Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hoppin' the Wards

I found a great article on "ward hopping" in today's Mormon Times. Maybe it's because I'm a recovering ward hopper myself, but I'm enthralled by this practice.

It seems innocent enough; a Latter-day Saint (most often of the young, single and college-student variety) doesn't enjoy his/her ward and begins to "shop around" to find a place where they can participate. They'll try a ward for a week or two, then move on to other ventures if they don't "enjoy" that ward, or request for the Bishop to transfer their records if they do. Often times, this "hopping" can take months, or even years, to find a "suitable home ward," and these ward hoppers will only attend one or two meetings, rather than the full three-hour block, to avoid "being noticed" by the Bishop, Elder's Quorum Presidency, or Relief Society President. Eventually, they find someplace, though.

Think of all the blessings they've missed out on in the meantime.

If you don't regularly attend the ward in which your records reside, you can't serve. You can't receive a calling, temple recommend, or pay tithing. So, if you want to "visit" another ward for "prospects," go ahead. But please, do it after you've fulfilled your obligations to your ward.

I know it may sound harsh to some people, but the Gospel isn't just there to serve your every need and desire. The church needs you, to serve and be served. And if you aren't regularly participating, with a calling and responsibility, you aren't fulfilling your responsibilities as a member.

Remember when you were baptized? What promises did you make? Something involving "mourn with those that mourn," and "comfort those that stand in need of comfort"? In other words, magnify your calling. The more you do that, the more you will feel the Spirit in your weekly interaction and church meetings. And that will help you to love your ward, no matter where you are serving.

But to do that, you need to have a full-time ward; this isn't a process that happens by hopping.

I tried ward hopping, and found a fabulous ward. I had heard the rumors of "the sucky ward" in which I lived, and decided to "try out" the wards where my friends attended. I went to a few, never staying for longer than two weeks, and eventually found a ward whose boundaries were only a block away from my house; I didn't think much of it.

Until the Bishop found out where I lived. He told me that he had talked to the other bishop, and that I needed to attend my own ward. He even promised that I would be blessed for it. I was angry, but decided to follow his counsel.

It took a few months, namely because of my extreme introversion, but I fell in love with that ward, too. Because I went with a purpose, involved myself, and served the other members. I served in that ward, in various callings and capacities, for two years, until I graduated from BYU. And I loved every week of it.

When I moved to Las Vegas, I immediately set out to find the local singles wards. I went to the bishop of the ward that covers UNLV and downtown Las Vegas. Then, I found the ward in which I lived; the chapel was only two miles from home, so I attended for a few weeks.

At first, it was boring, even painful, to go to church with so many strangers, few "interests" in the Relief Society, and an Elder's Quorum that didn't even have room for me to receive a home teaching assignment.

But I kept going. And now, after six months in that ward, it feels like home. And I am considering finding a job in Vegas that will keep me in the ward even after my current internship lapses.

By the way, I still don't have an assignment; or a calling. And I only have a handful of "friends" or "clique-mates" in that ward. But I've attended with purpose, trying to participate in class discussions and study the lessons well enough to be active as far as possible in my ward.

And I love it.

1 comment:

  1. Very well-written! Glad to see that there are some YSAs that get it!