Why Isn’t Sacrament Meeting More Spiritual?

I listened to an interview of Jana Reiss on Mormon Expression a few weeks ago, titled “Why Mormon Meetings are So Dull.”  She discussed a book called Sundays in America by Suzanne Strempek Shea. Shae is a novelist in Massachusetts who attended 52 church services over a year.  This author attended a Mormon Sacrament meeting.  Jana paraphrased Shae’s book:

“With all of the fear-mongering about Mormonism in the world…, the only thing that outsiders really have to be afraid of is that Mormons are going to bore everyone to death.”  [Jana said], I thought that was a very good observation.  When you look at Sacrament Meeting from the lens of a visitor, or an outsider, someone who has no idea of what a sacrament meeting is or should look like, there’s no other word to describe it, but ‘dull.’  So that was the foundation of this blog post that I wrote.  The blog is called “Flunking Sainthood.”  This particular piece was called ‘Why are Mormon Meetings so Dull?’

Reiss says there are 5 reasons why Mormon meetings are so dull.  I started transcribing the interview, but ran out of time for a post this week, so I’ll just concentrate on reason #1.  Here are some excerpts from the interview.  Jana said that,

#1 We no longer expect spiritual manifestations, especially when compared our current church meetings to the meetings in the 1800s.  Reiss said,

Well into the 19th century, we had routine manifestations of spiritual presence, divine power, people being slain in the spirit, women standing up in Relief Society speking in tongues, other women standing up and interpresting what had just been said in tongues, and this was just part and parcel of being Mormon.

Now when we talk about the Holy Spirit, we focus on the warm feeling, the fuzzy lovely flannel blanket feeling of the Holy Spirit, and that’s ok.  I’m not dissing that.  But I’m saying that in addition to that, we have a profound history and biblical example that the Holy Spirit is Fire.  The Holy Spirit descends as tongues of fire, and we used to know what that was.  We used to have incredible manifestations in the Kirtland Temple, and what I’m saying is that we also used to expect that to happen.  We used to pray for that to happen, and we don’t do that any more, and that is the #1 reason that our sacrament meetings are as dull as they are.  We are not praying for the spirit to show up in a dramatic, profound, life-changing way.

Interviewer Bridget said,

I think that’s the problem with people and God today, they want a God who’s safe and I don’t want to go into all my views on this, but I don’t believe that God is safe.  God is dangerous, God is supposed to be pushing us to our limits.  God is supposed to be challenging us.  I worry that’s a problem to LDS meetings.  People don’t come expecting to be challenged and surprised by God.  They come expecting [to be] safe and comfortable and cozy.

Reiss continues,

I’m not trying to say that it’s never ok to be safe.  Church should be a safe place, but it also needs to be a place, like Rheinhold Neibuhr said, ‘needs to comfort the afflicted, but it also needs to afflict the comfortable’, and that’s the thing that we’re missing.

Interviewer Glenn Ostlund,

You described in your article, you described the spirit as being warm, fuzzy, and non-threatening.  This idea of a threat in spirituality is really interesting to me.  You guys have both touched on this, but I’m just wondering if you could delve into this.  What does it mean to have a healthy, threatening, spirituality?  What’s really at risk?

[Reiss]  Well, that’s a really good question.  In the New Testament, every time an angel appears, the first words out of an angel’s mouth are ‘do not be afraid.’  Angels were freaking scary.  That’s why the angel says, ‘do not be afraid.’  We do not have that sense of awe.  We talk about reverence, but what we mean by reverence is ‘shutting up.’  We don’t have that sense of the fear of a powerful God.

[Bridget] …That’s what I worry about with Sacrament meeting.  A lot of people come and they know exactly what to expect and they aren’t really open to anything else.  They don’t what any uproarious singing, or clapping, or foot stamping, or any manifestations of charismatic gifts.  They’re very uncomfortable with that.

[Reiss]  I should point out that not every early Mormon was comfortable with it either.  One of the reasons why it fell into disuse in Mormonism.  (Disuse is not the right word, because it’s not something that we use.)  When people are having these spiritual manifestations and they’re having revelations, and they’re speaking in tongues, things get out of control very quickly.  So you have a lot of examples in history when people claim to be receiving a revelation that bears upon the entire church.

We have a very strong belief that the prophet is the only person to receive revelation for the entire church.  That belief came as a result of painful experiences in the 19th century when lots of people were claiming to have these experiences.  So when I say that I want us to be open in a really dramatic way, I also want us to be cautious about how we’re going to deal with each other.  We need to be humble.  We need to listening to God and to one another.  This is not an opportunity for people to be stars and ‘I’m the going to be the one speaking in tongues.’  The New Testament is very, very clear, about not ranking one gift above another.

[Ostlund]  I’ll tell you as someone who’s been a member all of his life that my kind of traditional, conditioned response to why God would influence or encourage Bridget out of her comfort zone to go to BYU, or push Jana out of her comfort zone and come to LDS is ‘God’s pushing everyone into the Mormon Church.’  Isn’t that kind of what the general thought would be?  We wouldn’t be so surprised  to see the spirit asking other people to move in our direction, but once we’re here {Jana interrupts}

You can stop being uncomfortable!

[Ostlund] Right. … I remember being a kid, seeing a woman stand up for Fast and Testimony meeting.  She had a dream that the Lord told her that everyone needed to go get boats, because there was going to be a flood.  I was maybe 6 or 7 years old, but I have this distinct memory of members of the bishopric turning to each other and passing notes.  I can only imagine it saying, ‘let’s get her off of here as quickly as possible.’  Every once in a while there will be something like that, but it gets squelched so quickly, I just have a hard time seeing it move back to that kind of Kirtland-esque state.


[Reiss] We talk a lot about the idea of Joel 2, where you have these visions and blessing that are to be returning. We sing the Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning.  We sing about this; we used to do it.  There’s something precious that has been lost.

So what do you think or Reiss’s comments?


32 comments on “Why Isn’t Sacrament Meeting More Spiritual?

  1. I addressed what I thought of her article in my post now on Wheat and Tares at http://www.wheatandtares.org/2010/07/30/the-dullness-of-complaining-that-lds-church-meetings-are-dull-a-rebuttal/

    The short answer was not much.

  2. Unlike Jeff, I agree with Reiss. Jeff totally misses her point. She speaks of the changes in Sacrament meeting from the 1800s to the 1900s to today.

    There are times today when people do get up and speak of spiritual experiences and manifestations, but they are looked down on for one reason or another. Either they are nuts, or they shouldn’t share spiritual experiences, etc. This is what Reiss is talking about. The mindset of the LDS attendee has changed and the result is dull.

    I remember attending a concert at my daughters Utah County high school. The orchestra played and the choir sang. The sang many spirituals and the place full of energy. The atmosphere was fantastic and I got that tingling feeling that starts at the crown and moves through your entire body. I leaned over to my wife and said if our ward choir sang these songs in this manner, I would join the choir. You leave meetings like that on a spiritual high. Jeff mocks that and instead praises the attributes of being dull, blaming the attendee rather than the meeting for the lack of spiritual feeling.

    Jeff is a perfect example of what Reiss is talking about,

  3. I think God works and communicates with us (as does His Spirit ) in ways that are familiar to our senses. I believe that many folks back in the early restoration days EXPECTED such manifestations, and God obliged. I know how I would react if someone popped up in the middle of Sunday School and started talking gibberish.

    If I have a peculiar dream, I generally pass it off as something that was bugging me subconsciously. Saints in my South American mission, however, would have deemed it a sign from above and treated it accordingly. So, who am I to say that God cannot communicate with some people in a burning bush, some through the warm feelings and “pure intelligence”, and some through a manifestation in a tortilla? If, in the end, it affirms one’s belief in God…why not?

  4. Jeff, I remember reading your post, but I didn’t realize it was about the same person until now. Thanks for the reminder. I did notice that you said you agreed with some of her points, but you didn’t really say what you agreed with. Can you elaborate a bit?

    We are at Sacrament Meeting to worship our Heavenly Father and His Son and partake of the Sacrament. I thought Riess makes a good point that tyhere are multiple kinds of worship, yet Mormons only think 1 is correct (essentially “shutting up”.) She said Mormons are good at individual and family worship, but not congregational worship. I tend to agree. She also said that the meeting is called “sacrament meeting”, not “sacrament worship”. The talks are “learning” talks, not “worship” talks, IMO. I feel that many of the hymns are like funeral hymns with little or no feeling. We could do a better job of singing like the gospel makes us happy, not a drudgery of singing. (When I was in the MTC, I loved to sing, but I have rarely been in a ward where the singing was worshipful.)

    I absolutely agree that talks suck, and the church could do a better job of training people. For example, I absolutely hate it when people get up and relate how they got called to talk. When people get up and admit they are terrible speakers, I automatically tune out at that point. Even if it’s true, it shouldn’t be said. Far too many people do this, and it’s a grave faux paux. It would be nice to hear people like LeGrand Richards, J Golden Kimball, etc, rather than the monotone people that we get now. Have a little personality.

    Having said all that, I would be very uncomfortable with someone in Priesthood (or R.S.) speaking in tongues. But clearly those things happened in more places than just the Kirtland Temple.

  5. Could the reason meetings are so boring be that bishopric members give 1 week or less to prepare to speak?

  6. 1. We don’t sing anymore. No one knows the hymns.
    2. We don’t talk about spiritual things.
    3. It wouldn’t matter if we did because the noise level in our chapels is so bad no one can hear anyway.

  7. We’re about 50 years or more ahead of the pentacostal sects in evolution of worship practices. Difficult to route spiritual manifestations through correlation, anyway. And there is the little difficulty (mentioned by Bridget) for a heirarchy of 19th Century Saints taking seriously the “would God that all men were prophets” quotation from Exodus.

  8. In non-English speaking units, the number of hymns is smaller and the attendance is lower than in the US. This multiplies the possibility of boredom, because it is the same people talking, and the same music being sung. I am in the bishopric of my small ward and responsible for choosing speakers and topics. I have been doing it for 4 years now. (No name #5, we give topics out early). On thing that is forbidden (by our area authority) is doing more than 4 hymns (opening, sacrament, closing, and either rest hymn or a special number), so more music is out. Any other ideas?

  9. I know that this is one of those subjects that is a perennial here on the bloggernacle but there is truth to the claim of the original post at Flunking Sainthood.

    Mormons have two major weaknesses when it comes to congregational worship – 1) we don’t do Adoration/Celebration well and 2) we substitute “statements of certainty” for true Worship. While the communication of “certainty” is an essential part of our community, it should not be the only way we worship. Testimony meeting is reduced to three oft-repeated phrases “I know the Church is true”, “I know the Prophet is guiding the Church”, and “I know the Book of Mormon is true”. I particularly get annoyed by the first phrase since the Church is a legal entity and is neither true nor false, it just is. The Restored Gospel is what is true. The Atonement is what is true. The Living Saviour is what is true.

    Despite our best efforts, worship and mention of the Saviour continue to be severely lacking in our meetings. Correlation material does not help build mature testimonies and many Saints remain wary of Adoration of the Saviour in our meetings. They prefer instead to share “certainties” and mis-interpretations of scriptural stories and, sometimes, twinkies.

    I will admit that we do stress Emulation of the Saviour very well along with the “certainties”.

    For the fifth year in a row, I brought eight missionaries in our area to a very wonderful midnight Mass at a Catholic Cathedral. It is becoming a tradition that the mission president supports and the Catholic priests look forward to each year. There were approximately 3,000 attendees from around the world (it is in Orlando). It is interesting to listen to the reaction from missionaries that have never been exposed to Mass previously. Some find it uplifting and very Christ-centered while others express discomfort with the ritualized liturgy and communal Adoration.

    We retreat to our comfort zones when we participate in communal worship and it is like pulling teeth to get people to open up to the greater gifts of the Holy Ghost.


  10. It seems I’ve delt with the issue of taking Mormons out of their comfort zone with a novel perspective for most of my adult life. They dislike it intensely. Most see my views with intense distrust, as a result. They are happy with the way things are, and they want no one rocking their boat. A tiny minority, on the other hand, are thrilled with the invigoration and vitality they feel when seeing the restored gospel with greater depth and a broader perspective. These are as greatful for their newfound perspective as the majority are distrustful. So, in my view, our meetings are simply a reflection of our attitudes toward our religion. I think most of today’s Mormons would be stunned if you were to plunk them down in a Mormon congregation of 100 or 150 years ago. They would be mortified. Conversly, if Joseph Smith were to be plunked down in one or today’s congregations, he would be mortified, shagrined and dismayed by our ‘sterile’ approach to the gospel he restored. In my view, Mormons need to return to their roots, to recapture the “charisma” as Nibley put it, of our bygone eras. Mormonism was meant to be a living, breathing, stimulating religion. We have turned it, instead, into a dull, stultifying and dead end lifestyle. “Wake up, saints!” would be my cry.

  11. I agree that there is too little enthusiasm/spirit in our LDS meetings. This doesn’t always mean an absence of Spirit, but many times it does.

    My husband is a professional choir director and a fabulous organist, and I sing with all my heart and voice every Sunday. This makes a big difference for my worship. All the years of my husband’s practice (voice lessons, practicing piano and organ, studying choral methods) bless our ward so much!

    This information may seem irrelevant, to other wards. But I think my husband’s contribution to our worship services is exactly the point: we as individual members have the chance to impact our worship services by taking piano lessons, public speaking classes, etc. Let’s step up and create a rich spiritual worship experience each week!

  12. yes, anthony-I hear you about comfort zones. it does seem that mormons are thoroughly enjoy their comfort zones, and correlation, and distrust everyone that has a different point of view.

  13. I suppose some folks might think the quiet reverence in the temple would be terribly dull — not to mention going through the same motions over and over again.

    Frankly, now that I’ve gotten a little older I really don’t have very much interest in hearing about other folks’ spiritual experiences. For one thing, I don’t believe half of them. And for another, even if they happen to be true, with rare exception, they probably shouldn’t be shared with a large group.

  14. I think the main problem is a focus on practice rather than doctrine. Practice is important, but it is very boring to talk about. Ultimately people do what is right because they believe it is right, not because they have been told it is right.

    The most effective way to get people to believe is to persuade them – to shed light on the subject. But to some, persuasion is a dirty word. The idea of many is just tell people what to do, without a word about why, and let the Spirit do all the work. If the New Testament was written that way it would be a tenth of its current size.

    Brigham Young said “teach people correct principles”. We tend to reduce that to “teach people correct practices”, which is dull, dull, dull.

  15. so, what is to be done? I mean do we talk to the bishop about improving talks? I mean as a lay member, I feel a bit helpless to effect change, especially since my attempts to spruce up gospel doctrine and priesthood lessons resulted in my immediate release. I feel like the bishopric prefers dull, because it is easier to manage.

  16. Jack – You just made my point perfectly.

    Mark – I think people believe it is right because they were told it is right. We believe in Jesus because our parents or SS teacher told us. We have no proof otherwise. We are even told what the Holy Ghost feels like by someone who only “knows” because they were told by someone who was told, etc. etc.

    MH – I think you hit the nail on the head. Dull is easier to manage and flames can be quickly snuffed out. Change must come from the top in this situation. The church was set up that way.

  17. IMO, the real problem lies in believing that you or I can change the church. I used to think this and used to work at the church, where I heard a member of the 12 lament that he had no power to make any lasting change on the organization. If he can’t make the changes he feels are important and significant, then you and I have no chance. My honest suggestion is to take your time and talents where they will be appreciated and where you can make a difference. Life is too short to be correlated, stifled and bored.

  18. @Mormon Heretic
    Wow, snibble and whine. What a bunch of Lamen and Lemuels. I am happy to express my view here that I love the services just the way they are. Why? First, there is so much change in my life and the world around me that I find comfort in the stability the Church offers, especially in SACRAMENT meeting. In addition, it is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is somthing wrong with us! Personally, when I find myself suffering from bordom I first look within; what is wrong with my spiritual walk? That is a lot safer than blaming the Bishop, the Apostles, or worse, the Lord Himself. Finally,
    if i were face to face with Laman I would ask “have ye inquired of the Lord.” It might be well to take a little time and meditate on 2 Nephi 28:26. It is the power of God and the gifts of the Holy Ghost that brings enlightment and inner energy, not the two mintute talk by the Valiant girl.

  19. Kelly, I’m glad that predictable, sanitized, dumbed-down meetings work for you. But, wishing for something better is hardly snibbling and whining.

  20. kelly, every person and organization has room for improvement. seeking to make things better is not whining. perhaps you could work on your humility.

  21. The post reminded me of a succinct Spencer W. Kimball quote:

    “””Consider the response of President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) when someone once asked him, “What do you do if you find yourself caught in a boring sacrament meeting?” President Kimball thought a moment, then replied, “I don’t know; I’ve never been in one.”

    With his long years of Church experience, President Kimball had undoubtedly been to many meetings where people had read their talks, spoken in a monotone, or given travelogues instead of teaching doctrine. But most likely, President Kimball was teaching that he did not go to sacrament meeting to be entertained; he went to worship the Lord, renew his covenants, and be taught from on high. If he attended with an open heart, a desire to be “nourished by the good word of God” (Moroni 6:4), and a prayer— rather than judgment— for the speakers, the Spirit would teach him what he needed to do to be a more effective and faithful disciple. President Kimball was teaching the principle of learning by the Spirit.”””
    —To Be Edified and Rejoice Together by A. Roger Merrill, Sunday School General President, Ensign, January 2007

    The whole article is of interest on the subject of boring meetings. When called to teach youth gospel doctrine, I told the Bishop’s councilor that I would LIVEN up the lessons.

  22. Glenn, are you saying that if someone finds a meeting to be boring that it’s that person’s fault? That is a typical LDS response to anything that calls LDS into question. LDS is perfect and if you don’t think so, then you are to blame.

    Attitudes like that NEVER foster change.

    We all do our best to enjoy what is presented to us, but when we hear the same thing over and over again, in the same monotone fashion in the same sanitized chapel, it becomes a challenge…and that is not our fault.

  23. I get really tired of responses that blame the victim. surely leadership could do something to improve worship. unfortunately, they don’t seem to see a problem. perhaps we need more blog posts to bring it to their attention.

    I don’t mean to say that my attitude could help things, but blaming the whole thing on each individual is incredibly myopic. clearly, there could be some improvement in worship, and we shouldn’t blame the members for poor sacrament meetings. surely leadership could improve, unless you think that leadership makes zero mistakes.

  24. For some strange reason, I never referenced Jana Reiss’s original post. Here it is: http://blog.beliefnet.com/flunkingsainthood/2010/07/five-reasons-why-mormon-church-meetings-are-the-dullest-youll-find-anywhere.html

    (To be honest, I listened to the interview first, and just discovered the post.) I wanted to briefly highlight her 5 points, as I agree with all of them.

    1. We no longer expect any spiritual manifestations.
    2. We think we’re there primarily to learn about God, not to worship God.
    3. Our music is confining and often funereal.
    4. Our talks are often substandard.
    5. Nobody seems prepared to envision this differently.

    Like I said, I agree with all the points, but especially #4. And #5 has been confirmed by Kelly and Glenn.

  25. I am all for speakers who make talks interesting. At the risk of sidetracking, I am still a Paul Dunn fan of using stories to TEACH a principle or doctrine rather than just highlight the principle. When I give talks, teaching true doctrine is my goal. I use verbal aids (stories, scriptures, quotes, etc.) and occasional visual aids to help me. In my Sunday School class, I do the same thing. i.e. comparing Nazi treatment of Jews to Babylonian treatment of Jews.

    In our homogenous church where everyone is encouraged to participate and thus grow**, we will get the powerful with the weak, the entertaining with the boring, the humble with the pompous, the shy with the confident, the experienced, well read, person with the new member who struggles to bear a simple testimony. I would rather have all this variety than someone putting on a show.

    I still find myself making the “high priest” signs during sacrament and sometimes priesthood meeting. Or reviewing my lesson notes for Sunday school.

    So what is the answer. A class on giving talks akin to teacher development?? It might work with those willing to attend. A ward talk specialist to help others with talk preparation and presentation. Helpful, certainly, but again, limited to those willing to ask for the help. What has been successful in your wards to make meetings interesting?

    As an aside, our bishopric publishes sacrament meeting talk assignments in the ward bulletin for four weeks prior to the date. You don’t get a phone call or a face-to-face request. Your assignment announced in the bulletin. Our building cleaning assignments are also announced in the bulletin, four weeks running.

    **growth = ‘perfecting the saints’

  26. Glenn
    “I would rather have all this variety than someone putting on a show.”

    You sound like a decent guy that tries to make the best out of what you are given, but the statement I quote above sounds a little disingenuous. Maybe you really feel that way, but that is an oft regurgitated statement, that people say without stopping to think about what they just said.

    5% well-spoken, well-read, confident, etc. vs. 95% shy, inexperienced, tongue-tied, etc. is hardly variety, and I wouldn’t knock preachers that try to make their sermons interesting by simply stating they are putting on a show. They are trying to capture and hold the attention of their congregation. What’s wrong with that?

    Your bishopric simply publishing assigned talks in the bulletin is a lazy cop out. They have no idea if the person(s) are available, willing, etc. but still choose to call them out in front of the whole ward…I would ignore my name on that list. If you expect someone to put the time and effort into delivering a talk, the least you can do is give them a personal invitation and an opportunity to accept/decline. I honestly can’t believe that system works. What do they do when the assigned person is a no show?

  27. A class on giving talks akin to teacher development?? No, that is a horrible waste of time. However, perhaps some guidance from bishops or stake presidents to avoid saying “I hate to speak”, “I’m a terrible teacher”, “I hope we can get some participation or this is going to be a short lesson”, etc would be a good idea.

    I had a stake president split the ward one time. He said he could have projected that a screen (so it would make sense), but that would be “inappropriate” in the chapel? Say what? I mean it’s these ridiculous statements by well-meaning stake presidents that I just scratch my head. Other stakes (and my current stake) have projected maps–what was this stake president thinking???

    Maybe the church should align with “Toastmasters” like they have with the Boy Scouts. There’s an idea with merit that I could get behind.

  28. Bishop Rick,

    “Jeff totally misses her point. She speaks of the changes in Sacrament meeting from the 1800s to the 1900s to today.”

    since I wasn’t around then, I am not missing anything. And to answer to you and to Mo, I think talks could be much better. I think re-hashing conference talks is a waste of time. I am interested in what others think. And as I stated in my piece, “So, I probably agree with Ms. Riess that that purpose (of sacrament meeting) needs to be reinforced with members, as do the purpose and manner of talks as well.”

    The bottom line was that I think the problem is with members not the meeting itself.

  29. Jeff, when you say the problem is with members, which members are you referring to? The leaders that direct the meeting, or those in the congregation that have no influence?

  30. Several years ago. I sat , with a cowarker who then served as a Bishop, in a presentation put on by our accounting firm (a top 10 international firm) discussing Canada’s upcoming move to a value-added tax system. Most of the speakers were well prepared, certainly educated, and made excellent presentations. One speaker made watching paint dry seem like an Olympic sport. During his presentation, my cowarker looked at me with a long sigh. I passed him a note saying that in the Church we get used to speakers, good and bad. And it tells when a person doesn’t have the early exposure to speaking to an audience.

    I don’t knopw the answer to having dynamic speakers every time. If everyone is dynamic, then no one is. The new norm becomes the norm and we look for even more. We need some weaker speakers to offset the strong ones. Sort of a sugar and salt, opposition in all things, thing. How do we help perfect the saints without giving them opportunity to progress???

    When some of my sons were in 4H, the benifits of the public speaking component were quickly evident. Those who made efforts with their speeches, as well as in other aspects of the program, were successful outside the program. They were leaders in school and student government. Also, in other community organizations.
    Encouraging some kind of speaker development, such as Toastmasters, may not be a bad idea. Of course, a speaker development class wouldn’t really work. How do we encouage weaker speakers to participate in a program?

    Regarding the talk assignments in the bulletin, it really only works because our ward is small, and relatively, close knit. And we have long experience of often having more than one calling , just to make things work. Ti illustrate, my father was one of the last Bishops who served before the 5-year rotation. He served 22 years. Every Bishop since him has been 5 years.

    Our ward was recently part of a two nation, two stake, four ward boundary realignment. We lost most of our US component to the nearest US branch and stake**, expanded our northern boundary to included more Canadian members, while their former ward and a connecting ward were realigned. The stake president definitely used maps.

    **Since 9-11, crossing the border for meetings became a real burden, sometimes in line for over two hours to get through Customs.

  31. I think the “perfecting the saints” moniker is too often misinterpreted. It has nothing to do with pushing members to learn new skill sets. It has everything to do with spiritual perfection. Don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. Help the square peg be the best square peg it can be. Some people are not good speakers. You can usually tell who doesn’t excel in public speaking by how they react in public settings. Having a good meeting is not just about the speakers though. There are lots of ways to improve a meeting. Try letting the speaker choose a topic they are well versed in. Someone might have great knowledge of temple work. Why force that person to talk on tithing? You can have more musical numbers to break things up, and while your at it, have a little leeway on number choices. I have been in wards that only allow songs from the LDS hymnal to be performed. That just seems nuts to me.

    I have never heard of a cross border ward before. That has to be challenging on many levels…HT/VT, meetings, Sunday, etc. It always helps to have background info.

  32. I don’t knopw the answer to having dynamic speakers every time. If everyone is dynamic, then no one is.

    I disagree. I attended a singles ward in SLC just over 10 years ago. The ward was full of yuppies and BMW’s. Every speaker was dynamic, and it was a real joy to go to church. Of course, it helped that there were no children making the place noisy. I can honestly say that is the last time I enjoyed going to church. All the speakers and teachers actually spent time preparing lessons. There was never “I hate to teach” comments, (actually, I think many of them enjoyed speaking.) It’s a far cry from my current ward.

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