Meeting People Wherever They Are
StayLDS.com is dedicated to helping people who are struggling in some way to remain involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after a major shift in (or challenge to) their faith. We are committed to being a supportive, positive environment in which people with any difficulty can commune openly and honestly in a spirit of love and support.
An overview of our approach to reconciling with the church after a crisis of faith can be found here.
Within our online support forum, no topic is off limits, as long as it is approached and discussed in a civil, non-threatening, understanding way. It is fine to express disappointment, frustration, despair, grief and any other manifestation of internal struggle; it is not acceptable to dwell on bitterness, anger and strident accusations. It is fine to voice institutional concerns; it is not acceptable to disparage or criticize individual leaders – or to condemn “The Church” itself.
We have also compiled a library of support resources to help people who are struggling to stay LDS, including:
- A multimedia presentation entitled “Why People Leave the Church” — to help family, friends and church leaders understand the point of view of someone struggling with the church
- A podcast feed (iTunes required) — including several audio interviews and presentations about staying in the church
This is not a place for polemics, debate or heated argument; it also is not a place for classic “apologetics”. While we would love to help anyone, this site is focused primarily on those who have moved past their initial feelings of bitterness and anger – or, at least, desire to do so and remain actively engaged with and/or within the LDS Church.
In order to do this, it is necessary to meet people wherever they are – to speak their language – to recognize the reality and validity of their personal struggles. Those who actively participate here all have experienced somehow, to some degree, the feelings Elder Joseph Wirthlin identified in his April 2008 General Conference talk, “Concern for the One”. He said:
1) “Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.
2) “Some are lost because they are weary. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed . . . Others simply feel too weak to contribute. And so, as the flock moves on, gradually, almost imperceptibly, some fall behind. Everyone has felt tired and weary at one time or another.”
3) “Some are lost because they have strayed. Except for the Lord, we have all made mistakes . . . the Church is a place for imperfect people to gather together”
Due to the singular mission of this forum, we reach people by speaking in terms with which they are comfortable (even if that means we sometimes use words or phrases that sound foreign, or even “non-Mormon,” to many active members) in order to help craft mutually understandable discussion. We accept unorthodox ways of framing many things, if that is necessary to foster faith and activity with and within the LDS Church; we also accept many orthodox ways of framing many things. We have no particular vision that all must accept, but we also are striving to foster true communal commitment for those who have felt isolated from the “mainstream” community. We are not attempting to create a separate community; rather, we are attempting to strengthen the LDS Church by helping those who are struggling find a way to swim once more in the mainstream – even if that means they must do so at varying levels of “activity” and with slightly unique views of some teachings. We prefer to have them with us as we worship than have them be somewhere else while we worship. In summary, we listen for the sounds of the non-piccolos and encourage them to tune their own unique instruments in a way that will bring a uniquely “beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.”
For any members who find this site who are not struggling in some way, please understand that we are Mormons who love Mormonism – that our mission is to “reach out to the one(s)” who have experienced some kind of crisis of faith (who feel different, are weary and/or have strayed) and help them find a new home in the fellowship of the saints. We are not here to preach any particular doctrine or enforce any common standard or create any kind of “cookie cutter” member. As Elder Wirthlin said, we understand that not all faithful members will “look, talk and be alike”. We remember that Joseph Smith said: “It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” (History of the Church, 5:340) We are not here to judge or condemn or challenge others’ views “in doctrine”. We all see things in our own way, and we strive to honor that individuality. We are here to reach out and share and interact with all who desire a safe and caring place to converse about their own attempts to endure to the end on their uniquely individual journeys within our collective LDS community.