Common Questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Christians?
Yes! We believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the World, and we strive to follow Him. Like many Christian denominations, the specifics of our beliefs vary somewhat from those of our neighbors. But we are devoted followers of Christ and His teachings. The unique and beautiful parts of our theology help to deepen our understanding of Jesus and His gospel.
Do you believe in the Trinity?
The Holy Trinity is the term many Christian religions use to describe God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. We believe in the existence of all three, but we believe They are separate and distinct beings who are one in purpose. Their purpose is to help us achieve true joy, in this life and after we die.
Yes! Jesus is the foundation of our faith—the Son of God and the Savior of the World. We believe eternal life with God and our loved ones comes through accepting His gospel. The full name of our Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reflecting His central role in our lives. The Bible and the Book of Mormon testify of Jesus Christ, and we cherish both.
We believe that death is not the end for any of us and that the relationships we form in this life can continue after this life. Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us, we will all be resurrected to live forever in perfected bodies free from sickness and pain. His grace helps us live righteous lives, repent of wrongdoing, and become more like Him so we can have the opportunity to live with God and our loved ones for eternity.
The term “Mormons” is a nickname that comes from a book of scripture unique to our Church called The Book of Mormon. We didn’t come up with the nickname, but many people use it to describe the Church and its members. In the past, we’ve embraced the term and even used it ourselves, but now we ask people to call the Church by its full name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This emphasis helps us follow the Lord’s command given to the prophet Joseph Smith: “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4). It also helps confirm that Jesus is the core of our religion and beliefs.
“Latter-day Saints” is a good way to refer to your friends who are members of our faith.
What is it like to be part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are a lot like any of your other friends and neighbors. We work, go to school, spend time with friends and family, participate in sports, and enjoy a diversity of hobbies.
We experience joys and challenges like everyone else, but believe that when we do our best to follow the example of Jesus Christ, God gives us additional perspective and strength to make it through life’s challenges. We also have a supportive church community to lean on.
We try to keep Jesus and His teachings front and center in our lives. Our beliefs about the Savior and His teachings affect our daily decisions about how we speak, dress, and act. For example, we try to avoid working or shopping on Sundays to keep the Sabbath Day holy, as the Bible teaches. Ours is a religion that is preached on Sunday and ideally, practiced every day.
At times in the Bible, God gave instructions through His prophets to abstain from certain foods (see Leviticus 11). That pattern continues today with the Word of Wisdom, a divinely inspired health principle given to the Prophet Joseph Smith for both our physical and spiritual benefit. The Word of Wisdom includes direction from God on things like eating healthy foods and exercising, as well as guidance to abstain from coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol, and abusing drugs.
Two of the greatest gifts God has given each of us are our physical bodies and our free will. Following the Word of Wisdom helps us respect and care for our bodies and keep our minds clear so we can be more open to the Holy Spirit. It also helps us avoid addiction, which can undermine our free will.
The start times for our Sunday services vary by location. In areas with many Church members, there may be multiple congregations meeting at different times in the same building. You can find the location and meeting time of the congregation nearest you here: Find A Church.
What are church services like?
Congregations around the world follow a similar two-hour format for Sunday services. During what we call sacrament meeting, everyone meets together. The meeting includes an opening and closing prayer, a few hymns, and short sermons given by members of the congregation.
The most important part of sacrament meeting is taking the sacrament, which is similar to communion in other Christian religions. During the sacrament, we remember Jesus Christ and recommit to follow Him as we take a small piece of bread and cup of water symbolizing the body and blood He sacrificed for us.
In addition to sacrament meeting, people are invited to a second hour of learning in smaller, more interactive settings. There are various classes available for adults, teens, and children where we study the scriptures and words of living prophets and discuss how we can follow Jesus Christ.
You’re more than welcome to come as you are. If you’re worried you’ll stand out, we try to wear nicer clothes than we wear the rest of the week, to reflect our reverence for God. The most common attire you’ll see at church is a dress shirt and tie for men and a skirt or dress for women.
Will everyone know I’m a visitor?
We have visitors in nearly every congregation, so we’re used to seeing new faces. In a large congregation people might not even realize you’re a visitor. In other areas people might notice you and say hello. Either way, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself and ask any questions you might have.
Will I have to participate at church?
No. When the bread and water of the sacrament is given to the congregation, you can simply pass the tray on to the next person, then sit back and enjoy the rest of the service. You’ll see people volunteering to participate in other ways, such as answering a teacher’s question during a class, but you don’t have to raise your hand if that’s not something you want to do.
Will I be asked to donate money at church?
No. We do believe in the law of tithing found in the Bible. But our members who choose to pay tithing do that privately, not as part of the worship service. You won’t be asked for donations during a meeting.
Can I bring my children?
Yes! This is a family-friendly church. Children sit with their parents during the main sacrament meeting and then participate in activities with children or teens their own age while the adults go to Sunday School. Children and youth classes are always led by two or more adults. A mother’s lounge provides privacy for feeding infants or other needs.
Would someone like me be welcome at church?
Of course! We believe we are all children of God and His promised blessings are available to all of us as we strive to follow His word, no matter our characteristics or our past. Church is a place for everyone to learn and grow. You may have a certain stereotype in your head that you don’t feel you fit in with, but the truth is that our members come from all different backgrounds and interests. Come for a visit, and you might be surprised at who you find sitting in the pews next to you.
Do women hold leadership positions in the Church?
Yes. In our congregations, everyone has an opportunity to contribute. Women and men hold leadership positions, serve on committees, teach classes, speak from the pulpit, offer prayers, and organize and lead activities. Even children and teenagers have opportunities to do these things.
Following the pattern that Jesus set in calling His Twelve Apostles and giving them the keys of the priesthood authority from God, only men hold priesthood keys today. This means certain leadership positions and duties in the Church are only done by men. But there are many other important leadership positions and duties held by women. They serve, lead, testify, and teach often in Church meetings. If you are willing to contribute to your local congregation, there will always be opportunities to do so.
Many people are uncomfortable with organized religion and prefer experiencing spirituality and living good lives on their own. The truth is, we need both.
Spiritual experiences and service to others throughout each week is foundational to a relationship with God. But some of God’s commandments, such as getting baptized and taking the sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ, require priesthood authority from God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides the structure and priesthood authority necessary to fulfill those commandments. It also provides a loving and supportive environment where you can work on becoming a better person and hearing insights you may not have found while studying God’s word on your own. Another benefit of organized religion is the way it encourages and promotes opportunities for service.
What is general conference?
General conference is a worldwide gathering of believers. Twice a year, we spend a weekend listening to the Lord’s prophets, apostles, and other leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints share God’s message for our day. Thousands of people participate in person in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, while millions more watch remotely or study the messages on their own at a later date.
How did The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints start?
In 1820, a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith began to question the welfare of his soul and wonder which church he should join. One day, as he studied the Bible, he read James 1:5:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
The scripture had a powerful effect on Joseph, prompting him to find a quiet grove of trees and attempt for the first time in his life to pray out loud. God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith that day, telling him that his sins had been forgiven and that he should join none of the churches he had learned about.
Instead, Joseph was chosen as God’s prophet who, under the direction of Jesus Christ, would restore His Church to the earth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally established in 1830.
How can I read what modern-day prophets and apostles have said?
Sermons given by the prophet, apostles, and other Church leaders at general conference can be found by browsing the general conference archives. You can stay current on what Church leaders are saying outside of general conference—such as at temple dedications or multifaith events—by visiting Church Newsroom. You can also use the search function on ChurchofJesusChrist.org to browse general conference talks, magazine articles, and other resources by subject.
How are Church leaders chosen?
When the prophet and President of the Church dies, the most senior apostle (by length of service, not age) becomes the new prophet. When there is a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the prophet chooses a new person to serve, through inspiration from God.
Other positions of responsibility in the Church— what we refer to as “callings”—at a regional and local level are also chosen through inspiration from God. For example, the bishop leading a congregation might pray and feel inspired to ask a specific woman to lead the women’s organization known as the Relief Society. She, in turn, will pray for direction about who should assist her as counselors, secretaries, teachers, and in other roles.
Yes! We believe the Bible is the word of God. We regularly study it in our homes and at church, and we try to live by its teachings. We believe the Old Testament and New Testament work together with the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ, to act as a witness of Jesus and give us a more complete understanding of God’s plan.
Why do I need the Book of Mormon if I already have the Bible?
The Book of Mormon is a book of holy scripture that testifies of Jesus Christ and teaches us about God’s plan and His commandments to us. One of the blessings of the Book of Mormon is it gives more clarity and understanding to Jesus’s teachings found in the Bible—similar to how Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell us about the ministry and teachings of Jesus from different perspectives to give a more complete picture.
Together, the Book of Mormon and the Bible contain thousands of years’ worth of inspiration, guidance, and instruction. By studying both books, you can get a better understanding of who God is and what He wants for you.
Like the Bible, the Book of Mormon has many authors. It is a collection of journals and histories passed down from one writer to another over a period of about 1,000 years. The first author is the prophet Nephi, who left Jerusalem with his family in 600 BC and sailed to the Americas. Nephi passed the record to his younger brother, who then gave it to his son. Each author gave the record to someone they trusted. Mormon was the name of the prophet who gathered all the writings into one book, which is why it’s called the Book of Mormon.
In 1823 Joseph Smith was led to where the ancient record had been hidden, and he translated it by the power of God.
Like the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ. The central event recorded in the Book of Mormon is Jesus Christ’s visit—including His teachings and ministry—to believers in the ancient Americas.
The Book of Mormon starts with the story of a family. The father of that family, Lehi, is a prophet in ancient Jerusalem in about 600 BC. God warns Lehi in a dream to take his family and leave Jerusalem because the city will soon be destroyed and many people will be taken captive by another nation. They cross the ocean to the Americas.
Lehi and his wife Sariah’s descendants eventually split into two nations: the Nephites and the Lamanites. Over the next few centuries, those nations are often at war with each other, and their faith in God and Jesus Christ is constantly being tested. These experiences fill the pages of the Book of Mormon in the form of powerful sermons, prophecies, life lessons, and stories.
After Jesus is resurrected in Jerusalem, He appears to the people in the Americas. He teaches them about baptism and forgiveness. He heals their sick and blesses their children. He establishes His Church. Afterward, they live in peace for hundreds of years. Over time, the people lose their faith and many are killed in battle. A prophet from that time, named Moroni, buries their records to preserve them for a future time and people—for us!
How is a temple different from a regular church building?
Most of our worship takes place inside churches, which are also sometimes referred to as chapels, meetinghouses, or stake centers. You can recognize these buildings by the words "Visitors Welcome” and “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” posted near the entrance of most buildings. Inside, we hold Sunday worship services, week-day youth activities, social gatherings, cultural performances, and other events that are open to everyone in the community.
Temples have a more specific purpose. They are places specially set apart for sacred service and ceremonies. They are designated by the Lord and dedicated to His purposes. Temples are the only places where some ordinances are authorized to be performed. These sacred ceremonies lift and inspire participants as they make commitments to follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.
Temples have a special reverence—you won’t find people casually talking about the latest movie, using their phones, or engaging in other everyday activities. Instead, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have worked to prepare themselves for the sacred experience are focused on participating in ordinances and seeking personal revelation from God.
Temples are built to complement the landscape, culture, and needs of the area, so each one looks a little different. But most of them are built with white marble and feature spires reaching toward heaven. You can always find the words “Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord” on the outside of a temple.
Can I go inside a temple?
When temples are first built or after they have undergone extensive renovations, open houses are held for the public so they can take a tour inside. Also, many temples have visitors’ centers, waiting areas, or grounds that are open to everyone.
After the temple is complete, it is dedicated for sacred worship. Because of the holy nature of the work we do in temples, it is then only open to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have prepared themselves for the experience. While you might not be able to enter the temple right now, all of God’s children are invited to learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ and enter into the covenant relationships that will allow you to fully participate in the blessings of the temple.
What happens in temples?
Temples are different than our everyday church buildings where we hold Sunday worship services. They are our most holy places, set aside for God’s most sacred work. The things we do in the temple revolve around the promise that we can live with God and our loved ones for eternity.
In the temple, we more fully commit to following Jesus Christ. We make promises with God, such as the promise to keep His commandments and to dedicate ourselves and all we have to Him. Husbands and wives and parents and children are united together, or “sealed” to one another, for eternity. And we do the same work for our ancestors, giving them the opportunity to accept those blessings in the next life if they so choose.
Jesus taught that baptism is required to enter the kingdom of heaven (see John 3:5). But what about people who die without being baptized or even knowing about Jesus?
Thankfully, God has provided a way for everyone to receive all of His blessings—even after death. In the temple, baptisms are done for those who died without the opportunity to be baptized in this lifetime. The Apostle Paul spoke of baptism for the dead in the Bible (see 1 Corinthians 15:29), and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue that same practice in temples today.
Here’s how it works: Latter-day Saints study family history and discover the names of family members who died without being baptized. They are then baptized for those ancestors in the temple. This service for others is offered in love—and because life continues after death, those who have died are aware of the ordinances and can choose whether to accept them.
In the temple, husband and wife are united forever. This marriage ceremony is called a temple “sealing” because the couple is joined together for this life and for eternity. During a short, simple ceremony, bride and groom join hands across an altar. They covenant with God that they will honor and love one another completely and commit to follow the teachings and example of Jesus. In turn, they are promised that their marriage and their family will endure into the next life and for eternity.
Couples who are married in the temple often celebrate with a larger group of family and friends afterward with a wedding reception or other cultural tradition. Couples who were previously married in civil ceremonies outside the temple (such as those who joined the Church after they were already married) can experience the blessings of being sealed in the temple as well.
Symbolic religious clothing and jewelry is a common practice for many people of faith around the world, including members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Adult members wear temple garments as a personal reminder of their relationship with God, the promises made to Him in the temple, and their commitment to follow Jesus Christ and keep His commandments. The temple garment consists of two pieces, similar to a lightweight undershirt and shorts. They are considered sacred to the members who wear them.
Can Latter-day Saints marry people from other religions?
Yes. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can marry whomever they choose. However, sacred temple marriages for eternity are reserved only for a man and a woman who are both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and who have prepared themselves to make an eternal commitment to each other and to God. For that reason, many single Latter-day Saints prefer to focus on dating people who share their beliefs and their goal of being married in the temple.
What do missionaries do?
The goal of every missionary is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of the things they do to include meeting and interacting with people who are interested in learning more, teaching them, studying the scriptures together, and volunteering service in the community.
Missions look a little different depending on location. For example, some missionaries walk or ride bicycles while others drive cars. Some are assigned to rural areas, others to large cities. Sometimes missionary work looks like connecting with people via social media; other times it involves knocking on doors or giving people tours of Church historical sites.
One thing all missionaries have in common is that they want to help others come to know and develop a relationship with Jesus. If you have faith-related questions, are looking for someone to pray with, or want to go to church with someone, let us know! Missionaries are happy to talk with you!
Every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is encouraged to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Some members are invited and may choose to serve a full-time mission for a specific period of time (often 18 or 24 months). Most of our missionaries are single adults in their late teens or early twenties, but older members and married couples also serve. Because every person’s circumstances are different, some may choose to serve a mission for a few hours a week. Many Church members have never served an official mission but share the gospel through their daily actions.
Why do you call people by titles like Elder, Sister, or Brother?
You might notice that missionaries are known by Elder or Sister combined with their surname. This is a title we use as a mark of respect and honor. Similarly, everyday members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often call each other Brother or Sister instead of Mr. or Ms. to honor our relationship as children of God.
Do I need to be baptized?
Yes. Jesus made it clear that baptism is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven, teaching we must “be born of water and of the spirit” (see John 3:1–13). Jesus Himself was baptized—even though He was perfect—to set an example for us.
Do I need to be baptized again if I was already baptized in a different church?
Yes. Many who have been baptized in another church took that step in good faith, with a sincere desire to accept and follow Jesus Christ.
We believe that when it comes to sacred ordinances or acts that are essential for our eternal salvation, we need to follow the pattern established by Jesus Christ. This means that baptisms must be performed by priesthood authority from God, and in a manner consistent with how Jesus was baptized (by immersion).
Being baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints followed by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by someone who has the authority from Jesus is the way the Savior showed to become a member of His Church.
How do I join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Everyone is invited and encouraged to worship with us, but becoming an official Church member requires learning about the Savior’s gospel, choosing baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The first step to joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is learning more about Jesus Christ and the promises and commitments you make as you are baptized into Jesus Christ’s Church.
The gospel of Jesus Christ blesses people with hope, joy, and a greater understanding of the purpose of life. When you’re ready to see how being a member of the Savior’s Church can bless you, you can start by learning with missionaries who can help introduce you to our beliefs and to your local congregation.