Monday, December 31, 2018

Strengthening The Men In The Elders Quorum






By The MMM Brain Trust



It’s not a very well-kept secret that the men as a whole in the church are struggling.  There are more active women than men.  In the 20-30 age range there are more single women, than single men. More families are without fathers in the home them without mothers in the home. And the inactivity rate for men coming out of the young men’s program is staggering high. We have some issues with us as Modern Mormon Men. The Church has been talking about this for a few years now. I even think that this was one of the main reasons for the changes to the Elders Quorum this year. We are not in defcon 5 by any means, but we are certainly due for a course correction to increase / change the way we strengthen ourselves and our brothers in the church.
This is a group article. A bunch of us here at MMM some how started discussing the topic and we came up with a set of six points. Three that address fallacies with the way we and the church assume the adult men in the church are getting spiritually feed. And three items that wards and quorums already have the authority to do according to the handbook that can be changed.


Let’s start with the fallacies and put it into a question: How to spiritually feed the men in the church? here are some typical answers and problems with those answers.

Answer #1: We strengthen men in Sunday quorum meetings. Quorum meetings are fine, and a few times a year I have a lesson that is great. In the group writing this article none of us feel that we are constantly feed in quorum meetings. Sure, there are some Sundays that touch us, but for the most part it’s a class where allot of the time is spent telling us what the church needs from us, not necessarily feeding us spiritually or focused on refilling our spiritual gas tanks. 

Answer #2: Men get spiritually feed as they serve other in leadership positions. This is true, for those few that get those leadership positions.  It seems now days that it’s the same men that circulate though those types of positions again and again. For those that are not in that group, they can struggle to keep being spiritually feed, and seam to eventually burn out. 

Answer #3: We are strengthened by doing acts of service.  Of course, this is certainly true. To a point. Even the Lord would retire from the crowds to spend time with this twelve or his Father in efforts to refill his spiritual gas tank. Giving has great returns, but there needs to be a balance. A man that is asked to constantly help people move, setup and take down chairs, sit in the foyer while the RS is having an activity or being pigeon holed in scouting for a decade, is going to burn out.  If we don’t put as much into the spiritual gas tank as we take out, eventually its going to run empty.

We have solemn and serious responsibilities to make sure the temporal and spiritual needs of the church, our families and our wives are taken care of. But we also have a solemn duty to our brothers in the priesthood, to make sure that they are spiritually feed as well. We need to strike a balance between the efforts being put out of from each brother and the spiritually feeding they are getting in return.  To borrow an old general conference adage, we need to make sure we have a good system for refilling our spiritual gas tanks. This is something that the church is working on and most likely one of the main purposes of combining the High Priest and Elders quorums. But there are some things that we can do ourselves in the Elders Quorum as well as on the ward and stake levels right now to start strengthening the Modern Mormon Man. Here are three ideas:


1.       Get the Bishopric to assign good days and times for activities.
If your ward is like most wards and you want to have an elder’s quorum activity you get stuck with Friday night, which is also date night, or Saturday which is full of family activities. Monday is spoken for. Tuesday/ Wednesday is youth nights at the Church. Thursday is reserved for stake meetings and Ward level Relief Society meetings.  Which leave Friday and Saturday the nights hardest two nights for a family man to be free on.  This is equating to low attendance numbers to the activity.  Our suggestion; work with your bishop get one Thursday night a quarter for the Elders quorum. And don’t just do sports, have dinners, lectures, game nights…. etc. 


2.       Minister to the family but pay some special attention to the brother.
This is a big one.  We need to minister to our families, that is the call. But a few times a year grab dad and sons and spend some guy time. It never fails when doing a PPI. I would ask a father how he is doing and he answers with how his family is doing.  When they finish, I lean forward and say “that’s great, but my questions was, how are you doing”? Most men have never in their adult life had someone from the church express direct interest and caring just for them. That pattern of questioning along with real care for the individual brother has led to some of the best spiritual discussions I have ever had. Show the brethren you minister to that in addition to their families, you truly care about them.  Our sisters have visiting teachers for this purpose, we need to show the love to our brethren as well.



3.       Up the budget. We all know the saying put your money where your mouth is. But with ward budgets as low as they are (about 30 USD per member per year) its hard to get funding and the EQ usually is the one that gets shorted.  My family and I were in several wards as we moved around in the school and early professional years.  One constancy I saw in every ward I was in was an EQ budget of either $50.00 or $100.00 dollars a year. Contrasted with a Relief Society budget of $600.00 to $800.00 per year.  And most years the EQ lost that budget to the Youth programs that were always running over budget. The ward budget is totally in control of the Bishopric, work with them to level this out a bit. If the EQ could get just $400.00 a year that would be one decent activity a quarter. Just make sure to use these funds to bless the quorum. If we lobby for the funds but don’t use it wisely, we are right back where we started from.


Don’t get us wrong.  If we get caught up in just feeding ourselves, we eliminate ourselves from the blessings of serving others, as the priesthood is solely intended to do. But serving each other in the quorum is also part of that priesthood purpose of service. There is a balance that has to be struck, if we don’t find a way to better feed ourselves spiritually, we run the risk of letting those down that depend on us.


Note: this is a group article the result of work product of a discussion between seven MMM.

Note: this group article is the result of a discussion between seven Modern Mormon Men staff members.

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