When I interviewed transitioning Latter-day Saints about the obstacles they faced in trying to connect with a new church after Mormonism, the response fell into two general categories. One set of obstacles had to do with the difficulty of shedding one religious and cultural identity and adopting another.
In that category, I would place the challenge of adopting new perspectives on specific doctrinal issues. There are clear differences in the beliefs of Mormonism versus historic, biblical Christianity. Two in particular seem to create the most trouble for transitioning LDS: the tri-unity of God, and the grace of God.
Even members of traditional Christian churches often struggle to grasp God’s triune nature. But Latter-day Saints are consistently taught to reject this understanding of God. This stance, combined with the intrinsic difficulty of the doctrine, makes this issue a thorny one for people from a Mormon background. There are some excellent resources that explain why Christians believe that God exists as one being in three persons and set forth the biblical basis of this teaching. But it is still difficult to process this seemingly foreign and mentally challenging doctrine.
In my experience, former Latter-day Saints have an easier time understanding the doctrine of grace, but often find it difficult to translate that understanding into practice. My respondents report some difficulty overcoming the lingering sense that their worth before God depends on their personal performance. They often have a hard time shaking the feeling that they need to measure up to some behavioral standard in order to be accepted by God or to be significant in the faith community.
All of these issues call for great patience on the part of churches as they come alongside to help former Latter-day Saints on their journey. There is no time table for the transition. Many questions will need to be answered – perhaps more than once. Most of the people sitting beside them in our worship gatherings have no idea of the difficulties in making such a journey. Thus transitioning Mormons need to be accepted without a judgmental spirit as they sort out their new identity and new world-view in a new congregation.