My current Bishop is reaching his 5 year mark soon, and he is an awesome dude. However, I really want my new Bishop to consider the follow things when gets called. Listed in order of importance to me…
No. 10 Don’t Call the New Move Ins to be Nursery Leaders.
People who know each other should take care of each others kids not the new people in the ward, especially newlyweds (unless we want to emphasize birth control). When you are new you need to get to know the other people that are adults. The beauty of Mormonism’s ward structure is we are a built in community in a world that is going community-less. People need to get to know each other and interact with each other to have that community. Babysitting other’s kids should happen after you know each other.
No. 9 Return of the Missionary Farewells and Homecomings (Especially the After-Party!!)
Celebrating our young people and their missions is something that I miss. I get there were people making it too big of a deal, but I think you can get people to focus their talks on things that bring us closer to Christ. However, leaving for 2 years or 18 months IS a big deal and coming home IS a big deal. I can only think of a few sacrament meetings more spiritual than mission farewells and homecomings of the past. I always felt so inspired and close to God in those. Let’s change this back ASAP. Oh, also, I love going to eat food at people’s house and mingle with friends and family…who doesn’t?!?
No. 8 Way More Soft Folding Chairs
If you get to church after it starts then you know what I am talking about. Let’s expand that chair budget 5% to give soft seats to us all!!!
No. 7 2 Hour Block Instead of 3 (Here is my schedule…tweak how you see fit.)
40 minute Sacrament Meeting (Currently 70 Minutes) – Eliminate announcements – Use the Internet, or Text Messages. No advancements, confirmations, blessings – Do them at home or in the appropriate class. 1 Youth Speaker, 1 Adult Speaker, Awesome Music.
5 minute break to class.
40 minute Sunday School (No Change) – No announcements use the internet or Text Messages.
5 minutes to class.
30 minute 3rd hour (Currently 50 Minutes, but at least 15 of nonsense) – No opening exercises, just quorums. Use email, the internet, text messages, or the phone to coordinate priesthood business.
No. 6 Meet and Greet After Church
As our world is changing to become less community driven, and person to person, there is more need for relationship building than ever. I can’t think of a better contrast to this change than wards. I have to believe a valid Sabbath day activity would be to meet together and get to know your community and their families. I know wards that do this the world over and it is amazing. We need to do more of this and build our relationships and let our kids build more relationships. This bridges difference, increases friendship, and helps us share all of our unique abilities and talents to strengthen our faith in Christ as a Body of Christ. I also think this would make Church a more welcoming and safe place as we can all get to know each other a little better and realize we all have struggles and need each other.
No. 5 Smaller Sunday School Classes
Every person in every ward is in a different place on their journey and when we lump each other into one big room for Sunday School it is like going to the huge lecture halls in college for a class. No one really feels they can interact except those who feel most comfortable with the teacher, or their spirituality. This makes it hard to really help the people who really are coming for help, and often it leads those people to ditching and wandering the halls, instead of getting closer to the Lord. Smaller classes with a mix of people that will create the best forum for discussion of all kinds of topics and needs would increase learning, teaching quality, and people would get closer to Christ.
No. 4 Global Overhaul of Music
I know a lot of people who really feel the spirit with music. We need better hymns, newer hymns, or at the very least faster paced playing of the hymns we have. I mean most of the primary songs are better than half the hymns we sing. Music and praising the Lord brings the spirit and helps our minds focus on God. It doesn’t have to be raucous music, but there are so many options out there to make the music more inspirational.
No. 3 Connect and Understand the Younger Generation as a Top Priority.
Ever since the mid 1900’s (when church leaders became older than the average member for the first time) there has always been a disconnect between the leaders of the church (men in their 70’s-90’s) and the next generation. Every generation shifts, and having the leaders be men of experience and wisdom is something I firmly believe is essential to the church being solid and following the Lord. It becomes a slow steering ship rather than being tossed so easily with the whims of the time. However, there can be a disconnect when not only are the leaders of the church are that age, but then the Stake Presidents and Bishops are also in their 50’s and 60’s. This makes it hard to bridge the gap and connect with the upcoming generation (According to Elder Bednar the vast majority of people who leave the church leave between 12 and 30 years of age.) and the leading generation. This sometimes slows or prevents upward revelation, which historically has been one of the most useful types of revelation in the church (Mutual, Home Teaching, etc.), and it also can make it hard for the Bishops of the church to apply the current policies to the problems of the day. There are efforts to resolve this problem currently in the church, but I firmly believe getting Bishops are either younger men, or are capable of connecting with the younger generation will make a huge difference.
No. 2 Get the Ladies Involved!
There is a great book by a lady named Neylan McBaine, “Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women’s Local Impact”, that talks about lots of ways to involve Women and Young Women in our church that are long past due. It is honestly sad that we have to have conversations about “getting” women involved. I don’t think a person denies the importance of the Priesthood when they admit there are literally hundreds of traditions and silly things we have that are “for men only”. I don’t want to make a list here, there is a big list to be made, but the world is better when we work together and treat and feel for each other equally. Not to mention it will help a Bishop more than just about anything.
No. 1 Make Jesus the Emphasis
Our current Bishop has been emphasizing this a lot lately, and I think the emphasis has come down from the Brethren. In my opinion, though, there is still too much focus on the appendages to the gospel, and not enough on Jesus Christ. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ and feeling as though you can commune with God is the key to a solid foundation in our ever changing and difficult world. From that relationship (founded in focused study, prayer, fasting, and love) sprouts all the fruits that we love about Mormonism. Mormonism gives us such great views of Christ and His Gospel, but ultimately we sometimes get our priorities mixed up. Like the Pharisees of the past becoming converted to the Law, we can real easily become converted to the wrong things, good things, but not the single most important thing…Jesus Christ. Let’s talk of the Atonement more, let’s tell each other how It has saved us and healed us, lets encourage each of us to seek It and hold It and cherish It. Christ is the Savior of the World and I love Him and He has healed me. It hurts me so much when people are missing that in their lives. A Bishop who emphasizes Christ can help us all get our minds on the right things and it will change us forever.
I love the Church and the Gospel, and I hope my suggestions make it onto my new Bishop’s agenda. I recognize this post may seal my fate as a Nursery Leader, but since I know most of the people in my ward now, I look forward to it!!!