Editor's note: This post by Sarah Shumway originally appeared on her blog, From DC to BC. It has been shared here with the author's permission.
As a part of the "millennial" generation, I read CNN's religion blog post "Why millennials are leaving the church" with great interest. The author explains how churches are trying to appeal to my generation through casual services, pastors in skinny jeans, and coffee shops in the meetinghouses — at the cost of teaching what constitutes the heart of Christianity.
With the ongoing cultural wars, pretentiousness, and seeming exclusivity, young people my age are struggling to find Jesus when they go to church.
Reading this article made me think carefully about how my faith, the Mormon church, is instituted. While I admit that our church leaders have their own struggles in retaining some who are my age, I think that the Mormon institution solves many of the problems that other millennials experience when attending church. This is my list so far, though it is hardly exhaustive:
1. We are taught to view our fellow members as our brothers and sisters.
Just as we don't choose who our siblings are, neither do we choose whom we will worship with (it's all contingent on location). In fact, the first feature a visitor to a Mormon congregation may notice is that we address our fellow members as "brother" and "sister." This practice consciously reminds us that we should love and accept others in our faith as part of an extended family — regardless of socioeconomic background, political affiliations, race, etc. To partially accomplish this, our bishop (our congregational leader) assigns each member to visit fellow members at least once a month to share a spiritual message, as well as watch over their spiritual and physical welfare. Moreover, we feel a sense of responsibility in helping our fellow members who may be experiencing health difficulties, family crises or just need an extra hand with housework. I believe that this setup has taught me to be more loving and accepting towards others, as well as emulate Christ's behavior in my life.
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