- There is a difference between interest and mere curiosity. Sometimes people just want to know what the Church is. Those who are curious in this general way deserve clear and accurate information that comes directly from those of us who are members so that they do not have to rely on the incomplete answers, half-truths, or false statements that may come from the media or other outside voices. The many misunderstandings and false information about the Church are somewhat our own fault for not clearly explaining who we are and what we believe.
He points out 4 categories of information that would be helpful to others to gain a basic understanding of our beliefs. He puts these into the categories of Facts, Faith, Family, and Fruits.
- First, “Mormon” is a nickname for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members are often referred to as “Mormons,” “Latter-day Saints,” or “LDS.”
- Second, the Church was restored in 1830 in upstate New York with Joseph Smith as its first prophet and president. Today it is headquartered in Salt Lake City.
- Third, there are now over 13 million members in 176 countries and territories. About 6 million of these are in the United States, making us the fourth largest Christian denomination in America.
- Fourth, local congregations are led by volunteer, unpaid members.
- And fifth, Mormons are well represented in politics and government.
- We believe in the eternity of the soul, that God is the Father of our spirits, and that we can return to Him after death.
- We believe that Jesus Christ is our personal Savior, and we try to model our lives after Him and His teachings.
- We believe the original church that Jesus established was lost and has been restored again in our day.
- We believe in and we use the Holy Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.
- And we believe in the Book of Mormon and other books of scripture which support and authenticate the Bible and testify of the ministry and divinity of Christ and of God’s ongoing revelation to man.
- Mormons place particularly strong emphasis on family as the basic unit of the Church and of society.
- Families and individuals, whether members of our faith or not, can attend Sunday services in our chapels.
- Latter-day Saint families are encouraged to hold family home evenings weekly, usually on Monday nights. This provides a regular and predictable time for parents to teach values to their children and to have fun together.
- The Church has auxiliary programs for women, youth, and children as a support to the family.
- And there is also much focus on extended family, genealogy, and personal family history, providing young and old with a stronger sense of roots, identity, and belonging.
- One of the fruits is a longer life. Studies show that practicing Mormons are healthier and therefore live longer than the national average.
- Second, those who are married in and attend the temple regularly have a divorce rate far below the national and world average.
- Third, we achieve an educational level that is higher than the national average.
- Fourth, over 70,000 members volunteer at their own expense to serve for 18 to 24 months in humanitarian efforts, Church service assignments, and full-time missionary service throughout the world.
- And fifth, we place strong emphasis on self-reliance and a solid work ethic.
Elder Ballard concludes with advice to keep it simple. Sometimes people just want to know one or two things and we overcomplicate who we are when we add too much information.
- Whatever you choose to use to inform your friends and acquaintances about the Church, write it down, check it for accuracy, and keep it simple and short.
I could use this checklist of points to help simplify what I share with people about the church. Our efforts should be to provide detail to peak interest to learn more and not to teach a full discussion in a short period of time. I am going to reflect on what I share with people about my beliefs and determine what works best for me. I would encourage you to do the same.