If I didn’t know any better, I would think that you’re required to do a vocal tryout in order to join the Latterday Saint Church because honestly, I don’t think I heard anybody singing out of tune.
Hello, Saints. My name is Jeff. I’m a pastor, exploring everything I can about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. Mormon. I’ve covered quite a bit of ground since I started this channel. I’ve gone to historic sites, I’m reading through the Book of I went to General Conference. But the one thing I haven’t done yet is actually attend a Sunday morning Latterday Saint Church meeting. And that’s what I’m going to do in this video. Now, I won’t be able to film during the meeting because I don’t want to be a distraction, but I’ll be providing plenty of reaction afterward. Now, I really have no idea what to expect, but one thing I do know is that I can’t be wearing a hoodie to Latterday Saint Church. So I’m going to go change and then let’s go to Church.
All right, so I’m actually traveling a little bit ittle bit to go to this Latterday Saint Church building because even though I’m in the Saint Louis area and it’s pretty densely populated with churches, the closest Latterday Saint Church to me is about 20 minutes. I’ve already made a video in that church building touring it. I didn’t attend a service there and I wanted to experience something a little bit different. I’m going to drive across the river into Saint Louis into an area called South County and I’m going to attend with a word there and see if it’s similar or different than the building that I’ve already toured. All right, here we are.
Okay, here we are. I got to be honest with you, I’m not sure which door to go in. Okay. It is done. It is finished. I have officially gone to church in an LDS church on a Sunday morning, and I’m going to give you my first impressions now. It was really funny because when I pulled up, I hadn’t even put my car in park and somebody came to my door and said, Hey, here we are. I got to be honest with you, I’m not sure which door to go in. Hey, how are you doing? Good. I follow you on YouTube. You’re kidding me? Oh, for real, man. Hey, I’ve been following your channel on YouTube, which I thought was super nice and super cool. I was hoping that when I came here, nobody would recognize me just because I didn’t want to be a distraction and I want to just be able to focus. But here’s the best part. I’m really glad they stopped me and I’m glad that they took me under their wing. I let them go in and then I walked into the church building and I was greeted by two missionaries. I introduced myself just saying, Hey, my name is Jeff.
I’m in the area. This is my first time here. I took about four steps before I realized I didn’t know where to go. I turned around and I said, Where do I go? And they were really nice. They walked me right into the Chapel. And it looked pretty similar to the Chapel that I toured, although this one was probably maybe a little bit bigger. And I saw my friend that I just met in the parking lot went over to him, sat down, and he was immediately just welcoming me and filling me in on how everything was going to go. And I just really appreciated that. So before I get into how the service flowed and my impressions of it. I’m just going to give you a baseline a little bit and let you know what I’m used to, what I might even expect. And it’s an essentially pretty simple format. People come in, you’re usually greeted by somebody up front. It’s usually a worship leader, somebody who’s actually leading in the songs. And then the worship band, typically speaking, is then going to just lead through two, three, four songs. It’s probably the first, I don’t know, 15 to 20 minutes of a service.
After that, there’s a little bit of a time where there might be some prayer and a transition time as the band leaves the stage. Then some announcements are done. Usually an offering is taken. Although that’s something that’s not happening quite as much in contemporary churches. A lot of times people are giving online now or there’s just a place where you can go to give. But some churches still have what we would call offertory. Then usually the pastor comes up and he preaches and the sermon is usually anywhere between 25 and 45 minutes. It’s usually out of a passage in the Bible or a topic that then passages of scriptures are used to bring the sermon or the teaching out. Then a service typically ends with some call to contemplate, to reflect. There’s usually a song at the end. Sometimes there’s a prayer time. There might even be people down front where you can go and receive prayer and even the opportunity to make a decision to follow Jesus. So that flow in that format is relatively simple, pretty straightforward, and is what I would be used to in my context. And that’s not to say that there aren’t other protestant churches that follow a different flow.
For example, I frequent a Lutheran Church in my area, and they have a little bit more of what you would call a liturgical flow. And there’s a lot more involved in a liturgical service like that. But whether a church is called more liturgical or not doesn’t change the fact that pretty much every church has a liturgy or a flow or an order to how that worship service is going to unfold. I say that just as a backdrop to me processing the liturgical flow of what I experienced here today at the Latterday Saint Church. So the bishop wasn’t here today, who’s usually the one that I guess presides over a service like this. But somebody else came up and did some announcements. And then we all sang a hymn, Did You Think to Pray? And the singing of the hymns was really interesting because in my context, like I said a second ago, you usually have a worship leader of some sort, which in a lot of cases in a contemporary setting, somebody who’s playing guitar and leading or sitting at a keyboard, or they might just be standing there and leading in the singing, but they’re usually singing in a microphone.
Whereas here this morning, there was a person up front who was doing conducting, facing the congregation, but the congregation just went after it. They opened up their hymnal and they just started singing the song. I have to say, if I didn’t know any better, I would think that you’re required to, I guess, do a vocal tryout in order to join the Latterday Saint Church because everybody was singing beautifully. Honestly, I don’t think I heard anybody singing out of tune, which as a musician, I appreciated. A s soon as the hymns was over, somebody came up and announced that they were preparing to take the sacrament. There was a prayer over the sacrament, and another hymns was sang, which was called With a Humble Heart. While we were singing that hymn, off to the right on the stage were two young men, they looked like they were probably about high school age, at a table with a white sheet over it, and they were preparing the sacraments. Then after the hymns, one of those young men actually prayed a prayer over the bread. A group of young men went up to this sacrament table, grabbed a bunch of trays that had the bread on it, and they began to just pass it out row by row.
A s the trays were passed, people would take the bread and they would immediately eat it and they would pass it on to the next person. T hen after that was done, the trays were returned. T hen the same couple of young men who were up at the front right at the table said another prayer over the water, which was interesting. T hen there were trays of water that were passed around. Same thing. Everybody would take a little thing of water and they would drink it. There was no music playing. There was nobody officiating that part of the service. But I could tell that everybody was taking it pretty seriously and everybody pretty much knew what to do, which makes sense because these are called Sacrament Meetings. T hat’s the most important part of these gatherings. Now, taking the sacraments or taking communion in an evangelical or protestant setting is going to look similar to this in some ways, but also pretty different in some ways. First of all, I have to say that it’s done uniquely in every church. It’s also done at different frequencies, meaning some churches do communion every week. Sometimes it’s every other week.
Sometimes it’s once a month. Sometimes it’s even less frequent than that. But usually in a church that I was a part of, we would have communion about once a month. W e would try to make sure that there was some focus around Communion to help people really contemplate what it is that we’re remembering and how it ties into our discipleship with Christ or the role of Christ in our lives. Sometimes it’s real bread, sometimes it’s wafers that have no taste. Sometimes it’s like oyster crackers. It just varies depending on what’s available. But I will say that there’s always juice. I’ve never seen Communion taken or the sacrament taken with water, so that was very unique and very different from anything that I’m used to. But one thing that’s also unique is music is usually playing when Communion is happening in a protestant Church, or a pastor is up there sharing a passage of Scripture and might even be reading out of 1 Corinthians saying that on the night that Christ was betrayed, he took the bread, he broke it, and direct people when to take it. But again, it varies from Church to Church. In the Lutheran Church that I attend from time to time, it’s something that happens probably every other week.
People go up to the stage. It looks similar to what you would see in a Catholic setting where people kneel at an altar and music is usually being sang or it’s playing. A s they’re kneeling at the altar in groups, the pastor and different officials will pass out the emblems, give people the bread, give people juice, and they take it up front. I’ve been in other situations where there are stations up front where you go up and there might even be an elder or officials up there who are either giving you the bread and the juice and you take it there, or in even some settings where for sanitary reasons, you don’t even really drink the juice, but you take bread and you dip it in juice and you eat it like that. That’s a little bit more uncommon, but that’s just another example of how much variation can exist and how the sacrament or communion is taken in Protestant settings. After the sacrament was taken, the person was presiding over the time came up and explained that a woman was asked to give a talk that morning on the topic of why she believes or why I believe.
This older woman came up and gave a very personal 15 to 20 minute talk about how she was introduced to the church, when she converted, why she converted, and was sharing pretty passionately and quite emotionally as to why the Book of Mormon was so meaningful to her, why church members were so meaningful to her and kind to her and helped her at various points in her life, and also just talked about how the Latterday Saint Church leadership and the prophets helped her keep the focus on God and Christ as she’s walked through this life. One of the things that was really unique and interesting about what she was passionate about, she got especially emotional when she was talking about genealogy and why that’s important to her. S ince she’s a convert, she has had family members who passed away who weren’t part of the Church, and how important it has been for her to be able to do work on behalf of her ancestors to bring a certain amount of hope to the fact that they have hope in the afterlife. After that woman was finished speaking, we sang another hymn called My Redemer Lives, which is a hymn that I had not heard before.
I think it was actually written by a former Latterday Saint prophet or president. T hen a gentleman came up and gave a talk on the same topic of why I believe. And he, too, was a convert who said that he had given up on religion, specifically organized religion. And after meeting with missionaries multiple times, felt pretty convinced that Joseph Smith was being used by God to reset the Church. And even made the statement that there are all these churches out there who believe different things, who believe that they’re the true Church and that everybody else is wrong. And that Joseph Smith was used by the Lord to bring clarity and to reset that, which isn’t entirely consistent with my experience outside of the Latterday Saint Church, that there might be differing beliefs, and there might be people who feel that they’re more biblical in how they practice or believe. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we all believe that everybody else is wrong. We just believe that there’s differences. Either way, that was an important point for this individual. He concluded his talk with testifying that he believed that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints was true and that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet and said a lot of the things that I think I’ve heard people state before when it comes to bearing their testimony before the regiation.
T hat whole time was unique. It was different from what you’ll see in a protestant church, where usually when somebody is giving a prolonged talk in a worship service like that, it’s usually going to be the pastor or one of the pastors or one of the leaders within the church giving an actual sermon from the Word of God. It wouldn’t necessarily just be telling stories or bearing a testimony or witness on a specific topic as much as it would be actually studying the Word of God and taking a passage, a chapter, a verse, and unpacking it, understanding its meaning and how it helps us understand the Lord more, how it helps us understand his will for us more, and how to apply these things and walk it out. So that portion of the service was pretty unique and unlike anything that I’ve seen in protestant church before. Once that gentleman was done speaking, one more hymns was sang called Now Let Us Rejoice. S omebody came up to pray, and that was the end of what I would call the church service or the gathering or the meeting. B eing that this is a second Sunday of the month, is it?
And being that this is a second Sunday of the month, there’s a rhythm evidently that Latterday Saints follow where there’s Sunday school for an hour. Sometimes people are together. This week, the men and the women were separate. And I went into a room with a group of men. There was probably 15 of us in that room of various ages. And there was a teaching on a topic that focused on President Nelson’s conference talk from October 2022. It was his Sunday morning talk on the power of God. Now, it was during this time this morning that things got more doctrineal. They got a little bit more tied to issues of what I would call theology that really fascinated me because beyond the normal church going rhythm or the worship service that I experienced with everybody in the Chapel, in this room, there was more of a conversation on the actual beliefs within the Latterday Saint Church. There were a lot of things that either sounded unfamiliar to me or just didn’t line up with how I understand the scriptures or how I even teach certain things out of the Bible. There were some pretty firm statements made that if you have not made certain covenants, and if you have not gone through certain ceremonies within the temple, then you will not have access to God’s power.
T hat’s something that I would obviously disagree with because as one who has never been a part of any covenant making or even doing any temple work within the LDS Church, I have seen, I have experienced, and I have personally witnessed the power of God in really phenomenal ways, in some personal ways, in other ways within church groups, or just in circumstances unfolding. I didn’t want to get into the discussion because that wasn’t the point. I really wanted to observe the teachings. It was really interesting just to hear these gentlemen talk through these things and really straining to understand them and desiring to understand them. And there being a lot of agreement on certain principles that were very closely tied to Latterday Saint teaching, but things that I wouldn’t necessarily agree with. And all of that is somewhat expected, isn’t it? There’s a reason why I’m not a Latterday Saint, and it’s because I don’t agree with some of the teachings, and I don’t believe in certain claims that are made by Joseph Smith and Church leaders and how they practice things. But at no point did I feel like there was any hostility. At no point did I even sense any unfriendliness or even an intense, rigid religious conviction.
I was sensing from everybody in that room a desire to remain focused, devoted, down to Earth, kind, open hearted, and open minded about what they were wanting to learn and how they were wanting to draw closer to the Lord. T hat really does point to something important for me. T hat is a lot of times when we see people who have different convictions, and I would even say Latterday Saints having very different convictions and beliefs from a lot of mainstream Christianity, we think that in some way that they are going to be aggressive or they’re going to be intense or they’re going to have some negativity that’s going to come from them if you don’t agree. I just didn’t get that sense. Everybody was very welcoming, everybody was super kind, and I really appreciated that. I especially appreciated it because as I’m going through this process of exploring, it helps dispel any preconceived notions I had, or maybe even any false preconceived notions I might have had about what takes place in a Latterday Saint Church or what it’s like. Anytime I take another step in learning more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints and allowing me to come out of that cloud of assumptions or lack of clarification to really see what is so important to the individuals who are part of this church.
It is further focusing and clarifying my understanding. T hat’s really important because at the end of the day, I am not going to agree with certain things taught by the LDS Church. But that doesn’t mean that meaningful connections can’t come out of just taking the effort to understand one another, which is why I’m glad I came here today. Now I have a better idea of what Latterday Saints believe, what they teach, how they worship, what my friends who are Latterday Saints are doing on Sunday mornings whenever they go to Church. I’m really hoping that I can start doing things that move in a different direction where maybe I can do some videos where I take a Latterday Saint friend with me to Church and get their impressions of how we worship on a Sunday morning. Special thanks to my friend Ian and his wife who took me under the wing and welcomed me and made sure I knew what I was doing this morning. Special thanks to this ward who received me warmly and welcomed me today. And a special thanks to my wife and to my kids who allowed me to break our normal Sunday morning routine so that I could attend here and continue down this path of exploration.
In fact, just being here this morning gave me a lot more ideas of different things that I can do to continue in my own journey of exploration, which is why I’ve got more videos to make, which is why you should like this video and subscribe. If you want to support me on Patron, feel free. If not, that’s fine too. Just come back, watch more videos, continue to learn with me and from me. And until next time, I’ll see you later, Sains.