Sunday, May 27, 2018

Why Doesn’t the Mormon Church have Ministers?

If you are here just to have the question answered, the answer is we do and we don’t. If that satisfied your curiosity then great; if want to know more, then read on.

If you Google the word minister there are two main definitions, a noun and a verb. The noun is used to describe a member of the clergy, especially in Protestant churches and as a head of a government department such as Britain’s defense minister. The verb describes a person that tends to, care for, take care of, look after, administer to, help, or assist someone. (Google definition of minister) An example of this type of a minister is the Good Samaritan from New Testament teachings of Jesus Christ.

Protestant Minister
British Minister of Defense

As a teenager my family attended the Methodist Church in a small Indiana town and there was a minister for our local congregation. The Minister was the person that was hired by the local church to take care of the spiritual needs of the members. He was responsible for all the finances, all the various youth and adult programs, he was the person that gave the sermon during the Sunday services and he was paid a salary to provide for his needs and his families. There were also volunteers who helped teach Sunday School, work with the Youth Programs, helped with the nursery, and many other programs; but the Minister was the one person that was responsible for everything.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we don’t have a paid minister, we have a lay clergy. The Bishop is the closest thing we have to a Protestant Minister. The bishop, along with his counselors, is responsible for a ward or local congregation. Bishops are not paid for their work in the church. They continue to work in whatever profession they have in addition to serving as Bishop.

During this past April Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson had this to say:

“Dear brothers and sisters, we constantly seek direction from the Lord on how we can help our members keep the commandments of God, especially those two great commandments to love God and our neighbors.

“For months we have been seeking a better way to minister to the spiritual and temporal needs of our people in the Savior’s way. “We have made the decision to retire home teaching and visiting teaching as we have known them. Instead, we will implement a newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others. We will refer to these efforts simply as ministering.” (“Ministering”)

In the same conference session Elder Jeffery R. Holland added this plea:

“Brothers and sisters, we have a heaven-sent opportunity as an entire Church to demonstrate “pure religion … undefiled before God”  “to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” and to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort,” to minister to the widows and the fatherless, the married and the single, the strong and the distraught, the downtrodden and the robust, the happy and the sad—in short, all of us, every one of us, because we all need to feel the warm hand of friendship and hear the firm declaration of faith.” (Be With and Strengthen Them)

As members of the Lord’s Church we are all ministers in the verb definition of the word. We are to be modern day “Good Samaritans” and look for opportunities to tend to, care for, take care of, look after, administer to, help, or assist our neighbors, co-workers, family, and yes even the stranger that has been left on the side of the road. In other words we are to be as the Savior was to those he ministered to. We should pray each day for the Lord to guide us to someone that we can minister to in some way and then as we go about our normal daily labors we should watch for and listen to the promptings that will come. As we do this we will be surprised at how many opportunities we will have to provide Christ like service to those who we meet. Watch this short video from the web site that provides a vision of what ministering is:

I invite you to share this message with your social media friends and hope you will share your thoughts and comments with me.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Loving Dandelions

Today in our fast and testimony meeting a young women spoke about how she loves dandelions. She said it was her favorite flower. Most people do not like dandelions and try to get rid of them when they grow in their yard; just yesterday I was out pulling them up and throwing them away. She said that even though the dandelion is hated we should look for the beauty that the flower has and she suggested that it is even useful in salads. She said there are many beautiful flowers and some are loved more than others and some are hated like the dandelions. Heavenly Father created the dandelions and he loves all of his creations.

We live in a world that has many different types of people. There is a variety of races, religions, good people and evil, those that keep the commandments and those that don’t. Heavenly Father loves all of his children – even those that have strayed from his commandments and have fallen off the gospel path. We need to emulate the love that Heavenly Father has and strive to love all his children even those that we feel, like the dandelion, have no place in our lives or should be cast off.

I am reminded of the time that Christ goes from Jerusalem to Galilee through Samaria. Samaria was what was left of the Norther Kingdom of Israel when they were defeated by the Assyrians. The conquerors took the children of Israel and replaced them with others and those that remained intermarried with them and were called Samaritans. The Jews thought that the Samaritans were unclean and would avoid going through the country or even talking to a Samaritan. Jesus chose to go through Samaria on his way to Galilee. He stopped at Jacob’s well and asked a Samaritan women to give him something to drink. The Jewish leaders would never have had a conversation with a women, let alone a Samaritan women. When the disciples found the Savior speaking to the Samaritan women, they wondered among themselves why he was speaking to her (though they did not have the courage to ask him directly).

When the Samaritan women questioned him about the Messiah that should come, Jesus simply said: “I that speak unto thee am he”(John 4:26). She believed and went into the village and told everyone to come see the Christ. Many villagers came and were converted and Jesus spent two days teaching the people of the village.

Why would Jesus go out of his way and go through Samaria and then speak to a women that was living in adultery? Could it be to teach us that all of Heavenly Father’s children are loved by him? We need to have the same love for all of our brothers and sisters, even those we consider to be unclean, sinners, or lost.

The Savior speaking to those in the Americas after his resurrection told them to welcome everyone to their meetings and minister unto them and pray for them “for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them” (3 Nephi 18:30-32).

If you were sitting in church and someone came and sat next to you and they smelled of alcohol or had tattoos or piercings that you did not like what would you do? Would you move or would you introduce your family and welcome them? We know what the Savior would do, he would seek them out and welcome them and teach them as he did the Samaritan women.

There are many of Heavenly Father’s children that think they are the dandelions of the world and have no place and are cast off. We need to have that Christ like love and look for the beauty that everyone has and truly minister to everyone because we “for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them”.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome.