellow men and it was simply blown off since it wasn’t part of scripted conversation. Then when I go to the stake presidency, there is even more of a assembly line feel.

I get the sentiment, I just don’t buy it

I'm also not a fan of the assembly line feel interviews can have.  It's.... faith is a very sacred personal thing and it feels uncomfortable those times when interviews are akin to a drive-through.  

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Our stake is apparently an exceptional stake in this regard.  The Houston Temple President said of our stake that if just three other stakes had the temple attendance that our stake has, then we'd have to build a new temple.  Do the math.  That means that one stake is doing about 1/5 to 1/4 of the temple work for the entire temple area.  (Pre--COVID, of course).

Today, though, some people are taking the attitude of "why bother?"  Without temples readily available, what would be the reason to have one anyway?  Now, I fear that with temples gradually opening, those same people fell into a habit of thinking "why bother?" and will still choose not to have one.

The big problem I see in my current ward is that they don't emphasize it enough.  They talk about it in bishopric meetings.  They ask how to encourage it in other leadership meetings.  Then they do absolutely nothing to keep it in our minds.

  • No talks in sacrament.
  • No special Sunday School classes on the topic.
  • No special events.
  • No messages for ministering families.

When it comes to leadership encouraging something, the leaders need to do more than what they are asking of others.  If I want you to go to level 1 (have a current recommend) then I need to be at level 7 for you to finally see why it is so important.

For us, at least, it starts from the top down.  They talk the talk.  But they don't walk the walk (at least, not to level 7).

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9 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

@LDSGator & @MrShorty, thoughts or ideas to add to this list?

 

a. Not a priority to even attend the temple, so why do I need a recommend for a place I'm not interested in attending and serving in.
b. Avoid recommend interviews since they are not living the standards to enter the temple anyways.  
c. Recommend holds no spiritual value by itself
d. Lack of time for interview
e. Avoid the experience/wait/rush/privacy of the interview itself

This list is good. I think people don’t go to the temple just due to a lack of desire. It’s also really, really hard for people to admit they don’t like the temple experience, so perhaps that has something to do with it? 
 

After the French Revolution many citizens simply stopped going to church even after they reopened under Napoleon. Perhaps it’s the same thing here on a smaller scale? People got into the habit of not going during Covid and just don’t want to resume. 
 
If you want to know why people no longer go, you have to ask them. Asking active LDS why people don’t go to church or the temple sounds very odd to me. If I open a pizza place and it fails, a wise person asks the customers who didn’t like it how it can change so it does not happen again or stops happening. A fool sticks his head in the sand, makes things up than acts shocked when his next pizza place fails. Again, same sort of thing.

Edited by LDSGator

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2 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

m also not a fan of the assembly line feel interviews can have.  It's.... faith is a very sacred personal thing and it feels uncomfortable those times when interviews are akin to a drive-through.  

Ya, but in reality, the conversation with God that was mentioned earlier is happening all the time in My mind. It has become almost second nature to do spiritual self checkups virtually all the time. So I do t really feel the need for the interview to be a sacred experience. I have had, and am having that that conversation in my mind before, during and after.

This is probably why I have a hard time buying into the idea that we should always have a current recommend even when there is no available temple

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10 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

If I were to try and summarize the reasons given so it appears to be:
a. Not a priority to even attend the temple, so why do I need a recommend for a place I'm not interested in attending and serving in.
b. Avoid recommend interviews since they are not living the standards to enter the temple anyways.  
c. Recommend holds no spiritual value by itself
d. Lack of time for interview
e. Avoid the experience/wait/rush/privacy of the interview itself

I'm a fan of keeping a temple recommend, whether you can/will use it or not.  Checking in with priesthood leaders every 2 years on stuff this fundamentally important, has numerous advantages.  And most bishops I've run across, all have a list of important heart-changing moments that have come about while interviewing someone.

One to add: Some folks occasionally think that attending the temple simply isn't in the cards for whatever reason they think is good, and they don't want to argue the point at the interview.  Sometimes interviewers take the opportunity to try to get the member to commit to a certain number of visits over the next year.  Puts some folks in the awkward position of either refusing to commit, or lying with a weak "I'll try my best" that they are pretty sure won't happen.  So they just avoid the whole thing altogether.  I guess it's a combination of c. and e.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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One other thought re: encouragement - Acknowledge that there are legit reasons for not attending the temple (ie health - which is not always visible, shared; distance, etc) but having a current recommend is an indication of your willingness even though circumstances may prevent it.

Also, share quote/s about keeping it current and point out this is one way to 'follow the prophet'/'if by my own voice or voice of my servant it is the same'.

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2 hours ago, LDSGator said:

If you want to know why people no longer go, you have to ask them. Asking active LDS why people don’t go to church or the temple sounds very odd to me. If I open a pizza place and it fails, a wise person asks the customers who didn’t like it how it can change so it does not happen again or stops happening. A fool sticks his head in the sand, makes things up than acts shocked when his next pizza place fails. Again, same sort of thing.

I believe I'm tracking the sentiment here, I think. 

Since my sphere of stewardship does not offer me the chance to ask the actual members in stake their reasons for not renewing their recommends, asking here acts as a great second place sounding board.

Taking your pizza analogy, we have plenty of customers who come to the restaurant but no one is ordering pizza combo #1. When we have been asking people 'why not?', we are only hearing back that it is 'not for them' but nothing beyond that. What exact part is not for them? The mushrooms, anchovies, the what?

You are correct, it is hard to try and help individuals address their certain concern(s) if we can't figure out the concern to begin with.

One more check mark as to why I appreciate everyone here offering up their thoughts. With varying degrees of Church activity from participants here and the anonymity it helps to drill down to some possible specifics.

 

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