Obstacles in Connecting with a Traditional Christian Church

Recently I posted on the issues former Latter-day Saints have as they transition into a new faith identity and church community. My comments are based on interviews I conducted a couple of years ago with Latter-day Saints in that transition.

As I surveyed former Latter-day Saints, responses 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. I probed various aspects of that in several posts last month.

The second set of obstacles involved negative personal experiences that my respondents had with particular churches or their members. For example, a number of people making the faith transition experience disappointment with individual Christians. This can take many shapes. At the most extreme, one young woman, fresh out of Mormonism following a deep encounter with God, was emotionally vulnerable as she sought to connect with like-minded believers. In this condition, she was taken advantage of sexually by a predatory individual who was attending the same Bible study group. Less dramatic sources of disappointment abound. A person may not experience the same sense of shared life he or she experienced in the ward. He or she may be disappointed to see church members who are not involved in service, or may feel that the youth in the new church do not live up to the same standards of outward decorum and modesty as LDS teens.

Personal disappointments of various kinds are inevitable in life. But the transitioning Latter-day Saint has paid a high price to leave Mormonism and is looking for a viable alternative. Disappointments with imperfect people can contribute to making the people on this journey inclined to shy away from a local church.

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