Posted on 2 Comments

Should the Church Modify Bishop’s Interviews? (Part 5)

If you have young children around, you may want to save this episode for later, as we frankly discuss sexual matters.  This American Life, an NPR podcast, recently discussed LDS bishops asking young teens what some call sexually explicit interviews.  Should the LDS Church modify the interviews or ban questions about sex?  Kurt Francom of the Leading Saints podcast weighs in and we discuss the pros and cons of bishop’s interviews.

Kurt: The vast majority of bishop interviews or having a total net positive in the lives of youth.

GT: Yeah. I mean we could look at is 87 percent are good, 13 percent are bad.

Kurt: Right. Right. We can’t shut down all the beaches because shark attacks happen every once in a while. There’s so much good that happens in these wards because of bishops interviews, even alone with youth, right? Now, obviously the bishop has to protect themselves and handle this correct, but I guess that’s my main point. Sure, more policy would be good. But there’s so much more we can do without a new policy.

GT: Let me throw this out there because I know this has always been a thing that has bothered me over the years. We have two-deep in scouts although we’re getting rid of scouts, but we have two-deep in Primary. Why do we not have two-deep in bishop’s interviews? Why is it? I mean even if you don’t allow the parent to be there, why not have the Relief Society president there if it’s a girl, or a young men’s president, if it’s a boy, I mean, a lot of people have made these suggestions and you know, it’s not like I’m coming up with something original here. Why isn’t the church, and I know it’s not your pay grade, but some people are saying this is common sense, you know? If you have one percent of the problem, I mean the Boy Scouts was a problem. So we have two-deep leadership. The Primary apparently was some sort of an issue. So we have two-deep. So why is the bishop different?

Find out Kurt’s response!  What are your thoughts on sexually explicit Bishop’s interviews?  Should the Church modify them?

Some say LDS bishop's should ask young teens about sex. Should the Church modify these interviews to protect children?
Some say LDS bishop’s should ask young teens about sex. Should the Church modify these interviews to protect children?

 

221: Results of Faith Crisis Research

220: “We’ve Got to Have These Difficult Conversations”

219: Ministering to the Faithful & Faithless

218: Is it Bad to be Called LDS or Mormon?

Posted on Leave a comment

Results of Faith Crisis Research (Part 4)

Kurt Francom recently interviewed David Ostler on his podcast about faith crisis research Ostler has done regarding reasons why people quit coming to church.  Is there a disconnect between what leaders believe and what these people say?  Kurt will answer that question.

Kurt:  Another question he asked, “The percentage who strongly agree about the contribution of issues in individuals’ faith crisis in regards to questions about church history and then went the other way, right? A lot of a faith crisis members, that was a biggie: more than 85 percent. Gender roles within the church, that was another biggie.

GT: How about the leaders? Did the leaders see that as a problem?

Kurt: The leaders were around 40 percent, but it wasn’t the 80 percent. Right? There’s still a discrepancy.

GT: Yeah, 40 and 80, there’s a big difference.

Kurt: The Church’s LGBT policy, same thing. I mean they almost look identical. Transparency with decision making, same thing, right? And so with this information, I feel like a leader can better approach some of these situations when they have the right statistics, right? The right the right data. So does that make sense?

GT: Yeah. So, the big issues or the real issues I guess we should say are our church history was, was 85 percent, you said?

Kurt: [Yes]

GT: LGBT was probably second?

Kurt: Yeah, that was just under 80 percent.

GT: Under 80 percent. So Church history….

Kurt: Gender roles was the other one which was about 70 percent.

GT: Seventy percent.

Kurt: Yeah. And to me that doesn’t mean, in my opinion, no doctrine, absolutely zero doctrine has to change. It’s not about getting doctrine to change, it’s about the culture. If we can change the culture and start talking, and having a dialogue about these things, then then I think that’s where we’ll see those pews start to fill up with those that maybe have separated themselves from the church.

He thinks that if more leaders were armed with correct information, they can come up with other ways to make our congregations more friendly to people who are experiencing issues of faith.  Do you agree?  Check out our conversation, as well as our previous conversations with Kurt.

Kurt Francom discusses David Ostler's faith crisis research, and hopes to make wards more friendly to those who doubt.
Kurt Francom discusses David Ostler’s faith crisis research, and hopes to make wards more friendly to those who doubt.

220: “We’ve Got to Have These Difficult Conversations”

219: Ministering to the Faithful & Faithless

218: Is it Bad to be Called LDS or Mormon?

Posted on Leave a comment

“We Must Have These Difficult Conversations” (Part 3)

I asked Kurt Francom of the “Leading Saints” podcast if it is ok to ask sticky church history questions in Sunday School.  I was surprised at his candid response:  “We have to have these difficult conversations.”  What can leaders and lay members do to improve church culture?  Kurt gives some ideas.

Kurt:      I would say the vast majority of members, if you sat down and said, how would you rate the quality of teaching and your Gospel Doctrine class, there’d be very poor, right? Very low, but we’re all patient and try and encourage them by us being there and answering their superficial questions or whatever. And so early on, I thought, “Oh, that’s just because we’re lay ministry. They’re not experienced in teaching and they’re not very good. Well, I think it’s more of a question of the culture of not allowing conflict into the room because we see conflict as if, as if it was synonymous with contention. And I’ve written a few articles about this along with some other contributors on leading saints that about that the important need of conflict in an organization to gain a deeper meaning and understanding of doctrine.  But a lot of people see that and 3 Nephi comes to their mind. They say, “No, no, no, no, no. Contention is of the devil.”

And we say, “We did not say contention. We said conflict.” If someone came to me and said and said, “No, my marriage is going great. We never have any conflict.” I would say, I think there’s something wrong about your marriage that you’re not seeing. It is in the conflict that I have with my wife where we gain a deeper love and understanding and a deeper bond together right now. If we were just contending, if it was conflict in our marriage, yeah, that’s not healthy.

But we absolutely need conflict because that helps us grow. And so in the context of our Sunday school classes, we do need more room for conflict, and that it can only begin with the bishop or the leadership saying to the Sunday School President, “This is okay.” Or to be the devil’s advocate at times, the raise your hand and say, “Well, I know some people see it this way. What do you think about that?” Right? And it’s not about a watering down doctrine or promoting a false doctrine because you would be surprised. Many people think they know the doctrine. That’s not the doctrine. There’s core tenants of the doctrine.

And so to me the greater principle is as a leader, what can you do as a leader or as an everyday member? Set an appointment with the bishop and go in there with a full heart and just saying like, “I don’t feel heard in Sunday school. Does that matter to you? Because when we have these lessons and I don’t want to be there, if I get the impression that it doesn’t matter to you, but I’m guessing that’s really not how you feel.” Right?

And if you can be as empathetic towards them so there’ll be empathetic back. I mean we’ve got to have these difficult conversations everyday members saying, “I don’t feel validated when I come to church and part of me wants to not come some weeks. How do you feel about that?” Right? And, if we can’t have those real conversations, we’ll get nowhere. And I get it that you may be thinking in your head, “You don’t understand my bishop. There’s not a chance in eternity that he’s going to willing to have that conversation.” Well, if that’s the case, sit back. That’s why we have a lay ministry that rotates in and out.

Would this work for you?  Listen to more of what Kurt said, and check out our  other conversations with him!

Kurt Francom says "We must have these difficult conversations," and discusses how he is influencing leaders to be more open to their congregations.
Kurt Francom says “We must have these difficult conversations,” and discusses how he is influencing leaders to be more open to their congregations.

219: Ministering to the Faithful & Faithless

218: Is it Bad to be Called LDS or Mormon?