The purpose of the Church as an organization is sometimes ignored by Church members, who take its presence as given. While we know we are supposed to have a Church, we don’t often think about why the organization is needed. Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith manual, chapter 8, examines the purpose and the future of the Church through the statements of Smith. Of course, looking at the reason for a Church is nothing new. Early Mormons struggled with aspects of this, since many of them were influenced by the congregationalist models of other restorationist churches, in which local pastors are selected by the deacons of each congregation, and were against the traditional model of the Church of England. The following poem shows some of these tensions and gives a broad vision of what the role of the Church is.
The world today treats leaders with honor and deference, giving those who manage to become leader of government and society the benefits available to the rich, while shielding them from many of the cares of life, and, at times, from their own errors and sins. Lesson 18 in the Lorenzo Snow manual makes it clear that such benefits and deference are not what Church leadership are about (and I wonder if governmental and other leadership shouldn’t also avoid these trappings). Instead, Church leadership is about serving others, and whatever benefits from that leadership should come after this life. The following poem says as much about the Church’s second prophet and president, Brigham Young.
If you had any doubt about the impact of the announcement yesterday that missionary service for men and women can begin earlier, just read the reactions in the bloggernacle, on facebook and twitter and even in major newspapers. The largest of the blogs in the bloggernacle have already weighed in on the change… multiple times… in less than 24 hours. I have to wonder; has anyone not put in their two cents?
In the last post on the Handbook, I noted that Church leadership seems to me to have emphasized collaborative leadership in recent decades. For the issues that face most Church members on a weekly basis, the Ward Council is where that collaborative leadership actually happens.
The LDS Church emphasizes leadership like no other. Because of the requirement that the Church be run by lay leaders who are frequently changed, leadership is a regular part of the curriculum, especially in priesthood classes. And, despite these efforts, the quality of leadership often varies. Inspiration, it seems, can only make up for a portion of a lack of leadership skill and talent.
In the spirit of President Hinckley’s six be’s, I’d like to submit some suggestions for visiting/home teaching etiquette. Here are my 12 be’s of assigned teaching. Please add your own!