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My downstairs neighbor, a long-inactive member with serious substance abuse problems, attended our ward last year. He was very, very drunk when he did so.

He came to tell me about it later in the day (I had been home with a bad headache -- truly, I would have relished the novelty of walking in with him had I been able to go; he was a nice guy, too). He was still drunk, but very happy. "Nobody moved away from me!" he said, although somebody *had* offered him a breath mint. The elders' quorum president had shown him around, the bishop had taken him into his office for a chat, everybody he met shook hands with him, and first the elders, then the high priests, began to visit him every few days. He felt comfortable. (I wrote about this for the T&S backlist at the time; some of them may remember.)

It's a good thing, obviously, to make people comfortable in the way our ward welcomed my neighbor. It would be wrong, I have no hesitation in saying, to adapt our worship service to the fickle expectations of strangers, to help them blend in. They aren't supposed to blend in. They're supposed to feel the spirit and learn a better way. Guitars and flip-flops at sacrament meeting are not a better way.

There is certainly a social/outward culture in the Church - just look at how everybody is dressed, suits and ties, dresses, etc. (I'm speaking of the rank-and-file members). But we have visitors not dressed the same (sometimes in sweat suits, and this person must have weighed 300+ pounds). I never saw anyone not accepting this person because of the dress.

I've shown up for Church (albeit staying in the foyer) covered in dirt and in jeans if I got in too late from a camping trip. (Our ward met at 1 so we'd do a long hike Saturday, camp, and head back to Provo first thing in the morning) No one ever even batted an eye.

I second the idea that rock and casual dress would not be a step up for sacrament meeting.

However, sometimes we look too much at the form at cost of content. We could be a bit more accepting of difference.

The message is not a problem, but the method is not always what people expect. We don't have professional preachers, and we're proud of it. But that means that many sacrament meeting talks and lessons don't do justice to the message. We should perhaps educate people more about how to get the most out of our meetings; you can't just go and expect others to do it all for us.

You speak the truth, Velska.

"Preach My Gospel," for instance, suggests that we should "make ward meetings, activities, firesides, and open houses of such quality and interest that members feel eager to invite acquaintances to attend." (P.220)

You brought up guitars...while I have mixed feeling about changing the format of the meetings, I have oftened joked with my friends about special musical numbers. I have a theremin, didgeridoo, multiple synths, etc. and I think it would be GREAT to implement them all in a 'special musical number'...I don't think the ward would be into it...

I personally think the interior of our buildings could use some help to be more friendly. I think we should have small signs in the halls that point in the direction of the bathrooms, Relief Society, nursery, kitchen, Primary, Bishop's offices, etc. Especially the bathrooms. What's up with that? Nothing like circling the building looking for the bathroom.

Also, the bathrooms should smell good. There is an LDS bathroom smell. What a turnoff!

On finding bathrooms: look for the drinking fountain. The bathrooms will be right next to it. I've used this trick successfully in many LDS chapels.

I find a very interesting phenomenon in the I-15 corridor, Dave.

Evangelicals in the corridor are counter to the religious cultural monopoly.

Because the LDS Church holds fast to the traditional paradigm, evangelicals run from it on Sundays.

And how many exMormons will flock to a church with Sunday dress, hymns, and the KJV Bible?

There are a lot of cultural dynamics and turmoil at play.

Dave, when you come visit me, you will be right at home for the outward packaging.

And our drinking fountain is right next to the bathrooms.

I miss the foyers that simply aren't built into the new churches, but can still be found in the older churches in the Salt lake City area. Nothing makes me feel more welcome than a good foyer with some nice, comfy chairs.

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