On Time for Priesthood Meeting

So I’m sitting in a two-hour stake priesthood meeting, looking around the chapel, and trying to calculate the opportunity cost of such a meeting.

It’s Sunday, 6pm, and there are probably 200 or 250 people in the room, which means there are likely 150 to 200 wives or girlfriends who are on their own tonight, many of them mothers who are tending the kids on their own YET AGAIN (my own wife included). And I’m thinking, who came up with the 2-hour block for these meetings? Is an hour not enough time to get through everything that’s more general than our weekly ward priesthood meetings, but more specific than our semi-annual general priesthood meetings? How come I’ve never heard a speaker get up and say “You know what? I prepared some remarks but they aren’t as important as time with our families. Let’s go home.”?

As a somewhat green marketer, I’m still learning the critical lesson that an audience’s time and attention can be bought, but it’s incredibly expensive. Audiences guard their time, and get annoyed when advertisers use it badly. Many of them even pay good money for a DVR that let’s them skip the commercials that advertisers paid good money for. And the better an ad’s placement is in a magazine or on a web page, the more likely it is to attract the reader’s attention, so the more expensive it is.

We don’t always think of time as being expensive when it comes to church functions and meetings. We get a call to give a talk, and we think of it as having 15 minutes “to fill.” But it’s not 15 minutes we’re filling; it’s 15 minutes multiplied by the number of attendees. Think of it this way: Geico would LOVE to grab 15 minutes of my attention. My wife and kid probably wouldn’t mind an extra 15 minutes of attention either. Do the priesthood meeting speakers want it? Would they still feel that their talks were worthwhile if they knew the real cost of that time?

Why do we forget the value of the time in our lives and in the lives of others? It’s a VERY finite resource; family time and Sabbath time are even more finite. I submit that for this particular priesthood meeting, the opportunity cost is a roomful of busy men having an evening at home eating dinner with their families. That’s a high bar for the speakers to clear, but it acknowledges the true costs of their 15-minute talks. That time might be more expensive than we realize.

Now let me present a counter-argument—because the priesthood meeting turned out to be great.

Perhaps I’m overvaluing that Sunday time. It’s very possible that one side-effect of our self-absorbed culture is that we place too much value on our own time. Historical anecdotes seem to support this view.

To someone who values his time as much as I do, the idea of full-time mission calls for married men makes absolutely no sense, and yet faithful saints accepted calls and left their families for extended periods. Is there anyone who would leave job and family for three months to go on a Zion’s Camp march, much less go on a much longer mission to England? And beyond overvaluing time, it’s possible that we tend to overvalue life itself nowadays. To a culture that values human life as much as ours does, the entire Old Testament is like “what??”

But I don’t think it’s a matter of overvaluing what little time we have on earth with our families. After all, time on earth is a very finite resource. It’s an infinite resource on the other side, and I’m sure I’ll gladly sit through all the two-hour meetings I’m asked to attend in an existence where time stretches on forever.

A more likely option is that Sunday evenings with my family are so precious because I’m selling my weeknights too cheaply. To the extent that our families deserve more of our time, maybe we should be reassessing the hours we give to the office instead of the hours we give to the Lord.

Comments

  1. Interesting points. Here is another perspective.

    One question I would ask is what are we doing with the time that is “ours”? Are we honestly home ENGAGED with our families or just channel surfing or cruising cyber-space or playing in a hoops rec-league or some other activity?

    Though time with our families is hard to come by, I don’t quickly buy into the idea that the Church and its meetings are encroaching, rather it is the mis-prioritizing of our other activities that is the real problem.

    Playing the “family card” is a popular tactic these days to simply be lazy and not do what we should be doing.

    The church has continually tried to simplify and reduce and has preached the same. The now famous letter from Church Headquarters dated February 11, 1999 asked leadership to cut down. But often forgotten from that letter is a plea to parents to prioritize their activities to be with their families more.

    All that being said, we are agents unto ourselves. If there is a Priesthood meeting I should attend but for some reason I feel I need to stay home with my family, then I should stay home. But if I find myself playing the “family card” often when I’m really just doing something else that keeps me away from my family, I’m a hypocrite and should repent.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Very thought provoking post, Kyle. (And welcome to the BCC family!) My sympathies trend towards your first perspective.

    I don’t even go to these kinds of meetings anymore. I can’t figure out what the point is supposed to be to two hours of generic talks, the same kinds of talks we get in sacrament anyway. If there’s something specific and important to communicate, maybe some training in more of a workshop style, I could get on board with that. But there isn’t. They’re supposed to have a meeting, they can’t think of anything better to do with the time than just assign a bunch of talks the way they always do, and no one thinks about the incredible drain on people’s time, or as you so aptly put it the opportunity costs.

    I don’t appreciate being dragged to church for no discernible purpose. If I ever leave the church, mark it, mind numbingly meaningless meetings will likely be the root cause.

  3. Interesting post, Kyle. My husband has two jobs, so the kids don’t see him except after 3pm on Saturdays and all day Sunday. We only have dinner together as a family on Saturday and Sunday. It was hard to send him off to Stake priesthood meeting a couple weeks ago.

    I don’t think the idea of taking speaking assignments more seriously is in conflict with the idea that we should be willing to give time to the Lord. Yes, we should be willing to give time to the Lord no matter how poorly it is used. By why not use it well.

  4. Also, srsly, I can’t believe Stake PH meeting is 2 hours. It should be 1 hour.

  5. Observer (f.k.a. Eric. S.) says:

    This is great, Kyle, thanks. My wife and I was *just* talking about this at lunch. Wow! At any rate, I think–as you illustrate–it is hard to appraise time value. It seems a priesthood guy’s time today is worth vastly more that a farmer’s in post Utah immigration. They were around family all day all night. They farmed with family, so the “office” was with the family out back. And their civic participation was blended with their ecclesiastical participation. So giving up a whole day, or three months, for a church responsibility seems vastly foreign to my senses of time value as a priesthood holder today. The problem is, as I think the OP reflects, is that there usually is a lag in LDS organizational behavior as it adapts to integration and society. Could the 3-hour block be another instance? For example, instead of the third hour, why not just have EQ and HP priesthood instruction for one hour once a month or even quarterly? And then during one of the Sundays each month where they don’t meet, the Church could just say do your friggin’ home teaching for once.

  6. I have a hard time arguing against the three-hour block…I totally support the framework, even if the execution drives me crazy. I like to think my Gospel Doctrine lessons provide a meaningful hour of scripture study each week; Sacrament Meeting offers it’s own unique spirit when it’s done well; we SHOULD have stuff to talk about in our PH/RS meetings. The fact that these blocks don’t often live up to their potential might not be justification for shortening the meetings. Or maybe it totally is…

  7. Mark Brown says:

    I sat through one of those meeting once where the talks were about the need to cut back on superfluous meetings and the importance of spending time with family. It didn’t look like anybody got the joke.

  8. I thought my Stake President gave an insightful comment a few months back during a training meeting. He said that when we are younger, the last thing that we want to sacrifice is money. It just holds so much more importance for us then.

    He then said that when we get older, the most difficult thing for us to sacrifice…is time. Many people have no problem giving a few dollars extra here and there if the cause is noble, but relinquishing our time is not as easy.

    The interesting thing is, not all of us can sacrifice money and possessions in the same way. But we can all donate ourt time. It’s somewhat of an equalizer if that makes sense.

  9. Totally agree, Tim J. Just this morning the ward was asking for snow-shoveling volunteers for the chapel and my first thought was “we can’t PAY someone to take care of that? I’d donate!”

  10. I don’t go to these kinds of meetings either. Nothing new offered that is worth the effort of going there.

  11. Kevin,

    If I ever leave the church, mark it, mind numbingly meaningless meetings will likely be the root cause.

    Hear! Hear!

  12. Kyle,

    I would rather have the priesthood go out and shovel snow during Priesthood Meeting than sit and be bored to death in a talk I’ve heard 500 times before.

  13. Observer (f.k.a. Eric. S.) says:

    (6) Agreed that Sacrament and Gospel Doctrine are some of the most meaningful minutes of the week for me. Those are necessary, spiritual, and effective uses of my time. But is the quorum hour really necessary every week? I can’t speak for RS, but the mind-numbing redundancy of the material is explained year in year out in one of two ways a) repetition is necessary for us because we “don’t get it” and “we easily forget these simple lessons” OR b) the instructor goes in a completely unexpected direction that often is more distracting than valuable. Meanwhile, the high counsel visitor is on the back row falling asleep with the guy investigating the church looks at him. Awesome. Either way, I wonder sometimes whether it was spiritually worth the time or if it just makes for a nice organized peanut gallery. I wonder if the time could be used more valuably. For example, how about PH/RS once a month, the last Sunday of the month. Pick twelve key lessons for the year. For one of the other three Sundays, we schedule on auto-pilot HT/VT visit. For another one of the three Sundays, we are visited by our HT/VT. The remaining Sunday third hour could be used for Church admin stuff or an extra hour with fam.

  14. I often have deep thoughts about opportunity costs when I’m driving behind someone in the left lane – going 50mph – during rush hour.

    Sometimes church meetings really are just grandma in her Buick at the wrong time of the day.

  15. I see stake priesthood meeting as an opportunity for the President of the Melchizedek Priesthood in that area (the stake president) to meet with and give counsel to other priesthood holders under his charge. It is important that he do so.

    Two hours versus one hour? Twice a year versus four times a year? These are small matters of little consequence. But absolutely, it is reasonable for a presiding high priest to meet from time to time with the priesthood holders under his charge.

    Perhaps my perspective is different because my situation is different. I live on an island, and my stake president can only visit my ward by airplane. And priesthood holders here would have to take an airplane (or a twenty-plus hour ferry ride) to the stake center for stake priesthood meeting. So for me, a stake priesthood meeting sitting the feet of and receiving counsel from a stake president is not a routine occurrence. I hope all the angels in heaven don’t moan and groan when the Lord calls them to a meeting with him.

  16. A lot of self serving comments here. What happened to consecrating our time to the Lord, lifting up those who are struggling, etc., etc.

  17. What happened to consecrating our time to the Lord, lifting up those who are struggling,

    Spending time with families on a Sunday night wouldn’t be accomplishing these goals?

  18. Ben,

    A lot of self serving comments here. What happened to consecrating our time to the Lord, lifting up those who are struggling, etc., etc.

    Doesn’t happen in priesthood meetings while we all sit around twiddling our thumbs and taking turns reading the assigned chapter.

  19. Interesting post, Kyle. I agree that bad meetings are just bad.

    Elder Packer began a regional PH Leadership training meeting I attended a few years ago saying, “It takes a really great meeting to be better than no meeting at all.” (His was a pretty great meeting, too.)

    Our SP Meetings are 90 minutes, sometimes less. My favorite is when a departing missionary (or just returned) speaks for a few minutes and then the SP speaks for 30 minutes. Our SP is a great teacher and has superb insights, and I’m happy to spend time listening to him. But not so much for the HPGL of Ward X telling me how to teach from the manual…

  20. Left Field says:

    My stake was dissolved a few years ago, and we were assigned to a stake an hour’s drive away. That makes stake priesthood meeting 4 hours instead of two. I think the last time I went, I got caught in construction traffic on the way home, and it ended up being five hours. That kind of sapped my enthusiasm for going. It takes a really good meeting to be worth 4-5 hours. And it’s a bit of a problem to fit dinner in when you’re away from home from 6:00 to 10:00.

  21. I see both sides of this. I was called to the High Council about 5 years ago, and our regular meetings were Sunday mornings at 6AM, for an hour and a half, every Sunday. After a few months, we started getting Fast Sunday off. My first reaction went somewhat along the lines of “Are you kidding me? Every Sunday at 6AM? Do you know what that does to my Saturday?” However, those meetings turned out to be some of the best meetings I have ever attended. I learned a lot, and really enjoyed my time there.

    Strangely enough, I do think there is something to the opportunity cost in all of this. We just had Stake Conference this last weekend, and I had to attend PH leadership at 4PM on Saturday, then the adult session at 7PM Saturday, followed by the general session Sunday at 10 PM. I didn’t count, but I suspect that there were about 80 – 100 people at the PH leadership meeting, perhaps 400 at the adult session on Saturday night, and then 800 to 1,000 on Sunday. My enjoyment and spiritual benefit seemed inversely proportional to the number of people present. The leadership session was awesome, my wife and I really enjoyed the Saturday night session, and the Sunday session was average to good. This seems to happen over and over again, where the benefit I believe I get from the meeting seems to be directly related to a decreased number of attendees. Spiritual presence is not supposed to be a finite resource, but sometimes it surely seems so.

  22. Sorry, the Sunday session was at 10 AM, not PM, in my #21.

  23. Observer (f.k.a. Eric. S.) says:

    (16) Isn’t consecrating our time to the Lord also “self-serving” in a sense? LDS do so, at least in part, because we expect and are promised something of value (e.g. blessings, personal fulfillment, “good feeling,” etc.) in return. And I’m not seeing anything on here that is inconsistent with giving our time. Seems its more related to the ongoing question of whether members and the church are using their time most effectively; not whether to give time or not give time at all. Values are constantly shifting. Church has revisited and changed the meeting schedules many times.

  24. First of all, welcome Kyle.

    Second of all, you totally stole my post idea (without knowing it). You are dead to me now.

  25. I think if our meetings really were revelatory experiences and Gospel feasts, we wouldn’t talk as much about shortening the Sunday block and eliminating twice a year meetings.

    Having said that, the one thing that drives me batty about our culture is the idea that any meeting is a good meeting and simply must be held.

    Our new Bishop has asked that everyone provide their e-mail address on lds.org – specifically so that lots of the mundane things that have been handled in meetings can be taken care of electronically and to cut down on the number of ward meetings and their time length. He wants to hold only those meetings that are mandated, and he wants them to be as short and spirit-filled as possible – long enough to help people but not one minute longer.

    I like that goal, and it’s doable. I’ve experienced it in two different wards, and it’s wonderful. It just takes focus and constant attention and lots of patience.

  26. Sorry bout that, John C., but there’s always room for a sequel. I’ll even give you the headline: “Priesthood Meeting: Isn’t It About…Time?”

    Run with it

  27. The OP isn’t really about whether consecrating time to the Lord is better/worse than spending it with our families (but that’d be an interesting post as well). Only that church leaders and church members often don’t take the either/or seriously, with the understanding that every moment spent doing one is a moment not spent doing t’other.

  28. Kevin Barney says:

    Ray, I agree. If I were in that kind of a position (perish the thought!), I’d greatly expand the use of e-mail, have actual agendas for in-person leadership meetings and keep them crisp. If you don’t just sit and gab but get to the point, you could do such a leadership meeting in 20 minutes. At least J. Reuben Clark, Jr. could, so it can be done.

  29. “Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.”

    Lectures on Faith 6:7

  30. Troy, agreed. If Church weren’t such an absolute bore and pain in the ass, it wouldn’t be worth it.

  31. No, Steve. Troy is right.

    When LoF has been cited, the thinking has been done.

  32. We ought to try, as frequently as possible, to increase the level of sacrifice our Church asks of us. If I am in a leadership calling, I want to call upon people as much as I can to have the opportunity to sacrifice their time for as many things as I can think of. Thereby shall their callings and election be made sure.

  33. I know local leaders try their best to provide good, spiritual content. Remember, these are volunteers too who have put in hours before we even reach the building. Will the meetings always be great? Will they come up with good stuff to “entertain” everyone, every time? No. But we’re not there for “theological Twinkies”.

    If we are bored out of our minds, perhaps we should take a page out Henry Eyring’s book. His son, Pres. Eyring once told a story regarding this topic. I believe it was a conference talk. Does someone have the reference?

  34. Steve Evans says:

    “we’re not there for “theological Twinkies”.”

    I have no idea what that means. And this post isn’t about being entertained at church.

  35. “theological Twinkies”

    “When crises come in our lives—and they will—the philosophies of men interlaced with a few scriptures and poems just won’t do. Are we really nurturing our youth and our new members in a way that will sustain them when the stresses of life appear? Or are we giving them a kind of theological Twinkie—spiritually empty calories? ”
    Elder Holland,

    http://lds.org/general-conference/1998/04/-a-teacher-come-from-god-?lang=eng

  36. Check and mate, Evans.

  37. Mark Brown says:

    I will openly mock the idea that righteousness and commitment to the Kingdom can be measured by the time one spends cultivating hemorrhoids in meetings.

  38. Howdy Kyle. I think the last time I saw you was at the meeting you are writing about.

    I ran into one of our stake bishops on the bus, while I was on the way to this meeting – and he mentioned that this two-hour stake priesthood meeting used to be held quarterly, but that now, based on the new handbook of instructions, it will only be held once a year.

  39. one of our stake’s bishops, I mean …

  40. I don’t want a theological twinkie. I’d rather it be filet mignon, please.

  41. Troy, it appears your comment #35 is exactly what the other commenters are speaking against.

    Danithew, that’s welcome news, especially given the timing. (Had you told me that while we were chatting, I probably wouldn’t have written this post…and THEN where would we all be??)

  42. But we’re not there for “theological Twinkies”.

    Speak for yourself. As for Tallahassee and me, all we’re here for is the twinkies.

  43. Steve Evans says:

    Kramer, indeed. I did not know that the term had been Correlated.

  44. Our stake priesthood meetings are about 90 minutes. And we have an interesting stake presidency, so they are well-attended. I’d probably be watching TV with the fam if I didn’t go…

  45. Out Stake Priesthood Mtgs are 1.5 hours and the the last one the Stake pres. just read to us from Pres. Monson’s bio… which was cool, if any of the experiences had happened to the Stake pres.

  46. Our stake has announced an extra meeting next Sunday afternoon, a couple of hours after all wards’ block meetings are over, to announce ward boundary realignments. No ward divisions are expected, just redrawn boundaries.

    Nobody really needs to learn the new boundaries on Sunday. Ward leaders probably already know the boundaries and any staffing changes that will require, and a few phone calls could notify any members who need to go to a new building or at a new time next week. But whaddya wanna bet that sheer curiosity makes this extra meeting better attended than any stake conference in recent memory?

    Your stake priesthood meetings need a gimmick like that.

  47. > Your stake priesthood meetings need a gimmick like that.

    How about a lottery where 5 random families in the stake are randomly reassigned wards in every session of Stake Conference.

  48. The last Stake Priesthood meeting that we had was 2 hours. The talks were all “humdrum”, in the since that we were not challenged to think. We have a 70 minute drive home, and during that time none of the 6 people in the car brought up any discussion of what was said. I would suggest more emphasis on preparing a meaningful talk, but that has not yet occured.

  49. Works for me, SB2. Alternately, most coveted and most feared callings could be awarded and announced in the same way.

  50. Coveted callings? Is there a quorum of ice cream I’m not aware of? Harem advisory board??

  51. I hear some brethren covet the position of second counselor in the Sunday School presidency. but quorum of ice cream would probably come a close second.

  52. Dr Horrible says:

    I find the smaller attended gatherings to be more spiritual because generally the folks who go to those REALLY want to be there and are not attending out of some semblance of Mormon guilt. And, no crying babies.

    We had a Stake priesthood meeting on Sunday that they just announced on Sunday. I figured that it couldn’t be THAT important if they didn’t feel the need to give advance notice. Also, we live 1.5 hours from the stake center, so, I did not attend.

    Haven’t heard back from folks if it was worth it or not.

    Sometimes I wonder if “the going” is part and parcel with the Mormon experience. Who jumped up to go on Zion’s Camp?

  53. Dr Horrible says:

    Oh, and I played Rock Band with the family instead…

  54. Love your vocals, Dr. Horrible.

  55. In Rexburg, I went to these meetings to see what crazy stuff the Stake President would say. Never left disappointed.

    Great addition to BCC. I look forward to more.

  56. Observer (f.k.a. Eric. S.) says:

    Second Counselor in the Sunday School that distributes Theological Twinkies is right up my alley.

  57. Ok… do we really want those meetings to not be so generic? Think of the alternatives that early bretheren were able to come up with, and I think, I guess its not so bad.

    The alternative is so much worse…

  58. @32- good comment

  59. @16: That doesnt happen often enough in the many meetings that I’ve attended. It happens in some, but there’s certainly a lot of buracracy that could be edited depending on the situation.

  60. I see where you’re coming from. But really, I hope you’ve never spent 2 hours away from the wife and kids for your own private interests in that case. Because if you can’t feel you can do it a few times a year for the Lord but gladly do it to go do (pick your preferred or even not preferred outing) then this argument doesn’t really have legs.

    I’d suggest two things. One, “we” generally don’t really get it. Some of “we” specifically “get it”. Each one of his is both of those “we’s” at various times. And it’s good to mingle all those together strengthening and receiving counsel.

    Plus I have my own personal experience that when you do an act like this faithfully your power in the priesthood increases. Seize the opportunity to grow your faith through a relatively minor sacrifice.

  61. Kyle, great post.

    From another point of view, the opportunity cost for the individual of producing a talk that is worth the time of all those people might be greater than they can personally afford.

  62. Some of my best family time happens while I am skipping church meetings. The act of skipping meetings reminds me that my time has value and should should be used to full potential -like playing Wii with my son. Not even joking.

  63. Preparing a good talk shows respect for the audience.

    Showing up having not prepared and then just quoting a few scriptures you’ve been using in almost every talk since your mission coupled with relating a bunch of personal experiences from recent extravagant trips that can only artificially be related to the topic at hand shows a lack of respect for the audience’s time and intellect — and for their good will in coming to a meeting just because it’s a Mormon meeting and so they feel they should go.

  64. John Mansfield says:

    Singing the opening song of stake priesthood meeting with all the other men and young men is something I am glad to get to do a couple times a year. Our families need a lot of our time. Our other associations need some of it too, or they don’t really exist. I like being part of a stake and part of the priesthood.

  65. john f., that situation seems vaguely familiar.

  66. The analysis is fundamentally flawed. In arguing for going to meetings, it says ‘because the priesthood meeting turned out to be great.’ This outcome is not, or should not be, an outcome of the entertainment value of the talks. The real opportunity cost here is, what the cost of missing the revelation that might come if you go earnestly seeking, prepared, and ready to receive revelation? That’s the cost. What’s the opportunity cost to your family of missing that? Where’s that in the analysis?

    Moreover, if one goes in a resentful or annoyed spirit, there mostly to judge the talks–as most commenters here seem to be–one might as well not go. Because you’re not going to get that revelation anyways and might as well be at home watching re-runs or reality shows.

  67. TMD, our local leaders need to take at least a little responsibility not to waste our time in bringing us out to meetings at which nothing is accomplished or anything of value transmitted. If they do not do so, they are not adequately filling their stewardships.

  68. Also, the idea that priesthood meeting is somehow a family free time is strange to me. I mean, don’t they invite the aaronic priesthood in your stake? Isn’t that a very important and special kind of family time–and not just the time in the meeting, but the time in the car that it takes to get there?

  69. john f,

    I’ve never encountered a local leader who didn’t.

  70. John Mansfield says:

    If you think priesthood meetings can be a waste of time, just consider how your children feel about the all the time they’re required to spend with boring old Dad. (And no hogging the Wii, when they’d rather play with a sibling or by themselves doesn’t change that.)

  71. John Mansfield says:

    Hmmm. Commas can make a difference.

  72. TMD, my sense is that often our local leaders are merely holding meetings because they feel themselves obligated to do so by the routine that has been set up or based on the agenda of some other leader(s) not directly tied into the local situation.

    For example, a HPGL in a ward holding a fireside for newly baptized converts in the ward, just because a directive came down from the stake presidency and regardless of the fact that such a fireside is already held every week in the ward. So the extra meeting is held and the exercise becomes a task of filling time — talks are arranged for the purpose of filling out the time that the meeting is supposed to last.

  73. Mark Brown says:

    M. Russell Ballard, in the September 2000 Ensign.

    Are you using the ward and stake councils effectively as they were intended? Don’t let them become meaningless exercises in organizational bureaucracy. The way some leaders conduct council meetings, you would think they really believe in a fourteenth article of faith:

    “We believe in meetings—all that have been held, all that are now scheduled—and we believe there will yet be held many great and important meetings. We have endured many meetings and hope to be able to endure all meetings. If there is a meeting, we seek after it.”

  74. Mark Brown says:

    I totally agree with John Mansfield’s # 64. The singing is the best part of stake priesthood meetings. It really is something I look forward to. Ye Elders of Israel, Rise up, Oh Men of God, See the Mighty Priesthood Gathered — I love to sing those songs, and the only time we do is at stake priesthood meeting.

    Too bad the singing is only about 5 of the 90 minutes.

  75. I’m no fan of excess meetings and recommend that many of them be canceled precisely because they interfere with time in family or in service to others.

    That said, I believe there are risks to inveighing too strongly against the dull talks. First, some people are terrible speakers and may have great anxiety around speaking. Hearing that their talks are a waste of someone else’s time may just make their social anxiety and speaking failure worse. I would hate to have a caste system in which only the good public speakers were allowed to speak. Second, I think some people derive benefit from feeling the presence of others beside them. They tend to believe more fervently when they know that others are committed. And I think even bad speakers tend to reach some people in an audience–that auditor’s response may be strengthened by the presence of the others.

    So it’s a fine line, I think. I do agree with Kevin that agendas for “business” rather than “devotional” meetings are important. I will confess to some hypocrisy on this point. I generally bring an essay or other devotional material to such meetings with me and quietly edit them with one eye while I watch the speaker with the other.

  76. John Mansfield says:

    I’ve known a few families you raise the importance of family to a point that feels clannishness. They’re all one another’s best and only friends, and anything outside that tight little circle is completely unimportant to them. All non-relatives are outsiders to their lives and made to know it whenever they have an interaction with the family.

  77. Yes, the Corleone’s of the Church can be a hassle but as long as we all call each other by the title “brother” or “sister” then we can certainly overcome such clannishness as we will realize that we are all members of the same family, because in every family the people call their siblings by those titles.

  78. John Mansfield says:

    Or John F., we could gather with the stake a couple times a year without indulging a resentful feeling that this really better be worth my time.

  79. Mark Brown says:

    We could take a giant step towards better talks at stake priesthood meetings if we declared a temporary moratorium on the topics of home teaching and pernawgriffy.

  80. Well some of us don’t go to such meetings with a resentful feeling that this really better be worth my time but rather because we are supposed to go and we are good Mormons. Hopefully, local leaders who understand and respect that Mormons are coming to the meetings they schedule because they want to be supportive of them in their callings and to be good Mormons will have prepared properly to make the meeting something meaningful and not just a time filler. It’s just a point about respect — not controversial at all, really.

  81. 76 – Yeah, I’ve known a couple of those families. They scare me.

  82. I find the key to feeling the spirit during this or any church meeting is to make sarcastic comments about the meeting on FB. Maybe BCC could do a live blog of a stake priesthood meeting.

  83. Time is precious to all of us and certainly my 30 months deployed as a military officer has taken its toll on our family. Training and taking care of other families leaves little time to care for your own; especially if you are called to the bishopric. There are times when going to Stake Priesthood meetings are not a priority for ME, but when I have gone recently where the introductory hymn, the fellowship, and the time to reflect on the message surpass all that I am “sacrificing”.
    The metaphors and comments have been great and entertaining but as members, we can help enhance the meetings we participate in.

  84. Great comments. One thing I’d like to point out: a lot of these comments don’t take our spouses’ POV into account at all. It’s easy for me to say “sure, I’ll spend another evening out of the house,” but this decision definitely affects my wife more negatively than it does me. At worst, I’ll be bored for a couple hours. But for my wife, the decision ends her weekend early…she’s back to caring for the kid on her own, just like she will be on M/T/W/Th/F.

    That might seem melodramatic, but if you don’t feel Husband’s/Father’s Guilt, ask your spouse if you should.

  85. Yeah, she’s putting all the kids in bed by herself, just like she does every weeknight.

  86. I find I am often blessed just for being in the right place at the right time (whether or not the meeting is entertaining). I also feel it is important for our wives and children to see us as active participants in the priesthood. If you want your sons to go on missions and marry in the temple, take them to Stake Priesthood meeting, and find a way to make it meaningful. There are more appropriate times for the wii. That said, one of the most important conversations I’ve ever had with my wife, was when we ditched Sunday School and went for a walk. It’s all about priorities & timing.

  87. THH- well said. Thank you!

  88. Who said anything on this thread about stake priesthood meetings needing to be “entertaining”? From my observation, that is not what’s being discussed here.

  89. #86, I’m not sure, but did you just promise that if I take my sons to Stake Priesthood it’s a lock they’ll go on a mission and marry in the temple? Wow. I must have committed a wide range of paternal sins to offset that blessing since my first three (all of whom sat by me at SPM) have done neither.

    We had an interesting discussion on time priority in a recent ward council. I was advocating against Sunday WC meetings because I didn’t like being taken away from my family on that day. Moms in the room agreed that’s an issue, but also agreed there are blessings associated with service. As it happens, one of our two WC meetings are now on Sunday, one is on a weekday.

    I concur that:

    1. what we get out of meeting is often related to what we bring to it

    2. meeting planners should respect the time and sacrifice offered by those attending by providing the best meeting they can

    Who wouldn’t?

  90. Mark Brown says:

    I also feel it is important for our wives and children to see us as active participants in the priesthood

    Attendance at meetings comes in somewhere below my top ten ways in which I think it is important for my family to see me exercising the priesthood.

  91. Paul, I think in planning the meeting they make an effort. My sense is that sometimes the people speaking (inc. the leaders) do not put in as much effort as they might when giving their talks.

  92. Observer (f.k.a. Eric. S.) says:

    The church values time in the temple, stake priesthood meeting, EQ during third hour, or the like differently over time. The temple endowment has become shorter. CHI says stake priesthood once a year now. Quorums used to meet as often as called to meet, some times several times a week, and now it’s for 45 minutes once a week. So putting some universal valuation on any one of these meetings, even by the church’s perspective over time, is not an all or nothing proposition. Some meetings are uplifting and revelatory. Others are drivel. A lot of it, I agree, depends on preparation on both sides of the pulpit. I would say that one or two talks per biannual stake priesthood meeting is revelatory to me. That made it “worth” my time to go. Singing and meeting with the priesthood is also “worth” it. And if I was not there through the boring parts (my former stake president’s voice at 8:45 p.m. on a Sunday evening should be recorded and used by sleep therapists) I would not have been there for those two messages. But it doesn’t make it easier.

  93. #73 – Love it!!

  94. John Mansfield says:

    About eleven days out of twelve, my wife, all our children, and I eat dinner together, and perhaps twice a month, the children find the time together around the table so engaging that they stay talking long minutes after the last bite has been eaten. Instead there is a script repeated several times a week, five or so minutes into the meal: “Dad, I’m done. Can I go now?” “No.” “Why not?” “I want you here with us a while longer.”

    Perhaps, I’m alone in this, but I think my family sees all they want of me and then some. For them, I’m the boring stake president using up the time that they’d rather spend with a book in their room, or building Legos.

  95. In my observation Mormons always have twice as many speakers as they need to. Have good speakers, have bad speakers, whichever, but just have fewer of them, and I’ll be happy.

    I don’t resent the time my husband spends at church meetings anymore, now that he no longer works two jobs and the children and I see him regularly during the week. Back when Sunday was the only day I got to see him for any appreciable amount of time, I resented all superfluous church meetings mightily. And I don’t repent of that resentment. I’m going to need a few more years to forget how it felt to come in third.

  96. For them, I’m the boring stake president using up the time that they’d rather spend with a book in their room, or building Legos.

    I appreciate that. :)

  97. Mommie Dearest says:

    I think the whole tangent about “entertainment value” is missing the point. Nobody goes to a stake meeting or any church meeting seeking entertainment. What we all want and need is spiritual food, or to put it more bluntly, the presence of the Spirit. In every devotional meeting. (And the administrative meetings too, but perhaps in a different way.) When we’re bored in a meeting it could be the fault of a variety of factors, including of course our own attitudes. But when the speaker is phoning it in, and we’re bored, it’s not because we think we must be entertained.

    I have to say that I have a measure of empathy for GAs and stake high councilmen who have to speak regularly, in that knocking it out of the park spiritually every time you are asked to speak probably doesn’t happen.

  98. But Mommie Dearest, don’t you know that the response to that point is to blame the individual if he or she was not uplifted by a speaker?

    Also, let’s avoid taking this in the direction of saying that speakers should be trying to manufacture “spiritual experiences”, which can only foreseeably lead to EFY/Youth Conference type gimmicks, which have corrupted a few generations of our youth into thinking that being dazzled by charismatic speakers using affected voices and tear-jerker stories equals “having a spiritual experience” and that such and such speaker was “so spiritual” because he or she was able to provoke a certain emotional reaction out of the crowd.

  99. Mommie Dearest says:

    Good point. You cannot manufacture spiritual experiences, though many have tried. But we’ve all experienced the real thing, more or less dependably, and that’s why many of us keep going. In every boring meeting there is usually a nugget of sustenance, if only during the singing.

  100. Kyle, even though the change in the CHI was made and this meeting is happening less than it happened in the past, once a year instead of quarterly – I’m glad the post went up – if even to point this out.

    There are lots of little tweaks and adjustments in the CHI that do in fact address member concerns, burdens and difficulties. It’s a nice trend to see.

  101. I finally found the talk from Elder Eyring I referred to in #33

    Here is the story:

    “Years ago I was sitting in a sacrament meeting with my father. He seemed to be enjoying what I thought was a dull talk, given by a member of the stake high council. I watched my father, and to my amazement his face was beaming as the speaker droned on. I kept stealing looks back at him, and sure enough, through the whole thing he had this beatific smile.”

    “Our home was near enough to the ward meetinghouse that we walked home. I remember walking with my father on the shoulder of the road, which at that time wasn’t paved. I kicked a stone ahead of me as I plotted what I would do next. I finally got up enough courage to ask him what he thought of the meeting. He said it was wonderful.”

    “Now I really had a problem. My father had a wonderful sense of humor, but you didn’t want to push it too far. I was puzzled. I was trying to summon up enough courage to ask him how I could have such a different opinion of that meeting and that speaker.”

    “Like all good fathers, he must have read my mind, because he started to laugh. He said: “Hal, let me tell you something. Since I was a very young man, I have taught myself to do something in a church meeting. When the speaker begins, I listen carefully and ask myself what it is he is trying to say. Then, once I think I know what he is trying to accomplish, I give myself a sermon on that subject.” He let that sink in for a moment as we walked along. Then, with that special self-deprecating chuckle of his, he said, “Hal, since then I have never been to a bad meeting.”

    TO DRAW CLOSER TO GOD: A COLLECTION OF DISCOURSES
    by Henry B. Eyring

  102. Troy, that anecdote, like Elder Bednar’s talk about not taking offense, is recklessly overused to shift all responsibility from one party onto another. It’s an absurd concept when taken to the extreme the way church members are prone to do.

    Yes, my attitude affects whether or not I’m likely to gain anything from listening to a talk. Yes, there are gimmicks — like all-but-ignoring the speaker and living inside my own head — that can put a “beatific smile” on my face despite the appalling speaking. But if I am completely, totally, individually responsible for my church experience, then the lousy speaker might as well shut up and sit down — if I don’t need to listen to him, why have him flap his gums? Heck, I might as well not even go to church — can’t I be just as completely, totally, individually responsible at home as well as in a narrow, uncomfortable pew?

    You just can’t shift all blame for a tedious or offensive or mind-numbing meeting on to the shoulders of the people sitting in the congregation. If a speaker or teacher has nothing to say but goes on at great length to say it, that speaker or teacher is to blame; the suffering souls in the benches before him shouldn’t be blamed for not being able to shut him out of their awareness tightly enough to be able to write their own sermons in their heads.

  103. Ardis…that wasn’t my intention. I agree that leaders, speakers and teachers need to do the best they can to prepare and deliver something that will foster a spiritual experience. That is why I quoted Elder Holland.

    But, as you have pointed out, it is NOT a one sided deal. We as “hearers” have to prepare and then do our best to receive the message we are supposed to receive.

    I believe that if the speaker does his/her best and the “hearer” does his/her best to “hear”, there will be “edification.” I also believe that leaders absolutely want to have good meetings and in most cases, do their part to prepare and deliver.

    I suppose my point is that we go to meetings, sit down and say “ok, I’m here, teach me something good” or worse (and I’ve seen this) “I dare you to teach me something.” It’s a very selfish position – as if my time is more important than that of the leaders or speakers.

    Yes, leaders/speakers can do better but “hearers” don’t have a free pass.

  104. 102 Ardis, you are right, of course. I need to want to hear, but the speaker needs to prepare.

    My standard response when a speaker is boring? I fall asleep. (Ok, I do it sometimes when a speaker isn’t boring, too — all those years of taking my kids to seminary has left me sleep deprived…)

  105. Left Field says:

    Let me just say that presenting the young men of our ward with a basket of candy for being the ward with the highest attendance provides me with no motivation whatsoever for me to attend.

    Stake priesthood meetings have been quarterly and have now been reduced to annually? I don’t think that’s correct. I’m sure they’ve been having them semiannually, three months after the semiannual stake conference–the idea being that stake business can be conducted quarterly as needed at either meeting.

    The weirdest stake priesthood meeting I ever attended was a few decades ago when a member of the stake presidency and his wife told the detailed story of their recent trip to France, where they visited the town where he had been shot down in WWII. That was the whole meeting. I have to say that the story was somewhat entertaining, but I found myself puzzled as to why they thought the brethren of the stake needed to hear the story. That wasn’t as weird, however, as the sacrament meeting talk I heard in Michigan once. A brother in my ward gave a 20-minute talk in excruciating detail about a trip he made from Detroit to California back in the ’40s. Nothing particularly noteworthy happened on the trip; he just went to California and back and thought we’d like to hear about it 50 years later. It seemed like we must have heard every time he stopped for gas. Neither storyteller bothered to make any pretense of any gospel message–they were just stories about the trip.

  106. Our Michigan stake used to do the candy-for-attendance. When I was bishop, I got fed up with the ward who was closest to the stake center always winning, and I pointed out to the SP that the handbook made clear (at the time — no idea what it says now) that such competitions were not appropriate. To his credit, the SP thanked me for pointing it out, and promptly ended the practice.

  107. As to the OP, I have a problem with monetizing everything (i.e. how much is my time worth, employing the overused “opportunity cost” statement, etc). There are more important things than money and, if I may, money shouldn’t even be a consideration in this discussion.

    Secondly, even though there are some statements from various “leaders” about ending or reducing meetings, it largely falls on deaf ears. There are exceptions, buy many people do need the meetings. For some reason (unbeknownst to me) some people feel depressed, saddened, unworthy and unfaithful if they aren’t filling their time with a calling. Frequently, these feelings are silenced when one attends a couple of meetings each week or month, as if the meeting fulfills the duties of a calling. My brother and I recently discussed this idea (he was then surving as bishop of his ward) and try as he might to end meetings, members would go up the chain of command to Stake leadership if they felt meetings weren’t happening frequently enough. Members frequently asked him for more meetings or for longer meetings. That the ending of meetings was meant with jubilation is baffling to me, but instead of celebrating, they were going to the High Council and Stake Presidency asking for more (coincidentally, it didn’t help that the Stake was also asking for more meetings either). This happened on multiple occasions and, among other reasons, helped bring about his release.

    I think the meetings satisfy some artificial need that comes when one seeks to “magnify” a calling. I don’t agree with it, but I think it’s there.

    Now, as to one particularly troubling comment – perhaps ironically numbered with the great number 66 – I entirely disagree:

    “The analysis is fundamentally flawed. In arguing for going to meetings, it says ‘because the priesthood meeting turned out to be great.’ This outcome is not, or should not be, an outcome of the entertainment value of the talks. The real opportunity cost here is, what the cost of missing the revelation that might come if you go earnestly seeking, prepared, and ready to receive revelation? That’s the cost. What’s the opportunity cost to your family of missing that? Where’s that in the analysis?

    Moreover, if one goes in a resentful or annoyed spirit, there mostly to judge the talks–as most commenters here seem to be–one might as well not go. Because you’re not going to get that revelation anyways and might as well be at home watching re-runs or reality shows.”

    What bothers me about this is the continued (not from the poster, but from church members far and wide) conflation of revelation with various forms of inspiration. Inspiration likely happens in these meetings, but revelation is conspicuously absent. We may go to these meetings for revelation, but we’re largely (if not entirely) treated with inspiration. Conflation of the two simply doesn’t make logical sense.

    Secondly, this comment (and several others), assumes that more important or better inspiration OR revelation simply can’t happen outside of Priesthood meeting (or similar meetings), that it’s illogical for someone to think that time spent alone – instead of in another meeting – might not be more beneficial to the individual.

    Perhaps if we spent more time away from meetings and communing with God in our own way (be it in the wilderness or elsewhere), then revelation might indeed be present in some of these meetings.

  108. Nobody (107),

    As to the OP, I have a problem with monetizing everything (i.e. how much is my time worth, employing the overused “opportunity cost” statement, etc). There are more important things than money and, if I may, money shouldn’t even be a consideration in this discussion.

    From this paragraph it seems possible that you have a screwy definition of opportunity costs, since these are not intrinsically related to money at all. Indeed, the primary “costs” that the author of the OP discusses at length are non-monetary in nature: time with his wife and child. Indeed, you actually say the exact same thing yourself in your final paragraph:

    Perhaps if we spent more time away from meetings and communing with God in our own way (be it in the wilderness or elsewhere), then revelation might indeed be present in some of these meetings.

    That’s opportunity cost–the chances for inspiration and revelation that might have been had, but were lost because of the selected path. It has nothing to do with money.

  109. Our Michigan stake used to do the candy-for-attendance. When I was bishop, I got fed up with the ward who was closest to the stake center always winning, and I pointed out to the SP that the handbook made clear (at the time — no idea what it says now) that such competitions were not appropriate. To his credit, the SP thanked me for pointing it out, and promptly ended the practice.

    …after which the rest of the men who attended to get candy slashed the tires of your car and put a flaming sack of poop on your doorstep?

  110. Scott:

    With due respect, I understand perfectly what the technical definition of opportunity costs is. The mere use of the word, though lost on many, has a direct relation to and about money. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out, what with the word “cost” in there and all, and that’s according to our modern definition. Going back even further, the etymology of “cost” is pretty clear.

    Likewise, the OP discusses this in some detail:

    “As a somewhat green marketer, I’m still learning the critical lesson that an audience’s time and attention can be bought, but it’s incredibly expensive. Audiences guard their time, and get annoyed when advertisers use it badly. Many of them even pay good money for a DVR that let’s them skip the commercials that advertisers paid good money for. And the better an ad’s placement is in a magazine or on a web page, the more likely it is to attract the reader’s attention, so the more expensive it is.”

    I do take exception when people place preeminent value on a human, our time, etc. To be fair, it may appear as mere semantics, but that’s hardly the case in a world where nearly everyone views their time in terms money – money saved, money spent, money lost, money won. So while our “modern” interpretation may have more nuanced reasonings behind its usage, you’re entirely discounting the actual language used and the historical etymology behind the term.

  111. PS: If we’re going to be true to words, I probably should have been a little more coy and said: “it doesn’t take an economist” to figure it out.

    Taken straight from the wonderful Austrian School of Economics:

    “In deciding courses of action, one must choose; that is, one must pursue one path and not others. The focus on alternatives in choices leads to one of the defining concepts of the economic way of thinking: opportunity costs. The cost of any action is the value of the highest-valued alternative forgone in taking that action. Since the forgone action is, by definition, never taken, when one decides, one weighs the expected benefits of an activity against the expected benefits of alternative activities.”

  112. About 10 years ago, as a divorced father, I was attending one of those Sunday evening stake priesthood meetings (not in Utah). This was the same weekend as one of the alternating weekend visits I had with my kindergarten-age daughter. Because I had to go to the meeting, my daughter was with grandma. I was expecting only a hour-long meeting, but it turned out to be a 90-120 minute session (can’t remember which). When the last speaker, one of the stake presidency, started, his topic turned out to be on spending more time on one’s family. After listening to him for a few minutes, I knew what I needed to do. I got up, left the meeting while he was still speaking, and drove 12 miles to go home to be with my daughter.

  113. The concept of opportunity costs is used in many ways, even the quote above opens the term to many uses.

  114. Nobody,
    With due respect, the fact that OP uses an analogy that involves money does not eliminate the simple fact that the “costs” in question–those that are the very heart of the post–are not monetary at all–rather, they are time and experiences with family.

    Now let’s see–you quote the Austrian School and add emphasis on

    The cost of any action is the value of the highest-valued alternative forgone in taking that action.

    Funny, that looks an awful lot like…exactly what I wrote to you above: “That’s opportunity cost–the chances for inspiration and revelation that might have been had, but were lost because of the selected path. It has nothing to do with money.”

    I understand perfectly what the technical definition of opportunity costs is. The mere use of the word, though lost on many, has a direct relation to and about money. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out, what with the word “cost” in there and all, and that’s according to our modern definition. Going back even further, the etymology of “cost” is pretty clear.

    That some costs are monetary in nature is not in dispute. That some opportunity costs are monetary in nature is similarly not in dispute. However, the opportunity costs Kyle M is discussing are not monetary in nature, and (as I said above) there is no necessary relationship between money and opportunity costs, regardless of the “etymology” of the word “cost.”

    Look, you made some nice thoughts in your #107, one of which perfectly used the concept of opportunity costs. I am only objecting to your shot at Kyle M in saying that tried to monetize something when he clearly didn’t. Costs can be measured in many ways, and money is only one.

  115. Sheesh. I feel like I’m talking to Nobody here!

  116. Dr Horrible says:

    #101
    I have heard Elder Eyring relate that story as well. I like it — to a point. I get the point, and I have practiced that as well. I just don’t know that I would go around telling folks that I give better talks in my head than they give over the pulpit. Seems haughty.

  117. Left Field says:

    I can buy a lot of candy for the cost of 100 miles of travel and four hours of my time. And considering I don’t get any of the candy anyway, the outcome of the cost/benefit analysis is pretty clear.

  118. Steve Evans says:

    Here’s the thing: our meetings should be better. A lot better. And I don’t like the idea of blaming the congregation for crappy talks, needless bureaucracy and endless prattle. Sundays and Church meetings are my big opportunity to commune with fellow saints and partake of the sacrament. It ought to be the highlight of my week. Sometimes it is. But more often than not, it is simply not worth my time — and my time is not that valuable.

    When I was younger I used to scorn those who talked about being able to commune with God better on a mountaintop or just spending time with their families. As I get older I don’t think those people were too far off. I do think we can make Church meetings the valuable, enriching experiences they ought to be, but telling us to invent interesting talks in our heads is not a solution and smacks of blaming the victim.

  119. Further on the Elder Eyring quotation, this comes from Elder McConkie in his famous “7 Deadly Heresies” talk,

    “We come into these congregations, and sometimes a speaker brings a jug of living water that has in it many gallons. And when he pours it out on the congregation, all the members have brought is a single cup and so that’s all they take away. Or maybe they have their hands over the cups, and they don’t get anything to speak of.

    On other occasions we have meetings where the speaker comes and all he brings is a little cup of eternal truth, and the members of the congregation come with a large jug, and all they get in their jugs is the little dribble that came from a man who should have known better and who should have prepared himself and talked from the revelations and spoken by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are obligated in the Church to speak by the power of the Spirit. We are commanded to treasure up the words of light and truth and then give forth the portion that is appropriate and needful on every occasion”

  120. BRM was not very good at metaphors.

  121. gatoraideMomma says:

    I’d just like to say a lot of service opportunity hours are lost when many meetings are held when multiplied by the number of folks attending and length of the meeting.

    I went with the missionaries to visit a person who we invited out to our afternoon 3 hour block. She couldn’t do that b/c she had her church service and SSchool in 1.5 hours in the am and almost the WHOLE church goes and visits the local nursing homes to give service and visit the residents (apparently quite a few are members of the congregation in the homes.) She said this is done EVERY Sunday. So while we sit and learn as our form of worship each Sunday, plus other times, 3+ hours each week. Meanwhile this woman and her congregation study together, worship, and then they go and do the Savior’s words. We often talk of church service as teaching, talking, running the ward, i.e. meetings.

    Also think of the lost service opportunity hours , plus the costs that could go to charity of the 2 year door-to-door mission model.

  122. Nursing homes…meetings do not seem so bad after all.

    I think that communing together on Sunday for 3 hours leaves plenty of time for service throughout the week and even for the rest of Sunday.

  123. Thomas Parkin says:

    What Stake Priesthood Meeting is really missing is women.

    Women make everything better, the little darlings.

  124. gatoraideMomma says:

    Isn’t there a scripture that goes: ….and they also serve who only stand (sit) and serve….

  125. John Mansfield says:

    Isn’t visiting people in rest homes just another meeting, a variation on home teaching?

  126. John Mansfield says:

    Last Sunday, my four-year-old’s Primary teacher performed a great service to him during their meeting. He has been very reluctant to pray by himself over the last year, but his teacher helped him in a way that I did not. That evening, and all this week, he has brought up that lesson when I ask him to pray. He has turned a corner in finding his own purpose in that endeavour. One cheer for service through meetings and time away from family members.

  127. John, do teachers everywhere a favor and let your son’s teacher know what’s happened.

  128. Mark Brown says:

    Best stake priesthood leadership meeting ever:

    Before the meeting the stake executive secretary had asked each ward clerk for names and addresses of long-term inactives and people who had had no contact with the church for years. After the song and prayer and a few announcements, the stake president divided us all up into pairs and gave each pair a list of people to go visit, right then.

    That was a more effective way to teach about the importance of home-teaching than haranguing people from the pulpit for an hour and a half.

  129. I’m not sure the real issue is that our meetings should be better or that we should be more prepared for our meetings. I think Kevin Barney brought up the real issue in comment #2, what is the purpose for the meeting being held at all? So many of them, stake priesthood meeting being a good example, seem to have no specific reason for being held in the first place that would demand the time of hundreds of people. As Kevin said, if the talks being given, no matter how well prepared and thoughtful, are just another sacrament meeting talk then why is the meeting being held in the first place? Why not just give those talks in a sacrament meeting?

  130. BRM was not very good at metaphors.

    Are you saying that envisioning a speaker showering the congregation with golden knowledge and inspiration isn’t a perfect metaphor? Ridiculous.

  131. I’ve got a new addition to my “future lesson plans” wishlist: Give a 1-minute talk on spending more time with our families, and then close the meeting (Thanks Zefram!)

  132. 124–well, no, but I’d be up for canonizing some Milton ;)

  133. Areopagitica is fine. But if I have to sit through reading Paradise Lost, I’m out!

    If I ever leave the church, mark it, mind numbingly meaningless readings of Paradise Lost will likely be the root cause.

  134. It's Not Me says:

    I’m a little baffled at the commenter who complained about having ward council on Sundays. (I guess I could understand if the meeting is being held during the day). We moved our ward council meeting to Sunday morning after the new CHI came out and addressed the issue, to the delight of all members of the council. Unfortunately, our stake president doesn’t agree with CHI and told us to move it off Sunday. BTW, the CHI says to hold it early in the morning, presumably so as not to interfere with family time (the kids are usually still asleep then).

  135. It's Not Me says:

    l

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