President Hinckley has reminded that we all need at least three things to remain firmly in the faith—a friend, a responsibility, and “[nourishing] by the good word of God.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Converts and Young Men,” Ensign, May 1997, 47) Church leaders have recognized that these things are helpful in holding members to the Church, especially the new convert.
In analyzing these aspects of retention in my personal activity, I feel that responsibility is the largest draw for me. Social interaction is extremely important in my life, but it’s easy to have that need met by neighbors, family, and community members. There have been times at Church when I have felt very ideologically isolated, and it hasn’t affected my desire to be active in the ward. Likewise, spiritual education is a priority in my life, but on the whole, my needs have not been met at the ward level. Classes, meetings and worship services at my local level have been boring and less challenging than I would like. I meet my needs by personal reading and sometimes on the internet. So in my case, it is my callings which bind me to the Church.
Mormons take their responsibilities seriously, and I am no exception. Once I am called to a position, it becomes part of my identity. I am a Primary teacher while acting in that position. The choir director job is part of how I define myself, and so forth. It would be hard to pull myself away from the Church while deeply immersed in a calling, although intellectually I realize that if I were gone, any given person could step forward to fill the spot quite adequately. I’m afraid that if a long enough period went by without my having a calling, I might feel less tethered to my local congregation.
Additionally, I feel a responsibility to attend Church as a believer. Since I am a member with a testimony, I am obliged to attend my meetings.
What about you? Is one or more of President Hinckley’s three points important to you in remaining active? Or is it something completely different? What would be necessary to keep you firmly bonded to your ward?