Lately, I have heard people stress the importance of calling the church by its full name – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Obviously, having the word Christ in our name is important. But what puzzles me about this focus is that we are also supposed to say “LDS” as opposed to “Mormon” when we do abbreviate the full name. Since neither of these abbreviations contain a reference to Christ, it is unclear to me why we should prefer LDS, especially when there are decided advantages to using the term Mormon.
One argument for using the term LDS is that it contains more of our full name and therefore might trigger associative links for those already familiar with it. However, it seems that a better strategy for speaking with non-members might be to both say our full name and to then refer to the church as “Mormon.” Here is my thinking:
To someone unfamiliar with the church, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” will sound like any generic Christian church. LDS will probably be meaningless. On the other hand, the term “Mormon” carries a distinctive set of connotations, and we should capitalize on this fact. If we introduce ourselves as Mormons and then share the Church’s full name, we can show people that Mormons are Christ-centered, which we cannot do if they don’t make the connection between LDS and Mormon. Until The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has meaning for the larger public, tethering Mormons to Christianity might be a better means of showing the world our beliefs.