Random Mormon Poll #8: Too Many Church Meetings/Activities?

M* is pleased to welcome frequent commenter Hunter as today’s guest pollster.

Hunter is a thirty-something member of the Church who discovered the Bloggernacle about two years ago.  His interests include Mormon history, Utah history, Mormon culture, and politics.

It’s a common Bloggernacle screed that there are just plain too many church meetings/activities these days. The folks who have this complaint focus on the much-hated “meeting just to plan a meeting.” And they bemoan any new ward activity that takes them away from the home and their family. Yet, others pine for the sweet days of yesteryear, when more church activities meant more ward cohesiveness, more belonging, more sacrifice, more community. You know, the real essence of what it means to be a Mormon, they say. They cite the Ward carnivals, firesides, Gold & Green Balls, Know Your Religion, weekday afternoon Primary activities, roadshows, pioneer re-enactments, basketball tournaments, dance festivals, dinner groups, and the list goes on and on.

 I’m sure there’s a third group out there that thinks we’ve struck a good balance between the two extremes. But I’ve never actually met anyone in this third group.

I’m interested in your thoughts and opinions on this topic. Be sure to register your vote in the poll and share your comments!

49 thoughts on “Random Mormon Poll #8: Too Many Church Meetings/Activities?

  1. I like having options to attend more ward activities. With lots of options I can choose the activities that work with my family’s schedule, and if we don’t make it to an activity then it isn’t the end of the world. That’s what I like about the RS Enrichment program. With more options-because of the small groups-there is less pressure to go to every single activity, but if you want to attend every activity you can.

  2. Waaay back in the day life was simpler. Most members lived in Mormon communities. Women did not drive and the church house was within walking distance. Kids did not have tons of homework, school and other activities. All this Mormon busyness kept everyone occupied and out of trouble

    Today Mormons live everywhere in the world. Many travel long distances to attend church. Schools are harder and the family time is stretched with so many activities.

  3. I think the balance is about right. I serve in the YM, and we have meetings for about an hour a week, plus mutual on Wednesdays. We do service projects about once a month, temple baptisms twice a year and four weekend campouts/youth trips a year. I was not a Church member when I was a teenager, and I wish I had had the structure of a young men’s program to keep me busy.

  4. When people complain about too many meetings, I don’t think they’re complaining about another campout or ward dinner.

    I’ve never been to a non-block meeting that couldn’t have been replaced by a five minute conversation after EQ.

  5. Hunter,

    Thank you for hosting this week’s poll. :-)

    My biggest complaint is when meetings lack focus and structure. This has often been the case in some of the PEC meetings I have attended. When the meeting goes off on a tangent, it’s hard to get back on track. Agendas are wonderful things that must be adhered to if a meeting is to be successful.

    Of course, I am quick to complain about 6:00 a.m. training meetings on Sunday morning, but I always walk away feeling spiritually fed and a better person for having attended.

  6. Brian, I have to admit I sometimes skip those stake training meetings. But when I do go, I usually feel like it was worthwhile.

  7. The activities are great if they are optional. However, if a youth doesn’t atten Wednesday meetings like scouts, some would view it as being quasi-inactive. I didn’t like scouts and so I rarely went and felt like I was getting extra attention because of it. It’s nothing to complain about, but I am curious to what extent Enrichment, scouts, young women, etc., are obligatory or for people who want to go.

  8. Our ward and stake, are way over scheduled, to the point that the important things like home and visiting teaching are taking a back seat to the activites. Last year there was something scheduled for every single day of the year except Mondays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s too much. The other part of this over scheduling that drives me crazy is that activites that are planed for the YW, Primary Girls or RS are usually re-scheduled or cancelled in favor of the men and boys when there is a conflict. The leadership of the stake don’t seem to get it either. We’ve made a choice in our family that we will not be attending most week day and night functions to preserve our family schedule and sanity.

  9. I’ve noticed EQ Presidency meeting attendance has skyrocketed since the meetings were cut from about an hour to just ten or fifteen minutes. And we somehow get at least as much done…
    It’s not just the number of meetings–it’s the length of the meetings. Whoever is running the show needs to keep things moving.

  10. Here is my take.

    usefull meetings:

    3 hour block
    Wed night youth
    Campouts
    Firesides
    Family events like ward BBQ etc
    Bishopric/PEC
    Primary activities
    RS activities
    YW camp
    Stake youth activities

    Non Usefull:

    Scout Roundtable. I have a huge bugaboo about this. Its a waste of time.
    Stake Training Meetings
    Teacher training meetings.
    EQ presidency meetings. I mean seriously. What does the EQP do besides move people? use email…
    SS presidency meetings

  11. @bbell

    I have to disagree with you on EQ presidency meetings. I have served in two EQ presidencies and have had experiences in presidency meetings that have been extremely spiritual and discussions/planned actions have led to the activation of quorum members. I think there is real value in holding presidency meetings. Brevity and staying focused are key, though, to a successful presidency meeting.

  12. I’d like to see more social activities and fewer “business” meetings. I agree with bbell – these things can be handled mostly by email, which would be a lot quicker.

  13. Thanks for the comments, everyone. I apologize for being so delinquent in responding.

    JILLEE: The small groups concept is something I’ve seen work in the Methodist church. Lots of focused groups that gives congregants the options. The difficulty comes when leadership wants to have an activity for everyone. Sometimes the result can fall flat (like the Ward dance last year in my Ward that no one came to), or the result can be wildly successful (like our Stake’s annual Christmas choir festival).

    JA BENSON: Good point, more single-parent homes, even the increased homework load for younger and younger grades, all this contributes the need to be smart about scheduling another church activity.

    GEOFF B: Yes, I agree: especially for the young men and young women, when they start to have a more independent social life, I think plenty of church activities and recreation are especially important. Good point.

    JJOHNSEN & BRIAN DUFFIN: I have to say that I agree that complaints about meetings usually are directed at the “meeting to have a meeting” type. And I think the EQ presidency-type meeting can be especially guilty of this. I once served in an EQ where we had our required weekly meeting for an hour. Problem was that we got very little accomplished. A good agenda would have helped. So, too, would have been the use of email instead of just having the meeting to have the meeting.

  14. We have too many optional meetings of the wrong kind, and not enough of the right kind.

    Take the so-called social events, for instance, whether they’re for the Relief Society birthday or the ward Christmas party or a summer barbecue. Whatever entertainment there is, you simply go and sit face forward and watch other people perform. Or you huddle over your own Coleman stove and cook hotdogs for your own kids. There’s no mingling with people you don’t already know well, no chance to get to know anybody, no chance to do anything more than you’d be doing if you were at home facing the TV, except that you’re doing it in the company of strangers.

    I’d go for more meetings in a heartbeat if they were the kind that let you really get involved. You’d learn more about your ward members, have a much better time, be INVOLVED, if the socials were eliminated in favor of a single three-act play with the same number of rehearsals and costume fittings.

    In other words, I’d for for more meetings that involved participation and creative action, and for far fewer that are simply time fillers.

  15. More responses to the comments:

    HANS: I don’t know how obligatory any church meeting is (except for those listed in the temple recommend interview). The rub is in what others expect. To the extent that negative social pressure surrounds our attendance at activities and meetings, that’s not so great. However, to the extent that the activities are JUST. SO. GREAT. that people want to attend, that kind of pressure is a good thing.

    EAST OF EDEN: Your Ward and Stake sound out of control. That’s too bad. Instead of swinging the pendulum to the other extreme, though, maybe the various committees and leaders could consolidate some of the activities, to reduce the sheer number, but increase the quality. Just wondering. By the way, I’ve never personally witnessed a girls/womens activity “getting the shaft” in favor of the boys/men. However, as a father of three daughters, I’m sensitive to this kind of thing and it would definitely rub me the wrong way.

    TIM: Thanks for your report of success in doing shorter planning meetings. I’m glad to hear that short executive-type meetings are possible. It’s this kind of innovation that keeps our meetings alive and invigorating.

    BBELL: I have to say that I agree with most of your list. I agree that most training sessions are a waste of time as it is usually poorly done (e.g., the teacher training that is done by a presenter who just lectures, and incorporates none of the effective teaching methods).

    CELESTIAL HERETIC: (Love your name, by the way.) I think I am in agreement with you on this. You and Bbell have effectively made the distinction: less “busy work” meetings, and more social/human interaction get-togethers.

  16. @Ardis Parshall

    Great point, Ardis. My ward had a dinner/talent show a few weeks ago and there wasn’t an opportunity for people to talk to one another, especially those with small children. Someone got up in testimony meeting and pointed out that no one greeted the non-member visitor they brought. Interaction is the best part of ward activities and it’s unfortunate that an opportunity to fellowship someone not of our faith was missed because of that lack of interaction.

  17. ARDIS: Thanks for your intelligent comment. I agree with you that some activities are more prone to involve the participants more than others, and that these types of activities are preferred most of the time.

    But I have a question for you: In the grand scheme of things, would you scrap the “just sit there and be a warm body” type of activities in favor of letting the Saints stay home? Or do you think that even these non-paticipatory evens are better than nothing?

  18. I hit the wall with early morning seminary. Seminary is taking years off my life. Don’t get me wrong I support seminary and when it is good it is great, when it is bad it is horrid. We are up late for youth night and then we have to be up at 5:30AM for Seminary at 6AM and the middle school bus at 6:10AM. I give my kids money for a Coke the day after youth night. I don’t know what the answer is because we love the youth activities. I do think that youth night should start earlier. The other churches start their church night at 5pm, I think we could too.

    So many members have to drive a long way to church so I appreciate when meetings are kept to a minimum.

  19. Great discussion. I agree that useful, surgical meetings and community-building activities are what we want.

    Hunter, I do think that for some members, the sit and stare activities can be better than nothing, but it’s not the best for most people.

  20. @JA Benson

    I was fortunate to live in an area with release-time seminary. In fact, at my high school, the seminary teachers were invited to attend the pep rallys and other school assemblies. Only in Utah! ;-)

  21. I know this is not a popular opinion, but I will point out that when we have planning meetings, things tend to run pretty smoothly and when we don’t have planning meetings, things can be a disaster. So sometimes those “unnecessary” meetings turn out, in retrospect, to be necessary. Not saying this is the case in your ward — certainly is in mine.

  22. Brian Duffin and JA Benson: Yes, this are good points. In areas where members have to travel great distances, activities will and should not be multiplied.

    Geoff B: It may not be popular, true, but I think most people are reacting against the useless meetings, not just any meeting. I think the key is to come prepared, stick to an agenda, keep the chit-chat and tangents to a minimum, and leave with some sort of action plan. I’ve been in meetings where it seemed like the participants’ only social outlet was Church. Hmmm….then again, maybe the endless meeting serves a social function. Oh no. What have I done?

  23. As I review my years of attending meetings (husband was bishop, I was stake RS president), I believe there have been FAR too many meetings. As I faithfully attended them, I was taken away from my most important calling: mothering. Although the Church has attempted to reduce the number of meetings, there are still too many that take parents away from their children. This is a huge issue that needs to be addressed.

    Activities are another issue. As long as they are not prescribed, I think they’re great for fellowshipping, growing in unity as youth and as wards, and strengthening relationships. Our challenge when we attend activities is to reach out to those who need a friend and to create a feeling of unity and love in our wards and organizations.

    My pet peeve: Women who sit on the back row at Relief Society and refuse to reach out in friendship. Do we attend meetings only to check off a requirement for our temple recommend interview or to reach out to those who are lonely or feel ostracized? I suspect we could do a little better in that regard. Perhaps you wards are doing a lot better job at that than the ones I’ve visited.

  24. Carol, thanks for your comment. We sometimes hear that there are promises given to those who attend their meetings or who are asked to go outside the home to fulfill their callings. True. However, I also think that, blessings notwithstanding, time away from the kids can’t really ever be replaced.

    And I think your point about meetings vs. activities is a very good one. There really are two standards, huh?

  25. I served in a YM presidency once with a few guys who were around my same age/status in life (married with little kids, a couple jobs). Often we defaulted to email meetings, and with great success.

    Let’s address the various meetings by category, and what I think should happen:

    Meetings to plan meetings: No more. I do not attend such meetings, no matter my calling.

    Obligatory meetings (PEC, Scout Committee, etc.): If there’s something to discuss, discuss and get it done. If there is no concrete or pressing matters, don’t hold the meeting.

    Scout stuff: A wise bishop once told me, a young, stressed-out scoutmaster- “When it comes to all these rounndtables and trainings, just remember that Scouts is the activity arm of the priesthood, not the other way around.”

    Ward activities: I generally enjoy these, and in my mind they’re what brings the ward together (if done right) and gives you that “essence of Mormonism” feel. I don’t mind holding a lot of them, with the condition that attendance is neither obligatory nor a basis of activity judgment. When it’s feasible, we go. When it’s not, we don’t.

  26. @Hunter

    The specific instance was a planned afternoon to watch BYU Women’s Conf with our RS and do some service activites, and the bishopric decided that was the weekend for the Father/Son campout.

    As for EQP meetings and other meetings…fine have them, but like Brian stated, stick to the agenda, don’t sit and chat for an hour then get down to business. My DH was in an EQP (how’s that for LDS-ABCs?? :) where the president and one of the counslors admited they loved long meetings to get out of the house because they couldn’t deal with their kids and cranky wives. They were more chatty than most women I know. So my poor DH had to sit and suffer.

    Thankfully, we are getting a new Stake Pres in two weeks, and hopefully, there will be some good changes in the pipes.

  27. @Carol
    So how would you like to see those back row gals reach out, Carol? I have to admit, I do not like RS and its associated programs, so I am one of those ladies, I’d be much happier with out the third hour of church to be honest. However, I do feel bad that I don’t like RS, but have not figured out a way to wrap my mind around it so I can like it.

  28. I’m with the commenters who differentiate between ward social activities and meetings. I’m all for more church social activities that really foster feelings of community within a ward. The ward I lived the last four years in had an amazing dynamic, and you could really tell that the ward activities and high level of participation in them made all the difference in the world.

    As for meetings – I hate them. I just moved, but prior to my move, I was in the stake YSA leadership in a stake that covers a pretty large geographical area. One hour-long stake meeting a month and one two-hour long regional meeting a month easily turned into about 7.5-8 hours of time, once transit was included. While this wasn’t outrageous, it was ridiculous amount of time in proportion to the actual work that I needed to do for my calling. In a world with phones, email, instant messaging, and more, why on earth do we insist on having pointless meetings that people have to show up to. Its a total waste of time and resources. While social activities certainly have to happen in person, I think in most cases, planning and discussion is done just as effectively via technology.

  29. Megan: That sort of travel commitment makes me hurt. Ouch.

    As for communicating with technology (vs. a live, in person meeting), I’m all for that. But I have to also add that unless folks are careful, large group emails with lots of sloppy responses and cross-responses can turn into just as big a time consumer as a badly executed (live) meeting.

  30. I actually attended a calendaring meeting for 2010 tonight. In our area (Northern Virginia), we have strong members with strong testimonies who love to magnify their callings. Virtually every aspect of the church is functioning well, and it’s hurting families. We’re exhausted.

    Here’s what I’m talking about — this is the list of activities where attendance is expected by at least one member of the household of active members, as per the Handbook or Official Programs:

    5 ward activities (planned on or about holidays, which makes me angry “family time” my arse: Labor day, Memorial day, Halloween, Christmas, and one other)
    2 ward temple trips
    2 stake temple trips
    2 youth temple trips
    5 days of YW camp
    8 days of Scout camp
    3 days stake youth conference
    170 days of early morning seminary
    48 youth weekly activities (includes the 26 required activity days activities and the cub scouts, and the missionary correlation meeting which includes basically the welfare committee minus the bishop. I’m just counting those as one visit, even if you have youth in Primary or YW/YM.)
    1 general RS broadcast
    1 general YW broadcast
    1 stake beehive activity
    1 pinewood derby
    1 stake yw sport activity
    1 stake youth standards night
    4 days of general conference
    2 adult sessions of stake conference
    48 sundays (where attendance is expected for 3-7 hours, either at the stake or ward level. If you’re a leader or parent of youth in the church, Sunday is basically blocked out.)
    4 days of cub scout/activity girls day camp(2 days)
    1 Aaronic Priesthood Commemoration Campout
    2 stake youth dances
    4 RS enrichment activities
    2 stake RS enrichment activities
    4 quarterly primary activities
    2 EQ parties (are these even Handbook Necessary, btw?)
    3 HP parties (are these even Handbook Necessary, btw?)
    2 stake activities (one adult, one for preparedness that usually gets cancelled)

    That’s 329 times members are expected to attend the church in a year. 329 trips, minimum. Guess how many of those overlap, or occur on the same day of the week? Just the mutual and seminary one day a week. So if you want to count it as days, subtract the mutuals, for 281 days of church attendance.

    Oh yeah. And I’m supposed to plan 52 meaningful family home evenings. On my “day off”. And squeeze in Date Night every Friday.

    Add to that the roughly 5 convert baptisms and 8-10 child of record baptisms each year. And I’m not even addressing the planning and training and missionary correlation and welfare and presidency meetings or scout planning/camporee/venture stuff and church cleaning, compassionate service, funerals, firesides, etc. For those in leadership, we are at the church a minimum of 2 days every week. Sometimes 6, and we aren’t doing anything *extra*. We’re just following the program.

    All of this in an area where probably 80% of our active priesthood and 30% of active women commute 2 hours daily to DC for work.

    I shouldn’t have to choose between attending a ward activity or cutting the grass. There’s too darn much going on, BECAUSE we follow the handbook. This is the fault of Salt Lake. Members should not have to choose between church activities and life. I am being forced to choose between Church and other activities weekly, instead of occasionally. I should have the time to plant that garden, attend the temple, or do family history work. Or maybe even do TWO of them (gasp)!!!!

  31. I actually attended a calendaring meeting for 2010 tonight. In our area (Northern Virginia), we have strong members with strong testimonies who love to magnify their callings. Virtually every aspect of the church is functioning well, and it’s hurting families. We’re exhausted.

    Here’s what I’m talking about — this is the list of activities where attendance is expected by at least one member of the household of active members, as per the Handbook or Official Programs:

    5 ward activities (planned on or about holidays, which makes me angry “family time” my arse: Labor day, Memorial day, Halloween, Christmas, and one other)
    2 ward temple trips
    2 stake temple trips
    2 youth temple trips
    5 days of YW camp
    8 days of Scout camp
    3 days stake youth conference
    170 days of early morning seminary
    48 youth weekly activities (includes the 26 required activity days activities and the cub scouts, and the missionary correlation meeting which includes basically the welfare committee minus the bishop. I’m just counting those as one visit, even if you have youth in Primary or YW/YM.)
    1 general RS broadcast
    1 general YW broadcast
    1 stake beehive activity
    1 pinewood derby
    1 stake yw sport activity
    1 stake youth standards night
    4 days of general conference
    2 adult sessions of stake conference
    48 sundays (where attendance is expected for 3-7 hours, either at the stake or ward level. If you’re a leader or parent of youth in the church, Sunday is basically blocked out.)
    4 days of cub scout/activity girls day camp(2 days)
    1 Aaronic Priesthood Commemoration Campout
    2 stake youth dances
    4 RS enrichment activities
    2 stake RS enrichment activities
    4 quarterly primary activities
    2 EQ parties (are these even Handbook Necessary, btw?)
    3 HP parties (are these even Handbook Necessary, btw?)
    2 stake activities (one adult, one for preparedness that usually gets cancelled)

    That’s 329 times members are expected to attend the church in a year. 329 trips, minimum. Guess how many of those overlap, or occur on the same day of the week? Just the mutual and seminary one day a week. So if you want to count it as days, subtract the mutuals, for 281 days of church attendance. 281 days when one or more of your family members is missing.

    Oh yeah. And I’m supposed to plan 52 meaningful family home evenings. On my “day off”. And squeeze in Date Night every Friday.

    Add to that the roughly 5 convert baptisms and 8-10 child of record baptisms each year. And I’m not even addressing the planning and training and missionary correlation and welfare and presidency meetings or scout planning/camporee/venture stuff and church cleaning, compassionate service, funerals, firesides, etc. For those in leadership, we are at the church a minimum of 2 days every week. Sometimes 6, and we aren’t doing anything *extra*. We’re just following the program.

    All of this in an area where probably 80% of our active priesthood and 30% of active women commute 2 hours daily to DC for work.

    I shouldn’t have to choose between attending a ward activity or cutting the grass. There’s too darn much going on, BECAUSE we follow the handbook. This is the fault of Salt Lake. Members should not have to choose between church activities and life. I am being forced to choose between Church and other activities weekly, instead of occasionally. I should have the time to plant that garden, attend the temple, or do family history work. Or maybe even do TWO of them (gasp)!!!!

  32. I actually attended a calendaring meeting for 2010 tonight. In our area (Northern Virginia), we have strong members with strong testimonies who love to magnify their callings. Virtually every aspect of the church is functioning well, and it’s hurting families. We’re exhausted.

    Here’s what I’m talking about — this is the list of activities where attendance is expected by at least one member of the household of active members, as per the Handbook or Official Programs:

    5 ward activities (planned on or about holidays, which makes me angry “family time” my arse: Labor day, Memorial day, Halloween, Christmas, and one other)
    2 ward temple trips
    2 stake temple trips
    2 youth temple trips
    5 days of YW camp
    8 days of Scout camp
    3 days stake youth conference
    170 days of early morning seminary
    48 youth weekly activities (includes the 26 required activity days activities and the cub scouts, and the missionary correlation meeting which includes basically the welfare committee minus the bishop. I’m just counting those as one visit, even if you have youth in Primary or YW/YM.)
    1 general RS broadcast
    1 general YW broadcast
    1 stake beehive activity
    1 pinewood derby
    1 stake yw sport activity
    1 stake youth standards night
    4 days of general conference
    2 adult sessions of stake conference
    48 sundays (where attendance is expected for 3-7 hours, either at the stake or ward level. If you’re a leader or parent of youth in the church, Sunday is basically blocked out.)
    4 days of cub scout/activity girls day camp(2 days)
    1 Aaronic Priesthood Commemoration Campout
    2 stake youth dances
    4 RS enrichment activities
    2 stake RS enrichment activities
    4 quarterly primary activities
    2 EQ parties (are these even Handbook Necessary, btw?)
    3 HP parties (are these even Handbook Necessary, btw?)
    2 stake activities (one adult, one for preparedness that usually gets cancelled)

    That’s 329 times members are expected to attend the church in a year. 329 trips, minimum. Guess how many of those overlap, or occur on the same day of the week? Just the mutual and seminary one day a week. So if you want to count it as days, subtract the mutuals, for 281 days of church attendance. So if you happen to be one of the unlucky members with priesthood, RS, Primary, and Youth members in it, there are approximately 250 days when one or more of your family members is missing for part of the day (and yes, I’m counting Sundays because of leadership meetings, firesides, youth firesides, byc, that not everyone is invited to attend but someone is expected to attend.)

    Oh yeah. And I’m supposed to plan 52 meaningful family home evenings. On my “day off”. And squeeze in Date Night every Friday.

    Add to that the roughly 5 convert baptisms and 8-10 child of record baptisms each year. And I’m not even addressing the planning and training and missionary correlation and welfare and presidency meetings or scout planning/camporee/venture stuff and church cleaning, compassionate service, funerals, firesides, etc. For those in leadership, we are at the church a minimum of 2 days every week. Sometimes 6, and we aren’t doing anything *extra*. We’re just following the program.

    All of this in an area where probably 80% of our active priesthood and 30% of active women commute 2 hours daily to DC for work.

    I shouldn’t have to choose between attending a ward activity or cutting the grass. There’s too darn much going on, BECAUSE we follow the handbook. This is the fault of Salt Lake. Members should not have to choose between church activities and life. I am being forced to choose between Church and other activities weekly, instead of occasionally. I should have the time to plant that garden, attend the temple, or do family history work. Or maybe even do TWO of them (gasp)!!!!

  33. Jenny-Wow! Brilliant list. Yes, that is what I mean, when I say I hit the wall at seminary. Funny story. My parents were visiting from SLC when my oldest son was a freshman in high school. They were aghast, we were getting up at 5:30AM for 6AM seminary. My mother said,”Does Salt Lake know what you are doing here?” Sometimes I wonder too.

    Like you pointed out, some saints have long commutes to work, to church and to seminary. I have heard of 5 and 5:30 seminary. My boys think going on a mission means sleeping in, cause 6:30AM is a slackers life.

    PS the computer server is slow. Brian is working on it, but there are issues in computerese, I do not understand.

  34. Wow, Jenny! When you put it THAT way . . .
    Seriously, when you list out all the meetings like that, it sure does seem like a horrendous schedule to keep. My oh my. I don’t know what the answer is. But I do feel for you.

    In relation to the poll, I’m guessing that you voted for fewer activities? Would any of your response change if you lived within 3-5 minutes of the chapel? Would that make a difference? If so, should there be more accomodation for units where the members have to travel greater distances? Or does the extra time and sacrifice produce any desirable results in you/your family?

  35. Your ward/stake, if it’s functioning, is doing all these activities, too, with the possible exception of early morning seminary. These are the activities I know of that are “required” as per the handbook.

    Yes, I voted for fewer activities. The Utah-written handbook simply doesn’t apply well here in the real world. Even if a radical bishop or stake president cancelled something, it would go back to the way it is now eventually as people read the handbook and tried to fill their callings as instructed, imo.

    And when I lived in Utah, I felt the meeting schedule was just about right. I think the difference is 2 fold — release time seminary and Scouts. Scouting in Utah the the district level was run by stake leader types who used Scouts to help with the priesthood. Here we have to coordinate with Professional Scouts and other churches that do not coincide with our calendaring. Scouts is grueling outside Utah. And when your have to drive your kid every morning to begin seminary at 6:15, some of them 30 minutes one way, it’s a killer financially and time-wise. (Not to mention the fear of letting teens drive themselves groggily to Seminary. The Lord is definitely blessing us.) Seminary in Utah doesn’t interfere with families, because it’s just during school.

    Growing up in the microbranch in Mississippi, we wanted more excuses to get with other Saints. But nearly none of our auxiliaries functioned at the full handbook level. There was no mutual, group Seminary was our midweek activity, and there was no Scouts in our branch — they went to the Methodist Church for scouts.

    The handbook plan works well if something is broken or you live in Utah. Everywhere else, it’s just too much, imo.

  36. I should say, the “easiness of the way” is why we moved from Utah. The youth here are the strongest I’ve ever seen. It’s their parents and leaders who are dying.

  37. Jenny, that is such an interesting observation (“The handbook plan works well if something is broken or you live in Utah. Everywhere else, it’s just too much, imo.”) You also bring up the point that the youth are benefitting from all the activities. Surely that makes you think twice about foregoing some of the meetings/activities?

    I have a sister who lives in Northern Virginia, too. I’m dying to get her perspective on this now, too. Thanks for your comments — they’ve been great.

  38. Of course the benefits — or at least the benefits we *hope* may exist — make us all afraid to miss meetings. That’s why we’re killing ourselves. If the EQ party is in the handbook it’s because if I go, I’ll be blessed, right? But I also believe most of these are the kinds of kids who would be strong youth elsewhere, too. Their experiences living overseas and in a place where they are a minority has caused them to make decisions about the Gospel early in their lives. For most of them, that testimony was not caused by this schedule. For some of them, it may be increasing their spiritual development more quickly. And I do believe we’re being blessed for our sacrifices. But when the church preaches “less meetings, more time with family”, I’m left wondering when, exactly, is that supposed to occur?

    I am like Joseph Smith and believe that religion must require sacrifice to bring you to exaltation. But does it have to be at THIS level? If so, why isn’t that level of commitment and time and money and travel required everywhere? If you can get into heaven living in the Sudan without Scouts, for example, why not everywhere?

    I’m a little frustrated, but the church is still true. :P

  39. PLEASE DO NOT SAY IT IS EASIER IN UTAH!! Its not. Although I don’t minimize what you are going through. We Utah Mormons hate the constant drag on our schedules as well. How can you teach your children to be good people when we can’t even be in the same room at the same time. I am sick of having so many stinkin activities in the week. It is ridiculous. I realize it is all in good spirit, but my goodness. You are running us ragged! Remember, you schedule our kids, you schedule their Moms. And if you can’t make it to something you are treated like you are less active or your children and their future salvation must not matter to you. Is there a reason why we need 6 days of activities in one rolling week and a half and that doesn’t include church twice. UGH! I love the gospel, but I am exhausted. It is too much! Your family grows up way to fast as it is. A wise stake president once said, “The church was meant to support the family, the family was not meant to support the church.” when people were gripping that his daughters weren’t supporting the church basketball league. Give me a break…really!

  40. Amen Dawn! Testify Sister! What is easier in Utah is: you do not drive 30 minutes to VT one person and then drive another 30 minutes to VT another one etc…, no early morning Seminary, or travel a long distance to the church house or the temple. All added on the same energy sucking time, same guilt, etc…

  41. 5 ward activities (planned on or about holidays, which makes me angry “family time” my arse: Labor day, Memorial day, Halloween, Christmas, and one other)–Christmas and Fourth of July only
    2 ward temple trips–what’s that?
    2 stake temple trips–only Friday Meeting of Stake Conference
    2 youth temple trips–maybe once a year
    5 days of YW camp–only Tuesday through Sat
    8 days of Scout camp–only Tuesday through Sat
    3 days stake youth conference–Friday night to Saturday afternoon only.
    170 days of early morning seminary–of course
    48 youth weekly activities–of course
    1 general RS broadcast–yes
    1 general YW broadcast–yes
    1 stake beehive activity–what’s that
    1 pinewood –what’s that
    1 stake yw sport activity–you’re kidding
    1 stake youth standards night–it’s one of the 48 listed above
    4 days of general conference
    2 adult sessions of stake conference
    48 sundays–no meetings after church for anybody including choir, except for monthly youth firesides
    4 days of cub scout/activity girls day camp–same activity
    1 Aaronic Priesthood Commemoration Campout–what’s that?
    2 stake youth dances–only when another stake invites our youth
    4 RS enrichment activities–always combined with the Stake
    4 quarterly primary activities–whats that?
    2 EQ parties (are these even Handbook Necessary, btw?)–what’s that
    3 HP parties (are these even Handbook Necessary, btw?)–what’s that
    2 stake activities (one adult, one for preparedness that usually gets cancelled)–what’s that?

    All of this in an area where probably 90% of our active priesthood and 50% of active women commute 2 hours daily to DC for work.

    So for the men, without a calling with the youth. it comes down to Sunday activities and two ward activities and three stake activities counting conference as an activity.
    Women without a youth calling have the additional quarterly RS activities…

    Or in other words without youth activities essentially nothing but Sunday worship services…And any of our youth who do not go west, drop out at an astronomical rate… there’s nothing left for them…from hyper activity to null activity usually means truly null activity

  42. Not true my friend. I have a family of seven. Just ONE of my sons this week for church only….wed mutual, thursday scout mini golf course, friday and saturday camp, sunday church, following thursday court of honor, saturday scout o rama, sunday church. It may not seem like a lot at first, but you combine that with your other six children and their church and other activities it is a nightmare to get to everything.

  43. Dawn,

    I hear what you’re saying a lot, and I’m always confused by it. If you don’t like the constant non-essential meetings and activities, or if you think they are interfering with family time, stop going to them. Probably no one will care that your, or your son or daughter is at a few less activities, and if they do, you can politely explain your dilemma. (Or just give them the finger. Whatever works for you.)

  44. jimbob you are wrong when you say no one would care, maybe you and I would not care, but some ( often in leadership) people (usually women) do care and bring out the GUILT big time.

  45. Could be, JA–I don’t know her individual circumstances. But I’ve been in leadership positions where someone said that they were trying to cut back on things that took the kids outside the home and I told them I was great with that–that we’d keep inviting, just to be sure that they felt welcome–but that we understood the issue and wouldn’t bug them about it.

    At the end of the day, the church is there to support the family, not the other way around. Thus, if mutual makes your kids more likely to live the standards of the gospel, then by all means, get them there. But if they miss, say, a co-ed volleyball activity so that they can re-connect with their parents, then no church leader should have a problem with that, and I’d be pointed as a parent with any church leader who felt otherwise.

    That said, of course, I’m pretty prickly and naturally frank (as opposed to unnaturally frank), and I realize that candor of that sort doesn’t come as easily for others as it does for me.

  46. Pingback: Comprehensive List of Changes to LDS Programs as per CHI Book 2 | Mormon Share LDS Clipart & Lesson Helps

Comments are closed.