So I'm reading through Christian blogs this morning and came across "In Defense of Seeker Churches" at Parchment and Pen, defending the format of what is known as "Seeker churches," churches that aim their message and format at the unchurched. In criticizing the method or traditional churches, the author states the following:
That [traditional] method is becoming harder and harder to use in order to get the message out. The sad truth is that the average tattooed or pierced unsaved person does not feel welcome or accepted if they attend the traditional church. It is an atmosphere of condemnation of those that don’t dress or look like everyone else there. This unsaved Seeker isn’t going to stick around. Instead, he is going to leave with a sense that the Christian church is full of a bunch of condemning hypocrites.
Does this objection apply to Mormon congregations? How many "unchurched Mormons" or first-time visitors who visit an LDS congregation do not feel "welcome or accepted" or sense an "atmosphere of condemnation of those that don't dress or look like everyone else"? That's a serious question, not a rhetorical one with an implied answer. Some folks feel very comfortable in an LDS sacrament meeting or testimony meeting, but others feel uncomfortable or out of place and a few (think standard Exmo exit narrative) get positively spooked at the mere thought of 70 minutes of LDS prayers, talks, hymns, and possibly a special musical number.
A related question is that if there's a problem, is it a message problem or a method problem? Or both? Would guitars and informal dress in an LDS sacrament meeting put otherwise uncomfortable visitors at ease, or would the focus of the talks presented in sacrament meeting need to be changed?