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Answering John Dehlin
 
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I was listening to a MormonStories podcast a few months ago, where John Dehlin made the following challenge.

 

For those of you who thing the church should change, I challenge you to come up with any recommendation that would improve the church from your liberal/progressive view point that would lead to a maintenance or increase in church attendance or tithing.

  

I know that many of you would just like the church to come to an end, but that is not going to happen. I have lots of family that will never leave it. Therefore, I would love to see the church become something better. So, I thought about this for a bit and came up with a quite a list. I ended up making a video about these ideas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPkL_CjCJuc

 

If I could only choose one of my suggestions, it would be the first one: Stop thinking like a corporation and start acting like a charity (even John's question is a sympton of this mentality). I estimated that less than 0.5% of the cash donated by the membership goes towards humanitarian aid. That percentage jumps up to 1.7% when donated goods and services are included, but that is still pitifully small for a church that takes in over 6 billion per year in tithing, plus all of the profits from its investments and businesses.

During this process I became curious how my suggestions would compare with other peoples ideas. I am sure that there are many out there who would like to see the church change in some way. The church has changed in the past due to aggitation both from within and without. If nothing critical is ever said, nothing good will ever get done. So I would like to extend this to you. What changes would you make?

 

P.S. I did not put this in my video because I was not sure about it, but how many charitable entities, such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters, shelters for abused women and children, etc, does the church own and operate in the US? There might be some, I just don't know of any.

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Note: All they want is the money.
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Tessa:
Note: All they want is the money.

 

That and obediance along with good publicity.

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"P.S. I did not put this in my video because I was not sure about it, but how many charitable entities, such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters, shelters for abused women and children, etc, does the church own and operate in the US? There might be some, I just don't know of any."

 

Ever so often there is found reference in LDS church news releases to the "Salvation Army" or a like organization who works to build the charitable entities mentioned above. Some years ago the LDS church actually gave an unused chapel to the "Army" for their SLC headquarters. I know of no effort by the "Restored" church to get involved in any of the above entities which aid the super poor. Perhaps being poor itself is a negative thing and therefore not to be pursued by a wealthy American religion, it somehow dirties the corporation?

 

Contributions by independent LDS members? I know of numerous amazing dedicated hard workers. They seem to have moved out and beyond the church though...

 
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Sleight of Hand:
Tessa:
Note: All they want is the money.

 

That and obediance along with good publicity.

 

That's how they get the money.

 
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Sleight of Hand:

If I could only choose one of my suggestions, it would be the first one: Stop thinking like a corporation and start acting like a charity (even John's question is a sympton of this mentality). I estimated that less than 0.5% of the cash donated by the membership goes towards humanitarian aid. That percentage jumps up to 1.7% when donated goods and services are included, but that is still pitifully small for a church that takes in over 6 billion per year in tithing, plus all of the profits from its investments and businesses.


 

 

 Wouldn't it be interesting for someone to do a comparison of the Church's non-profit entities compared to their for profit entities. 

 

Look at all the malls, broadcast companies and such - then look at the soup kitchens and homeless shelters.  Bet it's 10:1 maybe 100:1 in favor of the for-profit companies.

 

Follow that up with a look at their investment portfolio vs. their investment in human capital (their members). 

 

   DK 

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Don K:

 Wouldn't it be interesting for someone to do a comparison of the Church's non-profit entities compared to their for profit entities. 

 

Look at all the malls, broadcast companies and such - then look at the soup kitchens and homeless shelters.  Bet it's 10:1 maybe 100:1 in favor of the for-profit companies.

 

Are there any soup kitchens or homeless shelters, or shelters for abused women, or drug and alcohol rehab centers, etc that are owned and operated by the church? I don't know of a single one.

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I actually left the Church after attempting to change it.  I realized that all of my efforts were a waste of time and energy.  The Church isn't designed to improve from the ground up.  Women can have wonderful ideas, but only the Priesthood can implement change, so we are ineffective.

 

One change that I felt was so important is to abolish the practice of ordinance work for the dead.  Geneology itself can be very useful as a database for genetic research, but has little value beyond six or seven generations.  Apostle Paul spoke of "endless geneologies" and said that in the last days "some would depart from the faith".

 

Please see 1Timothy 1:4

http://bible.cc/1_timothy/1-4.htm

 

I came to a conclusion that baptize for the dead, endowment for the dead, initiatory for the dead, Temple sealings and Temple divorces for the dead had little or no actual power.  We are not "Saviors on Mount Zion" and there really is only one Savior.  I want to concentrate my efforts on the living and those who will be born in the future. 

I am very concerned about the salvation of those who are actually on this planet right now and all those who will be born.  I cannot justify spending time, money and effort baptizing for the dead when their are little children starving on this earth.  How can I pay tithing to the LDS Church knowing that that money will be spent building temples with baptizmal fonts surrounded by gold-painted oxyn?  Spending money on golden oxyn and luxurious baptismal fonts when so much of the world lacks running water, flushing toilets and showers can't be justified.

 

I went to Church yesterday at my new Christian Church and we donated money so that the Chinese poor would have toilets that would flush and showers.   I feel SO GOOD!!!

 

 

 

 
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Your video was fan-freaking-tastic!!
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This is the entire problem with his challenge:

-
...lead to a maintenance or increase in church attendance or tithing...
 
Those are EXACTLY the wrong metrics for a church to use. That's the kind of metrics businesses like to use: marketshare (attendance) and profitability (tithing).

The proper goal of a church is to HELP people, to do good to others, to be a frickin' LIGHT unto the WORLD!

There are probably 100 million organizations, large and small, that act more like how the Mormon church should act than the Mormon church does.

John's challenge is at least as wrong as Nibley's stupid "Write the BoM" challenge. He started from bad premises, and no one can build anything good from a bad foundation.

 
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Guess they consider City Creek Mall a charity.
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Nice video! Thoughtful and provocative.

 

When I look back at recent history and the direction the leaders have taken the church, I see so many lost opportunities to do what is right.

 
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Goldarn:
This is the entire problem with his challenge:

-
...lead to a maintenance or increase in church attendance or tithing...
 
Those are EXACTLY the wrong metrics for a church to use. That's the kind of metrics businesses like to use: marketshare (attendance) and profitability (tithing).

The proper goal of a church is to HELP people, to do good to others, to be a frickin' LIGHT unto the WORLD!

There are probably 100 million organizations, large and small, that act more like how the Mormon church should act than the Mormon church does.

John's challenge is at least as wrong as Nibley's stupid "Write the BoM" challenge. He started from bad premises, and no one can build anything good from a bad foundation.

 Great post Goldarn.  Understand that John Dehlin's brother Joel Dehlin is the Chief Information Officer for the Church.  Increase in church attendance and tithing are Joel's metrics.  John has a goal to change the church from within and believes one must use churchspeak to do so.  For reasons you stated above, I think John is on a fool's errand.  I would love to see the church change from within but it's not going to happen.  The church changes as people vote with their feet and leave and because non members quit listening to the missionaries.   They don't worry about agitating intellectuals until they qut attending and/or quit paying tithing.

 

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Goldarn:
This is the entire problem with his challenge:

-
...lead to a maintenance or increase in church attendance or tithing...
 
Those are EXACTLY the wrong metrics for a church to use. That's the kind of metrics businesses like to use: marketshare (attendance) and profitability (tithing).

The proper goal of a church is to HELP people, to do good to others, to be a frickin' LIGHT unto the WORLD!

There are probably 100 million organizations, large and small, that act more like how the Mormon church should act than the Mormon church does.

John's challenge is at least as wrong as Nibley's stupid "Write the BoM" challenge. He started from bad premises, and no one can build anything good from a bad foundation.

 

I see another problem with John's challenge.  John seems to think that the Church is like a kid who's lied to his parents when he told them, "No. I didn't take Sally's allowance, she must have lost it," then later, when the evidence is mounting against the kid he starts thinking, "How can I tell Mom and Dad the truth without them grounding me and making me give back her money?"  No John, it doesn't work that way.  When we behave unethically no one gets to be excused when forced to come clean.  

 

John, why do you think the Church should get a bye on paying a price for its unethical behavior?  Do you think the Church would do the same for it's members? Hell no!  In the real world, when you wrong someone you pay a price when forced to come clean.   I'm appalled that you seem to think the Church shouldn't have to.

 

By the way, I think the number one thing the Church should change is it needs to quit lying to the public and to its members.

 

 

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Good thoughts Jeff. The church might start with its "fourteen million members strong" insanity. Since only four people in a million reach the ripe old aqe of 110, the church might consider that millions of its database members are now deceased, as 110 is the age when they are taken off the records (if even then). Millions others have probably gone back to their foundational church or joined a new church. Why lie about it, the Lord would know its a lie...
 
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Muscogean, you got me to thinking and I came up with another thing the Church needs to change: It should open its financial records to the public like other similar organizations do.  If the church leaders fear that doing so would cause members to leave and or quit paying tithing then I REALLY think it needs to open its records to the public because that means they have something to hide and they shouldn't be hiding it!

 

In fact, ANY similar disclosure that might cause members to leave and tithing receipts to drop needs to be disclosed because it means that they are doing things they shouldn't be doing and need to stop doing it.  

 

So John, there's my answer to your challenge, and I challenge you to come up with a good reason why the Church should only change the things don't require it to pay for its poor behavior.  If anyone want's to pass my challenge onto John feel free.

 

 

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Jeff Ricks:

Muscogean, you got me to thinking and I came up with another thing the Church needs to change: It should open its financial records to the public like other similar organizations do.  If the church leaders fear that doing so would cause members to leave and or quit paying tithing then I REALLY think it needs to open its records to the public because that means they have something to hide and they shouldn't be hiding it!

 

In fact, ANY similar disclosure that might cause members to leave and tithing receipts to drop needs to be disclosed because it means that they are doing things they shouldn't be doing and need to stop doing it.  

 

 

 

I think that excellent idea can be combined with your first suggestion that the church be honest. The current leadership does not have the ability to be honest because their first priority is to protect the corporation at all costs. They are willing to lie to the membership to protect their bottom line. I don't think that they can ever be honest until they loose that corporate mentality and start thinking like a religion and acting like a charity.

 

I think that the only way to do that, is for the brethren to stop being involved in the administration of the church's businesses (that is the role of the presiding bishopric anyway) and become clergymen. They need to come down from their tower and start meeting and serving people. Perhaps then they would start calling someone else other than businessmen and lawyers as general authorities.

 

Will that ever happen? Not unless there is a crisis that threatens the bottom line, such as people walking and taking their tithing with them, or the membership demands it. Of course that would require the membership to start thinking for themselves, so don't hold your breath.

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If you want to get a comparison for how misleading TSCC is being with its numbers, contrast conference report numbers with clarity of the official 7th Day Adventist Church's report of their own numbers. The Aventists explicitly list deaths, dropped and missing members. "Honest in your dealings" indeed, Brethren.

 

I can't believe how obvious it is that the Big 15 are cowards. "Prophetic leadership" my ass. Prevarication, deflection, red herrings, obfuscation and isolation. Disgusting.

 

 

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awesome video. I don't know why the challenge has to include no drop in tithing. I have little doubt, the church could operate indefinitely on the interest of its vast holdings.
 
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Hiker Daddy: . . . The church changes as people vote with their feet and leave

. . .

 

This is so true, but maybe in a different way than we might think.

 

My observation is that the more people who leave, the more conservative and fundamentalist the remaining congregation becomes. First, this is true simply because the more thinking liberal voices are no longer present. Second, it's also reactionary. When people leave, the gut reaction is for those who remain to insist even more emphatically that it is true. I saw this take place in my own ward.

 

I suspect the online forums are different. The more people talk about what is going on, the more those who are inclined become more thoughtful about what the experience actually means. Offline, at the local ward level, this type of dialog is never gets off the ground. Too many social taboos, plus the environment and curriculum is too heavily regulated.

 
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I would have to agree with others that attempting to maintain or increase tithing amounts isn't going to happen.  And in my opinion is undesirable.  The church is already bleeding its members way more than necessary.  I think the only valuable metric is maintaining or growing membership.

 

IMO, the single most significant change the church could make is modifying the way its leaders are selected and retained.  

 

1.  Allow women equal leadership roles.

2.  Implement "term limits".

3.  Implement a true "no confidence" vote for church leaders allowing them to be ousted prior to the end of thier term.

4.  Make the whole leadership selection process more democratic.  By this I don't mean necessarily full blow elections.  But somewhat of a caucusing effort and perhaps offering more than one choice for an office.

 

The church's leadership is one of the main things that caused me problems with the church.  The selection process for leaders in the church almost completely insulates them from responding to member concerns.  Only with very huge amounts of public pressure does the church find it necesary to change, such, as was mentioned, the priesthood ban.

 

On the  question of whether or not this will  maintain or increase membership, I'm not sure.   I knew it was a constant frustration with me.  I had one bishop in particular I would have loved to have offered a meaningful vote of no-confidence, and I think it would prove useful to eliminate some of the more dogmatic jerks from church leadership positions.

 
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Control Zee:

I can't believe how obvious it is that the Big 15 are cowards. "Prophetic leadership" my ass. Prevarication, deflection, red herrings, obfuscation and isolation. Disgusting.

 

 This needs to be said over and over. They Q15 does everything possible to never answer a question of any substance. The more people see that, the better.

 
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I really enjoyed your video!  Thanks for making it. 
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I have no problem with the way the question is phrased. Attendance and tithing are the churchs hot buttons and like a good influencer he is speaking their language. If he can find some way to show them their precious numbers and that's the only thing that will get the church to change under present leadership in ways we agree are positive, then so what?
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A Three Hour Bore:
I have no problem with the way the question is phrased. Attendance and tithing are the churchs hot buttons and like a good influencer he is speaking their language. If he can find some way to show them their precious numbers and that's the only thing that will get the church to change under present leadership in ways we agree are positive, then so what?

 

I appreciate your perspective.  I do however disagree with the highlighted part.  Here's John's question again.

 

"For those of you who thing the church should change, I challenge you to come up with any recommendation that would improve the church from your liberal/progressive view point that would lead to a maintenance or increase in church attendance or tithing."

   

I read John's question not as a request for recommendations on how to improve the church, but as a challenge to those who think the church needs to change, as if he's trying to demonstrate that for the most part the church is just fine the way it is.  

 

In my opinion the Church will change, one way or another.  They can take their usual reactive approach and remain in denial, thinking that burying their head in the sand is the best long term approach financially, until it finally has no choice but to change due to public pressure. Meanwhile, it's reputation in the eyes of the public has fallen even further, and more and more people will have left, which is bound to affect revenue long term.  Or it can take the proactive approach by biting the bullet and facing up to it's problems and address them now.  Sooner or later, though, it will change, usually about 20 years behind the rest of the world, but eventually it does change.

 

Because the church has a history of not changing until it has no other option, I don't think it's fiscal responsibility that makes them resist change, I think it's pride.  

 

 

[Edited to add: By the way (also in reference to the highlighted part), in my opinion, when the church changes something that it needs to change, and it's a change that benefits the members, then it is a positive change, even if it's at the expense of the church.]

 

 

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Once again proving that the criticism Mr Dehlin has received here has merit.

 

 

Mormonism does not breed courageous people but rather yes men and the like. Remember that obedience is the first law of heaven.

 

 

ft

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And they asked Jesus, "Master, what is the great commandment in the Law?"

 

And Jesus answered and said unto them,

"Thou shalt obey all thy church leaders in order of heirarchy, for Obedience is the First Law of Heaven.

And the Second is like unto it,

Thou shalt pay thy Tithing to the Church.

On these hang all the Law and the Profits." 

 
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lostandfound:

I actually left the Church after attempting to change it. 

 

I came to a conclusion that baptize for the dead, endowment for the dead, initiatory for the dead, Temple sealings and Temple divorces for the dead had little or no actual power.  We are not "Saviors on Mount Zion" and there really is only one Savior.  I want to concentrate my efforts on the living and those who will be born in the future. 

I am very concerned about the salvation of those who are actually on this planet right now and all those who will be born.  I cannot justify spending time, money and effort baptizing for the dead when their are little children starving on this earth. 

 

My feelings of many years, beautifully expressed.  Thank you, lostandfound.  I sent you a private message asking for more info re the church you have found.

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lostandfound:

...We are not "Saviors on Mount Zion" and there really is only one Savior. 

 

I hate to burst your bubble but the Bible says otherwise: 

 

 "And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.  (Obadiah 1:21)" 

 

 

 

...want to concentrate my efforts on the living and those who will be born in the future. 

I am very concerned about the salvation of those who are actually on this planet right now and all those who will be born.  I cannot justify spending time, money and effort baptizing for the dead when their are little children starving on this earth.  How can I pay tithing to the LDS Church knowing that that money will be spent building temples with baptizmal fonts surrounded by gold-painted oxyn?  Spending money on golden oxyn and luxurious baptismal fonts when so much of the world lacks running water, flushing toilets and showers can't be justified.

 

I went to Church yesterday at my new Christian Church and we donated money so that the Chinese poor would have toilets that would flush and showers.   I feel SO GOOD!!!

 

I agree that there is only one savior, however, I think that one savior is us together; "We the people."  I have never seen any indication anywhere that anyone but we the people will save us.   Case in point:  It was you who donated money toward the needs of the Chinese.  God didn't lift a finger.  It's always us who goes to the rescue when disaster strikes somewhere in the world.  Still God makes no showing. Ever. It's always us who has to take responsibility and addresses the problem.  If we left it to God to save us, all indications are that it would never happen.  This is just my opinion of course, based on my observations of the world we live in.

 

 

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Maybe the church should read the BoM and apply it. Perhaps making King Benjamin's sermon the core tenet. 

 

Also, the church should return all tithing and donations and then go away. 

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Jeff Ricks:

 

lostandfound:

...We are not "Saviors on Mount Zion" and there really is only one Savior. 

 

I hate to burst your bubble but the Bible says otherwise: 

 

 "And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.  (Obadiah 1:21)" 

 

 

 

...want to concentrate my efforts on the living and those who will be born in the future. 

I am very concerned about the salvation of those who are actually on this planet right now and all those who will be born.  I cannot justify spending time, money and effort baptizing for the dead when their are little children starving on this earth.  How can I pay tithing to the LDS Church knowing that that money will be spent building temples with baptizmal fonts surrounded by gold-painted oxyn?  Spending money on golden oxyn and luxurious baptismal fonts when so much of the world lacks running water, flushing toilets and showers can't be justified.

 

I went to Church yesterday at my new Christian Church and we donated money so that the Chinese poor would have toilets that would flush and showers.   I feel SO GOOD!!!

 

I agree that there is only one savior, however, I think that one savior is us together; "We the people."  I have never seen any indication anywhere that anyone but we the people will save us.   Case in point:  It was you who donated money toward the needs of the Chinese.  God didn't lift a finger.  It's always us who goes to the rescue when disaster strikes somewhere in the world.  Still God makes no showing. Ever. It's always us who has to take responsibility and addresses the problem.  If we left it to God to save us, all indications are that it would never happen.  This is just my opinion of course, based on my observations of the world we live in.

 

 

What's the saying?  God helps those who help themselves?  Maybe also, God helps those who we choose to help?

 

 
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"God moves in a mysterious way" always away from mankind, not toward it.
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I’ve begun worshiping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It’s there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There’s no mystery, no one asks for money, I don’t have to dress up, and there’s no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate.” George Carlin

 
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Patriarchal Gripe:
Jeff Ricks:

 

lostandfound:

...We are not "Saviors on Mount Zion" and there really is only one Savior. 

 

I hate to burst your bubble but the Bible says otherwise: 

 

 "And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.  (Obadiah 1:21)" 

 

 

 

...want to concentrate my efforts on the living and those who will be born in the future. 

I am very concerned about the salvation of those who are actually on this planet right now and all those who will be born.  I cannot justify spending time, money and effort baptizing for the dead when their are little children starving on this earth.  How can I pay tithing to the LDS Church knowing that that money will be spent building temples with baptizmal fonts surrounded by gold-painted oxyn?  Spending money on golden oxyn and luxurious baptismal fonts when so much of the world lacks running water, flushing toilets and showers can't be justified.

 

I went to Church yesterday at my new Christian Church and we donated money so that the Chinese poor would have toilets that would flush and showers.   I feel SO GOOD!!!

 

I agree that there is only one savior, however, I think that one savior is us together; "We the people."  I have never seen any indication anywhere that anyone but we the people will save us.   Case in point:  It was you who donated money toward the needs of the Chinese.  God didn't lift a finger.  It's always us who goes to the rescue when disaster strikes somewhere in the world.  Still God makes no showing. Ever. It's always us who has to take responsibility and addresses the problem.  If we left it to God to save us, all indications are that it would never happen.  This is just my opinion of course, based on my observations of the world we live in.

 

 

What's the saying?  God helps those who help themselves?  Maybe also, God helps those who we choose to help?

 

 

It still looks to me like it comes out the same way: Those who help themselves get helped and those who we choose to help get helped, and if we did nothing no one gets helped, so God still has no actual part in it whatsoever that I can see.   How is this us-God partnership supposed to work?  We do the work and God does what exactly,  stand in a corner and nod or something?   Sorry, that's honestly the way it looks from where I sit.   

 

 

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Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.
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There really is nothing that will get them to change. The truth is they can't change.

 

Right now, today, tomorrow and the next day, the Church is a run away train with no brakes, and no one in the cab. 

 

That is the way they have set it up.  They need a unanimous agreement to any large change. Everyone in the T15 MUST agree.  With such a diverse group, that include such dinosaurs as BKP they are incapable of change because they are incapable of agreement. 

 

How many here think BKP would agree to any of our suggestions ? Or for that matter Tommy himself ?  Change would mean they would have to admit they were wrong, at least the ones that had been there for  30 years and I don't see that happening. 

 

They are on the track and going to ride this train to it's conclusion unless like half the T15   die off in a plane crash or something.  For this reason, the Church as we know it is doomed. It's just a matter of how long until the crash, then we will see change. 

 

If attendance is this low (18%), maybe we are in the middle of the crash right now. However even so, they have enough cash (working capital) to hang on for some time. I think the older ones are just waiting to die, so it doesn't crash on their watch.  Leave the problems for the younger generation so to speak.

 

   DK.  

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