As part of my doctoral studies, I created a curriculum designed to help former Mormons make the transition into a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ in the context of a local Christian church. This 10-week study guide is designed to be used in a small group or mentoring relationship, but it work for individuals as well. It is called “Jesus Without Joseph: Following Christ after Leaving Mormonism.”
The chapters include:
Former Mormons feel vulnerable and disoriented in the unfamiliar environment of a new church. Yet the local church is God’s ideal, and God will see them through the challenging transition to hopeful prospects ahead.
Dealing with Loss
Former Mormons suffer many losses in leaving their former culture: loss of purpose, loss of family, loss of history, loss of personal identity. But they also receive a new identity and heritage in Christ, which puts our losses for Jesus’ sake into perspective.
Former Mormons grapple with uncertainty about who or what to trust. Since they may feel that they were deceived by a church, it is hard to trust a church again. Yet their trust can be placed in a completely trustworthy God, who has revealed himself in a trustworthy Bible.
New Kinds of Relationships
Former Mormons may become frustrated with how relationships are experienced in a Christian church compared to an LDS ward. The Bible presents a pattern of relationships based on genuine love, unconditional acceptance and authenticity.
New Ways to Grow Spiritually
Mormons practice ways of drawing near to God that Christians find familiar, such as prayer, fasting and Scripture study. What former Mormons may find foreign is the emphasis on grace versus merit, and on the primacy of the Bible.
New Freedom and Responsibility
Coming from a more structured religious culture, former Mormons may feel anxiety over new freedoms to think and choose for themselves. Yet the Bible presents models for how to make responsible ethical decisions and how to practice liberty without license.
Worship and Symbolism in the Church
Many former Mormons find Christian worship practices, postures and symbols quite foreign, and need to understand why churches do what they do. Other practices that look similar, such as baptism and Communion, need to have their meaning redefined.
Finances in the Church
In contrast to the LDS concept of tithing, and the attitudes and expectations associated with tithe-paying for Mormons, the Bible presents a principle of whole-life stewardship. Money is handled in relationship with God first, not the church.
Ministry in the Church
Former Mormons are used to being very busy in service, but may not know how to find a place to serve in a local church. As opposed to being assigned a “calling,” the Bible emphasizes taking initiative to serve, as a way of life, based on spiritual giftedness.
Leadership and Authority in the Church
Former Mormons are used to a rigid and uniform ecclesiastical structure. Yet Christian churches are organized and make decisions in many different ways. A pastor is not a bishop, and the universal Church is not an organized denomination.