David Ostler is no stranger to the struggles of those going through a faith crisis, as he himself has children who have faced this challenge. His book “Bridges: Ministering to Those Who Question” is his way of helping those who believe to better understand those who struggle with their beliefs.
Ostler cites research from other experts, as well as his own, to point to the main reasons members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may find themselves doubting in the first place, and outlines the key elements necessary for a religious foundation to be strong. Ostler gives real life examples of those who have had honest and sincere questions, but have been met with hostility from leaders and other members upon raising these questions.
In the second section, he proposes responses that could better help these questioning members to continue to feel the trust, belonging and meaning that they need to stay strong in their religion, even throughout their trial of faith.
The third section details what ministering is and how people can apply this responsibility when it comes to those in faith crises. Ostler reiterates the importance of listening without preaching, testifying or giving unwanted advice; avoiding behaviors that alienate others; and considering another’s perspective from where he or she is standing. He also stipulates that supporting and lifting does not mean we need to agree. It only means doing everything possible to help others feel loved, important and heard.
Bridges is a helpful and insightful resource for anyone wondering how to respond appropriately, kindly and compassionately to loved ones who are questioning their faith. It’s also a useful tool for leaders who may find it challenging to know how to help those who question and doubt church doctrine and teachings.
Ostler has been a bishop, stake president and mission president. He has degrees from the University of Utah and Dartmouth College, and is retired with 30 years of experience as a business executive. He and his wife, Rachelle, have six children and live in Virginia.
Megan Jensen is a BYU graduate, mom, writer and avid traveler. Find her at www.megankjensen.com.