Ministering by stakes
As many of you know, I have only one goal for 2017 — live my best life. But how do I live my best life when I feel my ward is just a place to go to church and storehouse my membership record? That got me thinking about interactions I’ve had with local leaders.
Not finding any support from my ward, I reached out to my stake president. We exchanged emails over a few months mostly due to pauses in between messages. What I found especially frustrating was my failure to feel understood, an experience shared by many LDS singles.
I wished my leaders would just stop and listen to me. Then I realized I should take my own medicine. They are, after all, babes in sacrament meeting. As I stopped and listened to their words, I began to perceive they have no clue how to minister effectively to LDS singles.
So I dedicated myself to helping them learn. My initial efforts producing no results, I’m taking a different approach — one that will help LDS singles everywhere and not just me. And it starts with a series of programs devoted to this very topic, beginning with this monologue about the role of stake leaders in ministering to singles.
Back to basics
The idea that stakes can’t effectively minister to singles is a convenient lie. It’s convenient because it allows busy leaders to rationalize inaction as the best response for meeting the needs of singles. And it’s a lie because stake leaders can do much to minister effectively to singles.
Admittedly, we’re not talking here about stake officers interacting with every single adult in the stake. That’s impractical. But we are talking about actions stake leaders can take while in the performance of their normal duties.
Three principles provide the foundation for all my suggestions for effective ministering to LDS singles.
Understanding stake roles
Often stakes simply give wards stewardship over singles. And what typically happens is nothing. Expecting a job to get done without providing accountability is nothing more than wishful thinking.
This is where stake presidents can help. In their regular interviews with bishops, they can ask two questions: First, how are the singles in your ward? Second, what are you and the ward council doing to help meet their needs? The few minutes these questions take are all that’s needed to provide accountability.
The key is to ask these same questions interview after interview after interview. The first time or two bishops encounter these questions, they’ll likely not have many if any positive answers. By the third time, they’ll come to expect these questions and so take action to have better answers for each next interview. Each repetition of the questions fosters a continued sense of accountability.
High council members can support this accountability by promoting attention to singles issues when speaking in individual wards. And instead of just planning activities, stake singles committee members can focus on creating support networks for singles.
Much of the heavy lifting will come from the wards. That said, stakes can do more than they typically do to minister effectively to LDS singles.
If your stake leaders believe there’s nothing they can or should do for singles in your stake, please help educate them by pointing them here. LDS singles will never have the support they need if everyone does nothing, and that everyone includes us singles.
I am convinced the majority of our leaders want to help but simply don’t know what to do. Point them in a direction that will help them learn. Point them here.
Only by taking action do we see any results. Let’s all partner with each other to make life better for LDS singles everywhere. When we do, we’ll all have more joy in our journey.
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Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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