Caring for Members Who Are Not Very Active
September 1987

“Caring for Members Who Are Not Very Active,” Tambuli, Sept. 1987, 29

Caring for Members Who Are Not Very Active

Whatever the reason for their separation, their souls are of infinite worth. They are vital members of the body of Christ.

In his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul compared the body of Christ, or the Church, to the body of a man. In the Church, he said, as in the human body, each member is essential. “The eye,” said Paul, “cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee.” (1 Cor. 12:21.) Each member has something to contribute.

Paul then made special mention of members “which seem to be more feeble,” those “which we think to be less honourable,” and those which are “uncomely.” These parts, he said, should not be slighted. The members should all have the same care for one another.

Few words from the scriptures are more poignant than these: “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.” (Ps. 142:4.) Do any members of the Church feel that they are unknown and uncared for? Have we turned our faces away from some whose lives appear less than Saintly? If so, we must seek these people out, love them, and help them return to the Church.

Whom Should We Seek?

As we seek to know whom we should invite back into the mainstream of the Church, we might consider the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. (See Luke 15.)

The lost sheep could represent the person who drifts away from the path. He may not do so intentionally. He simply follows the crowd and becomes part of whichever group shows him the greater interest. Usually, such a person will respond to our genuine love, concern, and fellowship.

Perhaps the Savior used the parable of the lost coin to show that a valuable soul, like a piece of silver, may be lost through the neglect of teachers or leaders. If a teacher or leader neglects or offends someone under his care, the teacher or leader should do all within his power to recover the lost soul.

The prodigal son may represent those who openly rebel against heaven and home. Often the prodigal feels he knows more than his elders. He wants to try his own way. Perhaps he stumbles while he is in the perilous path of youth. Those close by may not understand why he has rebelled. But the prodigal’s soul is of great worth and must never be abandoned. Prayers, pleading, and persistent love may win him back.

We must understand and seek out those who have lost contact with the Church. Whatever the reason for their separation, their souls are of infinite worth. They are vital members of the body of Christ.

Feelings of the Less-Active Members

If we understand how members who are not very active feel toward religion and us, perhaps we can better help them find the full blessings of the gospel. Let me share with you some of their feelings about themselves and about the members who are actively involved in the Church.

—Almost half of those who do not attend church meetings still consider themselves to be religious. That is, they believe in God and say their prayers, although they are not committed to the Church.

—The members who are not very active often feel unworthy in God’s eyes, but they think they are about as good as most other people.

—They think that going to Church meetings does not necessarily make someone a better person.

—They think most people who attend church pretend to be better than they are and are, therefore, hypocrites. They feel that they are more honest than the people who go to church because they do not pretend to be better than others.

Many less-active members need to understand that the Church is not a club for perfect people, but a clinic for those who are trying to become perfect. We should help our less-active friends see the need for the practical aspects of the gospel and not lecture them about abstract principles.

Ready for Change

The less active are often most willing to change their lives during times of crisis or challenge. When they move to a new area, when a loved one dies, or when a child is born into the family, they may be more open to supportive relationships with caring people who can help them find solutions in gospel living.

Always, we should try to build strong relationships with the less active. Through enduring friendships we can plant seeds of gospel understanding and share spiritual experiences. In time, the less-active person may strengthen his own relationship with his Heavenly Father and become more involved in religious activity.

We Must Care More

The souls of our brothers and sisters who may seem to be more feeble and less honorable are precious. The Church has need of them. Our prayer should be like Alma’s: “Give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.” (Alma 31:35.)

Soon after my grandfather Egan left home to serve a full-time mission, his wife, my grandmother, made this entry in her journal: “Tonight the stake president called me into his office and invited me to work with the more careless members of the stake.”

Our salvation is dependent upon the salvation of others. We must care more for those who seem to care less for their faith.

God help us to go forward with the united resolve to “seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and … bind up that which was broken, and … strengthen that which was sick.” (Ezek. 34:16.)

Illustrated by Lynn Farrar