Friday poll: 2 hours or 3?


  1. 2.

    Why, other than my low potassium levels?

    Mostly because the second hour — Sunday School — has been a, ahem, lackluster hour in most every Ward I’ve met in on both sides of the Atlantic (with some exceptions). So, kick Sunday School back to its Protestant home and make the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper the focus of Sunday worship (as we are told it should be). The second hour could alternate for the adults between RS/Priesthood and various Sunday School-esque classes (perhaps using the Institute curriculum).

    I can’t speak for RS, but I think Priesthood would benefit greatly if the “class” time was less didactic and more practical. There are a lot of service/ordinances/Home Teaching issues that, having served twice on an EQP, I would love to have thrashed out in the Quorum rather than have everyone fall asleep as a terrible teacher reads quote after quote from the manual.

  2. UnicornMom says:

    Sunday School has long been my favorite, most spiritually-fulfilling hour. In sacrament meeting, there is no discussion, and therefore learning is more difficult. In Relief Society, we spend half the block with “practical” matters such as the time of the next Enrichment meeting, who has died/been born since last Sunday and requesting volunteers for the next Church cleaning or canning session.

    From what I hear from my husband, Priesthood would benefit greatly from thought-out, prepared lessons. :)

  3. I’m not sure. I am more than ready (more, much more, than ready) to usually leave after the second hour; however, I would feel like I was being gypped or gypping the Lord by not doing the full three. As it is, I always felt a little guilty when the church went from the morning sunday school, afternoon sacrament, wednesday RS, Tuesday primary schedule to the 3-hour block (I was only a kid, but I still remember it). It was like we were cutting out our time we had spent going to church for our “convenience”, and that, my friend, is a slippery slope of rationalization and worldliness. :-) If we conveniently drop another hour off the block, it would seem way too much like we were heading towards the drive-though services of Southern California. And look at me… I can barely get my behind out the door on Sundays and I’m arguing for more church!

    In fine: I’d love 2, but the guilt factor whispers 3. Maybe 2.5?

  4. Priesthood has always had a tough time with getting a good lesson.

    As far as Sunday School, yeah, I really miss those days in the Longfellow Ward in Boston where we were taught by a graduate student of the Harvard Divinity School… about scriptural learning!

    I think the three hour session is good. There is a great need for Sunday School. I am constantly amazed at how little of the scriptures and church history so many Mormons have (maybe this is more pronounced out here in the boondocks of Pennsylvania than in the city with graduate students). My sister was shocked when she learned some things of church history she did not know from Sunday School. She had to learn these things from anti-Mormon sources, and as such, she fell away from the church because she believed she had been lied to.

    Priesthood and Relief Society need to meet, so these two organizations become unified, so they are edified and rejoice together.

    Perhaps the real problem is that we don’t train our teachers well enough to prepare lessons that 1. bring in the Spirit and 2. educate the class about scriptures so that they don’t sit there bored.

  5. Another vote for 2.

    When I attended regularly, I felt as though I only had a one-day weekend. Going to church feels like going to work – or the dentist.

    Going to the temple, on the other hand, was much more enjoyable for me. There I could get away for a couple of hours and just be inside my head for a while.

    But the Sunday Block? just too much.

  6. One thing also to add, for those of us who are endowed, we made a covenant with God to sacrifice ALL our time and efforts to the building up of the Kingdom of God. Are we really that silly to complain about meeting for three hours on one day a week?

  7. Dan,
    Making a covenant to sacrifice to build the kingdom of God and going to church for three straight hours are not necessarily one and the same thing.

  8. Ronan,

    They aren’t? What if God tells you that’s where you need to be for those three hours?

    How else do you “build the Kingdom of God?”

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    I often self-medicate and just go for two hours. If the Church is unwilling as an institution to make the call and pull the trigger on this, I’ll just do it for myself. (But sometimes I stay for the full three hours.) Three straight hours of Church is simply too much.

  10. (Someone’s voting more than once. Naughty! These are highly scientific polls, people!!)

  11. There’s a great poem by Steven (?) Crane:

    Two or three angels
    Came near to the earth.
    They saw
    A fat church.
    Little black streams of people
    Came and went in continually.
    And the angels were puzzled
    To know why the people went thus,
    And why they stayed
    So long within.

  12. I’m not sure how time-length relates to spiritual satisfaction. Seems like a sort of false positive to me. I hope you don’t apply the same rules to human intimacy.

    Seriously, Why would a change in time length increase spiritual satisfaction? I think the quality of the church experience is much more an issue than the quantity. And of course, I hope we are all smart enough to know who’s responsibility quality of experience is.

  13. Yes, I say two hours because other people aren’t fulfulling my spirituality for me. I’ll just take that extra hour every week and go meditate in the wilderness and have a spiritual experience of my own making.

    Matt W. is exactly right. If you aren’t making the Sacrament the focus of your Sunday that seems like it’s your problem, not mine. Like Matt says, just because there’s less time it doesn’t mean that time will be better focussed.

    Ronan, you just need to sack up my friend.

  14. Enlighten us Matt, because I’m clearly not smart enough. Who’s responsibility is quality of experience?

  15. #6) i don’t think you are wrong, i am of a
    different opinion–that’s all.

    “Are we really that silly to complain about
    meeting for three hours on one day a week?”

    and what about the 2-3hr meeting before
    church the one that takes up the whole
    morning before church starts (at 3pm)?

    what about the YW and mutual activities
    every Wednesday night and Saturday service
    projects and visiting teaching…

    like someone said earlier, church on Sunday
    feels like going to work, and when you work
    12 hrs a day during the week, you want to
    look forward to Sunday/church, not dread it.

    that’s my two cents…

  16. Whine, whine, whine. Do you really think perfecting the saints will be easier in two hours than three?

    What about the widowed elderly sister who lives for Relief Society every week? Or the kid who comes with his grandma and three hours of church every Sunday is the only gospel experience he gets every week? I’ve known lots of those kids.

  17. another poem. Ogden Nash:

    I didn’t go to church today,
    I trust the Lord to understand.
    The sea was swirling blue and white,
    The children swirling on the sand.
    He knows, He knows how brief my stay,
    How brief this spell of summer weather.
    He knows when I am said and done,
    We’ll have a plenty of time together.

  18. Ronan: You are for your own experience.

  19. Susan,

    as we can clearly see, perfecting the saints is probably going to take even more than just the three hours at church on Sundays.

    for those who complain about three hours and want it brought down to two, let me ask you, what do you do the rest of your Sunday? Do you give the whole day to the Lord? After all, it is the Lord’s day? If you give the whole day to the Lord, what is so wrong about going one extra hour to church and help further the perfecting of the saints?

    With the scriptural knowledge that many of you have, would you not benefit others better if you were around them, and help them gain the knowledge you have of the scriptures? What if the Lord asked you to spend His whole day in His service?

    Also, is General Conference too long? After all, it takes up FOUR HOURS of your Sundays? And also SIX WHOLE HOURS (you priesthood bearers) on Saturday! Not only that, but (for those who go to the church building) you’ve gotta drive TWICE to get to the meeting. Man, God sure does ask a lot of us, doesn’t he.

    Forgive me if I’m rather befuddled, but this is really whining about petty things.

  20. Rusty,

    I have no idea what sack you are referring to, mate. As I tell the following story I am fully aware that my sack could be called into question. Especially when people in Africa, like, walk to church and all. But anyway…

    On Sunday I will get up at 7am, shower and dress etc. At 7.15 I’ll get the kids up and give them breakfast. After the three of them get dressed (ages 6, 3, 1) we’ll leave the apartment at about 8am (hopefully, but it will have been a struggle). It will likely be cold and gloomy outside. We will walk to the U-Bahn. We’ll then change to the tram and then walk to church in time for 9.

    By this time Rebecca and I will already be frazzled because the boys will have been fighting on the platform ready to fall on the tracks, and trying to get the baby’s stroller on to the tram past moody Viennese will have been an ordeal.

    After 3 hours of church, and maybe choir practice for the wife, we will get back to our apartment over 5 hours after we left. Exhausted.

    I know, I know, sob. If I were righteous then this would all have been done with a song in my heart.

    Now, why might 3>2 make a difference? Well, it saves an hour, which with 3 little kids is a bigger deal than it sounds. I think a focussed, sharp two hours would, for my family, be a happier experience. Because we have untrained teachers and preachers in the church, the likelihood of going from a dreadful sacrament meeting to a boring, soul-sapping, “who can define faith?” Sunday School, to an unprepared Priesthood quote-a-rama is pretty high (although, I must say that my ward does an admirable job with these things). Also, because we share a building, 3>2 would probably mean starting at 10am not 9am, which would be a major life-saver for my kids who do not naturally get-up at 7.15.

    When the whole Sunday church adventure with your kids takes over 5 hours, this is exhausting. More potassium, I know, Matt, but for the weakest of the Saints it really is tough going. So, my hope for 2 hours is not a gripe, it’s a plea. Honestly. Church is often an ordeal for my family. We sometimes dread Sunday mornings. Disdain that all you like, it won’t change how it is. And from the looks of it, I’m not alone.

    Chaff, I know.

  21. To paraphrase a cheesy limerick:

    Whenever I pass a Church I go in it
    So that when I die, God won’t say “Who is it?”

  22. Yes, that’s right Matt, because what we’re talking about here is trying to find ways to stop people from going to church.

  23. you mean the third hour isn’t optional?

  24. Ronan:

    It does sound exhausting. BUT you have influence on what happens in the second and third hour of church. You can threadjack the meeting anytime you want and turn it into whatever you want. (And I think you should if the lessons are subpar. It’s practically an obligation of the priesthood, IMHO) You can read your scriptures or some other book during sacrament meeting if the talks are subpar.
    These are the kind of things I had in mind about controlling the quality of your meeting.

    I don’t want to be antagonistic. I can see this is sincerely a hard spot for you and I am not questioning your spirituality or righteousness. (Like Ferris, I am sure you are also a “righteous dude.”)

    I do want to offer some practical ideas that I hope you’ll consider, despite my opinion being publicly different than yours.

    If I were you (I am not you, I have a 5 minute drive to church now, but can make it faster if I speed.) I’d try to bring food to church and grab a room and eat at church before venturing home on the tram. And while the potassium thing was a very snide remark(and I am sorry for offending you.), We do sometimes eat something between meetings to help us through (Mainly because I am too dumb to eat something before church most sundays though.)

  25. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    I’ll just point out that in the Utsunomiya ward in Japan it takes some people three hours to even GET to church. Many of them bring lunches and simply make a day of it. When else are their children going to have the opportunity to play with or hang out and get to know other LDS children? When else to the adults get to have conversation with other LDS adults?

    My biggest worry about a push to reduce our meeting times is that it will lead to us becoming like the other churches, where people go for an hour a week and don’t seem to think about it at all the rest of the time. If that’s where trying to be like “Mainstream” Christianity takes us, I say “No thank you.”

  26. The limerick was merely a response to the poetry, not a political statement on any other grounds.

  27. so Ronan,

    the problem at church is not the length, but the untrained teachers and preachers. I could not agree more. That’s what we need to focus on, not the length. Because here’s the problem with focusing on the length. The problem will still be the untrained teachers and preachers, and we’ll just get bored with the two hours and wonder why we even bother with two hours.

  28. Yes, Ronan, you are a martyr for the faith. I applaud you.

  29. Oh, and I’ve been in a ward with no priesthood or relief society. The only people in the Ward who knew how to use their priesthood were the missionaries. They spent every week doing all the hometeaching, giving blessings, and counciling with the bishop. To be honest, it was good for missionary work though…

  30. Well, those are kind words Matt, but if we’re talking about eating just to make it through Church I respectfully suggest that there’s a bigger problem. Also, if I had said what was on my mind when we discussed the OT last year they would have marched me out of the building!

    I am sorry if I sounded snappy, but when people suggest that all I need to do is gird up my loins then my 7am-3kids-winter-publictransport-5hour-nightmare alarm goes off.

    I’m going to try to enjoy Sunday, I promise. And when it’s spring, I’ll just be in a better mood.

  31. PDoE,
    If it took people three hours to get to church in SLC, I guarantee the policy would change. It’s always nice to sigh over the sacrifices made in the colonies, but remember that most people in Zion wouldn’t do this in a million years. Five minutes to the ward house: very nice, thank-you very much.

  32. I’ve been sort of where you are, Ronan, except I was doing it alone with two toddlers, in a ward where we did meet for two hours a week. Because our chapel was a really old building and was having some repairs done, our (very poor inner city) ward rented a nearby empty building from another church. It had no insulation and was freezing cold. We’d all bring blankets to church and I distinctly remember being able to see my breath during one Sacrament meeting. The only reason we met for 2 instead of 3 hours was that the building was too small for all the meetings to take place. We alternated RS/PH/etc one week with SS the next.

    And as someone who was really struggling at the time, 2 hours was not enough.

    It’s hard but you get through it and someday you’ll be able to lay all kinds of guilt trips on people for complaining about things you consider mild in comparison. :)

  33. Ronan,

    I’m sorry if I got snappy. This post wasn’t about your complaint though, it was about specifically asking whether or not we wanted a two hour meeting or a three hour meeting. It didn’t ask questions about the problems of the three hour meeting, so it looked like a whine.

  34. …when people suggest that all I need to do is gird up my loins then my 7am-3kids-winter-publictransport-5hour-nightmare alarm goes off.

    Ronan, I’m sorry about that. I have that same alarm minus the kids, plus a couple or three hours.

    I think you’re making a HUGE assumption, that two hours will be more focussed/sharp than the current three. My experience says that it wouldn’t change. People aren’t suddenly going to be preparing better talks/lessons just because we’re only there for two hours.

    But do you really go to church for the instruction? If that were the reason I went to church I’d find myself constantly dissappointed. My feeling is that the most important aspect of the church experience (besides the taking of the Sacrament) is the community. Learning to love and serve those around us. Compared to that everything else is gravy.

  35. Another option for the low blood sugar problem is to do what one ward did where I served during my mission to Korea: order take out for everyone at the end of the 3-hour block. We had the communal experience of the traditional potluck, with none of the hassle for the members.

  36. Dan,

    No, the poll asks whether people think they would find two hours more “spiritually satisfying.” You are imagining that the people who are answering “yes” (the majority) are whining, but you should take their response at face value. They think it would be spiritually beneficial. It is a Mormon thing to imagine that the people asking for their load to be lightened are whiners.

    As for the teaching…yes. But if you didn’t have to find teachers for classes people prefer to skip, then I think you would find that the work of good teachers would be magnified.

  37. Rusty,
    Without kids I’d walk to church naked at 4am. Kids change everything. I’d be very interested to see how the 2/3 preference would break down for kids/no kids. Usually the dad-mum-kids demographic aren’t going to church for the social aspect. In Susan’s case when she went alone I can understand why she wanted to be there for as long as possible.

  38. 3hrs=2hrs free daycare/unsupervised playdate. 2hrs=1hr free daycare/unsupervised playdate.
    church is my only interaction with most of my coreligionists, so 3hrs a week with traditional Mormons seems reasonable. i don’t mind church dragging on a bit in these circumstances. i personally bring religion-based projects that I’m working on and do edits and writing during those classes, piping up when I think I have something useful to contribute.
    I don’t take this as a sign of orthodoxy vs. heresy, but i personally prefer the 3hr block. once the kids are grown, i suspect i will prefer the 2hr block, tho i’m not certain.

  39. Ronan,

    We have an infant. But then again, I am the executive secretary, and my wife is the Relief Society President in our ward. We kinda have to stay for the full three hours. But even so, we would still go for all three hours.

  40. A two hour block would mean one more hour of football watching in the fall/winter (go Ravens!).

    But . . . since my priorities are perfectly in place, I don’t care about that. And to prove it to myself I voted for a three hour block.

    Seriously, though, I don’t really care. That should have been the third option in the poll.

  41. Dan,
    And we go for all three too.

    Let me clarify my teaching point: when 2/3 of the time is spent in classes, you have to find quite a few teachers. With the best will in the world, some of those teachers will be rubbish. But hey, you give me a smokin’ curriculum and excellent teachers and I’d stay all day. Maybe I’m just unlucky that that’s rarely happened (we have a good SS teacher in our current ward, though).

    re: the food idea. We already take a few snacks for the kids, but if you think we should chomp a fully-fledged picnic then it’s just another thing to have to worry about. I like to simplify not complicate. And I just hate the idea that we are admitting that church is an ordeal for some people and that we need strategies to get though it.

    And my point about SLC is made in all seriousness. I do wonder how things would change if they were the things that bit SLC on the arse. For the average colonial member, door-church-door = 4-5 hours. In Zion, it’s 3 hours 10 minutes.

  42. greenfrog says:

    If we can’t have a schedule change, can we get a Coke machine?

  43. My children are all grown, so I don’t have Ronan’s problems. But I agree completely with him. Why do we think that a sacrament meeting dedicated largely to (usually boring and ineffective) instruction, followed by another hour of (usually boring and ineffective) instruction and then another hour of (usually boring and ineffective) instruction is spiritually edifying?

    The depth of our faith and commitment to God should not be measure by our willingness to endure tedium in church. Let’s take some of that time and do something that actually makes a difference in the lives of God’s children. And if fellowship and communion with the Saints is the real objective, why not do that? I don’t see or experience much of that with the current format.

  44. And I just hate the idea that we are admitting that church is an ordeal for some people and that we need strategies to get though it.

    We needed strategies to get through school too, it doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. No matter what you do with three kids, it’s going to be difficult. It’s not like if you went to church for two hours that extra hour at home your kids would be perfect angels.

  45. I’m all with Ronan. To me, it depends on it is conducted. I tend to enjoy the discussions in SS and EQ. I sometimes feel that I’ve not learned enough of the lessons. Gospel Principles feels like it’s pretty insufficient. Some of the topics in it are not well served by only spending one hour on. I may just be particularly ravenous because of being a new convert, but I observe the same thing in older members of my ward.

  46. I forgot to mention, I’m a dad, so throughout Sacrament I’m constantly looking forward to SS so I can send the kid to nursery.

  47. Steve Evans says:

    I’m surprised by the reactions of those who take Ronan’s poll as a whine or worse yet, a sign of unbelief or an unconsecrated soul. That seems to me to be a grave confusion of policies and procedures with doctrines and principles. To say that we are devoted to the kingdom of God does not mean that we are blind slaves to every changing policy and proposal that comes along. A three-hour meeting is decidedly NOT a piece of church doctrine; let’s not hold it up as some sacred cow that must not be touched.

    That said, I have no problems with the three hours and can’t be bothered to change it. I think the saints should meet together oft — as oft as it takes to help us be real brothers and sisters.

  48. Interesting thoughts…my initial reaction was, “of course I would want only two hours.” But, the guilt trickled in when I thought “What would I do with that extra hour?”

    But, I also have to ask, “is the reason I dread going to church because of me, or are the meetings the problems?” There are times when I feel edified, there are times I wonder why I even bothered showing up.

    I have tried thread-jacking before, and have gotten interesting looks.

    I wish that Priesthood would be more “school of the prophets” stuff, where we’d riddle the complexities of the gospel (not deep doctrine), instead it usually becomes a “who wants to read three paragraphs from the manual? Someone with a booming voice, please.”

    Do our kids suffer from the same problems? Do my kids (7 and 4) not like going to church because they are bored, or do they sense my dissatisfaction with SS and Priesthood?

  49. Steve: True enough. But the question is whether this kind of meeting “together oft” actually helps us become real brothers and sisters, or whether our time and talents could be more effectively deployed.

  50. Ronan: I’ve never lived in Utah, but I definitely get your point. Similar reasoning is why I wish work were an hour shorter. But it isn’t, and I’m not going to change it. (And yes, I too am always more frustrated in winter. We humans are a fragile lot.)

    As for the comments you wanted to make in OT, but felt you couldn’t, I’d say, judging by your skilled useage of “midrash” in your baptismal talk, you could say whatever you wanted whenever you wanted, and worst case scenario, you’d get blank stares, best case you’d connect and change lives. (for the better)

    As a curiousity, do you teach seminary still, and do you teach it at church? I only ask because, having taught seminary(as a sub) for just a week, I was exhausted.

    Back to the question of this post, I still don’t think church length would change my satisfaction level. As you note, if the teachers were good and the curriculum tailored correctly, I could be there all day also. So length is not the issue so much as content.

    And I am totally willing to concede that there is a shortage of people to go around to fill in “quality” teacher positions. This is the biggest problem in my ward right now, as a large percentage of people in my ward do not take their callings seriously and don’t show up, don’t prepare a lesson, don’t call to let you know they aren’t showing up, etc. EQ in our ward suffers when it comes to getting a teacher (But hey, it’s just ten minutes anyway.) RS has phenominal teachers. So does YM and YW. Primary suffers. SS for adults is good, and since I am the SS teacher for teens, I can say it suffers.

    Back to the SLC point though, in San Antonio, where I live, the city has clear financial and educational borders. Thus Our Ward averages 100 in attendance, while the ward next to us has 300+ in attendance and has virtually no problems in any callings. I imagine the Utah, Arizona, Idaho etc, core of the church is more like that.

    In fact, I know a man who was a Bishop in Florida who moved to Utah because being LDS in Utah is easier. (I do believe it comes with it’s own set of struggles, however.)

    Anyway, all of these points, annecdotally are meant to say I do not feel length of church correlates to spirituality. But I can see a desire for church to be shorter as very real when church is disappointing and painfully so.

  51. Ronan,

    The problem is unprepared teachers during all the blocks. Not all instructors are terrible. I too used to find myself leaving meetings if it were quote repeating etc. I then realized I could make a difference. So they called me to be an EQ teacher. I’m a bit unorthodox and will read my lesson the month before I teach it. I then think about it for a while and try to find video clips, games and snacks that relate to the teaching message. Sometimes putting the Snack relating to the message is a stretch, but I find it necessary (potassium and blood sugar levels and all) I try to make it interactive, create discussions and usually only get through one or two topics from the lesson each week. I figure if i get through the whole lesson, it wasn’t a good one.

    Pres. Kimball combined all meetings to sunday in a short 3 hour block to simplify church going. see this link under simplify

    Before 1980 meetings were spread out during the week and multiple times on Sunday. The average Zion goer went to Sunday School, came home Later on, then went back for Sacrament and then again later for various other meetings. Not to mention mid week Primary and Preisthood and RS.

    However I empathize with your situation. Folks in SLC can learn from folks like you who are very dedicated to God’s work and progress in the Kingdom. There are Folks in “Zion” that also walk and take the bus etc. nearly nearly an hour to get to church albeit the number is few. Most in the US do not even know what public transportation is. (That’s a different thread for a different time.)

    Main point, Lets get more involved in the lessons. We can create zion. Whatever your definition may be.

  52. Ben S. There is a house for sale in my neighborhood, come teach EQ here!

  53. A lot of these responses focus on how adults–presumably the authors of these posts–experience Sunday meetings. We aren’t hearing a lot about how children experience them. We hear about how adults experience children experiencing them (I so sympathize with your other thread, Tracy M, and I send Ronan abundant virtual Sunday snacks), but I don’t think the discussion has taken into account what kids get out of the current 3-hour block. Full disclosure: I am currently a Primary president, and looking back over my post-mission church service, I may well be a lifer. I haven’t been to many grown-up lessons over the last several years. From what my husband tells me (backed up from abundant reports on the blogs) adult lessons really run the gamut these days. I support any effort that can be made to improve teaching, wake people up and provide meaningful encounters with the Spirit.

    That said, the baby you would throw out with the bathwater of a 3-hour block may well be your own. Primary is not a perfect auxiliary, but when it’s operating acceptably, it can mean the spiritual world to those kids, some of whom (including a young me) wouldn’t get this any other way. A two-hour block might radically change the way Primary operates. There would be classroom teaching, perhaps, but only a brief opening exercises. Singing and sharing time were not, I’m sure, discussed in the First Vision, but it would be rash to eliminate them without thinking through a genuine replacement. I’d be interested to hear how current Primaries adapt in wards where the 2-hour block is the norm.

    I don’t mean to knock the issues many of you have with church pedagogy. I probably share (and, on bad Sundays, embody) many of them. I just want to be a voice for children whose current Church voices (whining, complaint, can we go home, etc.) may not be their long-term Church voices (thank you for taking me and [thoroughly] teaching me). My best to all who are schlepping and lugging and enduring their children to the end of the 3-hour block. We who “endure” them for two hours (just free child care, smb?) are thankful you do.

  54. Sure, Untill then I could fedex the snacks….

  55. hpm

    My wife is in Primary and that poses an interesting question. I know how rushed sometimes primary can be. There is a lot to get done. In a 2 hour block Senior and Junior primary would have to share the same Sharing time. That being said they would be shorter as well. The older ones would feel even more “babied” with the younigin’s or perhaps they might enjoy it. It opens up a whole new discussion.

    That being said. I believe it would be rushed as well. Some primaries are organized and function others are completely a mess and resemble a 15 year olds bedroom. (Disclaimer, not all 15 year olds have messy bedrooms.)

    Solution = Hospital corners?

  56. "Boba" (Ronan' son) says:

    Dictated from a 7 year old (for real):

    Things I like about church:

    I like drawing and reading in sacrament meeting.

    Things I don’t like about church:

    Primary, because it is so boring.


  57. Which is not to belittle hpm’s work. I’m sure the kids love your primary. Strangely, Boba has always found it a drag. I guess that’s my fault too!

  58. Boba,

    Do you get to play hot and cold in primary? I think you might have more fun if you learned using games. That is how we learned in Primary (That one and various others)


    Not everyone that teaches primary is a trained educator for children. Most who are teachers in an elementary school do not teach primary because they are burnt out by the end of the week. However the bishop’s love to recruit them. Most of the time they acccept the calling because they feel they can’t turn a calling down. However the numbers of those sorts of teachers in Primary are few. There are teacher improvement calsses and curriculum organized by the church. They help when real educators teach those classes then pass it along using the “trickle down” theory. This resource is often overlooked.

    On the website there are many resources dedicated to teacher improvement. But it is left up to the individual to seek it out.

    How earnestly do we seek out betterment in these areas of ourselves? (Disclaimer, I do not know any of you or your backgrounds so if this does not apply to you please do not respond angrily.)

  59. FYI, My wife recieved her Degree in Elementary education, and that has been her life for… well her life.

  60. Ben S. – I agree. One issue this brings up is the sad frustration that I have gone to Teacher Imporvement meetings where the “Teacher” reads to me from the manual about how I should make my lessons more fun and interactive.

  61. I would only support cutting back to two hours if there was to be another hour of additional worship services being picked up somewhere else – either on Sunday or during the week.

  62. Matt W. – That is very true. The church should have (hire?) a few Regional Reps that would go through to each stake(s) on a yearly basis to teach courses on teacher improvement. We could hold them at hotels or resorts and make them getaways… kind of like all the corporations do for thier Speaker training seminars. General Session opening meeting followed by a full day of Break out meetings and team building exercises! Meeting would be complete with lasers moving lights and entertainment. (Sorry for the tangent, I provide the AV and technology for these meetings and am at work planning these meetings now. No more carry over I promise.)

    But could you imagine if the church required these classes for everyone as a pre-requisite to teaching or giving talks in Sacrament. I am afraid church would be nothing more than announcements and the Sacrament. Hmm I know a few are thinking, “That’s what it’s like now.”

    I am not reccomending we bring laser shows to EQ although that would be great! Maybe the solution equals people preparing for church. Not spending hours getting ready for the “fashion show”, but maybe at least reading that weeks lesson and being prepared to share somthing inciteful or uplifting. Or so at least we can skip the quote repeating, preferably with a loud booming voice.

  63. Steve Evans says:

    Ronan, perhaps your son would feel more comfortable at church if he didn’t have to wear his Mandalorian armor each week.

  64. He lost that when the Sarlaac regurgitated him. Ah yes, Boba lives.

  65. 2 for reasons already stated. Sunday School does little to nothing for me, even when I go with the best intentions, earnestly hoping for edification and mentally encouraging the teacher. Nothing. If I didn’t love my Relief Society so much, and wasn’t so prone to bouts of Mormon guilt, I would probably regularly leave after Sacrament Meeting.

  66. But wait… no time to prepare? Ask yourself this. How much TV do I watch, time on the toilet? Etc. etc. etc. I am sure we could find 1/2 hr throughout the week to read and prepare a bit. 5 mins a day goes a long way.

  67. Kelly, yes I understand, we need more prepared teachers (or selves). I have to admit that I do not go to Sunday School because I am out in the Hall or setting my room up for EQ with my 14 month old. It drives me batty when the room is not ready for teaching when the students (members) get there. So I am glad church is 3 hours because it gives me 1/2 hour os so to set up for my lesson. I teach on the Stage, so it usually is a mess. I also have been known to use the lighting available on the stage for effect. That is another discussion to…

  68. Kevin Barney says:

    Ben, I sometimes have used snacks in my lessons, too, such as olives for the Allegory of the Olive Tree or Gethsemane, or sugar wafers when we talked about manna, that sort of thing. I think it’s a great idea and adds a whole other dimension to the lesson and the learning process by involving more of the students’ senses. Good on you.

  69. One more thing…

    Why are we concerned as to what we “get” out of church rather than what we “give”?

  70. Kevin-

    Good idea on the sugar wafers, i’ll have to use that one….

  71. Ben S.

    Why are we concerned as to what we “get” out of church rather than what we “give”?

    well said. hear! hear!

  72. Ben, that is exactly what I’ve been trying to write (but have been deleting) for the past two hours. Thank you.

  73. Steve Evans says:

    Ben: “Why are we concerned as to what we “get” out of church rather than what we “give”?”

    Ben, I realize that your rhetorical question was meant to refocus the discussion towards how we should be participants rather than mere audiences at church — I fully agree with that point. However, I don’t think the shift you intend really solves everything for us.

    Yes, we should (and must) make the most of church and pitch in and make the desert of our meetings blossom as a rose. But at the same time I think it’s vital to remember that church meetings are an artificial and imperfect construct we’ve imposed upon ourselves to bring us closer to God; as such we should be very open to the idea that meetings are flexible concepts that should be adapted as required to enhance their ability to accomplish their stated goals.

    In other words, we’re concerned with what we “get” because we make the church ourselves, and because it’s an external, constructed institution, not some natural phenomenon. Say, for example, that your child complained that she wasn’t learning anything at school. Your reply that she should be as concerned with what she contributes to the school is a valid point, but it doesn’t solve any underlying problems that may exist with the institution.

  74. Steve,

    Ben’s question is a very valid one. Imagine if everybody at church went to church to give of all they had (not possessions but knowledge and spiritual power), instead of going to church waiting to be given knowledge and spiritual power….wouldn’t this be the answer to the question at hand here? How uplifted and edified would we be if we all went to church to give, rather than receive, spiritual blessings?

    When we go hear the prophet speak, we go to hear him GIVE of his spirituality. What is the prophet’s purpose in going to the meeting? Is he expecting to GET anything? He’s there to GIVE.

  75. John Taber says:

    But what if you get less out of the three hours than you give? That is, what if the spiritual gains don’t come close to the mental/emotional effort? That’s the way it was for me until I got into the (admittedly bad) habit of not going to Sunday School. (That’s kind of the way four years of early morning seminary were too.) I wind up sleeping through sacrament meeting all too often, or checking the time on my cell phone during priesthood as it is.

    My most spiritually fulfilling time comes from either personal study (something I’ve tried to do more of lately) or in magnifying my calling. I could leave my ward after sacrament meeting and do the latter Sunday afternoons, but I don’t feel right about doing that on a regular basis. And once my wife starts graduate school (next week) it’s not as if doing that would increase time with her anyway.

    I used to be in favor of a shorter block. Now I think things are cut to the bone as it is. As for activities beyond the three-hour block – we could use some work. That might explain why the three hours can seem like such a long time for some.

  76. Steve,

    I agree with those facts and that this rhetorical question is best left for “another discussion”. However I feel it is relevant to evaluate where the problem lies i.e. helping teachers be more prepared and church become a good place to learn. That is one of the ideas of this post. For if church were not so tedious why then would we be concerned about reducing to only 2 hours of church. The way to solve the problem that lies herein is to evaluate one’s self and figure out what can be done to correct the problem. I can’t flat out tell you what to do. but rather if we look within ourselves we will find the answer to that which we seek. That sounded a little to philosophical, sorry.

  77. Steve: But you wouldn’t suggest less school as the solution to getting more out of school as a first resort. Before that, you’d suggest a change in methodology, personnel, study habits, grade level etc. But before that, the first check ought to be to validate the claim. Are you putting the requisite effort into your education?

    I am not saying anyone isn’t putting in the requisite effort, but I think that is the point of Ben’s statement, at least to me.

  78. Steve,
    True point. However, and I know it was an imperfect example, but Ben’s child’s school isn’t based on service, our church is. They have teachers who are paid and trained specifically for the purpose of teaching Ben’s child. Our church has no such system, therefore relies on the service of others.

    But I agree with your point that the church is an imperfect construct that we have the power to change and should make changes if necessary. Any way to get teachers teaching better I’m all for. Any way to get members serving each other better I’m all for. Any way to bring the Spirit into our meetings more I’m all for. But I just don’t think cutting an hour off is the solution to those problems. In fact, it seems like it could cause more of the same problem. Less instruction, less service, less opportunities to feel the Spirit.

    Of course, I don’t have kids yet and just like 9/11, they change everything.

  79. I would like to reduce the time spent in meetings precisely because I would like to give more. The current format is not well suited to giving. There are much more effective ways of giving than sitting in a room with a few dozen bored fellow members. And remember, if most people don’t feel like they are getting much, then the odds are pretty good that the people who think they are giving, aren’t.

  80. Just a clarification. My child is not yet in school but my references earlier related to LDS primary and how they are not equal to salaried schools etc. Yet we have the power to reshape them. It is wonderful because we can make them what we want to be.

    We hold the keys.

    Also the 3 hour block is not and should not be our only form of spiritual feast during the week. However for some it is the only feast they get for a period so we should prepare a buffet and also allow them to take some home in a doggy bag.

  81. Gary:

    Are you NDBF Gary? If so I am somewhat pleasantly scandalized by your comments here.

  82. What is NDBF?

  83. “No Death before the Fall.” I can assume you are not him.

  84. Correct, I am not. Does that mean you no longer pleasantly scandalized? Dang. I rather liked the idea of pleasantly scandalizing somebody. I hope I have not unpleasantly scandalized you.

  85. I am completely with Ronan on this one. In fact my husband, who’s aunt is in the General Relief Society Presidency, and I have a running joke about convincing her to present a proposal for a 2 hour block to Gordon B. (We also joke about him trying to convince her to submit a proposal for Body-Armor-esque garments.) Actually that one is not a joke. I mean really, who wouldn’t want that moisture wicking goodness in a garment fabric?

    I truly think that a 2 hour block would be more spiritually edifying because it wouldn’t be so draining. Even if I have a spiritual moment in Sacrament meeting, by the time that 3rd hour rolls around I am feeling bored and restless and the feeling has departed.

    Yet I can admit that it is not so much the 3 hours, but as others have said it is the content. And if the content improved, I would not mind the 3 hrs. Someone mentioned that we go to church to be a community, to get to know our brothers and sisters. But this doesn’t really happen currently. We sit quietly side by side in Sacrament meeting, then I am teaching primary kids the 2nd hour, and then I am sitting quietly side by side in Relief Society, listening to very vague comments that don’t reveal much personal information (or much about the gospel). I would like a 2 hour block and then a meeting once during the week with a “small group.” “Small groups” are quite popular with megachurches and while many members think megachurches are the exact fulfillment of the great and spacious building prophecy, and yes, do have a myriad of faults, they are doing a few things right (including free donuts!). You would meet once a week in a small group with people with similar interests. So you could have an hour each week with an intimate group where you could get deeper into the doctrine and deeper into each other’s lives. And you’d still have 2 hours on Sunday to rub shoulders with the whole spectrum of members.

    Or how about a 2 hour block on Sunday and then a one hour service project during the week? Why not have the church get more involved in the community and run a soup kitchen that everyone takes turns staffing? That would certainly hew closer to the gospel than sitting around navel gazing.

  86. Katie:

    It is my understanding that there is a new “Body-Armor” esque type of Garment Fabric. More shocking is that there is also apparantly now a Men’s option for dry silque… This is second hand though, as I have yet to get to the distribution center to confirm…

  87. Steve Evans says:

    geez, one little comment….

    “Ben’s question is a very valid one.”
    I said that it was, I believe.

    Ben, your 76 is interesting. I guess Ronan’s point is that if church meetings remain as they are, you may as well shorten it to 2 hours. I think it’s on that basis that we should address his post, rather than sidestep it with fantasties of revamping the existing three hours. Let’s face it — it’s unlikely that such a thing will occur.

    Matt (#77) — I haven’t said anything that disagrees with you, really — I am just saying that we cannot exclude the likelihood that our meetings, as constructed, are not optimally configured to help us come closer to God.

    Rusty (#78) — the service distinction is an interesting one, but I am not sure it works in your favor here. In my mind, the fact that we are all volunteers in this process should make church meetings even MORE susceptible to change, not less.

    Ben (#80) — “We hold the keys.”

    no, we don’t, as a matter of correction.

  88. Gary, no worries, it’s jsut that your counterpart is pretty straight laced, typically, so his arguing for any change in the church would have been sensational in my eyes. You neither left me pleasent nor unpleasant. You did leave me unscandalized :)

  89. Steve,

    I meant it in the sense that we can put in to the meetings what we want. Not the litereal priesthood ability to shorten or lengthen etc etc etc. I wish there were a way to type sarcasm. Oh well. If any one thinks of a good idea, let me know. I agree if we strictly answered the question on a church as is basis…. that would be the consensus. I believe this thread turned into something more because that is what really drives the issue. A need for change. We would be remiss to discuss only one viable option for change.

  90. try this

  91. Or how about a 2 hour block on Sunday and then a one hour service project during the week? Why not have the church get more involved in the community and run a soup kitchen that everyone takes turns staffing? That would certainly hew closer to the gospel than sitting around navel gazing.

    I love the idea of use part of the block to serve our fellow men. When I was young our Sunday School teacher got permission to have us skip the third hour and he tok us down to work in a soup line one Sunday morning. It was a great experience.

    As far as the time goes, other than rare experiences, the only real spiritual time I get is for about 15 minutes while the Sacrament is being taken. Shortening it by an hour would just mean my son would get his nap and not be cranky the rest of the day.

  92. Hmm short and concise, don’t believe I saw any announcements either… Good alternative.

  93. just read and the poems made me think of this song. you will see why if you read it. love to you all…

    Don’t fear your best freinds, because a best friend would never try to do you wrong.
    And don’t fear your worst friends, because a worst friend is just a
    best friend that’s done you wrong.
    And don’t fear the night time, because the monsters know you’re devine.
    And don’t fear the sunshine, because everything is better in the summertime.

    But it’s never too late to start the day over, it’s never to late, pick up the phone.
    You know it’s never too late to lay your head down on my shoulders,
    it’s never too late just come on home.

    Don’t fear the water, because you can swim inside you within your skin.
    And don’t fear your father, because a father’s just a boy without a friend.
    And don’t fear to walk slow, don’t be a horserace, be a marathon.
    And don’t fear the long road, because on the long road you got a long time to sing a simple song.

    But it’s never too late to start the day over,
    it’s never too late, pick up the phone.
    You know it’s never too late to lay your head down on my shoulders,
    it’s never too late just come on home.
    Don’t fear your teachers, because if you listen you can hear music in a school bell.
    And don’t fear your preacher, if you can’t find heaven in a prison cell.
    And don’t fear your own self, paying money to justify your worth.
    And don’t fear your family, because you chose them along time before your birth.
    But it’s never too late to start the day over, it’s never too late, pick up the phone.
    You know it’s never too late to lay your head down on my shoulders,
    it’s never too late just come on home. Hold to your children, hold to your children, hold to your children, let them know.

  94. Steve Evans says:

    wither the fries, yo.

  95. Can we vote more than once? Can our children vote?

  96. Many times I’ve dreaded the 3 hours BEFORE I get to church but don’t regret it afterwards.
    In an area where the church is not so big like SL or ID the extra time spent at church each week gives my children time to be with others of their faith.
    For me, I deffinately like the 3 hours but do agree with some of the statements about lessons and teachers etc but that is a whole (albeit 1 worth looking in too!) other subject.
    I think as much as people tend to not like change people like to complain about the status quo. Here in Montreal everyone complains about the winter sow and cold, only ofcourse until it becomes hot or rainy. People seem to like to complain it’s human nature.

  97. I vote for 12 hours divided Saturday and Sunday every week. Conference, conference, conference. Oh yeah baby. Then we’ll see who’s dedicated.

  98. My family likes the three hours. My small kids really like it. My twins really enjoy nursury and my 4 year old and 6 year old love primary. All one hour and 45 minutes of it.

    As far as teaching concerns in Sunday school and EQ. Different topic entirely.

  99. Get rid of Sunday School and make every ward have an evening Sunday School that is more like Institute. It would do wonders…

  100. Actually I wouldn’t mind if they trimmed Sacrament from 1.25 hours to 1 hour as well. Do we really need that middle talk?

  101. I mentioned this to a friend of mine who has been RS President in her ward for 3 months. She was sitting in the foyer about 8 minutes into sacrement meeting near a 20 year old young lady and her two male friends.
    Girl: I want to go home already.
    Guy: Don’t you want to stay and go to RS & Priesthood?
    Girl: No. I hate Relief Society. It is soooo boring. It’s the worst part of church.
    My friend has never seen her in Relief Society. My friend always smiles and says hi to this young lady. My friend was sitting RIGHT NEXT TO this young lady, who, of course, had no idea my friend was the RS President.
    Unknown to this girl, Relief Society has gone through some radical changes since the last time she attended. But she is oblivious to them all.

  102. JKS-
    Because she never goes, right?… :)

    Okay, evening Sunday School might work for people WITHOUT children; unless they create nursery/babysitters/etc. so we could go? Or do we have to skip out every other week and take turns? I”d rather have it during church since the kids already have their classes at that time…

    My kids went to my MIL’s church once (she’s not LDS) and when the big meeting was over (about an hour), the kids were HORRIFIED to learn there was no Primary or Nursery. Makes me think 3 hours can’t be all bad… :)

  103. It has been my experience that the really great teachers are asked to teach ALL THE DAMN TIME, and that they burn out and turn into the Teachers Who Read from the Manual. I like the idea someone gave of having a full-day training at a hotel, complete with team-building activities. I think it may have been said in sarcasm, but I think there’s a lot of potential there. If we could teach more people to be Really Great Teachers, we could “share the wealth” a little. And don’t tell me that’s what the teacher improvement class is for, because that sucks poo. I have also had the teacher of that course read to me from the manual. I will never go again. (great, now they are going to call me to teach it. I just know it. $^%@#$*!)

    BTW, I voted for two hours if only because my kids are 1 and 3 and church is a complete nightmare. Day of rest my $%@!! Any church time we have falls during someone’s naptime and/or lunchtime. We spend the rest of the day fighting with them because they are so grumpy. Monday is more relaxing than Sunday, and that’s saying something.

    I went to an infant baptism at another denomination once for a friend of mine, and after they had some kind of sacrament, they then excused all the children (including 1-year olds!)to go to “children’s church”. I thought that was the coolest thing EVER. Church would be more spiritual to me, regardless of how long it was, if I didn’t have to wrestle my kids the whole time. (and yes, I realize that would mean SOMEONE has to take care of my kids while I am getting spiritually fed. Let’s talk about that in another thread.)
    There are now 3 things I would sell a kidney for: To have curly hair, to be 4 inches taller, and to have nursery during sacrament meeting, too.

  104. Molly Bennion says:

    Kevin, I agree, food is good; my favorite is chocolate covered bugs for John the Baptist in the desert lessons to kids. In fact, at the risk of irreverence, I view church teaching just like I viewed teaching law to inmates in the Houston jail long ago: as a bit of a dog and pony show. Whenever teaching to people out of their elements (and, let’s face it, few members are into scriptural, doctrinal or historical church study), most anything that grabs interest, “likens it unto,” uses humor, meets the student where he is (e.g. pop music and culture), works well.

  105. I love it when Ronan gets all British-indignant.

  106. 2.

    I (usually) enjoy sacrament meeting and my favourite is elders quorum. I get nothing out of gospel doctrine. I’d be happy to get rid of it and have just the other two.

  107. If spending more time church is always better, and is literally building the Kingdom of God than why not add another hour? Why? Because we go to church not to just put in the hours, but because there are things that need to be done, and spending more time on something doesn’t translate into doing it better, more thoroughly, or making more progress. I think there is a lot of time wasted at church meetings and that the whole thing could probably be pared down to two hours without really loosing anything.

  108. And don’t tell me that’s what the teacher improvement class is for, because that sucks poo. I have also had the teacher of that course read to me from the manual. I will never go again.

    LOL!!! That has been my experience too. Just a few weeks ago I got dragooned into enduring the fourth lesson of the twelve-week series. I thought I was entering the gospel-doctrine classroom; when I realized it was teacher development and asked the teacher if it wouldn’t make more sense for me to come back later and start the course from the beginning, she told me that no, it wouldn’t. And she was right. She was careful to follow the manual exactly and not to let the class get a word in edgewise.

  109. beck –

    I was being serious about that… Training meetings at hotels etc… It would really step it up.

  110. I’d definitely go for the 2 hour block–hey even Sacrament meeting would be enough for me. Are you planning a trial run of this across the pond there Ronan?

  111. Seems to me the starting time/distance is the real problem.

    Once you’re at church, who cares how long you hang out. If you weren’t failing to instill character and discipline into your knot-headed kids there, you’d just be doing it somewhere else. And for every teacher who reads from the manual, I will give you a quorum of simpering adults who didn’t read the lesson.

  112. Maybe I’ve just been lucky to have a lot of decent instructors, but I like all three hours. Also, we recently finished a 12-week how-to-teach class that I thought was very good.

    I remember that when my mission ended, it was hard for me to sit through church because I was used to doing something, whether translating or teaching, in every meeting every Sunday. But it wasn’t long before they had me teaching at home, and I guess I’ve been teaching one thing or another most Sundays ever since.

    I hope that my lessons don’t leave people wishing church were shorter. The kids in my primary classes have always seemed to have fun, at least.

  113. I have two year old twins who love nursery and are OK with sac. mtg. I like Sunday School (although I attend a tiny English languag class), and Priesthood is OK — and if it’s dull or stupid, I go to the nursery to let one of the workers there go to RS, or just go out for a little walk on the street. Three hours doesn’t really work for everybody, but certainly there are loads of people who need three hours of potentially feeling the spirit, especially people who live alone and want some support. When I wasn’t in the bishopric, I rarely stayed in the building all three hours…big deal.

  114. Some thoughts from a European morning…

    The “give-and-you-shall-receive” crowd are off their trolley. The curriculum is set-up in such a way that “giving” is verboten. We don’t “give,” we “guess” what the answer in the manual is. As I said, if I tried to get a discussion going in SS or PH, it would probably end up with the manual self-destructing in a puff of smoke. And how does one “give” to the talks in sacrament meeting? (Whilst wrestling 3 children who had to get up at 7am?) You’re also making the huge assumption that we don’t give in other ways. On the contrary, I go to church, try to make sensible comments, give talks, teach lessons, teach seminary. I suppose it’s my attitude, eh?

    (Beijing — is this indignant enough?)

    But I’ll take the wider point: if church was awesome, I’d happily stay for 6 hours.

    Apparently, over 60% of people around here don’t think it is and see shaving-off a dull, teeth-grinding hour as a positive move. Call us whiners and unconsecrated if you want, but I think there’s a very real dissatisfaction with the status quo. You can’t always blame the members for everything.

    Does it not give you pause that so many people are dissatisfied? If you think they are being weasels, then you are just adding guilt to their church frustration. Guilt and frustration: can we not do better than that?

    And here’s something that hasn’t been considered. What does 3 hours (+2 in the colonies) do for missionary work? Is it yet another barrier to entry? If we’re happy about that, then can we just admit that our yoke is difficult and our burden is heavy? And that the Sabbath as a day of rest does not exist in Mormonism?

    PS, as someone stated above, we could probably shave almost an hour by just tightening up the meetings and lose nothing.

    PPS, on balance I enjoy my association with the Saints. It’s a very real blessing in my life. But there are very real frustrations for some of us, especially those of us with little children, and I think it is healthy to air them.

  115. UnicornMom says:

    If it took people three hours to get to church in SLC, I guarantee the policy would change.

    Probably not, but they certainly wouldn’t take church for granted anymore. Although I definitely feel for your struggle to get to Church, Ronan, knocking off an hour would simply make it a four-hour struggle – all the same work for less Church. It would do nothing to improve the quality of Church – that’s part of the price paid for having no paid clergy.

    That is, what if the spiritual gains don’t come close to the mental/emotional effort?

    So, we’re playing some sort of spiritual checkbook balancing, now?

    What does 3 hours (+2 in the colonies) do for missionary work? Is it yet another barrier to entry?

    Firstly, there are some churches (such as Pentecostal) that can have more than three hours (though it varies.) Secondly, if someone refuses to convert because we have three hours of Church, they probably have other, more pressing reasons to refuse baptism.

    Although Church may not be as spiritually edifying as you (speaking in the general) could want, it may be that it is more spiritually edifying for speakers, rather than the listeners. It takes some people a great deal of courage to stand up in front of people and try to teach, but they need bodies in the seats – hopefully, bodies who are listening with an ear of compassion and commiseration rather than frustration and judgment. When I first came to my current ward, one of the RS teachers was so dry that sitting through that hour (pregnant and stifling) was positive agony. She would read poorly from the book, ask the most cookie-cutter questions you can imagine and drone in monotone. I, ashamedly, generally would get up and leave, sit in the foyer and read the book on my own because I could “get more out of it” by reading it myself in a cooler environment. I wish, now, that I had sat there and prayed for her rather than being so selfishly involved in my own needs that I tromped all over hers. Now, she is still not a scintillating teacher, but she has improved drastically. The other day I actually felt the Spirit testify to something she said.

    It is rather cruel and self-absorbed to sit in classes with an attitude of “here I am, feed me.” Before you jump down my throat for being so harsh, I will mention that I have been (and am still) going through a serious bout of not-wanting-to-go-to-Church and am, therefore, speaking from the trenches. I have, however, never blamed it on anyone but myself.

    A second thought – perhaps the ordeal of going to Church IS what should be spiritually edifying. Maybe you get nothing out of the talks or lessons. Perhaps your children run screaming up and down the aisles. However, simply showing up and going to Church is not without its value. At the very least, you’ve shown the Lord that you are willing to “go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.” Demonstrating your willingness to do whatever He asks of you is more important than scriptural knowledge, moral perfection or social interaction combined.

    For the record, I have a child who frequently sends me into the hallway frustrated and still chose “3”.

  116. …a dull, teeth-grinding hour….

    I can understand that the quality of Gospel Doctrine classes varies from place to place, and admittedly from week to week.

    But it is very hard for me to believe that you have never attended a sunday school class that was worth the time. I genuinely look forward to attending gospel doctrine as we travel around, to see what new flavor each teacher and class will bring.

    To me, it sounds like you are so very much smarter than the rest of us, that we are beneath you spiritually (or at least in doctrinal knowledge) if we are actually learning anything, and certainly much more than gospel doctrine teachers like me.

    The very best classes are those in which there is good participation as well as good teaching. For the Old Testament classes on Psalms and Proverbs, I basically just let people share their favorites, explaining why. When we studied Job, there was a meaningful discussion about the role of a friend in supporting someone going through a trial.

    I had left the Christmas Eve lesson open, because I wasn’t sure if it was going to be cancelled or not. When I found out I had to teach something, I got approval from the bishopric to do a lesson about Handel’s Messiah, which would use quotes from Isaiah, etc. and yet also provide a seasonal and uplifting message. We ended up talking about the tension between Lutherans and Anglicans and Catholics, and a class member brought up how Joseph Smith thought the German translation of the Bible was so good. A class member brought up about how Handel felt inspired, and I also had a slide about how he wrote 260 pages of music in less than a month and how his servants would find him weeping over the beauty of the music that had emerged from his pen. We talked about how President Kimball challenged the talented folks of the church to come up with great music, perfomance and art–and he specifically said that a latter-day saint would write something even more magnificent than Handel’s Messiah. I brought in my ipod to play excerpts, and a powerpoint to show pictures and examples of tone painting. Oh, BTW I am tone deaf and never had a music class in my life, so it was a spiritual experience for me to be able to prepare the lesson.

    So I am sorry that you are inconvenienced by this awful wasted hour, but I love teaching Gospel Doctrine, and grow from it, and my class seems to get something from it.

  117. Naismith,

    Having just been told I’m selfish, cruel, and self-absorbed, I’ll add “snob” to the list, I guess. I’ll keep on taking it on the chin on behalf of the 60% of BCC readers/heathens who agree with me.

    My wife once taught GD and was very good. Trouble is, her lessons were often derailed by people who said stuff like “black people will be made white in the resurrection.” At least it wasn’t boring, just crazy, offensive, and juvenile.

    I maintain that it’s a question of length. With sacrament talks, PH, and SS we basically have almost 2.5 hours of “lessons.” I would never inflict 2.5 straight hours on my college students, and I consider myself a good teacher. Heaven help our members who have adult ADD.

    You’re class sounded very interesting. Kudos.

  118. Proof that I’m willing to be pro-active:

    I just went to and printed out a bunch of posts and articles relating to the NT SS lesson for tomorrow. I will read them and smuggle them into the lesson too.

  119. Left Field says:

    Count me among those who would like to see a shorter schedule. That said, let’s remember that the 3-hour block was hailed as a welcome respite from the all-day schedule that preceeded it. The consolidated schedule was particularly welcome in areas where most members had a long drive to church. The old schedule typically went something like this: 8:00-9:00–priesthood (and Sunday RS); 9:30-10:30–Sunday School; 4-5:30–Sacrament Meeting. If Mom didn’t go to RS during the week, she could attend Sunday session concurrent with priesthood (assuming the kids were old enough to take care of themselves). Otherwise, if the family didn’t have a second car, Dad would come home to pick up the rest of the family for Sunday School. If they lived too far away, everyone might just have to come at once and wait around during Priesthood. Then home for lunch, and back for 1.5 hours in the afternoon or evening. On fast Sundays, sacrament meeting followed Sunday School.

    That’s 3.5 hours of meetings spread over the whole day. Add to that 2 or 3 round trips to the church and it could come to >5 hours total, depending on travel time. When the consolidated schedule was announced in the March 1980 Ensign, they included extensive suggestions of how to make good use of all our free family time at home on Sunday.

    Really, it probably wasn’t as bad as it sounds; it was what we were used to. A few things were lost with consolidation. Families who were otherwise “less active” often attended and taught weekday RS and Primary. With consolidation, I think a lot of those people lost connection to the church. Also, it was common to invite another family for dinner between Sunday School and Sacrament meeting. When I was in the Aaronic Priesthood, an advisor or bishopric member would often invite me home for dinner and an interview, and I would hook back up with my family at Sacrament meeting. It seems there’s a lot less socializing now. Everyone just goes to church and then returns to their separate homes.

  120. JA Benson says:

    For what it is worth. I hit the wall with Church five years ago when my oldest went to Seminary. Five years of hauling an always exhausted (sometimes ornery) kid out of bed at 5:15 AM to get them to Seminary at 6AM. When our family is finished with Seminary we will have a total of 19 years with two years off. The morning after Youth Night I dole out money for _Coke_ so my child can get thru the day.

    I vote for one less hour of Church on Sunday. Less Church would make me happy as we could get a nap in to compensate for the sleep deprivation during the week.

    I haven’t been to SS or RS regularly in the last ten years. I have been in Primary for the last five years. I think that Primary could be greatly improved. The Church has overhauled programs before and IMHO it’s Primary’s time. I have an elementary Ed degree and taught for seven years. It is torture to expect kids to sit stone still for an hour in Sacrament Mtg. and then sit (not as still or quietly) for another two hours. If this was school there would have had a fifteen minute recess, lunch or gym period during that time. I think that singing time is rushed and needs more time, but class time is WAY too long. Those lessons could be taught in 20-30 minutes. I think that Primary class time is a dinosaur which will be a thing of the past soon with all the molestation problems in the world today.

    So what I propose is eliminate that sharing time aspect of Primary the Presidency’s message could be the sharing time lesson. It is redundant to do both. Singing time needs to be lengthened with energy added. While I am on a roll; new songs need to be written that have a good beat. Our children are the grandchildren of the rock generation and we all like a little beat that you can dance too. Lesson time shortened to 20 minutes with two teachers in the room. Have classes with multiple years if there are not enough adults to go around.

    My last comment is that we are spread too thin. The Church needs to have a few quality programs and less mediocre quantity programs.

  121. UnicornMom says:

    Having just been told I’m selfish, cruel, and self-absorbed . . . .

    Ronan – I apologize if what I said sounded like I was accusing you of those things. I didn’t intend on being accusatory, but I probably didn’t say what I meant the best way possible. I meant that sitting there in class waiting to be fed the Spirit by the teachers was selfish, cruel and self-absorbed. If you do those things, then those things are selfish, etc. It does not mean that you as a person are any of that. It would be awfully high-handed of me to judge you when I don’t even know you.

    I tried to share my own experience and attitudes without accusing anyone of anything (hence, the “general you” and not the “specific you.”) The only thing I said/intended to be specifically to you was that four hours of children-wrestling isn’t much different from five. I had hoped that sharing the thoughts that have gone through my head while I am struggling with Church attendance might help someone else see their struggle in a different light.

  122. UM, I appreciate that. You’ll just have to believe me when I say that I honestly feel that four hours would be an exponential improvement over five.

  123. So who’s going to start the organization “Saints for Two”? I think it would spred like wildfire, and get some attention in important places. What about some letter writing?

    Gospel Doctrine is no problem compared to youth Sunday school. Bored adults are at least quiet and respectful. Bored teenagers who text message, goof off, and yawn loudly during lessons can be torture for the poor teacher who took the calling.

  124. I would never inflict 2.5 straight hours on my college students, and I consider myself a good teacher. Heaven help our members who have adult ADD.

    I guess it depends on your field and what you are used to. I’ve had various graduate seminars that lasted 3 hours, and when I taught a graduate-level class in South America, it was supposed to be 4 hours long.

    And it’s not “straight hours.” At church we move around and have breaks. I never prepare more than 30 minutes of sunday school, because we are so often late from sacrament meeting, and I don’t want to run over.

  125. I live in TGSOT, and had the misfortune of spending the last couple of weeks in Utah, where we visited two different wards. I was appalled at the poor quality of how the meetings were planned and run.

    If that’s what you Utah folks have to deal with, I weep for you, and I understand the cry for 2-hour meetings. You should all move down here to TGSOT, buy bigger houses for 2/3 of the money, and find repose in our well-planned, well-executed Church meetings.

  126. I like three hour church, and would be very disappointed if SS got canceled (I’m assuming sacrament meeting and Relief Society are not on the potential chopping block). I like SS because the current teacher is kind of dry and I have dreams that someday they will discover that I am a great SS teacher and I’ll get my favorite calling.

    Until then, I either feed my baby during SS, or sit and think of all the things I’d do differently to teach the lesson.

    I wish it was kosher to volunteer for callings, because I’m a good teacher for either adults or teenagers. I’ve told the SS presidency that, but because it isn’t kosher to volunteer, they think I’m pushy and obnoxious instead of a good teacher who is being wasted while members are bored by bad teachers. So the only calling I get is nursery (and no calling at all currently). Stupid revelation. I wish the bishop took requests instead of waiting for God to tell him what to do.

  127. Oh, and that was said tongue in cheek. I really don’t think revelation is stupid.

  128. Reduce Sacrament meeting to the Sacrament and ONE ten minute Chirst-centered talk. Combine priesthood/RS and reduce to adminstration only (what service/needs to be accomplished in the next week or two). Expand choices and variable length for SS (i.e., make it institute-like). [Some would love to spend a year examining Isaiah]

    I’d gladly exchange 2.5 (can’t miss out on the sacrament) hours of church with 2.5 hours of service a week.

  129. Last Lemming says:

    I voted for two, not because it would be more spiritual, but because it would be less unspiritual. Nice to see some good ideas emerging about how to make two hours work. But after reading JA Benson’s comment, I must say that I would gladly stick with 3 hours if we could get rid of early morning seminary. Like somebody (Ronan?) said about traveling three hours to church, if everybody in Utah had to get up a 5 AM to go to seminary, the policy would change very fast.

    And why do Texans prefer to call their state some unpronouncable acronym?

  130. Melinda, talk to the bishopric about it, they’ll be very interested in your talents, I promise.

  131. Re #120, I’m with you all the way… I think you and I commented a bit on early morning seminary awhile back, but I forget which blog. I’ve suffered through having a teenager in early morning seminary– and I think that the folks in charge really do a disservice to the kids by not paying attention to the effects of early morning seminary. My kid who’s out of high school now really wanted to go to seminary, and I never woke him up for it, or made him go. I did drive him there, but he got himself up with no prodding. Still it was a huge struggle for him. He had to be there at 6, and didn’t get home from school till almost 4, on the days that he had no extracurricular activities. He was constantly tired, and sometimes cranky, usually just groggy after school. He said that usually seminary didn’t start on time, and that a lot of kids slept in class. Class was 45 minutes, and since they started late, and then had devotional every day, often only 20 minutes or so were actual lessons. It seems to me that if they had seminary during the last two hours of the block, with no break, they could probably cover about as much material, and there really wouldn’t much loss, since much of the Sunday block is wasted in transitions. We could even still have the two hour block and just have all the teenagers locally get together on Sunday for seminary instead of early morning. My friends in Europe do seminary this way and kids are expected to study a bit more on their own. Teenagers are expected to put in 10-15 hours (and sometimes more) for church stuff, and it’s just too much. (Seminary about 5 hours a week, church 3 hours, YM/YW another hour, frequently then another 1-5 on weekends for service projects, firesides, youth choirs, etc) They need to have some downtime, they need more family time, and they need to sample the other things that are available to them in high school, not just go to endless church activities, particularly when many of the church activities are just not that great.

  132. JA Benson says:

    AMEN Paula  I think we did comment on this awhile ago. Congrats on getting a kid thru seminary. Both my kids have benefitted from the experience; despite the toll it takes. I like your idea on how Seminary should be conducted.

    IMHO We could lose an hour of Church and there is still too much for families with teens. If more people in Utah had to drive a long distance to Seminary before the sun came up and then wait in the cold and dark for 45-60 minutes to drive another long distance to school ( not to mention the gas for all this driving). I think that another way would be found to implement seminary.

    I do have to add that the Seminary experience came in handy for my oldest when he joined ROTC. He was one of the few who were able to keep their scholarship. The problem for most was that all the cadets have to run three days a week at 6:30AM. He didn’t have any trouble because getting up at 6:00AM was sleeping in for him.

  133. Thomas Parkin says:


    When I moved into my current ward, the Bishop listed off for me several positions that he needed filled and asked if any of those appealed to me. From the list, I chose Gospel Principles teacher. About a week and a half later, I was called to that position. I don’t think there was any less revelation in it for that. The experience has been, week after week, very *cough* edifying – consistantly wonderful and often very surprising. It has been good for me – since I didn’t go on a mission, this has been my first meaningful experience with investigators and people new to the church.

    re: two hours. I’m a spirit bloweth where it listeth kind of guy. I wish we had more freedom to cut meetings short or let them go long – of course, that’s impossible, for obvious reasons. There are some times I wish SM could go on forever. There are other times when the whole block could have been limited to the sacramnet and a single comment, cause the rest was dross. At least for me, and there’s the rub. I’m sensitive to Susan’s early comment that if we start cutting time we are cutting things that other members may enjoy and even need – whether or not they are or seem particularly beneficial to us.

    Not that three hours is set in stone – I’m certinaly not married to it. There are inefficiencies in the current format. Maybe these inefficiencies have to do with the spiritual content typical, though, and little enough with the time spent.

    My older children and now my young son have been pretty good about church. Through pure luck I’ve never had to deal with rowdies. (I usually find other people’s rowdies kind of endearing.) Though once, at about 3 years old, my now 19 year old son turned around on the pew, shook his finger at the old couple behind us, and said “g*****n you, g*****n you!” (As that did indeed say something about my marriage and home life, it was a little bit more than just embarrasing.)

    I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was terrible.


  134. because it isn’t kosher to volunteer,

    It isn’t? (I’m having one of those stupid convert moments again.)

    I totally get that callings are ultimately up to the Lord through the Bishop. But aren’t we supposed to give the bishop data to work with?

    Some years ago I volunteered to teach a particular Primary class, and they gave it to me, and I didn’t realize there was a problem.

  135. I remember sitting in a temple recommend interview and being asked if I attended sac mtg and priesthood. I answered affirmatively and then asked if SS/RS attendance were required. I was told “No” So, Church meetings can be 70 minutes for the women and children and ~2hrs for the males over age 12.

    Personally, I can stomach sac mtg if required (w/ a book) or by playing the dots game/tic-tac-toe with my kids. Otherwise, maybe we could just gather for the sacrament and then do a lot of home/visiting teaching.

    Disclaimer: I don’t know if the temple recommend questions have changed in the last 5 years.

  136. Lonny Mower says:

    I always attend for the full 3 hours. I just do my own Sunday School at the local 7-11 or Chevron where I can get yesterday’s donuts at 1/2 price.

  137. Bro. Jones says:

    #85: That’s the ticket. I think we should go to a two-hour meeting block, and use the third hour for service or fellowship, on alternating weeks. Bonus if we designate one Sunday specifically for Visiting/Home Teaching!

    We’re so bad at fellowshipping in the LDS Church, and it’s hard to get to know fellow members when they don’t all live in a five-block radius like in Provo or SLC. And after three hours in Church, I just really want to go home and take it easy. Spending a hour just talking with each other (and maybe having snacks and letting the kids play “reverently”) would be lovely–much more lovely than spending that same hour involved in largely one-sided, didactic EQ/SS lessons.

    And imagine if, as a whole ward, we could spend an hour on Sunday volunteering at an Old Folks’ home, or picking up litter in a park, or distributing food at a homeless shelter! If Jesus could heal on the Sabbath, so can we!

  138. Ronan already used our computers vote, but I’d also choose 2 unless changes were made. Presuming it won’t change:

    I’d like to see more diversity in the SS time.

    Why can’t seminary be in place of Sunday School, for those of us who will have the horror of getting up at 5am (not for while I admit – my oldest is only 7)?

    Or how about choir being held then, so it’s not added afterwards/before/another day?

    Or how about offering Insititute for any adult who wants it during that time?

  139. The wife speaks wisdom.

  140. The reason I chose two comes from looking back on serving in the bishopric of a then small ward. Staffing Sunday School took 4 people as a presidency, 6 for teaching the youth, a couple as Gospel Essentials teachers, 1 Gospel Doctrine teacher, alternating Temple Prep/Family History teachers, and, until recently, Teacher Development coordinators and teachers. The Stake SS President and the Stake SS Secretary were also from our small ward.

    I SS worth it? Some say yes, some say no. Even with a dynamic, prepared, and interesting Gospel Doctrine teacher we still had people roaming the halls.

    I’m not saying it’s the only factor, but losing SS would free 10+ people to be used in other capacities/not have to hold multiple callings.

  141. Probably two. I think all the teachers are doing their best, especially our Primary president. In talking with people about this subject, I run into a sort of martyr mentality: many long meetings EQUAL dedication. They say, “Suck it up. Show your loyalty.” I admire their willingness to do whatever they are asked, but I don’t think it’s healthy desire more pain. What if we had a 4-hour block? What if we home/visit taught 2 times a month? Is more better? And what if our meetings were 45 minutes? Then we couldn’t say we were more dedicated than the Baptists. Or whatever. There’s more to dedication and discipleship than sitting in a chair.

    Great idea, Rebecca. Choir could be a “section” of Sunday School just like Teacher Improvement or Family History miniclasses. I know I worship and learn as much in post-church choir as in a classroom.

  142. Joanne,

    On the home teaching topic. More is not always better. Of course quality matters more than quantity by all means. However, I feel a family should get more than one visit a month. I have a family I visit at least 4 times a month. I will go and play pool with an inactive son not because I am assigned, but because I want to. During the holiday season i was there every day during the 12 days before christmas to drop off a treat. I probably have a different view on this topic. But that is a different thread….

  143. Thanks, Joanne, for the vote of confidence! I find I’m on the fence about the length of church. As Primary president, the time goes by quickly for me. But, I’m sure the sunbeam teacher wonders how to fill 40 minutes of class time. For the Val 11/12 teacher, 40 minutes is probably a good amount of time. But, there are definitely places in church where time could be better used or eliminated. Whenever I try to limit meetings by giving the information by letter, email or a handout, it seems that half the teachers either don’t read it or ignore it, so I have to tell them in person anyway. Teacher Improvement mtgs sometimes are hard to make interesting b/c you don’t have enough time. I try to keep them to an hour, but when you have to spend 20 minutes just telling them what information is in their binder (b/c they don’t read it) then it makes it harder to do something interesting and creative in the time left. Plus, when only 3 teachers show up to a meeting, anything you do is going to go over like a lead balloon. The dynamic is just better when there’s 12 people there. I find it all becomes self-perpetuating. People don’t come to meetings b/c they’re boring, but the meetings are boring b/c no one comes.

  144. jab

    good comment, very true.

    People don’t come to meetings b/c they’re boring, but the meetings are boring b/c no one comes.

    strength in numbers…

  145. cchrissyy says:

    if babysitting were provided, I’d sign up for 4 hour church… or 6, or 8. anything! :)

    the hard part of church for us is Sacrament, because my 3-under-4 have to be so intensively managed. Shorten it, or provide nursery, and I’ll be forever grateful.