When a former Mormon comes into a traditional Christian church, some of the familiar structures that created community don’t exist or are not the same. How can we find ways to connect in relationships at church after leaving Mormonism?
How community works in the LDS Church
In Mormonism, the structure is set up so that people spend a lot of time with peers, in various meetings with others of the same age and gender. People have callings where they check on each other. Every member of the ward receives a monthly visit from someone else in the ward, to let them know they are cared about. It’s hard to slip through the cracks even if you’re inactive.
Obstacles to community for former Mormons
When a former Mormons walks through the doors of a traditional Christian church, he or she may not see some of the ways of doing community common in Mormonism. This creates challenges in trying to find relational connections. For example, in Mormonism, people attends church based on where they live, so everyone in the congregation is also a neighbor. In a Christian church, people come from miles or towns away. People you see at church are not people you see on a regular basis, or that you would recognize from the grocery store or your child’s school. It’s easy to feel very out of place, not just because you have come from a different religion, but because you don’t know anyone. Most churches don’t have a visitation program where someone will visit you. Many don’t have a Sunday school class at the church building where people can get acquainted. Attending a large worship gathering only makes it hard to meet people of one’s own age or gender.
How to start making connections at church
Most church offer at least two possibilities for getting connected. First, join a small group Bible study. This is important to gain knowledge of the Bible. But it’s also a place to make friends who love God and who can help in your journey. Second, get involved in church events. Go to the service project, or become part of a serving team. The difference is that you have to step forward and make the effort. No one will come knocking. Have to take initiative in a way that wasn’t necessary in the ward. Most churches have small groups but they can be hard to find because they usually don’t meet in the church building but in homes. It can be hard walking into a group of strangers in a stranger’s home. It feels weird at first because Mormonism doesn’t have group meetings in personal homes. But the benefits of being part of a small group are far worth it.
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Why finding community really matters
God calls us to community. The Bible gives many examples of communities drawing together. We all need the strength and encouragement we can get from each other. When things are going well, we can rejoice together and give praise to God. When things are tough, we need other people to hold us up and help carry us through. We need relationships to remind us of what is true and what matters. So take the initiative and find a way to connect.
[Related Topic: Five Reasons for Connecting]
[Related Topic: What Does a Healthy Relationship Look Like?]