Editor's note: A version of this was previously published on the author's website.
I recently attended a stake leadership meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The stake president asked a conversation-generating question.
“How has the church changed recently? What do those changes mean for you and why?”
I had two immediate thoughts when I heard these questions.
Before I share those two ideas, I’ll share the list our group rattled off in about five minutes of discussion.
Our list was not meant to be a comprehensive documentation of all the changes in the church in the past several years. You’ll likely think of other items that could be added to this list.
1. Focus on the name of the church as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”
2. Two-hour church services on the Sabbath
3. Youth programs
4. Relationship between the church and the Boy Scouts of America
5. Changes in quorums and classes
6. New curriculum
7. New temples announced
8. Changes to temple endowment
9. Changes to temple sealings
10. Changes to temple initiatory
11. Changes of temple callings to be not simply a veil worker, but an ordinance worker
12. Changes to mission age
13. Changes to missionary dress for women
14. Changes to missionaries being able to video conference with family weekly
15. Changes to length of service for church service missionaries
16. Changes to temple youth participation age
17. Changes to the age young women can enter the Young Women program
18. Changes to the age when young men can receive the priesthood and enter the Young Men program
19. Changes to family study time
20. Family-centered, church-supported gospel learning
21. Ministering program
22. Youth involvement in the ministering program
23. Elders quorum restructuring
24. Women praying in general conference
25. Changes to general conference schedules
26. Women who have children at home serving in the temple
27. Bishops and stake presidencies being able to hold temple callings
28. Changes to ward mission leaders
29. New technologies to support family history
With that list in mind, here are the two thoughts that came to my mind upon hearing my stake president’s question.
1. We do not simply believe in 'the theory of revelation'
First, we believe in modern-day revelation. We should expect change. We should expect new ideas. We should expect updates. We should expect expansion. We should expect the norm to give way to the new.
We should expect revelation.
We do not simply believe in the theory of revelation.
We believe in, act on and accept the practice and reality of revelation — daily, ongoing, persistent, ever-flowing.
2. The church is changing. So what?! Am I?
During the entire conversation I could not dislodge these growing thoughts from my mind:
No matter how much the church changes …
No matter how much revelation is received by church leaders, or by me …
No matter if the 116 lost pages are found …
No matter if the remaining two-thirds of the Book of Mormon — which is currently sealed — is translated, bringing forth more than 1,000 pages of additional scripture …
No matter if angels return to the earth declaring glad tidings …
No matter if more temples are built to dot the earth …
No matter if church programs come and go …
No matter if our missionary ranks swell into the hundreds of thousands or the millions …
No matter if the church changes much or little in my lifetime …
No matter if BYU eventually beats the University of Utah, just one more time before I die …
Only one thing matters.
Am I changing? Is my heart changing?
Am I loving God with all my heart, might, mind, and strength, and my neighbor like myself?
The only change that truly matters for our personal salvation, for peace in our families, for peace in communities and nations, is the change of our own hearts.
In all of our excitement and enthusiasm for ongoing revelation and change in the church, I’m hopeful that I am more excited and enthusiastic to pay the price to have my own heart changed.
Perhaps then I can join with the Lamanite king who humbly pleaded with God, “I will give away all my sins to know thee” (Alma 22:18).
That is a change worthy of rejoicing!