This presentation about Doctrinal Ambiguity is a classic!
If you want to be a more prepared leader when it comes to helping individuals navigate doubt, this is a great starting place.
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I received this text recently:
A friend told me today that her family has decided to leave the church. She wants to meet with me tomorrow. Any suggestions or recommendations on how to prepare myself to hear her story?
This is one of a few messages I have received recently around this topic.
I thought I would share with you the advice I typically give in this situation.
1. Validate, don’t dispute
This is more difficult than it sounds.
The tough part of validating someone else’s story is often they have “facts” or “perceptions” that you disagree with.
When someone shares with you their perception, the point is not to validate the perception as fact, but to validate their feelings as if the perception were fact.
For example, if someone who was leaving the church came to you and said, “I can’t do it anymore, I’m leaving. I just can’t remain in a church that hoards all their money and buys all their apostles secret yachts.”
Naturally, I would want to respond, “Where are you getting the idea that the church is hoarding money and buying the apostles secret yachts? There is no evidence of this! That’s ridiculous!”
But instead you validate their feelings as if their perception is fact.
“Wow, yes, I can see why you are distraught over this information. How are you thinking of moving forward?”
You are communicating you are a safe person to talk to who will hear them out.
2.Clearly establish your love and support
After someone shares their decision to step away from the gospel, whether you agree with it or not, it is a great opportunity to communicate your unflinching support and love.
“Whatever you decide to do, I’m here and value your friendship. What else has you frustrated?”
3. Explore their needs
One of the most powerful questions that has blessed many of my personal relationships is asking the simple question, “What do you need?”
“I just need you to hear me out and help me figure out the next step.”
“Sure, I can do that for you.”
Asking this question doesn’t mean you have to give them what they need.
You can still hold your own boundaries.
However, asking this question give you the opportunity to know how you can help best.
When we don’t ask this question we can make assumptions of what they need us to do.
“You should read this book about church history, it will clear up your concerns.”
“Let me share my testimony with you about living prophets.”
“Let’s plan a time to go to the temple together.”
All we communicate with these assumed needs is that we are someone who doesn’t understand them, whom they can’t fully trust, and that they should never bring this up to you in the future.
Simply ask, “What do you need?”
4. Give them to Jesus
These are tough conversations that can naturally make us feel sadness and grief that a loved one is stepping away from something we cherish.
This is a chance to show faith in Jesus Christ and mentally giving our loved one’s heart to Jesus as He will continue to reach their heart in fantastic ways even though they are headed down a path you don’t agree with.
When they see they have a friend willing to sit with them in this transition, they will be drawn back to you when they are ready to re-establish their faith (either in the Restored Gospel or not).
They may leave the church, but they can never leave Jesus.
Unfortunately, not all loved ones will reach out to us when they are contemplating leaving the church.
Some might make these decisions on their own and leave quietly.
If this is the case, we would be blessed to reach out to them and simply ask them to share their story.
You can then start at the top of the list and hear them out.
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If you could ask a Latter-day Saint therapist one question related to your experience as a church leader, what would it be?
Reply to this email and share a brief explanation!
Find Your Voice Conference for Women – May 7 – Sandy, UT
Hear from women—including former guests of the podcast—as they talk about mental health, interfaith topics, and life challenges. Find details HERE.
One in Christ: North Star Conference – June 9-11 – Salt Lake City
The North Star Conference offers sessions uniquely relevant to church leaders seeking to understand how best to minister to those in their stewardship. Discounted registration is available for both in-person and virtual attendance.
Held annually, the conference features keynote sessions and a host of topical breakout sessions facilitated by church leaders, scholars and mental health professionals as well as individuals who personally experience same-sex attraction or gender identity issues and are committed to living their lives in accordance with the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Join us as we discuss various aspects of the LGBTQ/SSA experience within the context of the gospel of Jesus Christ. See details HERE.
Leading Saints Church History Tour – October 17-22 – Philadelphia to Missouri
Join Kurt Francom as we follow the saints from east to west. Our tour will begin in Philadelphia and proceed northward to Susquehanna, New Harmony, and Palmyra. Then it moves to Niagara Falls and on to Kirtland, Carthage, Nauvoo, Adam-ondi- Ahman, Far West, Independence, and Liberty—with other stops along the way. The context of church history will give you a greater appreciation for the trials, tragedies, and triumphs of the first saints of the restoration. See details HERE. Use promo LEADINGSAINTS for additional savings.
Sam and Tyler are researching the experiences of LGBTQ+ latter-day saints with their church leaders. Their goal is to help leaders improve how they minister and interact with LGBTQ+ individuals.
Greg Matsen is the founder of Cwic Media and the host of its primary show called Cwic Show, which focuses on cultural issues affecting the restored church. In this interview he shares how leaders can deal with politics at church, get a well-rounded perspective, and stay ahead of the issues.
“We have been blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost to receive personal revelation and direct our families. As we come to further understand the doctrine and principles of the gospel, we will be able to have better understanding on how to act in faith.”
When there are many families to reach, but not enough ministers to reach them all.
“It’s the phone call you hope you never get. The one where your son-in-law tells you your daughter was in a terrible car accident and has been rushed to the trauma center. It’s the call that brings you to your knees, rips out your heart, and causes your mind to go to places you never, ever want to go.” This is a fundraiser for Tony Overbay’s daughter who was severely injured in a terrible car accident.