This post is another installment in my “5 Cool Things” series. Today I’m giving a list, again in no particular order, of some things I would love to see happen in the LDS Church (which I attend actively). I’m not presenting this list as a set of demands or to declare what is wrong with the church. Its just a handful of things I think would be pretty cool.
- Service Missions
I’m talking about Peace Corps style service work, full time. I honestly believe that if 75% of our full time missionaries were doing strictly community service, the church would see higher teaching and conversion rates… and perhaps even retention rates, too. The physical aspect of “raising the bar” would not have to be so severe as the less physically capable missionaries could do the teaching and the stronger missionaries could do the service work. Think about the impact that could have on the world.
- Women in Priesthood
This one might be controversial, and its definitely the least likely to happen anytime soon, but I think it would be cool. The talent pool for leadership and administered spirituality is more shallow than we realize since we can only draw from the men in the church, and we constantly hear how men are spiritually weak compared to women. I’ve seen women operate within priesthood in other churches and its very impressive.
- Consolidated Sunday School – Relief Society – Priesthood
For about a year, my stake had too many members for the amount of chapels available so they had to fit five wards in one building. In order to make that work, the block of meetings was reduced from 3 hours to a little over 2 hours. In this scenario, Sacrament meeting was still the same but Sunday School and the Relief Society/Priesthood meetings were each reduced to 30 minutes. The short block was fantastic, although with young children the length of Sacrament meeting is still a real issue. However, keeping separate Sunday School and RS/PH meetings ended up limiting the effectiveness of teachers in either meeting. I’d like to see a shorter block, with Sacrament meeting reduced to maybe 45-50 minutes, and then a consolidated Sunday School/RS/PH, with men and women together. The idea of men and women in separate meetings is a theory that doesn’t really bear out anymore since both are giving the same correlated lesson anyway.
- More Musical Performance
Without question, my favorite LDS Sacrament meetings have been the ones dominated by musical performances. A few years ago I visited a relative’s ward for Christmas and the Sacrament meeting had NO talks at all. After the Sacrament was administered, the remainder of the time was given to several musical numbers and it was my favorite church experience in a long time. I’d love to see at least 50% of Sacrament meeting time given to musical performance (aside from the usual congregational hymns), although I’d like to see a wider range of musical styles allowed (as opposed to mostly MoTab-style choir numbers and Janice Kapp Perry solos).
- Less Administrative Meetings
There are probably not many active LDS folks who need an elaboration here. In recent years there have been General Conference talks, letters to bishops, and programs developed to try to reduce the amount of meetings taking time away from families, but it seems to make little difference. We still have tons of meetings and many of them are way too long.