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Church Members Are Completely Overwhelmed


auteur55

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I simply have to get this off my chest. Ever since I moved to Utah two and half years ago I have noticed something that is troubling me greatly and even causing me to have some mild faith issues. I don't know if this is happening all over the place i just know it's happening in my current ward and I do think it speaks to a more widespread church problem. 

 

to put it simply: Church members are being crushed and overwhelmed with a constant barrage of  assignments, guilt trips, callings and activities. I've never seen an organization thrust so many things onto it's members and cause so much stress and guilt when we fail to fulfill them. I thought I was the only one feeling this way until I heard these complaints coming from everyone I got to know in the ward. The women here looked stressed beyond belief and many of the men look lost in a sea of endless meetings and assignments. Not to say they don't love the gospel they do but they are stretched thin and are weary.

 

I have two callings and struggle to get all the things done for them with my full time job. I always feel as though I'm dropping the ball and I feel guilty. Beyond that I have an assignment sheet that has me scheduled at the cannary (during a work day!!) ushering, splits with missionaries, snow removal, chair set up, church cleaning, taking youth to temple and activity assignments. Beyond that there is home teaching that needs to get done, ward temple night, temple committee assignments and visits. One of my callings has me in a meeting every Sunday at 1:00 and weekly teacher visits and monthly training. All this is done before we even get to the basics of the gospel like family history research, service activities, temple attendance and family home evening.

 

Once in my meeting we brought up the stake calendar to find one night to book a teacher training. We literally could not find one night that wasn't full with something. You know like Scouts, young men and young women activities, ward activities, scouts activities random stake leadership trainings. It goes on and on and on. I had my home teacher over once (ward mission leader) and he was talking about how the bishop makes the entire PEC attend weekly. He is  up at 6:00 every sunday morning and sits through a 3 hour meeting most of which doesn't pertain to him. He was saying people in the ward keep creating initiatives and ideas that consistently add to everyones current responsibilities. You could tell he was completely burned out. The sad thing is I know that my obligations are nothing compared to many others especially those in the Bishopric.

 

Oh and at least once a month we spend an entire Priesthood meeting getting lectured about how bad everyone is at fulfilling assignments. Someone doesn't show up for a ward cleaning or a Cannery assignment and the whole group gets chastised. It's a recurring thing. I was scheduled for a cannery assignment recently on a Tuesday afternoon and had to find a replacement because of an unexpected work obligation. The elders quorum president was very clear i had to find a replacement. I asked several people everyone turned me down, I emailed Elders, high priests, youth presidents. No one could take it. I eventually paid one of the young woman 20 bucks to take the assignment. Embarrassing and ridiculous. I get emails all the time asking me to fulfill assignments that the members struggle with in their busy lives.

 

I love the gospel and all that it stands for. But we need to cut out half of these ridiculous meetings and assignments. We need to give the members their lives back and lay off the guilt tripping. 

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Sounds like it may be a problem for your area.  My ward has sensible leaders who seem to manage not getting those who are willing to volunteer overwhelmed by good, but unnecessary obligations.  But that doesn't stop the rest of life from feeling like there is too much going on.

 

I think it is a problem church wide because I think it is a human problem, at least for those who care about others.  There is so much need in the world and one has limited resources to meet those needs so one always has to choose to help in only some of those efforts that they want to contribute to.

 

Hopefully your leaders will learn how to better balance life so they don't add to the burden that is there for everyone.

Edited by calmoriah
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Out of curiosity, how many hours per week do you suppose you put into your callings and assignments (on average, outside of the three hour block)?

Not nearly enough. One of them I feel suffers because the other one is so demanding. I do feel I am always behind on house cleaning, yard maintenance and essential household needs because a lot of that time is swallowed up in church stuff. I'm a single dad trying to date as well but there is just little time for that. 

Edited by auteur55
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"We need to give the members their lives back and lay off the guilt tripping. "

 

Hey auteur,

I agree.  But you need to learn how to say "no," and to not feel guilty when you don't feel you have the time.  Your family comes first in this Church.  If you have time left over, fine.  Otherwise keep your callings to maybe one, and your assignments to 3 to 5 per year.  Go to the temple once a month.  No need to be perfect.  No one is, and you are not expected to be.  Just do your best within reason, and let the chips fall where they may.  Your ward is probably poorly organized and the bishopric doing a poor job of managing everything.  This life is a learning experience for the bishop and for everyone else.  Pace yourself.

I often hear this but I don't believe it's realistic. At the beginning of the year we are given an assignment sheet that talks about all the stuff we have to do during the year. It's presented as our duty as priesthood holders to fulfill these assignments. If you don't show you are called out. If you constantly get replacements you get a reputation. We have had a high council come and go fifteen minutes over the hour telling us it is simply unacceptable to not fulfill these assignments. Cleaning the building once every six months is fine. a 12:30 shift at a cannery on a Tuesday not so much. Turning down callings isn't something anyone likes to do and I'm telling you you start to get a reputation in a ward when you do that. It's heavily frowned upon to turn things down.

 

In PEC recently the bishop said he wanted all the Auxillaries to do 2-3 personal home visits a week. This is crazy as it means members will be bombarded with people trying to make appts to come see them. What is everyone supposed to do? Challenge the Bishop and say it's too much? People are afraid to speak up. I was asked in our presidency meeting to make an appt with this sister who taught the 16 yr olds. It was one of these home visits. I called her and pushed for the appt and eventually she snapped, said her husband wouldn't be home (away at a church assignment imagine that) and she had too much to do and had to get the kids to bed. Basically shut me down. I admired her for standing up to us but we were just trying to fulfill direction from the bishop. I was kind of angry I was even in that situation where I am constantly calling members and asking them to participate in trainings, home visits, staff meetings. it's becoming insane. 

Edited by auteur55
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I often hear this but I don't believe it's realistic. At the beginning of the year we are given an assignment sheet that talks about all the stuff we have to do during the year. It's presented as our duty as priesthood holders to fulfill these assignments. If you don't show you are called out. If you constantly get replacements you get a reputation. We have had a high council come and go fifteen minutes over the hour telling us it is simply unacceptable to not fulfill these assignments. Cleaning the building once every six months is fine. a 12:30 shift at a cannery on a Tuesday not so much. Turning down callings isn't something anyone likes to do and I'm telling you you start to get a reputation in a ward when you do that. It's heavily frowned upon to turn things down.

 

In PEC recently the bishop said he wanted all the Auxillaries to do 2-3 personal home visits a week. This is crazy as it means members will be bombarded with people trying to make appts to come see them. What is everyone supposed to do? Challenge the Bishop and say it's too much? People are afraid to speak up. I was asked in our presidency meeting to make an appt with this sister who taught the 16 yr olds. It was one of these home visits. I called her and pushed for the appt and eventually she snapped, said her husband wouldn't be home (away at a church assignment imagine that) and she had too much to do and had to get the kids to bed. Basically shut me down. I admired her for standing up to us but we were just trying to fulfill direction from the bishop. I was kind of angry I was even in that situation where I am constantly calling members and asking them to participate in trainings, home visits, staff meetings. it's becoming insane.

You are "kind of angry," worried about what people will think.  You are in pain.  You speak about "crazy" and "insane" demands on you and others.  Others in your ward no doubt feel the same, and it will cause some of them to break and to become inactive.  If what you say is true, your well-intentioned bishop can cause unnecessary suffering.

 

I don't want to put an additional guilt-trip on you, but you lack backbone in this matter.  You need to be resolute, perhaps even taking the matter to the stake president (both in person and in writing).  If that is not possible, and you simply cannot bring yourself to do it, then psychological counseling may be in order.  Meekness is good, but you may have taken it too far.  Man up, brother.  Courage !!

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Hello auteur55...

This must be a ward thing, and your ward leadership.... to me it sounds insane, and I'm surprised your members are putting up with it... Scheduling an assignment on a week day for a working person IS insane and I'd not do it... and not feel guilty

Are you a small ward where there's not enough members to fulfill the necessary callings so that it becomes necessary to have more than one calling? 

I was overwhelmed just reading your post about all the meetings, etc., If you are hearing complaints from numerous members, why not talk to the bishop?  Who cares if you get a "reputation?"   

I want and need my home teachers, and appreciate my visiting tearchers, but I don't want anyone else calling for an appt.  I'm a big girl... if I need help or more spiritual contact, I'LL decide and call my home teachers...

People should be joyful in living and serving within the gospel... not feeling "guilt" and like they can't speak up... I see this as an impending disaster where members will start dropping out entirely unless something changes soon... 

 

GG

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If I were in your place, I would tell the ward mission leader to bring up the issue in ward council, maybe ask to be allowed to attend via skype to limit the travel.     I would call the cannery and ask how the assignments are made and how they fill ones during the day when people are working, whether they accept teen groups who might have more flexibility in the summer.   Maybe they know a way that hasn't filtered down yet. 

 

Add up the total time it takes to do everything on the assignment list and see how it compares to the time you spend in leisure pursuits.  Figure out how to include your family in all of the assignments so at least it can have co-purposes.

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Church leaders have often advised members that our priorities should be God, spouse, family, then Church.  There is no guilt in managing your priorities.  If you are feeling guilty then you need to review what are your priorities.  I promise you that you are not superman(woman) and you cannot do everything.  Learn to know your limits and stop.  Never forget your first three priorities and keep them your first priorities.  Say "no", stop, breathe, you are responsible for your life.  There is no stress unless you choose to be stressed.  

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I'd say this is a particular ward, and perhaps stake, culture. I have heard that perfectionism seems to run rampant in Utah. Perhaps that is part of the problem? I just know that the leaders in my ward a stake make a concerted effort to not burden unnecessarily.

I think the phrase you need is, "The handbook doesn't require that." Perhaps you could email the bishop with your observations, with the opening that you are using email so as not to burden him with another meeting. ;) In fact, copy your opening post. Give specifics on negative impact and suggestions for change. Your tone should be one of deep love and concern. What's the worst he could do, fire you from your callings?

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A previous Stake President in years past did an amazing thing.  He made it so the first week of the month would be "family week".  He wanted each ward to keep family week free from any meetings or activities.  I kid you not!  It was nice.  Once in a while something came up and the wards here and there couldn't avoid it.  But it was strongly encouraged. 

Edited by Tacenda
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Your situation sounds like it's unique to your ward and stake (and Utah). You need to talk to the stake president; not just the Bishop. Normally members should only have one calling (beside home and visiting teaching). If not then they need to discontinue some of the callings and assignments.

Or you could move to California. I have been here for over 25 years and have seldom felt overwhelmed. We have similar  requests made of us but they are not in the form of demands. All members have only one calling besides being a home or visiting teacher. I also  help clean the building a couple times per year and I teach High Priest group a couple times per year. That's it. Sure we have temple assignments and Bishop storehouse assignments, missionary splits, etc. and we try to do them, but people don't lay guilt trips on us if we are not available to do them.

The only members that might feel a little overwhelmed in our ward are the Bishopric and relief society president. Sometimes there are challenges but I get the feeling here that family does come first. And they accommodate that if they are made aware of your own personal situation and abilities. 

I suppose how one is affected by this depends on our own individual personalities. Sometimes we have to say no and not worry about what others think. 

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I know everyone is being very sympathetic here so maybe it's just me, but I can't help feeling that there's a bit of exaggeration going on in this story. 

 

On what feels like a very busy week I figure I can put about six hours into my calling.  Half of that on Sunday not including the three hour block.  On a not so busy week maybe an hour.  With the amount of service that bishops and stake presidents perform I figure this really isn't very much at all. 

 

I like having things related to church to do on week nights.  It helps remind me that the church isn't something I belong to on Sunday only. 

 

Having and fulfilling a calling sets an example for my children. 

 

My wife and I try to support each other in our callings.  We try not to place demands on one another that would make it difficult to perform an assignment.

 

I am blessed to have children that can take care of themselves if a parent is not at home.  Church leaders are taught to be sensitive to family circumstances when extending callings.  I've always found this to be the case.  We've never been asked to take on callings that interfere with our family life.  At times assignments need to be turned down because of family obligations, but for the most part if I want to do something I can find the time to do it.

 

I've never heard of anyone being asked to fulfill a welfare assignment during their work hours.  Daytime welfare assignments are typically filled by individuals who are retired or work nights.  I'm even aware of some bishops asking individuals who are out of work and receiving assistance from the church to serve at the cannery or other such places.  This seems appropriate.

 

I've rarely had the need to meet with anyone so badly that it couldn't wait a week or so when schedules worked out better.

Edited by ksfisher
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I agree the guilt tripping needs to stop. I will say that it has gotten better, at least as far as I can tell. Saying "No" these days is a lot easier. I have turned down a few callings because I could not do them.

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That is crazy.  I live in Utah and our ward does not have those issues so it looks like it is something your stake is struggling with.  We have cannery assignments but they are always in the middle of the night (like 11-2 am, for example) so i can never do them, but no one in my family is asked to do them so it's not a big deal.  They just pass around a sign up once every two months and there are like 3 slots or something so it's not a big deal at all.  Same with feeing the missionaries.  We do that once every two months and they only have to fill two weeks and then it's on to the other ward's turn.

 

Do you live in an area where there aren't a lot of members?  I just do not understand why your ward is making life so difficult.  I have lived in areas where the ward was a 2 hour drive from one end to the other and yet we only had 100 people attending on Sundays, and where women had to drive 45 minutes one way to visit teach a sister and still our work load was not at all comparable to what you are describing.

 

There really does come a point where you HAVE to say no and you just have to be ok with people thinking badly of you for it.  It sounds like your ward is having issues with looking beyond the mark.  No one should feel guilty because they can't fulfill an assignment they never volunteered for that is happening while they are working a full time job supporting their family.  

 

Without anything else, that one example shows that this has gone off the rails big time.  The request is irrational and so is the guilt.  

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I can't recall who gave the example of the llama . The llama can be loaded with up to about 90 lbs. Too much and it will lay down and not move until completely unloaded. Just taking some of the load off will not work. Leaders must be aware that " llama-ization " can take place with humans also. People will just throw their arms in the air and say " enough " . Then nothing will get done. Maybe if you make a sign that says ," Today I am a llama " ,someone will get the hint. 8P

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Its definitely not like that in my ward and people don't seem to feel guilty about saying no! I'm single and work full time and no one seems to mind that I'm not around as much as others. At least they don't say anything to me. If they did, they'd get short shrift! I do what I can and don't worry about it if I don't do everything (for instance, I rarely clean the chapel and I never have the missionaries over and I struggle with completing my VT). I think sometimes people need a lead - if so many feel like you do, you may find others follow when you take a stand and that really no one except maybe the Bishopric would "think less of you". Even if others don't follow - you need to look after yourself and your family first.

Edited by sheilauk
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Perhaps it is combination stake and individual thing. When someone is publicly chewed out for doing an assignment they didn't say they would do then it goes too far.  

 

I don't really like the priority list.  Some don't use it.  Some use it to show they don't have time for church things.  Rather I go with the God only model.  You do what God wants you to do.  Sometimes he wants you home with your family.  Sometimes he wants you at church.  Sometimes he wants you doing community service.  This all came to light when my husband was overwhelmed.  We took note of Elder Oaks, "Good, Better, Best" talk and applied it to our lives:  

 

I need to visit this ward member. I need to spend time with my son.  I need to go on a date with my husband.  I need to be in a meeting with my boss. If I evaluate the situations I can see that 1 or 2 or even three are either not really "needed". They are just good things AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME.  The things left are better things.  Then I can counsel with the Lord (and really I can do that throughout) to find out which is the best thing for me to be doing right now.

 

When DH and I have done this we no long feel overwhelmed.  We don't feel guilty.  We feel fulfilled. And we actually get more accomplished as well as getting the best things done.

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Too often it comes from so many trying to do so much with only their wits to guide them....they seek not the aide and blessing of heaven. Too often we view or callings as a 2nd or 3rd job. Without service the Saints grow weak...I have health problems and yearly surgeries and procedures (3 more in the next 2 months). As a result I hold not callings, everyone understands my many absences, yet my testimony and faith are the collateral damage, and I fear for my soul! I will take the crushing weight of service over the fatal weight of being a "service project". Those who serve me whatch their souls expand, while I see mine awash on the ragged rocks and shoals of the sea of eternity. I just pray I survive it!

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I don't understand why a ward in Utah would have anyone holding more than one calling. I could see that on the outskirts in a small branch, but a Utah ward? It doesn't make sense to me

And unless you are in leadership why would you get assignments visiting anyone you aren't home teaching or visiting teaching? Home teaching and visiting teaching are specifically set up for visiting people, particularly less active members.

Other assignments just aren't that frequent.

I'd like to personally do more for my calling but only don't feel guilty about not doing as much. The Lord knows I'm doing what I can.

Edited by Avatar4321
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Church leaders have often advised members that our priorities should be God, spouse, family, then Church. ........................................................................

Actually the family comes first, and spouses recognize that their children come before they do, with Church last on the list.  Most people manage to include all of that in some fashion which is not inimacle to a well-adjusted family.  Without the family all else will fail.

 

LDS Church Handbook 2, § 17.2.1, titled “Family Circumstances”
:
“ . . strong families are vital to the Church, and members should not be asked to make excessive family sacrifices to serve or to support programs or activities.”
 
 
Dallin Oaks, LDS Conference, Oct 2007, online at https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/good-better-best?lang=eng#6- ,
 
“The First Presidency has declared that ‘however worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform’.”--First Presidency letter, Feb. 11, 1999; printed in Church News, Feb. 27, 1999, 3.
 
“Church programs should focus on what is best (most effective) in achieving their assigned purposes without unduly infringing on the time families need for their ‘divinely appointed duties’.”
 
 
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I simply have to get this off my chest. Ever since I moved to Utah two and half years ago I have noticed something that is troubling me greatly and even causing me to have some mild faith issues. I don't know if this is happening all over the place i just know it's happening in my current ward and I do think it speaks to a more widespread church problem. 

 

to put it simply: Church members are being crushed and overwhelmed with a constant barrage of  assignments, guilt trips, callings and activities. I've never seen an organization thrust so many things onto it's members and cause so much stress and guilt when we fail to fulfill them. I thought I was the only one feeling this way until I heard these complaints coming from everyone I got to know in the ward. The women here looked stressed beyond belief and many of the men look lost in a sea of endless meetings and assignments. Not to say they don't love the gospel they do but they are stretched thin and are weary.

 

I have two callings and struggle to get all the things done for them with my full time job. I always feel as though I'm dropping the ball and I feel guilty. Beyond that I have an assignment sheet that has me scheduled at the cannary (during a work day!!) ushering, splits with missionaries, snow removal, chair set up, church cleaning, taking youth to temple and activity assignments. Beyond that there is home teaching that needs to get done, ward temple night, temple committee assignments and visits. One of my callings has me in a meeting every Sunday at 1:00 and weekly teacher visits and monthly training. All this is done before we even get to the basics of the gospel like family history research, service activities, temple attendance and family home evening.

 

Once in my meeting we brought up the stake calendar to find one night to book a teacher training. We literally could not find one night that wasn't full with something. You know like Scouts, young men and young women activities, ward activities, scouts activities random stake leadership trainings. It goes on and on and on. I had my home teacher over once (ward mission leader) and he was talking about how the bishop makes the entire PEC attend weekly. He is  up at 6:00 every sunday morning and sits through a 3 hour meeting most of which doesn't pertain to him. He was saying people in the ward keep creating initiatives and ideas that consistently add to everyones current responsibilities. You could tell he was completely burned out. The sad thing is I know that my obligations are nothing compared to many others especially those in the Bishopric.

 

Oh and at least once a month we spend an entire Priesthood meeting getting lectured about how bad everyone is at fulfilling assignments. Someone doesn't show up for a ward cleaning or a Cannery assignment and the whole group gets chastised. It's a recurring thing. I was scheduled for a cannery assignment recently on a Tuesday afternoon and had to find a replacement because of an unexpected work obligation. The elders quorum president was very clear i had to find a replacement. I asked several people everyone turned me down, I emailed Elders, high priests, youth presidents. No one could take it. I eventually paid one of the young woman 20 bucks to take the assignment. Embarrassing and ridiculous. I get emails all the time asking me to fulfill assignments that the members struggle with in their busy lives.

 

I love the gospel and all that it stands for. But we need to cut out half of these ridiculous meetings and assignments. We need to give the members their lives back and lay off the guilt tripping. 

You say you are a single dad, and nothing in any of your posts says anything about spending time with your kids.  I do not think you are neglecting your kids but I do think you are giving greater weight to accomplishing church tasks over the myriad of mundane tasks associated with your kids.  All of those things you say you are behind in need to take priority over doing things for the church.  You are one person raising kids, your first responsibility is to care for them.  You HAVE to earn the money through continued employment to create and care for a home, clean it maintain it, make it a peaceful welcoming place for your kids.  You HAVE to provide nutritious for growing kids that includes all the attendant planning, purchasing, cooking and cleaning up for 3 meals a day.  You HAVE to teach, guide, and counsel your kids.  NO ONE ELSE can do this, no one else is responsible for or cares more about doing all these stupid necessary tasks than you.  You can't afford to fail with your kids and that means YOU have to put them first, you are the only one caring for them on a daily grind basis.  Others have said you have to grow a backbone I wouldn't put it that way I would say you have to put your family first.  The backbone comes in when you care less about what others in the church think about you and more about what is needed at home.  And maybe you should spend sometime reflecting on just why you put so much stock in the opinions of others, why do you feel the need to fulfill others expectations?

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