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Alan

Is It Time To Change The Way We Do Sacrament Meeting?

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I wondered what people think of the way we currently "do" sacrament meeting. What I mean by this is the regimentation, the lack of spontanaity (sic), the dullness, the funeral durge type hymns (many of them), the frequently awful talks etc.

According to the D&C we should conduct our meetings according to the dictates of the Spirit, but I find in reality we don't do that. Is it time this was looked at?

 

Now, before anyone states the obvious, I am not talking about the centrality of the sacrament itself. That is taken as read. I'm talking about what happens next.

 

For example, should we encourage preaching rather than talks?

Perhaps more modern hymns and music should be introduced?

Perhaps we should not assign speakers all the time and just "let the holy spirit guide"?

 

I would be particularly interested to hear the comments of those who have experience of both LDS and other churches meetings, including converts who have gone either way.

Edited by Alan
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Something should probably be done. Part of the issue though and I fully admit it is the attitude of the person attending. Most of the time I am fighting with kids and dozing off. Not at the same time of course. Currently, I realize that my time at church is, save for the sacrament only, I am not there for my self but for others including my kids. My time for my self was in my youth. So I try to have that attitude when I go. It does help but it doesn't solve the other issues that at times it is quite boring.

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I've been in a ward where the bishop very much let the spirit dictate.  We had lots of spontaneous talks and preaching.  It was the most awesome and spiritual ward i've ever been in.  It mirrored the bishop, who was the most spiritual man i've ever known, though he was far from perfect.  

 

And the music did not have to be changed because people sang the songs with the spirit, which is what is probably actually missing, and not modern music itself.

 

In my experience, when a ward's sacrament meeting get's off the tracks, its usually because the bishop has let it.  :pardon:

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Well we need to hire some professional clergy to put on a good show for us, get some gospel music going and maybe start speaking in tongues.

 

And of course then we could pass the plate to pay for the performers.  No need for these amateurs who don't know what they're doing- we need some pros- that's what we need!

 

Maybe throw in some dancers and a free lunch too?   That'd bring 'em in!

 

The problem is those dang bishops just don't know what's important.  Entertainment is what it's all about!  Can't let folks sit back and think- keep it moving- that's what we need.

Edited by mfbukowski
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I would be particularly interested to hear the comments of those who have experience of both LDS and other churches meetings, including converts who have gone either way.

Maybe we could have the bishop bless the sacrament by himself, with his back to the audience, and do it in a foreign language to spice it up a little.

 

Throw in some Gregorian chant and incense, and memorized prayers, always the same every Sunday.

 

Maybe that's the ticket!

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Being a convert, and having been to a large number of services in a variety of Christian churches, an LDS meeting is no more or less boring than other churches!

 

In all seriousness, I don't find the LDS service all that different from others I've attended in the overall view of them.  I've even been to a church which relied on lay speakers for the most part as the minister was responsible for so many other churches, he could only visit each one once every 4-6 weeks.  It all depends on the speaker and the state of mind of the listener.  There are weeks when I'm bored and weeks when I'm engaged and the difference can be as much due to my frame of mind as to the speaker's ability to get my attention.  I have been just as bored (not) listening to a paid minister or preacher as to an LDS member.  Being paid to lead a congregation doesn't guarantee a good speaker nor does it guarantee that I'll be interested that week!  Many of the LDS hymns are familiar to me from other churches and I've heard them sung in a variety of good and not so good ways.  I also think that in my ward, the hymns are generally very well sung and not dirges.  In fact, our choristers insist on it as they have been known to stop us and make us start again when we sound truly awful!!  I suppose the other churches I've been too could be said to be conventional - I've not been to a spiritualist church or an evangelical one and all of them tend to be quite structured with only occasional spontaniety, for instance the Methodist church I went to favoured a lengthy set communion (sacrament) service which was recited by the Minister and congregation.  For me, that was a dirge and it negatively affected how I felt when taking communion.  For others, it was a real joy.  The LDS service suits me for the most part.  That said, I would like to see more short talks and more speakers after the intermediate hymn.  Unless its a really good speaker, a 15-20 min talk is just too long!  I get bored and the children get really restless.  I'd also like interaction with the audience to be more acceptable.  One really good preacher I experienced often went out into the congregation as he talked and asked questions and that was much more interesting and it kept you alert - you never knew if he'd ask you a question!

(sorry about the size of the letters - don't know what happened and this seems the best i can achieve)

Edited by sheilauk
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I had an ancestor who was a bishop in Payson for 25 years.  Brigham Young canceled their Sunday services due to the threat of Indian attacks and then forgot to reauthorize them; apparently the ward went on for 10 years without services.

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I've been in a ward where the bishop very much let the spirit dictate.  We had lots of spontaneous talks and preaching.  It was the most awesome and spiritual ward i've ever been in.  It mirrored the bishop, who was the most spiritual man i've ever known, though he was far from perfect.  

 

And the music did not have to be changed because people sang the songs with the spirit, which is what is probably actually missing, and not modern music itself.

 

In my experience, when a ward's sacrament meeting get's off the tracks, its usually because the bishop has let it.   :pardon:

 Bluebell have you seen a difference in your new ward in Utah?  Is it a lot different than the one in North Dakota?  Is it different in the Mormon belt?  I'm just curious if Sacrament Meeting is different out in the mission field.  I don't get out much. 

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I wondered what people think of the way we currently "do" sacrament meeting. What I mean by this is the regimentation, the lack of spontanaity (sic), the dullness, the funeral durge type hymns (many of them), the frequently awful talks etc.

According to the D&C we should conduct our meetings according to the dictates of the Spirit, but I find in reality we don't do that. Is it time this was looked at?

 

Now, before anyone states the obvious, I am not talking about the centrality of the sacrament itself. That is taken as read. I'm talking about what happens next.

 

For example, should we encourage preaching rather than talks?

Perhaps more modern hymns and music should be introduced?

Perhaps we should not assign speakers all the time and just "let the holy spirit guide"?

 

I would be particularly interested to hear the comments of those who have experience of both LDS and other churches meetings, including converts who have gone either way.

If we ask for "Preaching" instead of talks, you will only hear from those trying to speak and act differently than they are, or those who excel will be the only ones asked. I grew up in an Old Fashioned Church. "Preaching" is not for the faint of heart.
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I was under the impression that our talks were Preaching. Did I miss something?

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Well, everyone KNOWS that Joseph established our sacrament service on the Presbyterian model. :vader: The changes over the years have been few. We once had a communal sacrament cup( lovely) and we knelt together for the sacrament, and the service was pretty well only attended by adults. Oh ya, and you could count on seeing the president of the church or an apostle quite regularly.

In my opinion, what with all the electronic ' noise' today, it might do us good to get used to a little boredom time once a week.

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I was under the impression that our talks were Preaching. Did I miss something?

 

Nope, they should be anyways. I think the only reason we do not use the word preach much is that it has gotten a negative connotation.

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I'm a recent convert from the black baptist tradition and yes, LDS services are WAY different; but they have as many pluses as minuses.

I started a thread about the music a couple of weeks ago, so we won't go into that. Well, other than to say, that I've recently decided to wholeheartedly participate in the singing of our hymns and they're not THAT bad when they are being SUNG (as opposed to being mumbled) by the congregation.

As for the preaching, a professional preacher wouldn't put up with our kids running around and "disrupting" his/her message. Given that we keep our kids with us during sacrament (which I see as endearing), we are getting about the level of preaching that is called for.

As for the spirit, I agree with a previous poster, I find that normally depends upon ME. If I'm in the right frame of mind, the testimony glove can bring on the spirit. And if I'm the wrong frame of mind, then nothing can.

All of that being said, it might not be a bad thing to have a little variety from time to time or allow some local variations. I'm always amazed to hear people say that they love how they can go to an LDS meetinghouse anywhere in the world and have the SAME experience. How sad. If I went to, say, Brazil, I don't want to have an Arizona church experience. I could have had that without the 14-hour flight.

Edited by mormonnewb
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I was under the impression that our talks were Preaching. Did I miss something?

The key is to preach without sounding preachy.
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 Bluebell have you seen a difference in your new ward in Utah?  Is it a lot different than the one in North Dakota?  Is it different in the Mormon belt?  I'm just curious if Sacrament Meeting is different out in the mission field.  I don't get out much. 

 

I haven't really noticed much of a difference.

 

The RS presidency was definitely a bit weird compared to what i'm used to.  I was never introduced or welcomed into the RS, and i had been attending for a month before any of them actually introduced themselves to me.  It was 6 weeks before i figured out which of the three was the actual president, and i only figured that out because i asked a sister i was sitting next to!

 

I didn't take it personally though.  We all have our strengths and our weaknesses in callings.  Plus, i might have shown up at a busy time for them, it's hard to say.

 

The bishop and his counselors are awesome though, and everyone else has been very friendly.  We are really enjoying being here. 

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The "problem" with our services is that we ask people to get up and give a talk with absolutely no training or guidance. Most people presumably figure out what they're supposed to do after attending enough meetings, but if we're learning only by what we see, then nothing will ever change.

For example, I've been asked to speak probably 15 times since I turned 12, and not once have they told me how long the talk should be. That's a pretty basic component of a public presentation, but I've never been told "Brother Cinepro, we would like you to speak two weeks from now, and your remarks should be about 15 minutes in length." I'm usually just given a general subject and date, and that's it. Based on the number of different wards I've been in, I'm assuming this is the general practice.  It's just odd to me that the Bishopric sits down at the start of the meeting, and they have 3 or 4 speakers lined up, and no one knows how long those speakers have prepared to speak.  It's just faith in the abilities of the last speaker to be flexible that we'll finish about 70 minutes later.

Since the Church has decided that nearly all of the "preaching" in our meetings will be done by random members of the ward (and visiting High Councilors), it is odd that we don't have a week or two each year in Sunday School or 5th Sunday where we are told what is expected for Sacrament Meeting talks, along with some general tips on how to prepare. At the very least, there should be handout with guidelines given with each assignment.


 

Edited by cinepro
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(sorry about the size of the letters - don't know what happened and this seems the best i can achieve)

Next time you reply look in the upperhand left corner of the reply icons and look for a icon that looks like a lightswitch.  Click on it.  All the coding will appear and you can delete it all and then click on the lightswitch again.  That should remove any accidental coding that has crept into posting for whatever reason.  If that doesn't work...someone else will have to think up something.  :)

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Could our sacrament meetings be improved?  Perhaps.  But we're all at different places along the path leading to Salvation, some of us have deep understanding of a few doctrines, some of us have shallow understanding of many doctrines, and most of us are somewhere in between.  The quality of some talks won't change until that changes, and that's not apt to change anytime soon: it's simply inherent in the nature of mortality.  And while many talks are for the benefit of the congregation, not a few of them are actually for the person speaking.  (I have experienced this myself, perhaps more than I would care to admit. ;))  Your mileage may vary, but I prefer to focus on what I can control more than on what I cannot.  I can only control the quality of my own worship and reflection. Even if I don't have any deep doctrinal insights served up to me on a silver platter in a given meeting, if nothing else, such meetings provide me with opportunities to reflect more deeply myself on the topic under consideration (as well as, perhaps, other topics, as the Spirit communicates unexpected things in unexpected ways). 

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 Bluebell have you seen a difference in your new ward in Utah?  Is it a lot different than the one in North Dakota?  Is it different in the Mormon belt?  I'm just curious if Sacrament Meeting is different out in the mission field.  I don't get out much. 

It has never been much different for me, even in Russia save for feeling rather more intimate given that only 25 people or so were there.

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The "problem" with our services is that we ask people to get up and give a talk with absolutely no training or guidance. Most people presumably figure out what they're supposed to do after attending enough meetings, but if we're learning only by what we see, then nothing will ever change.

For example, I've been asked to speak probably 15 times since I turned 12, and not once have they told me how long the talk should be. That's a pretty basic component of a public presentation, but I've never been told "Brother Cinepro, we would like you to speak two weeks from now, and your remarks should be about 15 minutes in length." I'm usually just given a general subject and date, and that's it. Based on the number of different wards I've been in, I'm assuming this is the general practice.  It's just odd to me that the Bishopric sits down at the start of the meeting, and they have 3 or 4 speakers lined up, and no one knows how long those speakers have prepared to speak.  It's just faith in the abilities of the last speaker to be flexible that we'll finish about 70 minutes later.

Since the Church has decided that nearly all of the "preaching" in our meetings will be done by random members of the ward (and visiting High Councilors), it is odd that we don't have a week or two each year in Sunday School or 5th Sunday where we are told what is expected for Sacrament Meeting talks, along with some general tips on how to prepare. At the very least, there should be handout with guidelines given with each assignment.

 

 

 

one of my pet peeves is when they assign a general conference talk to someone. It's nice to hear talks from conference but I already know what Elder H. Ott Flashpepperpants of the Seventy thinks on the subject, I wanna know what you think. I get though that new people are nervous and don't know what's appropriate and that's fine but seasoned members? 

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I wondered what people think of the way we currently "do" sacrament meeting. What I mean by this is the regimentation, the lack of spontanaity (sic), the dullness, the funeral durge type hymns (many of them), the frequently awful talks etc.

According to the D&C we should conduct our meetings according to the dictates of the Spirit, but I find in reality we don't do that. Is it time this was looked at?

 

Now, before anyone states the obvious, I am not talking about the centrality of the sacrament itself. That is taken as read. I'm talking about what happens next.

 

For example, should we encourage preaching rather than talks?

Perhaps more modern hymns and music should be introduced?

Perhaps we should not assign speakers all the time and just "let the holy spirit guide"?

 

I would be particularly interested to hear the comments of those who have experience of both LDS and other churches meetings, including converts who have gone either way.

More real gospel scholarship and more enthusiasm for the gospel on the part of the average member would help with the talks; we already have fast and testimony once a mouth; if the organists played more loudly the congregation would be less self conscious and would therefore sing more loudly; hopefully the Spirit already guides the bishopric as they plan the meetings as they are now; but I do admit a little more spontaneity may keep everybody on their toes and make for more interesting sacrament meetings. How about assigning the entire congregation to prepare the talks but only calling on three or four of the members to actually do the speaking?

Edited by teddyaware
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one of my pet peeves is when they assign a general conference talk to someone. It's nice to hear talks from conference but I already know what Elder H. Ott Flashpepperpants of the Seventy thinks on the subject, I wanna know what you think. I get though that new people are nervous and don't know what's appropriate and that's fine but seasoned members?

That's funny because I've always suspected that the reason they assign such talks is to tell us what was said ... for the benefit of those who took the weekend off during conference.

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I agree with the point that assigning talks to be about talks stifles individuality and can turn into reading of long excerpts by people who are not trained in how to read aloud.

 

I think it is nice when the bishopric allows the speakers, with the benefit of the Holy Ghost, to choose their own topics. 

 

If the bishopric assigns topics, I think it would be nice to have some variety and relevance.

 

When I was an adolescent, we used to have speech festivals sponsored by the MIA and instruction given to youth on how to speak publicly.  I think that improved talks by youth.  Of course, speech festivals were done away with about the same time the Church decided it was not really in the culture business and stopped emphasizing performing arts or sports at the general level.

Edited by daz2
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The "problem" with our services is that we ask people to get up and give a talk with absolutely no training or guidance. Most people presumably figure out what they're supposed to do after attending enough meetings, but if we're learning only by what we see, then nothing will ever change.

For example, I've been asked to speak probably 15 times since I turned 12, and not once have they told me how long the talk should be. That's a pretty basic component of a public presentation, but I've never been told "Brother Cinepro, we would like you to speak two weeks from now, and your remarks should be about 15 minutes in length." I'm usually just given a general subject and date, and that's it. Based on the number of different wards I've been in, I'm assuming this is the general practice.  It's just odd to me that the Bishopric sits down at the start of the meeting, and they have 3 or 4 speakers lined up, and no one knows how long those speakers have prepared to speak.  It's just faith in the abilities of the last speaker to be flexible that we'll finish about 70 minutes later.

Since the Church has decided that nearly all of the "preaching" in our meetings will be done by random members of the ward (and visiting High Councilors), it is odd that we don't have a week or two each year in Sunday School or 5th Sunday where we are told what is expected for Sacrament Meeting talks, along with some general tips on how to prepare. At the very least, there should be handout with guidelines given with each assignment.

 

 

If you don't know how long you are supposed to speak, why wouldn't you just ask?

 

Usually i'm given a length, but if not, then I ask the person who asked me to talk how long they want it to be.

 

I get your other points though, and some kind of training might help.  What I see as tending to help is when there are more than two adult speakers and a youth speaker.  Speaking for 20-25 minutes can be hard, especially if someone's not that great of a speaker or not that great at preparing talks because of nerves or whatever.  But if the talks are shorter, then it's so much easier to get thru a really bad one, because you know it's not going to last forever.  

 

And this doesn't even really apply to only 'bad' talks, but also applies to talks that just aren't meant for 'you'.  If you have half the meeting spent on a topic that you don't really need to hear or that has little to do with you, it can be a lonnggg meeting.  That talk might be awesome for some people of course, but it probably won't touch everyone because everyone is in a different place in their life.  On such occasions it's nice to be able to look forward to the next speakers.

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That's funny because I've always suspected that the reason they assign such talks is to tell us what was said ... for the benefit of those who took the weekend off during conference.

 

I think you are exactly right!

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