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Before We Celebrate “Staying In” the Church, Let’s Remember The Real Goal

Before We Celebrate “Staying In” the Church, Let’s Remember The Real Goal

There’s a new buzz phrase that I’ve seen quite often in the past few years, and it involves people’s membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

People keep talking about “staying in” the Church.

There’s an account on Instagram called, “Why I Stay” and there’s another one called, “Why We Stay.”

There a video I’ve linked here titled, “Why I Stay” on YouTube. Yet another video I found is, “Why I Stay: My Experiences with Questions, Doubts, and a Significant Faith Crisis.

I’ve seen a social media influencer often state that she receives messages from people who say that she has helped them “stay in” the Church. (She usually shares these types of posts whenever detractors bring up how many of her social media followers have left the church.)

Staying in the Church

One one  hand, this talk of staying in the Church is definitely a good thing.

We definitely hear of more people leaving the Church in recent years than we are accustomed to, thanks to social media. In many cases, the messages people share of staying in the church is an attempt to show that there is a place for everyone in this church and that you don’t have to leave. That messaging is definitely a good one. 

I want everyone who is in the Church to stay in the Church. I believe The Church of Jesus Christ is where God and Jesus Christ want us to be. When Christ was among the Nephites he said:

And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world; and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation.

Christ doesn’t want anyone to leave His Church, but at the same time, if you are going to stay, He wants you to come unto Him.

Reasons for Staying

Just as there are various reasons for people leaving the Church, there are various reasons that people stay. As I said above, staying in the Church is what Christ wants, but just “staying”, if for the wrong reasons, definitely won’t bring us closer to Christ.

Here are a few examples of those who have declared on social media the reasons they stay, and they don’t appear to be under the banner of “coming unto Christ.”

Change Agents

I read a comment online recently about someone wanting to stay in the Church for the sole purpose of “wanting to change it.” This person, and many others, view themselves as “change agents.”

Their goal is to change the doctrine of the Church to conform to their worldviews instead of coming unto Christ and changing themselves. 

There are others who of course want the Church to be the best version it can be, and also have a sure foundation and testimony. If there are things we can do better, let’s work on them. But true change in the Church won’t come from the demands of those who don’t support the doctrines of the Church and are solely among us to dismantle and create something new.

Demanding Revelation

One influential LGBTQ+ church member recently said that revelation in the Church comes from the bottom up. He suggested we must become louder on certain issues because that is how real change happens. He criticizes the Church daily on his social media accounts and truly believes that by applying pressure the church will ultimately change their stance on marriage and family.

Here is what Elder Dale G. Renlund recently said about the process of revelation: 

Demanding revelation from God is both arrogant and unproductive. Instead, we wait on the Lord and His timetable to reveal His truths through the means that He has established.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a democracy. Loud voices won’t change doctrine. However, listening to the still, small voice can change us.

Faith Tradition

Another comment I saw online recently was by someone declaring their choice to stay because it is their “faith tradition.”  If we only stay in the Church because it is tradition, how solid of a foundation is that?

Our faith tradition must become our faith if we are to become consecrated saints that contribute to the building of the kingdom of God. We must become converted and have our own witness of the divinity of this work.

Don’t Stay to Stay the Same

Our goal shouldn’t be to stay in the Church, the goal should be to become. The goal should be covenant keeping. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared this principle in his April 2017 General Conference address “Songs Sung and Unsung:

Brothers and sisters, we live in a mortal world with many songs we cannot or do not yet sing. But I plead with each one of us to stay permanently and faithfully in the choir, where we will be able to savor forever that most precious anthem of all—“the song of redeeming love.” Fortunately, the seats for this particular number are limitless. There is room for those who speak different languages, celebrate diverse cultures, and live in a host of locations.

There is room for the single, for the married, for large families, and for the childless. There is room for those who once had questions regarding their faith and room for those who still do. There is room for those with differing sexual attractions. In short, there is a place for everyone who loves God and honors His commandments as the inviolable measuring rod for personal behavior, for if love of God is the melody of our shared song, surely our common quest to obey Him is the indispensable harmony in it.

With divine imperatives of love and faith, repentance and compassion, honesty and forgiveness, there is room in this choir for all who wish to be there. “Come as you are,” a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, “Don’t plan to stay as you are.” We smile and remember that God is determined to make of us more than we thought we could be.

As Elder Holland stated so beautifully, there is room for us all to join with the saints, but we shouldn’t plan to stay as we are. We should plan on becoming more like Christ.

We all have different places we are at in becoming who we need to be, and that is perfectly fine. We should have grace for all who are among us. But if our goal isn’t to become more like Christ, but to dismantle and destroy, we aren’t on the Lord’s side, whose Church this is.

Questions For The Stayers?

Here are some things to consider if you decide to stay in the Church. I believe a serious consideration of these questions will help each one of us decide if we are in this Church for the right reasons:

  • Does staying lead you to sustain your leaders?
  • Do you stay to follow the prophet?
  • Are you willing to feast on truths taught during General Conference?
  • Does staying increase your love for church standards?
  • Do you stay and cherish the garments of the holy priesthood and other temple blessings?
  • Are you more dedicated to keep the 5 temple covenants with all of your heart, might, mind, and strength?
  • Are you willing to participate fully in the work of salvation?
  • Does staying lead you to regular temple worship where distance permits?
  • Does staying make you less critical and more understanding of the Lord’s anointed servants?
  • Does staying lead you to defend “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”?

This is obviously a very small sampling of some thoughts to consider, but hopefully it will lead us to consider where our heart truly is.

If your goal isn’t to live a life that agrees with the principles above and you want to change the Church, I would invite you to repent and have a change of heart. Come unto Christ and accept the doctrines of His Church, because they are a sure foundation.

This Will Be Zion

Make no mistake about, Zion will be established. The question that remains to be seen is, will you and I be a part of it?

We must be of one heart and one mind and one doctrine in order for Zion to exist. There will be no moral relativism with false philosophies like “live your truth” or worshiping “how, where, or what you may” among the saints. The law that must be lived does not come from our own heart and mind, it comes from the Lord.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared a message in the October 2021 General Conference that touched on the change that needs to be in all of us: 

All who speak in this general conference will all be saying, one way or another, what Christ said to this rich young man: “Come unto your Savior. Come completely and wholeheartedly. Take up your cross, however heavy it may be, and follow Him.” They will say this knowing that in the kingdom of God, there can be no halfway measures, no starting and stopping, no turning back. To those who requested permission to bury a deceased parent or to at least say goodbye to other family members, Jesus’s reply was demanding and unequivocal. “Leave that to others,” He said. “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” When difficult things are asked of us, even things contrary to the longings of our heart, remember that the loyalty we pledge to the cause of Christ is to be the supreme devotion of our lives. Although Isaiah reassures us it is available “without money and without price”—and it is—we must be prepared, using T. S. Eliot’s line, to have it cost “not less than everything.”

Of course, we all have some habits or flaws or personal history that could keep us from complete spiritual immersion in this work. But God is our Father and is exceptionally good at forgiving and forgetting sins we have forsaken, perhaps because we give Him so much practice in doing so. In any case, there is divine help for every one of us at any hour we feel to make a change in our behavior. God gave Saul “another heart.” Ezekiel called on all of ancient Israel to cast off her past and “make … a new heart and a new spirit.” Alma called for a “mighty change” that would cause the soul to expand, and Jesus Himself taught that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Clearly the possibility of change and living at a more elevated level has always been one of the gifts of God to those who seek it.

Please stay in the Church. But please don’t stay the same. Align your will to God’s and be “all in” with Christ’s doctrine – even the parts you don’t understand or perhaps agree with right now. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. I love you, my fellow brothers and sisters!

So, Your Friends And Family Are Leaving the Church?
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Ricky Giampapa

Tuesday 10th of May 2022

Thank you my Loving Brother

Megan Wallace

Tuesday 10th of May 2022

Great article. My intentions are not to offend anyone with my comment. I have a strong testimony of this church, I love this church. It is hard if you dont fit the mold, if your family dosen't look like everyone else in this church. Heavenly Father tells us to Come as we are, All are welcome here. Our signs say visitors welcome. The members of the church either have forgotten or don't understand what this means. This means no matter who you are, what you look like, where you came from, how much money you have, what kind of clothes you wear, what your struggles or disabilities are, ALL ARE WELCOME! You see the Jesus that loves me would go out into the darkest parts of the world to find the one lost sheep. He would look to help the poor, the addicted, the mentality sick, the abused, the homeless He wouldn't shy away from these people. He would actually go look for them! He wouldn't judge them if they came to HIS church on Sunday and didn't have a suite on or had a beard and long hair. These are the people He would be so happy to see in His house! This is the real Gospel of Jesus Christ, this is what our church members need to think about and remember. I can promise so many people wouldn't be in a faith crisis if only this was taught!

Louis Stephen

Monday 9th of May 2022

Social media presents more information for people to research and explore. data that sometimes is not substantively peered or scholastically written, unlike the information that is provided by the Prophets (leaders of the Church of Jesu Christ) should be considered. This article (Arkell, B. 2022), ( "Before We Celebrate “Staying In” the Church, Let’s Remember The Real Goal)," highlights the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in his April 2017 General Conference, Elder Holland sums it all up: "...Of course, we all have some habits or flaws or personal history that could keep us from complete spiritual immersion in this work. But God is our Father and is exceptionally good at forgiving and forgetting sins we have forsaken, perhaps because we give Him so much practice in doing so. In any case, there is divine help for every one of us at any hour we feel to make a change in our behavior."

In other words, "loud voices' on social media and through public protest, have the constitutional right to voice opinions (Freedom of speech). Substantively, the Commandments of God are a Credo of America's Constitution: it is the foundation, beginning with 'cultural law,' to protect and guarantee the rights of 'all' people. At the beginning of the Bible, God creates a universe and the creation of a man and woman. The sexual attractions that follow thereafter, are all in part of one's free agency, and the very reason Heavenly Father invites everyone to come into HIs Church: "...There is room for those who once had questions regarding their faith and room for those who still do. There is room for those with differing sexual attractions. In short, there is a place for everyone who loves God and honors His commandments as the inviolable measuring rod for personal behavior, for if the love of God is the melody of our shared song, surely our common quest to obey Him is the indispensable harmony in it (Holland, J. 2017), (General Conference). "

Sexual attractions and changes in gender orientation, along with the right to abort an unborn child, are the hierarchy of Satan's world. It is the force of evil, uniquely designed to gradually place good people in a dark place over a period of time, and destroy families, friendships, and loved ones. Those dark places neatly fit into the 'social media world,' filled with propaganda, lies, and misbeliefs. The energy that the Church of Jesus Christ continues with a voice, is to far-reach out to the world with open arms and help those in need to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon. This is not a 'brainwashing' attempt for the numbers in membership, it is the work of Christ in a universal effort, to help people live the Gospel and follow HIm in such a violent and twisted world. Most of all entering a Church is to fulfill and covenant with Jesus Christ each week. Yes, we all fall short of God's glory, and everyone is a sinner and needs to repent and come to Christ each week for forgiveness and freshness to start a new week. The life God shared through His divine Son, Jesus Christ, offered as a human sacrifice (atonement) becomes our way back to Heavenly Father, and this is the way back, attending Sacrament meetings and a change in whatever we must do in one's life regardless of our sins and history; that is to fulfill God's desire, and restore that inner peace and happiness within, regardless of one's situation, Christ offers a better way, welcome back if you choose.

Raymond Baker

Thursday 5th of May 2022

Thank you Brother Arkell. What an inspirational and true article. Thank you, I will be sharing this and keeping a copy.

Ben Arkell

Thursday 5th of May 2022

You are so welcome!

johnny cobert

Wednesday 4th of May 2022

I am just a plain and simple old country boy from the piney woods of Louisiana. My great grandparents were baptized there in 1898. Their daughter, my grandmother, always took me to church and taught me and set an example of faith and obedience before me as I grew up. I learned at an early age that my safety lay in following the prophet and not questioning him in (ANY) way. Some call this "blind obedience." I call it faith. I stay in the church because this is where I need to be. It is the only place on earth where I can make every covenant and receive every ordinance necessary for me to return to my heavenly home. President Nelson has reminded us numerous times that the covenant path is the ONLY path that will take us back to our Heavenly Home. Some 57 years ago my old mission president said time and again, "When the Prophet of the Lord tells you something, you know it's right." Always remembered that and I have always used that as a standard for ANYTHING churchy. I stay in the church because it is the smart and wise thing to do. I keep all things churchy as simple as possible. I listen and follow the prophet with all my heart and soul. And I still follow the counsel of President Kimball from so many years ago, "Just Do It."