No electronics, no food at sacrament meeting

I’m still waiting to see what happens now that we’re (allegedly) raising the Sabbath bar. –Rebecca J in her latest post

When I first started covering the blogs I would get questions every now and again about whether or not the church would ever come down against electronic-device usage at church. Would there be special scramblers so phones/tablets could not access the internet in church buildings. I’d pooh-pooh these questions, the church is smart enough to realize that forcing the members to not access electronics would be unneeded censorship and we believe the importance of teaching good principles but ultimately let the members govern themselves.

And the church has been on the forefront of providing amazing options/media for learning and growth to be accessed at church. Just last week, I loved showing the 5-year-olds who huddled around my phone two different versions of Jesus Christ talking about the importance of the sacrament.

Well I think that might change. Maybe. I just heard of a stake in Oregon who read a letter to their congregations that now forbids food and electronic device usage in sacrament meeting as an outgrowth of the sabbath day worship instruction coming down from the general leaders. And then I heard of another in Utah County. Ok, well this a local interpretation, you might say. Well to that I say, watch the next few minutes of the sabbath day worship instruction video here:

Did you get that? Elder Ballard says

Surely we can expect that cell phones and ipads and games and food can be set aside for one precious hour out of 168 hours in a week for the sacrament meeting that is devoted to Heavenly Father and his beloved son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Is this going to become the next “second earring” as a mark of a branch/ward/stake righteous? I’m worried that it might as outwards markers of inner righteousness are so easy to cling onto as Mormons.  But I do wonder how would it even be enforced? What about those people who need food? What about those people who gave their children a kindle instead of a scripture set since I knew the scriptures online are more likely to be updated?

It’s always a good thing to take a leader’s counsel to try to check your personal spiritual temperature. But I’ve been impressed with the lack of lists (for the most part) and enforcements that do not accompany this new sabbath day worship instruction. In fact, if you go back in that same video instruction, you find this from President Nelson:

So let’s throw away these rules and remind ourselves often: “What sign do we want to give to God?”

Comments

  1. I have my scriptures and conference talks on my phone — the very talks that many Sacrament meeting talks are based on. I have a notetaking app I use to record my impressions. I even admit occasionally looking up the Wiki of the things that the speakers.

    These electronics are a tool, and a tool only. The problem isn’t the electronics themselves, it’s the users and what they are surfing during the meeting. Unfortunately, many times in our Church we try to ban the tool so we don’t have to deal with the actual problem, which is poor choices in HOW it’s being used.

    Asking congregants to not launch Facebook and other social media, or not play games during a sacred meeting? Absolutely. I can support that 100%. Ask me to shut it all down during the meeting? Nope. I’m using the tool wisely and appropriately and you’re just going to have to trust me on that. Teach the correct principle and then let me govern myself.

  2. AACK. First paragraph ending: “things that the speakers discuss in their talks.* Sorry.

  3. “What sign do we want to give to God?” That is the key question. Teach the “why” of the sacrament, and do what you feel is right to properly honor the Lord and His sacrifice. I have a 20-YO son with autism–without an ipad, I wouldn’t make it through church (not only sacrament meeting–all of the 3-hour block). The Lord knows my situation, and where my son is and his individual needs. We all have the ability to discover for ourselves what is right and what is best given our individual situation. Guidelines and recommendations are good, and we can all improve in some facets of Sabbath Day worship. Let’s all determine and act on the sign we want to give to God.

  4. All religions are fighting a losing battle with reality.

  5. In my (Utah County) ward, the bishopric member who announces the sacrament song adds “Please put away anything distracting or that takes away from the Spirit during the sacrament.” That seems like a perfectly acceptable boundary to me.

  6. If they take away the electronics, kids will go back to playing hangman and other “paper” games. The problem is the meeting and its content. But, of course, church leaders will never admit that, or revise the format. It’s always the members’ fault.

    I recently attended Mass in a New Orleans church. While worshippers occasionally looked at their devices, they were more involved in the service because responses from the congregation are expected. There’s more music as well.

  7. I usually come to sacrament with an array of snacks, apps, books, toys, crayons, paper, and any other device I can think of to get my 2 year old to stay occupied long enough for me to take the sacrament before she starts screaming and I have to take her out. If all these things were banned in my ward I think I would sit in the front row and force her to sit on my lap wailing and screaming for the whole hour as a form of protest.

    Nothing shows reverence and Sabbath day observance like the ear piercing wail of a 2 year old who wants to go walk in the halls.

  8. I home teach a family with six kids, multiple special needs. One kid has been sitting on my lap or next to me for Sacrament meeting for about three years now. We’ve modified our goals as time has gone on.
    First goal: Do not take off your clothing and sprint to the podium. This one took about a year, and we took frequent breaks to go turn lights on/off in empty classrooms, run around the building, and play with pass-along cards.
    Second goal: Do not run around in the meeting. This one was easier, but this toddler got the most important calling in the ward – filling the Bishop’s candy bowl during the rest hymn.
    Third goal: No electronics until after the Sacrament. Half the ward got used to the words “bread, water, ipad” being chanted from the back of the overflow section. For a toddler, if I can predict it, I control it, and this was very predictable from week to week.
    Current goal: Listen to one youth talk and be able to identify the topic before getting electronics. If there’s no youth talk, we listen for a couple of minutes until a topic becomes clear.

    It’s taken years of effort to get to this point. The best part is, the mom reports that the kids don’t go tearing through the house on Sunday morning, screaming “No church! No church! No church!”

    If our leaders want us to pay closer attention during Sunday meetings, then paying closer attention during Sunday meetings needs to be the most attractive option available. Emphasize stories in talks, whether they be personal stories or ones related from GA talks. Knock it off with thirty-five minutes on Deseret Industries, Church Welfare, or Scouting. Whatever the topic of the day, try having one talk on a parable or event from the life of Christ. Don’t make the kids run through the house yelling “No church!”, and don’t make “No church!” the most attractive option for the parents, either.

    Perhaps our next step should be a return to the Puritan values on which the United States was founded. Create a calling where somebody can walk through the chapel carrying a long pole with a brass knob mounted on the end – and issue a sharp thump to the heads of anyone on a phone, playing Hangman, sleeping, eating Cheerios, or reading. Reverence problem solved – nobody attends church, and our wards will finally be quiet enough that if anyone is there, they can easily feel the Spirit.

  9. I can’t imagine a technology ban in our ward. As a teacher, I love that class members have their phones because if we run into a word or question that needs researching, they quickly do just that and the lesson is better for it.

    I do like asking the members to put away all forms of distraction for the sacrament itself. That seems like a nice way to set apart the actual sacrament portion of the meeting. However, I also agree that if kids and adults are turning to technology as a means to get thru Sacrament Meeting, that shows as much a problem with the structure of the meeting itself as a lack of respect from individuals. When I look around my ward, those not on their phones don’t appear to be paying any better attention to the (really boring speakers and hymns) than those who are.

    I was at first really excited about the new focus on Sabbath worship, but I’m finding myself becoming less so as the primary causes of the lack of interest / reverence during the actual meeting are not being addressed/changed.

  10. My new found love of adult coloring postcards is totally going to serve me well during this wave of Sabbath retrenchment.
    I can usually knock out a couple of postcards, ready to address and send to friends, during a Sunday block. Thank goodness I no longer have little kids to entertain during church. You know it’s bad when even I, as an adult member, can’t stand church without something to distract myself.
    I got my coloring postcards at my local bookstore, but I’ve seen them on Amazon, too. Best thing invented for my mental health.

  11. At least electronics keep us in our seats and don’t make a mess. We Mormons seem to have a cultural affinity for eating and walking around during worship services that is not only disrespectful but also foreign to most other faiths. Count the number of times members are up and walking the aisles during a talk or hymn. It’s like the Walking Dead sometimes – people just randomly moving about. And food is out of control in most sacrament meetings I’ve attended. Not just any food. Crumbly snacks and candy with loud plastic packaging seem to be preferred. Do people ask themselves when packing their bags for church, “What snacks could we bring that will make the most noise over a sustained time period and leave mass quantities of crumbs on the bench and floor for somebody else to clean?” (I say this as the parent of four children who somehow managed to get through church without food.) Honestly, can’t people make it 60 minutes without junk food? Is that asking too much? The deacons is our ward are charged with spot-cleaning the chapel at the end of the 3-hour block. The amount and type of junk they find each week is appalling.

  12. Last Sunday a woman spoke about the Sabbath, and actually chastised the many people she could see from her spot on the stand who were on devices during the sacrament. I was annoyed, because I don’t bring my scriptures any more– its all on my phone– and I often read the scriptures while waiting for the bread & water to come around. I am afraid the OP is correct about this being the new “second earring”. When members feel free to call others to repentance over it, we’ve crossed a line.

  13. Clark Goble says:

    It’s fine if they want to do this, however as others noted, trying to keep kids motivated in sacrament meeting is very hard. If you want it to be adult oriented then have primary at the same time for the kids.

    Likewise I read my scriptures on my iPad. I don’t even own physical scriptures and haven’t in years.

    Honestly the most important part of sacrament meeting is the sacrament. I could handle it if sacrament was made a half hour long with the announcements, passing of the sacrament, and maybe one talk. Give the rest of the time over to classes where things are more tailored to the needs to the types of individuals and there’s more interaction.

  14. If the church bans electronics during sacrament meeting, how will members ever prepare their lessons that are to be taught in sunday school and primary the following hour?

  15. It’s probably natural to think these requests are aimed squarely at us — personally, I think it’s a grand conspiracy to stop my live-blogging of the dismal tempo of my ward’s hymns — but there may be wider problems that most of us don’t see very often that have provoked this. For example, within the past year, a family visiting my ward to support some relative’s part in the program sat on the bench in front of me. The whole bench, from end to end. Must have been 15 people, from Grandpa on down to Baby Jane. They passed a box of pastry from one to another, down the entire row. Not a box of discreet donut holes or anything like that — huge flaky pastries, with whipped cream and nuts and red jelly. Sticky, crumbling, obvious things. Things that Baby Jane and her several older siblings, at least, could not manage without getting red jelly on the hymnbooks and sliced almonds on the floor. Things that had no business in the chapel at any time.

    If this is seen very often, even in scattered places, or if there are reports of similarly egregious misbehavior with iPads, maybe that, not your one-time peek at the football score, is the primary target, and rather than feeling micromanaged we should take it as a reminder that we can probably all do better.

    I may have to reserve my snark about the slogging dirges — I mean, the hymns — for after the meeting. And I can always go back to slipping into an altered state of consciousness, the one I have to adopt for surviving long rides on mass transit, when speakers slide into their traditional sermons on “how I met my wife” or “this is my last Sunday in this ward and I want to tell you how awesome you all are.”

    We could profit from Sabbath reform on both sides of the pulpit.

  16. I just put my second earrings back in.

  17. If my lesson or talk isn’t more compelling to a listener than whatever is on their phone, that’s on me. I agree church meetings aren’t the best time or place for playing on mobile devices in ways unrelated to the subject at hand (and I’m as guilty as the next person), but it seems like this approach is helping us continue to keep the bar low.

  18. Leaders who go n this route are frankly picking a battle they can not win. I predict some experimentation in some wards and then capitulation on the part of leaders.

    Besides Sunday is when I read my BCC homilies! (Unless there is a compelling talk to listen to which fortunately there is at least one most Sundays). Rereading past GC talks which seems to be the new standard now is just awful programming, at least for me. It sheers out all the human interest from the ward member who I would like to hear from. I have read the talks (or can on my phone!).

    I totally admit to playing chess, reading blogs, taking notes on things for the week during much of sacrament meeting. Tunrs out i can do those things and ingest the content of most of SM just fine. But you know what I am in the pews (for now). I wasn’t recently for two years because I found myself leaning over to my kids every 5 minites and saying “we don’t believe that”, “the world isn’t full of evil people out together you”, “you don’t have to believe in the OT as literal” “obedience to other imperfect humans is not the same as obedience to principals” etc. Etc. I am now in a ward I mercifully don’t have to do that. I also don’t see them do anything more than encourage us to be mindful about our usage. So probably won’t effect me directly just people like me in more rules oriented wards.

  19. I’m also in the same boat as dyejo- I have a 12 year old son with Autism, and his Kindle is the ONLY way we make it through church- not just sacrament meeting, but all three hours. We will end up leaving if they ban electronics, and that would be a shame. It’s take effort for any family commit to three hours of church, but for a family with a child with a disability, it’s a whole new level of difficulty. It’s not about righteousness- it’s about meeting individual needs.

    I really hope we default to teaching correct principles and letting us govern ourselves. The “why” will change our hearts, which is what matters.

  20. There are two things that make this super ironic to me. One is that Elder Ballard was the <a href="https://www.lds.org/ensign/2008/07/sharing-the-gospel-using-the-internet?lang=eng"pioneer of the Twelve regarding technology usage. And two is that less than ten years ago he said this to the women of the church: “As a young father, I learned the demanding role of motherhood. I served as a counselor and then as bishop for a period of 10 years. During that time we were blessed with six of our seven children. Barbara was often worn-out by the time I got home Sunday evening. She tried to explain what it was like to sit on the back row in sacrament meeting with our young family. Then the day came that I was released. After sitting on the stand for 10 years, I was now sitting with my family on the back row.

    The ward’s singing mothers’ chorus was providing the music, and I found myself sitting alone with our six children. I have never been so busy in my whole life. I had the hand puppets going on both hands, and that wasn’t working too well. The Cheerios got away from me, and that was embarrassing. The coloring books didn’t seem to entertain as well as they should.

    As I struggled with the children through the meeting, I looked up at Barbara, and she was watching me and smiling.”

  21. I’m also going to revel in the irony that my comment coding didn’t work above.

  22. I’ve heard family members report there are local Idaho wards starting no electronics sacrament meetings. I could manage I suppose since me and my daughter keep electronics away until after the sacrament is passed. My husband does good gospel study with his iPad and the gospel citation index app. Helps him focus.

    Scramblers is taking it a step too far; were very good at social shaming as a tool for self policing.

  23. There’s a difference between a ziplok bag of Cheerios to keep the 2 year old happy – all depends on when your Sacrament meeting is whether you can feed them ahead of time – and packing a full lunch and handing it down the aisle which I have seen done by some families. Like Ardis said, there’s food and then there’s FOOD.

  24. Chad Too spoke my mind way up there. I use my iPad every week at church and use it to my own satisfaction.

    Michael, bless your heart for being such a hands-on home teacher. I’m sure you bless that family more than they can ever express.

    Bryan S., I very much like your idea…

    Nothing shows reverence and Sabbath day observance like the ear piercing wail of a 2 year old who wants to go walk in the halls.

    …as long as it’s only a single, simple ear piercing, of course. :)

  25. I wish I were an orthopedic surgeon. The money to be made on knee replacement surgery–for all the people with way too many knee-jerk reactions to twice-retold stories about some horror that occurred in deep dark Idaho–would make me a millionaire.

  26. I’m on board with making the Sabbath day holy, and if we’re given specific instructions like these I suspect it’s because we’re too stupid to understand and follow generalized commandments.

  27. Our stake president relies too heavily on his iPad to make this change on his own. If it happens, the order will come from someone higher up the chain than he is.

  28. To prepare for a talk recently, I asked the YW in my ward what made sacrament meeting good/bad for them. Among the other things they mentioned ( they liked non-boring talks with stories, standing for intermediate hymns, talks addressed to the youth, musical numbers and good-tasting sacrament bread), they mentioned that it was kind of hard to want to put away their phones and focus on the speaker when they see adults all around them on devices.

    I think a ban would be silly, and alienating for those who need something to get through the block, but for those of us who can make it through but are just more interested in something else, or even preparing our lessons on a device during sacrament meeting (which I am often doing), I think it’s a gift to the youth who are just learning how to listen to the talks and feel the Spirit in sacrament meeting for us to refrain when possible.

  29. Orders? Enforcement? What the hell church do some of you people go to?

  30. Same as you, Mark. Don’t pretend we don’t have a hierarchy that is heavily respected.

  31. It’s one thing to listen to and follow counsel. Quite another to start talking about our leaders ordering us to do things and enforcing those orders.

  32. No electronic devices?
    This is a complete contradiction to the wish of the church to move away from paper. We have to go online for ward directories, stake calendar, the new youth lesson manuals. A number of speakers have their talks prepared on their devices.

  33. It would certainly sink my blog statistics. I’d expected most hits to come Friday or Saturday (teachers), but instead my big spike is Sunday mornings; people reading my posts in lieu of the actual lesson they have.
    I do have a secondary bump on Saturdays.

  34. hope_for_things says:

    This is great! I can’t wait to bring more electronics and food to sacrament now. Normally I bring my iPad and phone, and snacks for the kids, but now I’m thinking game boys for kids, and maybe even a portable Xbox setup would work well. I’m envisioning an LCD attached to the back of the pew in front of us, and headsets each member of the family. Perhaps wireless would work best, otherwise all those wires could get in the way.

    For food, how about a lunch, brunch or continental breakfast depending on the time of the sacrament meeting. Of course I’ll need plates, utensils, napkins, cups, etc. Could bring it all in a small cooler and that would work well, but I’m thinking we’ll need a larger bench in the future to accommodate all this extra gear. This could get really fun!

  35. Ben, I confess. I often read your blog during the week. But I also pull it up during gospel doctrine (not sacrament meeting) because, frankly, you’re a lot more interesting than my class. For a while there I made comments in class based on your insights, but people began thinking that I was some sort of scriptorian and I had to shut it down. Can’t risk being called as the gospel doctrine instructor myself.

  36. Clark Goble says:

    Ardis, I think that’s a really good point. And I have seen people playing Angry Birds or perusing Facebook or Twitter instead of listening to talks.

  37. ALL CAPS WARNING:

    PEOPLE SURF THEIR PHONES AT CHURCH BECAUSE IT’S LONG AND BORING. THE END.

  38. I assume this new instruction was intended to address the extreme problems–surfing the web during the sacrament and eating full meals and messy snacks–and people who need to use electronics for their scriptures or their special needs child will be given a pass by all reasonable observers. Unfortunately, as a people we tend to respond better to black and white, clear-cut instructions and lists of things we can police each other on. That’s just how we roll. I think that we could probably do with a reminder to avoid distractions during the sacrament. That should include noticing what other people are doing.

    I know some people think it’s ridiculous that anyone, even young children, can’t go without food for an hour. I’m sure all humans can go one hour without food and not suffer any harmful physical effects. Unfortunately, sacrament meeting is a reasonably hostile environment for kids, especially little ones, who may be on schedules that are incompatible with the times that church meets. They are often over-tired, missing their naps, and maybe missing their usual lunch. Maybe food is not the thing they really need, but it’s the thing that’s going to keep them quiet long enough to get through this particular hour. Is it ideal? No, but in an ideal world, young children wouldn’t be forced to attend meetings intended only for adults.

  39. Actually, in an ideal world, even adults wouldn’t have to sit through an hour of boring talks and lackluster music.

  40. What hedgehog said.

    I will try to be better about my useage, but it is really nice to update callings in real time.

  41. Caps off now.

    Because my wife is a member of another church, I often see how it’s done elsewhere. I cannot recall ever seeing adults tablet and phone surfing. Good music, a short sermon, movement (sit, kneel, stand), and a service that usually lasts less than an hour is the reason why most people are engaged. As a rule, LDS services are too long and too dull, but the leadership has this unfortunate propensity to blame the members rather than the institution. “If only the members were better…” needs to be replaced with “what’s wrong with our worship experience?”

  42. There’s no upside to forbidding electronics outright. Congratulations to those who don’t use them at all. Why would we want to give those who do one more reason to wonder why they’re still coming? As long as they’re not bothering anyone else, let them do what they have to do.

  43. If we queried the church server for the internet history of all devices on wi-fi during a typical sacrament meeting, I’m sure we’d find shopping, instagram, facebook, pinterest, e-mail, and angry birds ranking higher than LDS.org.

    I think the church should turn off the wi-fi during sacrament meeting, but make no policies about electronic devices. The church has absolutely NO DUTY to provide wi-fi for the members during sacrament meeting when they are providing OTHER services that they wish to highlight. If people want to use their devices offline (for children’s games or for the downloaded LDS scriptures) they can. They can also choose to spend their own money paying for 3/4G during that time. Thrifty Mormons may think twice about paying for 4 kids and 2 parents to each download entertaining and secular things continually for an hour if they have to pay for it. They may come to the conclusion that the kids should be listening or that they don’t get enough out of the meeting to attend and that everyone would rather be at home playing electronics on their pre-paid wi-fi.

    I was about to make an exception for special needs individuals, but frankly, I loved the idea of assigning a child to fill the bishop’s candy bowl instead of playing angry birds. The American Association of Pediatrics would agree . . . children need less screen time. Perhaps we need to adjust our expectations of children (special needs or not) instead of giving them a crutch to enable them to do what they naturally can’t and shouldn’t be doing anyway.

    Jana Reiss wrote a really interesting post about why our meetings are so boring (echoing Martine’s post above). Essentially, we regurgitate the same things over and over on Sunday and are bored out of our minds. We aren’t really worshiping, we’re going through our own Rameuptom motions. Even adults walk out in the middle to tinkle (!?!) or sip water from a fountain (something they never do any other time of the week). We don’t expect revelation or miracles, we have created a lecture-style class- and a bad one at that. No wonder everyone is bored!!! (Personally, I’d pay more attention if people spoke in tongues, healed the sick, if angels ministered, revelation was given, or if someone gave a talk that was actually significant.) If we re-focused and re-structured sacrament meeting, even the adults might be able to endure it without angry birds. But, that would require changing tradition, which isn’t likely to happen.

    In the meantime . . . good luck trying to pry the cheerios away from Mormon families on Sunday. I can tell you now, that’s a loosing battle. (Did anyone speak to the women who are now supposedly attending councils with the brethren about what mothers would say about taking away cheerios? It still sounds like a lot of MEN who haven’t been around children in decades making decisions w/o input.)

    Of course, we could always re-model the pews to be family boxes (as was the tradition in Colonial American churches). Within the box, families could bring out the picnic baskets, blankets, pillows, coal warmers, etc. It’s all in your little family pen, hidden from view. Children are contained. Problem solved.

  44. “Surely we can expect that cell phones and ipads and games and food can be set aside for one precious hour out of 168 hours in a week for the sacrament meeting that is devoted to Heavenly Father and his beloved son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Honestly, in our Ward, beyond the actual Sacrament itself we can go many sacrament meetings without hearing anything about Christ. We’re supposed to be the Church of Jesus Christ but sometimes we get too focused on things that don’t really matter. It’s a cultural problem. When our sacrament meeting is focused on Christ and His Gospel, I’m engaged. If it is not (which is far too often), I find myself on my phone reading scriptures or scanning through conference talks and etc…

  45. Ronan,

    I think for most of us – anyone reading this blog – the advice from President Eyring’s father, Henry Eyring certainly applies when it comes to LONG AND BORING meetings:

    Elder Henry B. Eyring told of a time when he atended church with his father and listened to what for young Henry had been a “dull talk.” As they walked home, he was trying to think of a way to ask his father why he had been “beaming” during the boring meeting.

    “I finally got up enough courage to ask him what he thought of the meeting. He said it was wonderful… Like all good fathers, he must have read my mind, because I 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-depreciating chuckle of his, he said, ‘Hal, since then I have never been to a bad meeting’” (To Draw Closer to God [Desert Book: Salt Lake City, 1997], 23)

    Like you, I’ve attended many other religious services and I wouldn’t say we win for either longest or most tedious but as a father of small children I find we generally are the most welcoming and understanding of small children’s attendance even if we don’t accommodate them very well with our meeting content generally.

    As for changing the content of the meeting, under this new training that responsibility has been clearly delegated to the Ward Council so if you want to improve your local service then you know where to start your lobbying effort. I know I am.

  46. It seems that most of the comments so far have been against a restriction on electronic devices. While we do not attend a church democracy, I express my vote in favor of a this restriction. Despite all the positive aspects that have been noted in the comments above, I do believe that it is still a net negative. I would be in favor of the ban during sacrament meeting, but against during other meetings and classes. There is a technology ban in the temple and I think that having one in sacrament meeting would also be appropriate.

  47. I agree that local people can do much to correct it, but we’re also working against powerful cultural forces and expectations.

    Also, going to your imaginary happy place doesn’t make the meeting relevant for children or potential converts, those in need, or those who don’t yet have a replacement sermon in their head. The problem is that if you put junk in, you get junk out. After a generation or two of rehashing the same stories and quotes, the same perspectives, people don’t have the resources to go outside the box.

    I’m glad that the Eyrings had a storage of living water to drink from, but it doesn’t excuse us from our stewardship to help others find living water who don’t have it themselves and are thirsty, even starving. A thirsty person coming to this empty spigot will leave thirsty. We can’t just shrug our shoulders and put all the responsibility back on the thirsty person “oh well, it’s YOUR fault!” There’s something almost abusive about that. For some people, granted, this advice is perfect. For others, this is a recipe for frustration.

  48. When my wife was pregnant she brought some discrete food and water to sacrament meeting. I see many women in the ward doing this and I can’t see anything wrong with it (aside from the sister who brough a full-on lobster meal). As for kids, I noticed some of the kids on the bench next to mine were eating some Cheerios™ which was keeping them occupied and happy rather than fussy and rumbly. If reverence means silence, the best way to make meetings more reverent is switch back to the model where kids go to their own meeting instead of sacrament meeting. The past few months have been extremely taxing on my sanity as my daughter reaches age 3 and my son turns 6 months. I’ve hardly been able to pay attention at all, and my wife and I are constantly trying to keep them quiet, feeling fairly serious anxiety about it. These directions would seem to make my Sabbath less, not more worshipful.

  49. eponymous,

    Other churches tend not to inflict their high services on children and instead run a concurrent Sunday school, inviting the children back for Communion. Mormon sacrament meetings have to be child-tolerant because we have nowhere else for them to go.

    Elder Eyring’s anecdote is a light-hearted response but still puts the onus back on the membership rather than the institution. After all, it is the institution that builds a programme which requires amateurs to fill time at the pulpit. (Note that I am not against lay speakers; I’m against requiring them to fill an hour-long slot.)

    Personally, I’m with Her Majesty The Queen who is reported to have said that she is not so much for HIGH church or for LOW church but for SHORT church. Long may she reign. (Her annual speech to the Commonwealth, for example, is never longer than 5 minutes. Perfect.)

  50. eponymous:

    There’s a difference between a ziplok bag of Cheerios to keep the 2 year old happy – all depends on when your Sacrament meeting is whether you can feed them ahead of time – and packing a full lunch and handing it down the aisle which I have seen done by some families. Like Ardis said, there’s food and then there’s FOOD.

    I reuse to believe this is a widescale enough problem to merit words from an apostle in a training session. But I can’t figure out what he’d be referring to.

  51. *refuse

  52. And yet…depending on where they’re serving, full-time missionaries are being given fully loaded tablets. A number of my seminary students use their phones to access their scriptures. Devices aren’t the enemy; they have a lot of potential to do a lot of good. Instead of talking about them like they’re bad, we could think of ways to incorporate them – use them as resources during class, maybe. Treating them like they’re something that needs to be banned just upsets people and makes bringing an iPhone to church all the more attractive.

    And yes, I agree that playing Angry Birds during church is inappropriate – so why not encourage people to use those iPads for something more productive?

  53. Can’t turn off the WiFi during Sacrament meeting. There will almost always be another ward in the building trying to finish the tithing count, or other wards in the classrooms. Cell phone jammers are illegal in the US, as they could interfere with emergency operator calls.

    This gets back to a disturbing trend I’ve been noticing – creating hardship and creating work. It’s most blatant with youth Trek – let’s put on full Sunday dress and push a handcart through the forest in a big circle. Limit their food and water, bury a doll at the side of the trail. Our youth can do hard things! Yea, Zion! Zion prospereth! We also require our young men to go out and collect fast offerings on Fast Sunday, when the adults probably submitted that online or paid in their tithing envelope. Yes, it teaches the young men responsibility and how to talk to adults, but it also ties up a parent for the afternoon or evening – and depending on geographic size of the ward, it can tie them up for an hour or more. It’s creating work for the sake of making things more difficult. Sometimes I think our leaders keep themselves up late at night, shivering in abject fear that somewhere in the Church, a member has a free hour or two.

  54. I find we generally are the most welcoming and understanding of small children’s attendance even if we don’t accommodate them very well with our meeting content generally.

    Maybe. I went to Mass a couple months ago with some friends whose kids are roughly the same age as mine. And you know what the cathedral had in the back? Picture books about Jesus that you could grab and read to your kids. Which is to say, that particular Catholic church was tremendously child-friendly. (In fact, the same friends took my daughter to church and, after church, the organist showed them around the beautiful pipe organ, let them touch it, pull a couple stops, etc.)

    Which isn’t to say we’re not child-friendly; my daughter’s friend has come with us, too, and enjoys Primary. But I don’t know that I’d say, even generally, that we’re the most welcoming.

    As for electronics: my son is much more distracting when he’s playing with (= dropping) his cars on the wood chairs and concrete floor during Sacrament meeting. Still, I sincerely prefer he do that rather than play on my phone, and our ward members are happy to ignore his noise and that of the rest of the children.

  55. “PEOPLE SURF THEIR PHONES AT CHURCH BECAUSE IT’S LONG AND BORING. THE END.”

    People surf their phone because that is basically all they do now…..regardless of where they are.

  56. I should also note that this reminds me, of all things, of my crim law professor back when I was in law school. He once told us that he preferred the world of laptops, even though he knew we weren’t always paying attention. Before laptops, he told us, the students in the back row would be leaning back, reading their newspapers.

  57. By the way, Cheerios is a registered trademark, so the proper style would be Cheerios®. (If only I could figure out how to put that ® in superscript.)

  58. Fortunately, as one of the Ward Organists, I’ll be called upon regularly to fool around with the biggest piece of electronic equipment in the Chapel, right there in front of God, the Bishop, and everybody.

  59. “There is a technology ban in the temple and I think that having one in sacrament meeting would also be appropriate.”

    Not coincidentally, there is also a ban on young children in the temple.

  60. Clark Goble says:

    Ronan (11:06) As a rule, LDS services are too long and too dull, but the leadership has this unfortunate propensity to blame the members rather than the institution.

    That seems a bit harsh, especially given that the people speaking are typically out of the lay membership. There have been plenty of great talks I’ve heard and I’m frequently uplifted during fast and testimony meeting. I think Sacrament is way too long at 1:15 long but I think a lot of the problem is with us.

    That said I think structuring Church differently would be helpful. I’m just old enough to remember when priesthood and sunday school were Sunday mornings, Primary tuesday night, and sacrament meeting sunday evening. So it could be much worse. (Try doing that when it’s a 45 minute drive to church) The brethren have been trying to improve things. There have also been tests in various part of Utah with a shift to two hour meetings rather than a three hour block. I’ve not heard how they went, but I suspect it has had a negative effect overall.

    Part of the real problem is that by and large the membership won’t do personal study. Likely most readers of this blog do engage in personal study but we’re the outliers. Honestly, how many people have done the reading typically for priesthood or sunday school? How many people know basic things even about history and doctrine? Without the low baseline given at church I suspect people would be even more ignorant than they already are.

    Of course I still would love it if sacrament meeting was primarily about the sacrament and church wide announcements. Maybe a 5 minute talk by one of the leadership (Bishopric, RS presidency, one of the other leaders) and then a 5 minute talk by someone else. Make it ½ hour and put the rest of the time to practical learning. Maybe we could even fit an extra ward in each building then and save a bunch of money.

  61. I see no reason why most of our sacrament meetings are composed of talks. I would like more worship.

  62. Clark Goble says:

    Mortimer (11:31) I think the church should turn off the wi-fi during sacrament meeting, but make no policies about electronic devices.

    I bet most people’s phones don’t require wifi. Wifi is nice but it’s so frequently over congested that half the time I turn it off anyway.

  63. Clark Goble says:

    Steve (1:46) I can appreciate that although I’d say the most vague and confusing term in LDS doctrine is “worship.” I honestly have no idea what is meant by it. For instance many people talk about worshiping God through song. While there are some songs I love to sing (Hie to Kolob, Called to Serve, O My Father should all be sung more) I don’t quite get the worship part. I find the passing of the sacrament very spiritual and profound but is that worshipping?

    Color me confused. (Not trying to be snarky – to me the greatest mystery of religion is what on earth “worship” means)

  64. Clark, it’s a generic category, to be sure. Song, prayer, meditative silence, etc. all would qualify. The sacrament is worship. I believe talks *could* be worship but not as currently iterated.

  65. “Not coincidentally, there is also a ban on young children in the temple” – Rebecca J

    LOL

    “for the sacrament meeting that is devoted to Heavenly Father and his beloved son, the Lord Jesus Christ”

    If only… Most of my ward talks are not very spiritual and often not even about Christ or HF (rise and fall of Roman Empire was a recent talk). My kids are bored. They are bored in sacrament, bored in Sunday School and bored in YM/YW. The only place they say they learn anything is Seminary – and their teacher is kind of a push against authority type.

    When asked why my kids are bored they said they are taught the same thing over and over. Boring.

  66. In our ward in Finland, we just had an established snack time after sacrament meeting. All the small kids and their parents gathered in the kitchen for a quick lunch and then off to primary. I don’t remember seeing food in the chapel, and I always thought this was why. I think with a lot of this stuff we could make more progress if we would just acknowledge that a real need/deficit exists and address it creatively rather than kicking against the pricks. I’m not quite sure what the sabbath observance push is trying to accomplish for those who actually try to observe it at all. I think it will lead to some good small changes in my own family, but since the main contours of Sunday aren’t changing (the block, how lessons are taught, how sacrament meeting works, all my leadership meetings). If anything, thinking about improving my sabbaths makes me more likely to shirk my calling and go to other wards wards with and family more.

  67. Clark Goble says:

    Steve, I confess that a lot of the songs we sing sure don’t feel like “worship” to me and are nearly as problematic as many talks. As I said, there are songs I like and talks I like. Silence is problematic except during the passing of the sacrament. I find pauses during F&T meeting hugely uncomfortable for some reason. Again I’m still confused by it all but that’s OK. I’ve been confused by it for a long time.

  68. RJH at 11:06 is spot on.

    The problem is that no one at 50 E. North Temple has asked these questions:

    1. Is this an issue in other churches?
    2. If not, why not?

  69. @ Rebecca J. “Not coincidentally, there is also a ban on young children in the temple.” I have to disagree. The ban on technology and the ban on young children in the temple are certainly coincidental. Both are present together and though they both increase reverence, one is not caused by the other.

    Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry would agree that allowing children to use electronic devices in settings such as sacrament meetings is actually harmful to our children’s developing brains.

    To the extent that sacrament meetings are uninteresting at times, children (and adults) need to be able to attend to uninteresting things as this is often required to be successful in life. The constant and instant gratification of electronic devices, especially those that can access the internet are having many unintended consequences. Making every situation so “exciting” that effortful sustained attention is not required will not have the desired result.

    Maybe the more appropriate question to ask of those opposed to the “technology ban” at sacrament meeting is if there are circumstances (boring places) where a technology ban would be the appropriate course of action. School (elementary, middle and high school)? The dinner table? FHE? Driving? Air traffic control towers?

  70. Addendum: I would agree that improving sacrament meetings is a great and worthwhile goal. However, boring sacrament meetings do not justify the use of electronic devices as some would propose.

  71. “. . . put the rest of the time to practical learning” No thank you. We have two hours of Sunday School and lessons to look forward to after Sacrament meeting. Isn’t that enough? Worship should be different. Sunday worship is an act of communal reverance and devotion honoring diety. (Worth-ship, saying they are WORTH respecting as you reflect on the nature of God.) It can involve gratitude, reflection, dance (what a concept!), song, other forms of art (including rhetoric, which is what we attempt with sacrament talks, but often fall so pitifully short of), and devotion or ordinances (e.g. sacrament, prayer, meditation, etc.). I personally would like to see speaking in tongues and healing from poisonous snakes. I wonder what dance would look like (Shaker spinning, Whirling Dervishes, performances, etc.) That would keep me awake.

    Oh well. That all sounds too hard and I don’t think we have enough snake handlers. Please just re-read for me the conference talk that I heard the GA give and then read myself in the Ensign. Make sure that the 5 min original talk is expanded to about 25 minutes with your annotations. Better yet, let’s make this talk the Stake “theme” for the year. Every week someone can go over it. Again. And again. And again.

  72. My wife is the most devout, sweet-spirited, never question-always sustain Mormon I know. And guess what – halfway through the third talk she’s probably checking Facebook. For the Brethren to come out and cut all that out by some sort of policy they could very possibly alienate many of the absolute core of the church. …Of course, my always-sustaining wife will dutifully oblige – but is it really necessary to do this? I mean really – where is the fire?

  73. Seems to me we should focus on improving what’s coming from the pulpit, (perhaps with a class on scripture study and public speaking or something) before we try to improve the congregation. After all, we do *teacher* training (at least, in theory.)
    Why not *speaker* training?

  74. I don’t mind an injunction against using our phones (or iPads) during sacrament meeting, although like everyone else on planet earth, I am frequently drawn there. I do find it very helpful to have WiFi in Sunday School to look things up on line that pertain to the lesson (as a student). Plus, we frequently watch downloaded videos in classes. From a practical standpoint, the issue is WiFi. If your scriptures are downloaded already, you don’t need internet to read them. Likewise with your talk.

    However, I find that my battery often drains super fast at church because of background apps that are running, and I assume worse internet coverage in some parts of the building. Either that or I’m fighting with the other 150 people who are trying to get on line.

  75. This conversation points to how much more we should talk about the atonement, and what it does, and can do for us. If church is indeed a big hospital and the patients are speaking, teaching, and directing meetings we can expect a huge range of quality—from dull or inappropriate to fantastic. And while that atonement extends enables the charity we feel toward others at church who fall short (such as Terryl Givens purports in Crucible of Doubt), I agree that there are also changes to our meetings that would fundamentally bolster their spirituality.

    Interestingly, I was recently in a focus group that discussed potential changes to the Sunday School/Priesthood/Relief Society curriculum (a la Come Follow Me). While some aspects are (to me) problematic, some positives include a regular teacher training program and increased emphasis on spiritual, Christ-centered discussion. If “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ” in our these meetings, sacrament meeting should not be the exception.

  76. One thing I love about this blog is the regular focus on the idea that we are in this together, that we are a community, that we are Zion. That is also what I love most about sacrament meeting; that it is a rare moment of community in an increasingly individualistic world. We are all there, physically together, the young, the old, the rich, the poor, the sinners as saints. This happens all over the world and in many different languages – we all show up and participate in this communal act together. Sometimes we are asked to speak, or to play, or to lead, and we do our best. We give our (often inadequate) offerings: our vulnerability, our effort, our wisdom, our time. But most of the time we are asked to give our offerings in the way of our attention, our empathy, our tears, and maybe above all our forgiveness of one another’s flaws and imperfections. It’s really a remarkable chance to be fully present and open-hearted for each other and for the Lord.

  77. I recently read a book about the Amish. They attend what they call “preaching” on Sunday mornings and sit on hard benches with no backs and pray silently, sing with no accompaniment, and listen to a couple of speakers who speak anywhere from a half hour to well over an hour (each). Their children are right there with them. If the children squirm, they are taken out and told in no uncertain terms that they need to behave while at church. They are DISCIPLINED, something that doesn’t seem to happen much with LDS children. I do believe that there is a point in their services that the children are given something to eat, but not Cheerios during the service. And, of course, since cell phones, iPads, etc. are “worldly,” they wouldn’t have them. They listen and worship, boring speakers or not. I realize the Amish aren’t perfect, but I am very pressed by their devotion to God and to their communities. We could definitely take a lesson or two from them. If their kids can behave, why can’t ours?

  78. I agree. The three hour block is nowhere near as boring as being Amish all the time. We can do it people!

  79. This topic really hit a nerve, didn’t it!

  80. I will confess that I frequently get bored in sacrament meeting and wish all speakers were the most dynamic people I’ve ever met. But being bored in a church meeting is not the worst thing I could ever face. Some of the commenters seem to be saying that this boredom is simply unbearable. Seems a bit whiny to me.

  81. There’s something to be said for boredom. Moments of quiet reflection is probably another way to phrase that. And as for the boring talks, we get what we pay for, and often a lot more than what we pay for. I think if there was more kookery being preached, we’d listen more intently.

  82. No food? There goes my idea of the pews getting cup holders for our diet coke.

  83. There is a ‘no food’ rule in our ward building. Its pretty simple; no food in the rooms with carpet tiles. This includes the chapel. And everyone actually agrees that we don’t want stains in the carpet because we all share in cleaning duties (there is a roster).

    A ban on electronic devices during sacrament however? Not a chance. Our Stake President’s kids rely heavily on those for entertainment during the meeting. My own kids are not allowed to use any devices during the Sacrament itself, but we also have to keep reminding grandma, grandpa, uncle’s and aunt’s not to give our kids theirs during that time. It actually keeps them from pulling them out, which is nice. After Sacrament, we try to start with quiet puzzles and wooden things you pull small ropes through(?). But when that is no longer working, thén we give them the iPad. However, we never allow sound (no earphones).

  84. So, on the topic of worship in our sacrament meetings: http://www.wheatandtares.org/12150/worship-v-instruction/ describes my frustrations a couple of years ago.

  85. Our stake pres said ‘you might want to consider’ putting your devices in airplane mode during the block, especially during the sacrament.

    I was asked by the stake what I was most excited about on this elevation of Sabbath worship, and what I was most concerned about. My ‘excitement’ was that hopefully the focus would return to the Sacrament and the Savior. It’s called Sacrament Meeting for a reason. The focus of the entire meeting needs to return to hIm. My concern is self-righteousness as members begin to judge how other members are interpreting this elevation.

    In ward council as we discuss ways to make SM more reverent for others, the discussion turns to different people having different parenting styles. Some are fine with their children running up on the stand while (most) others are not. (Of course I am not talking about special needs children. In my book, whatever parents do to get their special needs children through any aspect of life is heroic.) We cannot be a family church without including the entire family. Any separate meeting for children would take adults out of SM to teach/be with them. As we all sadly watch people leaving the faith, we have to make sure that at least when they come to church, they will hear about the Savior, feel the Spirit and associate with fellow travelers who are just trying to get home like they are. We all need to do our part.

  86. Ronan, I am with you on the SHORT meetings, especially given how we Mormons approach the Pauline admonition, you know that non-canonical addition to the 13th article of faith about attending many meetings.

    In the spirit of HRH, let us consider Brigham Young’s thoughts on how to approach our meetings:

    I will take the liberty of suggesting to my brethren who address the congregation that our sermons should be short, and if they are not filled with life and spirit let them be shorter, for we have not time at this Conference to let all the Elders who speak preach a long sermon, but we have time to say a few words in bearing testimony, to give a few words of counsel to encourage the Saints, to strengthen the weak, to endeavor to confirm those who are wavering, and so forward the Kingdom of God.

    Interesting that this was a quote included in the 21st chapter of Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young on Honoring the Sabbath and the Sacrament. Most won’t recall that quote as we used that manual back in 1997 but the principle struck me as something worthy of applying to my own life.

  87. We talk about a “ban” as though people are going to have their iPads and phones confiscated if they’re caught using them during sacrament meeting, but we all know that’s not going to be the case. What we’re really afraid of is people giving us dirty looks or judging us. If you need to use your iPad or phone for some non-nefarious purpose, just do it and everyone else can jump in a lake. But no, it’s generally not a hardship to put your electronic devices away for an hour a week. If you don’t have young children, you can probably sleep during sacrament meeting if all else fails.

    The reason both electronics and young children are “banned” at the temple is that the temple is a more sacred space than our chapels are. Should our chapels be as sacred as our temples? Well, I guess so, in theory–but I don’t know how you’d accomplish that in practice so long as young children are allowed. For better or worse, young children in our chapels are here to stay (and personally, I’d rather keep them), and therefore, so is a certain amount of irreverence.

  88. jspector106 says:

    If we have short meetings, how are folks going to finish their lessons for the next hour?

  89. Shorter meetings, more music, shorter talks. Then bring back singing practice at the beginning of Sunday School. That would help our Sacrament meetings a lot more than banning phones and tablets.

  90. Providing wifi is contradictory to a message suggesting that electronics shouldn’t be used. I suggest some substantial changes to the LDS meeting layout to adapt to the reality of human focus. Humans have a short attention span and meetings should be catered to this reality.

    Mormonism’s currently over-rigorous focus on “reverence” leads to boredom, there’s too much solemnity in Mormon meetings, and it puts people to sleep, sometimes literally. According to historical accounts of early LDS worship, it’s changed significantly since the origins of Mormonism. We may not be perfect as humans, but hearing the same messages over and over again may actually cause us to mentally shut down rather than pay attention. More interaction would help people to focus. Three meetings which each last an hour are too long for either adults or children.

    Three hour blocks are a burden on children because they oftentimes overlap meal times or nap times leading to cranky children who don’t want to or can’t sit still. Children are not little adults, we shouldn’t expect them to have the patience for an 1/8th of their Sunday being in meetings where they can’t really talk or move much without constant shushing or direction to sit still, especially in the case of the children under age four. Children’s movies don’t last much more than 80 minutes typically, and those generally involve a lot of action, color and music to keep their attention.

    My suggestions are :

    – shorten the length of Sacrament meeting to include an opening song, ward business, a song followed by the Sacrament, a five minute talk generally about how the speaker has recently applied some concept taught through Mormonism or how they think that it could be applied and a closing song. This would probably be no more than half an hour total including ward/stake business. People in the pews would likely be able to draw more from a single brief talk rather than three talks because there’s less to focus on.

    – eliminate sexually segregated meetings: RS and EQ can meet together for fifteen minutes to discuss plans for how the congregation can help those in need and/or plan ward/branch service projects. EQ and RS should primarily be about meeting the needs of its members rather than Sunday School 2.0. YM and YW should be combined with EQ and RS respectively and join the adult meeting discussing charitable assistance.

    – reduce Sunday School to about half an hour long with fifteen minutes of instruction, and fifteen minutes of discussion to get people involved. Broaden the topic list to include material that would have formerly been taught in RS/EQ, and rotate through the topics quarterly instead of annually.

    People learn better from interaction than they do from lectures, and Mormon meetings basically are three hours of lectures interspersed with praying and singing generally slow paced songs.

  91. I’m sure this will be offensive to some people, but I can’t believe how weak we’ve become. A three-hour block is nigh unto waterboarding, if you accept the tone of some of the complaints. “I’m bored, entertain me!” Am I often bored in church? Yes, but that’s on me. “I have a short attention span, please don’t ask me to sit around and be preached to!”

    I’m all for improving things, but there comes a point where we’re just whining because we think the world needs to cater to us. Thou shalt suck it up.

  92. Ohokyeah for President!

  93. Amen

  94. This all comes from the cultural idea that monk-like silence is a display of righteousness and piety. Sit down, be reverent by being quiet. Pay attention but do not draw attention.

  95. Or maybe it comes from the idea that Sacrament meeting is supposed to be a time when we remember our Savior and his great sacrifice, and we pay him proper respect with dignified worship. Just because I may not be fully engaged in that doesn’t mean I should pull out my snare drums and throw cheerios everywhere.

  96. Walkinonsunshine says:

    From the pulpit, during a recent talk given here in So Cal, a Stake High Council member stated that too much cologne or perfume is distracting in Sacrament. It drives the spirit away. My thoughts- B.O. drives the spirit away. We ALL have our Free Agency. WHATEVER.

  97. Clark Goble says:

    Mike, if we’re defending meetings with the idea we should be tougher and endure the boredom I think the war has been lost. It’s already conceded the central point, people aren’t getting much out of the meeting, and shifting to an idea of endurance. Don’t get me wrong, in some ways I’m sympathetic. Yet the other part of me wonders why we don’t simply make the meetings more effective to their stated goals.

  98. Certainly church leaders should do what they can to make the programs work better within reason. There is a certain segment of the membership, however, that will always complain regardless of the program. After all, church used to be an all day affair. There comes a time when the dog has to stop letting the tail do the wagging.

  99. I attended several scripture groups over the summer, where we spent 3 hours discussing only a few verses, and they were fun and awesome and interesting.

    If done well, I don’t see why we can’t handle 3 hours once a week on a *variety* of topics. But the kicker is, it has to be, well, done well. We need teacher training, better manuals, speaker training, etc.

    I’m not defending boring meetings. I’m saying, let’s improve them. (I posted some General Authority comments recently about meetings, here.

  100. I’ve had an ex-member relay to me that Sacrament Meetings made him fall asleep, and that he could only conclude that a meeting that would do such a thing was a meeting at which the Spirit of God was not present. I don’t really think I can come up with an argument against that. So he left the LDS Church for one where the meetings were, in his opinion, much more Spirit-filled. So maybe the use of electronic devices during Sacrament Meeting is evidence of something.

  101. Mark N., I have no doubt your friend did, indeed, tell you that was his experience, and that in fact it was his experience. That’s not sufficient to me to make wholesale changes. My money says most people like your friend will find a reason to back away. We all know the guy who refused to come to church so long as so-and-so is bishop, and so-and-so hasn’t been bishop for 20 years and guy still won’t come back to church. Or the person who demands that ward temple night be moved to Thursday and then she’ll attend, and it gets moved to Thursday and she never shows. If it’s not one thing it’s another.

    I’m not saying all aren’t welcome. I want everybody to come and be a part of the gospel family, But there comes a point where you either partake of what’s there, or just accept it’s not for you.

  102. In my old ward there was a rule: food was not allowed in rooms with carpet. That included the chapel. I always used the break between classes to feed my children and even a 1 year old will not starve during sacrament meeting when not fed every 5 minutes… In our new ward, there is not any carpet, but my kids do not get food during sacrament meeting. As for the devices… I do not let my children use my phone to play on before sacrament, but I always bring other things to distract them. As for the adults… I always try to listen to the talks and even if it is a boring talk, I find something to think about in it. I think it is you attitude that makes a talk/meeting boring or interesting.

  103. The device remains dark through the bread and water. But once that first speaker stands up: fantasy football, candy crush, words with friends. Rinse and repeat. Only way to survive these lifeless Utah County dronefests.

  104. If you feel you’re not getting much from the sacrament meeting speakers, perhaps you could consider mixing in a little review of conference talks, other materials on lds.org.,etc., between candy crush, etc.

  105. There is responsibility on both the teachers and the learners part to gain what needs to be said. I am a High school teacher and I teach important life skills classes. I spend a lot of time making my classes relevant, and engaging. The things you learn in there are very important and I try to have fun with the kids. Some kids tell me that the class has changed their life. Some kids can’t stand to be away from their phone playing a mindless addictive game or feeding their facebook addiction.

    We have tried hard to make our Sacrament meetings spiritually uplifting in our ward. Many have commented on us being successful with that. There are still people who are bored and want to stay on their phones. If people can’t take a little bit of boredom anyway but have to be constantly stimulated, then there is a problem with our spirituality. As was mentioned above boredom can also be handled by some quiet contemplation on our inner spiritual development.

    Also we have a long way to go of spiritual development before we can build zion. The question we need to ask ourselves is what kind of classes and meetings will help us to get there. I’m not sure that having short and sweet meetings like all other churches are going to get us there. We need to have better more effective ones and we need to be doing everything we can to progress ourselves.

  106. Well the second someone tells me not to bring Cheerios or Pirate’s booty or pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to Sacrament in order to get my nonverbal autistic 6 year old with the attention span of about 15 seconds through, is the last time I will ever darken the Church’s door.

    I get that reverence is important during our Church meetings or even public places! I don’t take said child to the movie theatre for the above reasons. She can’t sit still and be quiet for love, money, or even Ipad time. But we deserve to be able to access our Church Community.

    I think we all need to take a step back and reflect on the fact that each one of us, is really, literally a child of God. And some of us need Ipads or drawing, or heaven forbid actual food to able to sit still and be quiet for the good of the group. Why is anyone allowing such small things to distract them from their own experience? How is my child eating food hurting you? Impacting your spirituality? I mean really, are you that sensitive? I’m genuinely asking.

    At least we are there. At least we are trying. Where would Christ be? I think with me in the back pew, feeding my daughter Cheerio’s and singing Itsy Bitsy Spider because I deserve to be able to be at Church as does she, no matter what her issues are.

    For crying out loud, Judgment much? Over Cheerios?

  107. Ally N: I really don’t think any attack on the “casualization” of sacrament meeting is aimed at families with special needs. Most reasonable people understand. But most people who treat the chapel as their personal entertainment hub aren’t likely dealing with the challenges you face.

  108. Hook 'em Horns says:

    This thread is a great example of straining at gnats.

  109. My son has Autism, and his little brother often emulates his “inappropriate” behavior, so we find ourselves out in the foyer 90% of the time. The ward clerk, who is often pacing the halls with his toddler, has taken it upon himself to shush my kids every time they make a peep. Well, last Sunday we managed to get everyone settled down on the couches, and as we’re sitting there, finally still and reverent for a few brief, glorious moments, he walks by shaking his head. Now I know why. We were all looking at our devices. Shame and dishonor!