by Pink Hedgehog
It seems that the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been– unwisely–asking Google all kinds of embarrassing questions about the Church, and leaving it in great numbers, or so ex-Mormons are claiming. I’ve seen many people who say they left the Church because they discovered the Mormon Church “is not true.” I think this is a smokescreen, and I decided to write a “how-to” manual to bring these members back to the fold. If you follow my instructions carefully, you will surely bring your friends and family back to activity and full faithfulness.
John Dehlin came up with five “myths” about why people are leaving the Church. I propose that these are not myths, but are, in fact, the real reasons that people are leaving the Church. The reasons are as follows:
1. They were offended by someone
2. They desired to sin
3. They never had a testimony to begin with
4. They were lazy….or stopped praying and reading the scriptures
5. They studied anti-Mormon literature
Now that you understand the five “myths,” I will help you to determine how best to help your loved ones to return to the fold.
1. Was a family in your ward offended? The easiest way to find out if a family in your ward left the Church because someone offended them is to show up unannounced at their front door and simply ask them. It’s best to choose a time in the evening when they are sure to be home, like when the family is trying to get the children in bed. After a bit of chit chat, just get right to the heart of the matter. Tell your friends that you know they have a testimony of the Lord’s church, and that they should not put their eternal salvation in jeopardy by taking offense and walking away from the church. Help them to find forgiveness in their hearts by sharing a few scriptures with them and bearing your testimony. It will help to soften their hearts and show them the error of their ways.
2. Do you think your sister left the church because she wanted to sin? In this case, you should attempt to discover exactly which sins she has been committing. When you visit her home, check the refrigerator for the presence of alcohol. Is she wearing immodest clothing? Do you suspect she is committing adultery or some other sexual sin? Any of these things can lead someone away from the church. If you can determine the source of the sin, you have the best chance of bringing your sister back. In some cases, you may want to stage an intervention, especially in the instance of substance use, such as alcohol. In all cases, it is best to confront those who are sinning with the consequences of their bad choices. The church offers many programs to recover from sin, repent, and return to full fellowship. You can suggest some of these ideas, after consulting with your bishop. Always keep a prayer in your heart, and make sure to bear your testimony often about the power of the atonement.
3. Maybe your friend never had a testimony to begin with. If you suspect this is the case, it is important to intercede–and quickly, before the spirit leaves her home entirely. I highly recommend that you bake treats and deliver them at least weekly, and make sure to include spiritual thoughts or scriptures on handmade greeting cards with each delivery of baked goods. You may wish to enlist the aid of your friend’s visiting teachers, home teachers, and some of the other sisters in the ward. It may take some months to accomplish, but if you endure, you can be assured that your friend will soften her heart. In addition to treats, you can offer to read scriptures with her daily, and have Gospel discussions about faith-promoting topics. Avoid any debate on the more difficult issues in church history because those topics were invented by Satan to damage testimonies and drive away the spirit. If you start to get a bad feeling about any of the things your friend is saying, you will know that Satan is present and attempting to deceive you. People who never had a testimony are desperate for opportunities to feel the spirit.
4. Do you suspect that your husband lost his testimony because he became lazy and stopped reading his scriptures and praying? To help someone in this situation, I suggest you create a chart to keep track of scripture study and prayer. In the case of your spouse, you can actually supervise his spiritual activities on a daily basis. If you are helping a friend, you can deliver a new chart each week, along with a treat. Be sure to include quotes about the power of prayer and scripture study. Tell your friend that you will bring a new chart each week, and check in to see how her progress is going. Use encouragement and positive reinforcement to facilitate the behaviors necessary to gain a Testimony. Do not become frustrated if those you are trying to help do not respond, simply keep up your own scripture study and prayer, continue delivering the charts with treats, and don’t give up.
5. Do you think your relatives have been studying anti-Mormon literature? This last category is very tricky to deal with. You will need to avoid allowing your relatives to expose you to any of Satan’s tricks. It is important to show your relatives where they went wrong, and to help them rebuild their testimonies, while preserving your own testimony. It is common knowledge that all truth can be found on lds.org. You have no need to seek anywhere else for answers to life’s most troubling questions. Your relatives may attempt to lead you away from the church, but do not be fooled. If you receive an email containing uncomfortable information, simply do not read it. Skim your eyes over the text to pick out some keywords, then look up those topics on lds.org and send your relatives links to your faith-promoting material. As always, it’s the perfect opportunity to bear strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel, the Book of Mormon, and the atonement of Christ.
If you are unsure which of the above reasons caused your loved ones to stop attending church, the best course of action is to make sure they know you love them and that you have a testimony. Pop over regularly without calling, bring casseroles, home canned goods, produce from your garden, jam, home baked bread, and other treats. Never miss an opportunity to bear your testimony, or to leave them with a nugget of truth. Eventually this will cause the hearts of those you care about to be softened and receptive to the spirit. It is your duty as one who understands the fullness of the gospel to share that knowledge with those around you, especially those who have wandered from the straight and narrow path and become lost.
I know these things to be true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!