I suggest the following:
Provide a ward bulletin to those who are less-active. This gives them an idea of what happens on Sunday. Be sure to let them know the starting time of sacrament meeting, especially at the beginning of each year. Attend Church with them. If this is not possible, give them specific details on where they go in the building each hour.- Provide a stake calendar so they know stake activities on a monthly basis. Circle important events on the calendar. Also, a ward and stake roster with all the names and addresses of stake members is helpful.
- Let them know about general conference so they can either watch it on satellite at the stake center or on TV at home. Be sure to let them know the channel to watch.
- Inform them when stake conferences will be held. Mention the Saturday evening session. Let them know who the speakers will be and perhaps a little bit about their background.
- Make sure they have a Relief Society or elders quorum manual for the year. Let them know what the lesson will be each Sunday.
- Share your Church publications such as Church News and Ensign. This is a wonderful way to let them know about the gospel and its members.
- Show where to get the donation slips for paying tithing.
- Be sure to let them know about "Know Your Religion" programs and where they are held and the times. It makes it much easier if you invite them to go with you. - Janet Hanby, Vancouver, Wash.
How we did it:
In 1979, our home teachers and my visiting teachers did the following that made a difference in our lives:
- They did not wait until the end of the month to visit and "just" get their visit in.
- They invited us to do things with their families that were not Church-related, and eventually we became real friends.
- They did not judge us even though our lifestyles were very different.
- They loved us unconditionally, and we felt their love.
- They prayed for us, and when guided by the Spirit, they expressed the joy they had experienced through their membership in the Church.
- They shared spiritual experiences with us, and we, in turn, were touched by the Spirit.
- They were patient with us as we struggled to learn gospel principles and eventually incorporate them into our lives. - Tessa Nordfelt Kothman, Brandon, Fla.
Faithful visiting teacher
Ten years ago I was very inactive. I really felt at this time I was missing the gospel in my life. I remember a very sweet lady calling me and introducing herself as my visiting teacher. This kind, gentle woman faithfully visited with me every month. It was through her kind persistence, her friendship and love that the transition from less-active to active was made easy. - Rebecah Snowden-Lubach, El Cajon, Calif.
I am a missionary in the Korea Seoul Mission and have been for the past 19 months. I have worked a lot with less-active members and have learned a lot from them. The number one thing they need is to feel comfortable at Church. They need to feel love and friendship from others. If they feel pushed, then they are not comfortable. So my advice is to be an example and help them through a loving friendship. Most importantly, turn to the Lord for answers, because He has them all. - Elder Kit James Morrison, Korea Seoul Mission
Pray for change
I am the wife of an less-active member. My husband has come to Church on occasions, but he has only been active at one point for four months. I pray for my husband to have the desire and strength to come back to Church. I know I can't change him; nor do I want to, but I can pray to change myself. I pray I will be a better example and to love him unconditionally. - Kelly Sikes, Inglewood, Calif.
I was less-active for more than four years. My parents were always very supportive of me and never pushed me to come back to the Church. Through their example and a yearning to become closer to my Heavenly Father, I made the announcement that I wanted to go back to Church one November day. They came with me the first time. It helped to have someone I knew there.
When people began to discover that I was less-active, it didn't seem to matter to them. There were many families who invited me to sit with them in sacrament meeting. I was given little assignments those first three months that helped me get to know ward members. This ward's love and support was tremendous, and today I am an active member and recently went to the Washington Temple to receive my endowment. - Rebecca Mrkva, Dublin, Ohio
Those returning to activity in the Church will get counsel from the bishop and gospel instruction from Church teachers. What they need from the rest of us is a friendly smile, a warm handshake, a telephone call just to say "hi," a letter or card sent to cheer and support, and a plate of cookies or other goodies. These are what will help the less-active return and feel a part of the Church.
Do not ask embarrassing questions about their past life. If they bring something up, however, be open and supportive. We all have areas of our lives that we are not particularly proud of and don't want made public. So protect confidences and feelings of others who have shared their lives with you.
My mother used to say, "They haven't done anything for which they can't repent!" That leaves the door open to all, including ourselves.
Many people wrongfully assume that a person who has been less-active is of lesser value than themselves. We don't say that out loud, but by our actions we convey that impression. Judging another can only lead to disappointment and sorrow for both parties involved. - Warren R. Webb, Salt Lake City, Utah
The years I was away from the Church were long, but a lady I once worked with in a beauty salon in Los Angeles knew what the Lord wanted her to do for me, and she did it.
Violet Smith wasn't afraid to discuss the Church with me. She also provided me with her copies of the Church News and the Improvement Era, published at the time. These materials kept me abreast of the Church I felt I didn't need at the time.
I owe her a lot because she kept me informed about the Church and showed her love and concern. She set a good example. - Marjorie G. Ault, Cherokee, Okla.
How to checklist:
1 Love them, include them;
be sincere, don't judge.
2 Pray for help, share spiritual
experiences; be example.
3 Let them know about meetings, activities; be patient.
4 Realize importance of faithful
home and visiting teaching.
WRITE TO US:
Dec. 17 "How to keep the Sabbath day holy."
Dec. 24 "How to filter out the bad from television and music while utilizing the good."
Dec. 31 "How to focus more on the spiritual and temporal well-being of children during 1995."
Jan. 7 "How to enhance your testimony of the Savior through studying the New Testament."
Jan. 14 "How to cope as a family with crisis."
Jan. 21 "How to cooperate as parents in the discipline of your children."
Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, or send fax to (801) 237-2121. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.