I told one of the teachers today that next year is the Book of Mormon. This is a critical year in helping the youth understand the Book of Mormon and create a basis for their testimony to develop. If they take it lightly, I believe they will struggle with their testimonies as they get older.I don't exactly know why - but this bothers me. It underscores an attitude which, I believe, is prevalent in the church. It suggests a cookie cutter approach implying that if you don't fit the mold then you can't be a good Mormon. Because, of course, all good Mormon boy's and girls
- Attend all 4 years of seminary faithfully
- After high school graduation, go off to BYU
- [if a boy] Serve a 2 year mission
- Get married in the temple
- Graduate from BYU
- Have a bushel of kids
We have a couple of youth in our ward whom I believe are very good people and in whom I have a lot of respect - but who struggle in their seminary attendance. As a seminary teacher, I am grateful for the days that they do attend; on Sunday I often put my arm around them and encourage them to come - but I don't think less of them when they don't. I know these kids very well, I've worked with them in other callings as a youth leader. I view them as a whole person, not just through my seminary teacher filter.
The first few years following high school is a very critical time in the life of a young man or woman - and it is no big secret that it is also a time when the church loses people at an alarmingly high rate. It's been my personal observation that many of those we are losing just arn't fitting the mold. And, I find myself wondering if we are approaching this in the wrong way. Instead of looking back at their younger years and devising ways to force fit everybody into the same mold - perhaps we should be examining how we can better meet the needs of those who march to a different drum.
Maybe it's just me - but I imagine the reasoning used to justify why we need everybody to 'fit the mold' is very similar to the reasoning Lucifer used when he presented his plan at the great council in heaven - when he offered himself as an amendment to the Father's plan of saving mankind that would not respect our agency.