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How People Get Ostracized (& How to Stop it!) Part 2 of 6

Sometimes very active people quit coming to church.  What are the causes of that?  In our next conversation with David Ostler, he tells us what people do that ostracize active members.

 

GT:  I think one of the things that I like about your book, I’m trying to say this as diplomatically as possible. It just feels like you “get it.” I know there are a lot of people that have really good, well-meaning hearts, and they want to talk about this idea of disaffection. But they do it in a way where [it’s not effective.] It feels like I’ve got to be careful. I have to censor myself because I might offend that person. It just feels like you are open. There’s an openness that you frankly don’t see at church. I mean, for one thing, I’ve expressed before. In fact, I actually interviewed Kurt [Francom] on my podcast a few months ago, and I expressed some frustration. I don’t consider myself in a faith crisis, but I also can’t speak up at church. It’s not safe. It’s almost just better to go sit in the hall and do your own personal study, because everybody’s all concerned about everybody’s testimony. For me, and like I said, I don’t consider myself in a faith crisis, but I felt the frustration of the people that you talked about in your book. Can you talk about how…? I mean, is there anything we can do?  I feel as Joe member, I can’t talk to my bishop. I just feel like he’ll look at me cross-eyed, and I’ll never get a calling again. Can you address that issue?

David:  I think what you’re talking about is probably a little bit more common than we think. I think that we all want to go to church and look polished, and at our best and the like. We know that we want to be faithful. We know that we want to express confidence in the institutional church and in our own belief, and so sometimes it takes a lot of courage. It can be very vulnerable for us to express any sort of concern we have that might go against that completely faithful narrative. So it’s sometimes very daunting to either raise our hand and say, “Well, I’ve got a concern here,” or to ask a question, “Well, what about this?” And I think sometimes, just because of the nature of our culture, that can be somewhat risky for people.

What I found when I started kind of going down this road, maybe it’s because of my career background, or maybe because of some my own personal experiences, I just wanted to listen to what people were saying. I just wanted to kind of understand from their perspective, how they felt attached to the church, if they were in crisis, what triggered their crisis, how they felt about it, what their concerns were.  I just kind of went down that road without care about my preconceptions, or whether they would say things that would make me uncomfortable, or that I might disagree with personally. So, I really wanted to just truly understand, and I asked a lot of questions. I wanted to know. I asked, “Why do you feel that way?” I’d say some things and they’d help me see how, what I was saying wasn’t either on target or wasn’t helpful or showed that I didn’t understand. I had some good friends that would help me see my blind spots on that. So, I’m grateful that you felt like that voice came through in the book.

Check out our conversation….

Sometimes active people quit coming to church. David Ostler explains what makes church culture difficult for people, and things we can do to improve out culture.

Don’t miss our other conversation with David!

318: Helping Leaders Understand Faith Crisis

 

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Helping LDS Leaders Understand Faith Crisis

David Ostler is the author of “Bridges:  Ministering to Those Who Question.”  This book is designed for LDS Leaders to better understand a faith crisis, and how to help members in their wards and stakes to better empathize and maintain members who struggle with issues of faith.  David has interviewed several hundred people to better understand their perspective and shares that knowledge with all of us.

David:  When I started studying faith crisis, disaffiliation, my own background is in evidence-based medicine. So, you know, it’s like, what does the data say? It’s the first question we ask. So I spent time trying to understand what we knew about the problem, what people had written, what studies had been done, what data had been collected. Like most problems, we all have impressions about a particular area, but when we go in and study it systematically, sometimes we find those impressions are not entirely accurate. For my own life, that’s been the case often. But certainly with this topic, I found it to be the case. So I wanted to, as I learned about this for myself, and then ultimately, as I wrote the book, to make sure that I had the best information that can be brought on it, and where it wasn’t available to see what I could do to create more information there. So with regards to Leading Saints, and Kurt Francom, we were able to, using the leaders that subscribe to his newsletter, to be able to survey them and understand what local leaders thought about faith crisis, issues of faith, how they were responding and the like. So that’s been kind of a fun thing for me to get to know Kurt and that community a little better.

Check out our conversation…

David Ostler has a new book called “Bridges: Ministering to Those Who Question

 

And don’t miss our previous conversations with Kurt Francom!

223: Do You Disagree with the Exclusion Policy?

222: Should the Church Modify Bishop’s Interviews?

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?

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Do You Disagree with the Exclusion Policy? (Part 6)

In November 2015, the Church issued the PoX, or Policy of Exclusion.  The Exclusion Policy prevents children of gay parents from being baptized or further ordination in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In our last interview with Kurt Francom, we’ll get his opinions, and my opinions, and you’ll find out they are in disagreement quite a bit. It’s also a wonderful way in which we model that people can disagree but still maintain good friendships, even in Sunday School.  So, this is an important conversation, and I hope you check it out.

GT:  But at any rate, I mean we make such a big deal about a child being baptized at the age of eight. It’s in the Doctrine and Covenants. I mean it’s scripture. And Jesus said it’s better than a millstone be hanged around the neck than to offend these little ones. Okay. Now the church leaders are, number one, they’re ignoring this apparent Doctrine and Covenants scripture when it comes to children of gay parents. Number two, they seem to be ignoring the second article of faith: we are punished for our own sins, and [not for] Adam’s transgression and some people try to say, “Well, it’s just Adam.” No, I should not be punished for your sins. You should not be punished for my sins. My children should not be punished for my sins. I mean, we all have free agency, right?

GT:  If my child can’t get baptized at age 8, because I’m gay or whatever, that’s not right. That just feels wrong to me. And I know that a lot of people say, “Well, when they’re 18, they can do it.” Then why doesn’t everybody get baptized at age 18? If it’s so important that we’ve got a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants that they’re supposed to be baptized at age eight, it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal.

Kurt:  Right.

GT:  And there are people between the age of 8 and 18, even that get baptized and fall away from the church, so why would we think that a kid who doesn’t get baptized at eight is suddenly going to get baptized at 18? Especially given that they have to repudiate their parent’s relationship. That logic doesn’t make any sense to me.

Kurt:  Yeah. And, wrestle with it. It breaks my heart when people wrestle with it to the point where they just completely separate themselves. Am I in favor for the policy or against it? I see both sides and I’m just trying to maintain in patience as we figure that out.

GT:  I’m trying to be patient too, but it’s hard.

Kurt:  Yeah, I know. But we need you there on Sunday. We need you to have influence and keep battling there. And I’m not trying to dodge it. I just, I see the struggle in that question. But at the same time, we just have to step back. And part of the greatest thing about being a leader, being a bishop is you have so much empathy for bishops after that. You have so much empathy for apostles after that, for leaders. These are difficult decisions and is the policy the best answer? Maybe, maybe not. But, they have the keys to direct, and they are directing, doing the best that they can. Whether it is exactly right or exactly wrong, or their lack of action in the bishop interview issue is exactly right, or exactly wrong, they’re doing their best to direct. And I think all things considered. We’re moving in the right way and nobody will ever regret having patience, more and more patience with their leaders, and holding on and in the wrestle.

Kurt:  And I love that scripture about Jacob wrestling with the angel or with God. And he got to a point that he refused to let go until God blessed him. And so you must refuse to let go until God blesses us and brings greater light and knowledge and then while doing that realize that these leaders are doing the best they can and they deserve some patience.

Check out our conversation, as well as our other conversations with Kurt…

The Church says children of gay parents can't be baptized. Does this conflict with D&C 68:25?
The Church says children of gay parents can’t be baptized. Does this conflict with D&C 68:25?

222: Should the Church Modify Bishop’s Interviews?

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?