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What do adult converts bring to the Church


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#1 prisonchaplain

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 01:52 PM

A friend of mine is getting baptized this Sunday. He's in his 60s and has been pentecostal most of his life. He just told me this week. There are a couple of areas he is uncertain about, but says he takes assurance in leaders of the church that have said he does not have to discard his beliefs, but should bring all he has that is good with him. I understand that it was President Hinckley who said that. My own common sense suggests that this new convert will not be able to hold on to his doctrines, if they conflict with church teachings. He will gradually give them up, or face a major spiritual struggle. So, my simple question is: what do adult converts bring with them? What blessings might my friend be bringing with him to his new ward? What did President Hinckley have in mind when he said that?

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -- Lord Acton


#2 Dravin

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 02:31 PM

He will gradually give them up, or face a major spiritual struggle. So, my simple question is: what do adult converts bring with them? What blessings might my friend be bringing with him to his new ward? What did President Hinckley have in mind when he said that?


Four things that come to my mind:
  • A strong testimony of reality of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. There may be a different understanding of exactly what that entails but any testimony of the reality of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father wouldn't just disappear.
  • A veritable host of Christlike attributes. Attributes like patience, charity, faith, virtue, and humility are by no means absent from non-LDS Christians and they would bring these with them.
  • Biblical knowledge, yes a lot of it may be seen in a different light now but familiarity with the Bible is still a blessing.
  • Understanding of his past religion. Not just in preventing caricatures that would tend to arise when discussing others, but in understanding the concerns and hurdles those of his past religion faith may be undergoing when they investigate the Church.

I'm sure if I spent more time on it I could think of more, but those are what come to mind first.
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#3 paulh1396362268

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 02:46 PM

You are right, where there are doctrinal differences the LDS understanding should stick with a convert. However there are a lot of good things converts can bring. For one a love of Jesus Christ that many have had in previous Christian churches they were a part of. A love/testimony of the Bible is another big thing. All of the good habits they already have in their lives. I've heard a lot of LDS converts talk about all the great things their parents taught them growing up.

#4 Vort

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:21 PM

A friend of mine is getting baptized this Sunday. He's in his 60s and has been pentecostal most of his life. He just told me this week. There are a couple of areas he is uncertain about, but says he takes assurance in leaders of the church that have said he does not have to discard his beliefs, but should bring all he has that is good with him. I understand that it was President Hinckley who said that. My own common sense suggests that this new convert will not be able to hold on to his doctrines, if they conflict with church teachings. He will gradually give them up, or face a major spiritual struggle. So, my simple question is: what do adult converts bring with them? What blessings might my friend be bringing with him to his new ward? What did President Hinckley have in mind when he said that?


I don't pretend to know exactly what President Hinckley was talking about, but it seems to me that in our imperfect world, the Saints' understanding of their own doctrine and its implications is pretty shallow. I compare it to a gene pool; if you don't have much variation, you can end up with pretty limited phenotypes. Worse, any bad mutations tend to be amplified in a limited gene pool. In many ways, I think convert baptisms provide "new blood" that keeps us from getting too complacent in our understanding of the gospel.

I think it provides us an opportunity to serve and to learn, as well. When we see other adults, perhaps smarter and more accomplished than we are, having to learn from a very naive state and try to incorporate gospel principles into their lives, it can give us both empathy for their struggle and insight into our own. I think it's a win-win when the approach is correct.

And then there's the small matter of our brothers and sisters gaining eternal life, which is perhaps another little sweetener...
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#5 prisonchaplain

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:30 PM

I've just started to learn golf. I'm not finding that the blessings I bring for my childhood sport (bowling) are proving very useful. :-)

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -- Lord Acton


#6 Tough Grits

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:44 PM

I was raised atheist/agnostic. What did I bring with me? Actually, quite a bit. Despite having to learn a whole bunch more than most who convert later in life--as many converts are already familiar with attending church, scriptures, Jesus, God, prophets, and so forth.

I brought myself. I brought my talents, abilities, thoughts, insights, experience, and individual Spirit.

Each of us are very individual, unique Spirit children of our Heavenly Father. Our spiritual self is as varied and unique as our physical self.

Every child of God provides a unique thread to the tapestry of His gospel. It does not matter what religion we came from, or lack of religion. All that matters is that we come unto the Lord with a sincere, willing heart.
~Sister Tough Grits

Life in the Church soon teaches us that the Lord does not ask us about our ability, but only our availability. And then, if we demonstrate our dependability, the Lord will increase our capability. ~Neal A. Maxwell

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#7 prisonchaplain

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:52 PM

I wonder if any here could share a time when you said something and a member raised in the church responded, "Wow, I never thought of it that way before."

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -- Lord Acton


#8 THIRDpersonviewer

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:08 PM

I wonder if any here could share a time when you said something and a member raised in the church responded, "Wow, I never thought of it that way before."


I can't think of a what he said, but there was a englishman who was converted in his 70's. He would make comments about what he felt, he was educated and took a few years of studying the gospel to decide that is was right. He would also talk and teach about things that just made me feel that it was a different way of thinking of things yet it brought me closer to Christ.

I also grew up in the south and I went with missionaries to teach lessons and so forth. As I went one of the great blessings was to hear the testimonies of these good Christians, and their testimonies were different for one reason or another. It helped me appreciate others, their situations, and the love they have for God. It inspired me to go forth and live the Gospel better myself.

That is the big thing to me. Elderly people often have lots of experience and the fact that they have the faith and the desire to live the Gospel amidst all the knowledge they had. That they could tell definitively that the Gospel was the only life they wanted, that inspires me to live better. I am strengthened by seeing Christ working in them.

I believe those are extraordinary blessings, and some which I am eternally grateful for.

#9 Anddenex

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:15 PM

I wonder if any here could share a time when you said something and a member raised in the church responded, "Wow, I never thought of it that way before."


PC, I believe this is a perfect example of a member of the Church, only 8 months, who taught one of our apostles a new understanding. I think with the many years you have been on this site, you understand our feelings toward our apostles.

Elder Bednar shared this when he was in South Africa:

"A sister in Africa who had only been a member of the church for eight months...she was teaching a class about fasting. Now, at the time I was fifty-four years old, member of the church since I was eight and an apostle for two years. Now remember, she's been a member of the church for eight months.

This is in a place in Africa where they're not starving but they're hungry most of the time. And they would probably have about one meal a day as we understand it. This woman was teaching the sisters in Relief Society and she said, "Sisters, there are many days when we do not have food and we do not eat. That is not fasting. It's only fasting on a day when we have food and we can choose not to eat it."

I had been a member of the church all my life and I had to go to Africa to learn from a woman who had joined the church just eight months earlier what it really meant to fast."


Surely, if an apostle can be taught by a new convert of 8 months, we as members, life-long members need to remember the value of humility also.

:)

#10 john doe

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:29 PM

I wonder if any here could share a time when you said something and a member raised in the church responded, "Wow, I never thought of it that way before."


I don't have any exact instances to relate, but I hear someone say something similar at least every other week. We in the LDS Church dissect and examine scripture and the Principles of the Gospel far more than most outsiders would think we do. We recognize that every person is on a different spiritual plane and the scriptures are beautiful in the sense that no matter what spiritual plane you are on, we can all find something worth applying to our lives in them.


And then there is the factor of how, with our different books of scrtipture, they don't disagree with each other but each one helps us flesh out or better understand concepts taught in another volume. They enhance our understanding and give us new ideas or insights that we hadn't considered before.
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#11 Tough Grits

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:50 PM

I used to be so jealous of all-lifers when I first joined the Church in 1998.

An all-lifer (to me) is anybody, from any Christian denomination, who was born and raised learning of God, Jesus Christ, and the scriptures.

I felt so unlearned. So NEW. Not just new to LDSism, but to Christianity.

Over the last 14 years I discovered something amazing...all of God's children are on equal footing. He is no respecter of persons...which means He doesn't care how "new" I am. All He requires is that I come unto Him completely. Anybody can do that! Even a former atheist/agnostic!

I am not jealous anymore. In fact, I know that there are many things that I have a stronger testimony of, because I KNOW what it is like to not believe in God. I KNOW what it is like to not believe in Jesus. I KNOW what it is like to not have the Holy Ghost guiding me.

I can directly compare the absence and void in my life before my baptism, to the warmth and comfort of the Gospel since my baptism.

That knowledge is what inspires me to never take this Gospel for granted. ~TG

Edited by Tough Grits, 25 January 2013 - 07:34 PM.
Typo

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Life in the Church soon teaches us that the Lord does not ask us about our ability, but only our availability. And then, if we demonstrate our dependability, the Lord will increase our capability. ~Neal A. Maxwell

Blessed are those that can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused. :lol:


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#12 prisonchaplain

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:12 PM

Tough Grits...great insight. Some of our strongest Christian leaders of some of our biggest congregation are those who have had less formal education, and often a rather colorful and ungodly past. They come to faith and figure they will work harder and better for God than they did for the Devil.

I'm kind of in the middle. I came to faith at 10, yet grew up in a home that was "unchurched." So every faith lesson I learned was one that I had to intentionally go after. I'm thankful for the many teachers and workers in my church who helped, as well as those who dropped by to give me rides. Every time I go into the jail I believe those who assisted me in my youth get credit.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -- Lord Acton


#13 NightSG

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:25 PM

Understanding of his past religion. Not just in preventing caricatures that would tend to arise when discussing others, but in understanding the concerns and hurdles those of his past religion faith may be undergoing when they investigate the Church.


This, IMO is one of the most valuable things I have been able to offer, and I know other converts who feel the same; a lot of the lifelong members don't really know what a Methodist, Baptist, etc. service is like, and get just as confused by some of it as we converts were by some of the terms within the Church when we joined. Often, it can be explained fully in moments, but they just never thought it was appropriate to ask until they had a former one sitting among them.

#14 Tough Grits

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:42 PM

[...]They come to faith and figure they will work harder and better for God [...].

[...] every faith lesson I learned was one that I had to intentionally go after. [...]


Yes, this is how I feel. ^_^ Like I have to work twice as hard as those around me--not for them, but for me, for Heavenly Father.

I do it because I so bad want to be that "new creature" in Christ. I want to live up to "the measure of my creation". ~TG
~Sister Tough Grits

Life in the Church soon teaches us that the Lord does not ask us about our ability, but only our availability. And then, if we demonstrate our dependability, the Lord will increase our capability. ~Neal A. Maxwell

Blessed are those that can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused. :lol:


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#15 Magen_Avot

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 01:29 AM

I've just started to learn golf. I'm not finding that the blessings I bring for my childhood sport (bowling) are proving very useful. :-)


If you compared the childhood sport of duck pin bowling :hyper:,... to regular bowling I think we get a good gospel lesson.

If we are comparing "Christian" methods/beliefs ect. When we'd take our kids duck pin bowling we'd have like 10 small bowling balls, so we'ld throw three seperate balls per frame. In regular bowling ya throw just one big ball. Can you see the trinity thing there? :D So really, as we LDS might want to view things, moving from adult bowling to duck pin bowling.... becoming as a little child. MAN! I see a whole bunch of gospel lessons here.

Added: For the newer converts we can just put the bumpers out while they learn the ropes, but surley we are all blessed by their enthusiam in Christ!

Thanks PC

Edited by Magen_Avot, 26 January 2013 - 02:29 AM.


#16 Anddenex

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 10:42 AM

what do adult converts bring with them? What blessings might my friend be bringing with him to his new ward? What did President Hinckley have in mind when he said that?


PC, I hope I am not being to forward with my answer, however I think this is the best way to answer your question. Often times when I ask a question like this, pertaining to someone else, it actually stems from a self-reflecting thought about myself.

Thus, if PC were to join the LDS faith what would he bring as a convert?

1. A willingness to serve. My minds eye would see you as a great High Priest Group Leader, or excellent counselor within a Bishopric, or even the Bishop himself. I wouldn't even be surprised if you served in a stake presidency.

I am sure you would serve faithfully in any calling extended, which is truly an important trait in the Church, knowing how some life long members are unwilling to serve.

2. Faith in Christ. Different perspectives, different insights, and different experiences allow a person to influence others and their faith in Christ in a manner other people will not be able to.

3. Knowledge. Each of us are given experiences that when shared bless other peoples lives.

4. Humility Something I have noticed about converts is their eagerness to learn and to be taught and accept instruction. Life long members, often times, think we know everything, and we at times struggle in our humility.

Regarding President Hinckley's comment I come from a home where both of my parents are converts to the Church. My mother a Methodist. My father an atheist.

When I was engaged to my wife, my father-in-law carried the notion that since his daughter was getting married, he would be loosing his daughter. This was until a friend of his said, "Are you really loosing your daughter, or are you gaining a son"?

He recognized he was gaining a son. I think President Hinckley's comment, "We, in effect, simply say to others, 'Bring all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to it" simple introduces the same idea.

When my mother converted she didn't discard any of her faith in Christ, in his gospel, in his love and in his truth. The truth she had was added upon.

My mother's understanding of the Holy Ghost, wasn't discarded, but was added upon when she begin to understand how the Holy Ghost truly influences: teaches, comforts, and warns.

As a result of my mother's conversion, she has served in almost every capacity a woman can serve in within a ward and stake. Because of her musical talents she was provided the opportunity to be one of the choir director's for one of the open houses at the dedication of the San Diego Temple.

It was fascinating for our family to be able to actually sit in the front row while the dedication was taking place.

These are some of my thoughts PC. :)

#17 prisonchaplain

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 12:44 PM

My friend will bring some good guitar playing. He is a humble soul and very down to earth. My concern is that he still believes in the Priesthood of All Believers and struggles with the idea that hierarchy needs to bestow it. He thinks he will be bringing this doctrine with him, but I'm convinced he'll eventually give it up. Further, I'm afraid the reason he will surrender his belief will be, "I guess it's not that big of a deal." So, my bottom line is that sure, we all bring who we are, how we see things, and our unique spirits to whatever we join, but when we join a faith we embrace what it stands for. Jumping in despite misgivings about teachings seems counter to what President Hinckley meant by his words.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -- Lord Acton


#18 Tough Grits

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 01:19 PM

Jumping in despite misgivings about teachings seems counter to what President Hinckley meant by his words.


I hope he is not joining with misgivings!

When I joined it was with a complete willingness, and complete acceptance of everything that came with this gospel.

Were there some things that confused me...yes! I still just don't know how Noah got all those animals on that ark!

I'm not kidding. That was (and is) confusing. I was not leery about Joseph Smith, because as a person who had been raised without religion, I had to accept ALL the prophets since Adam...so excepting a prophet in modern times was no big deal.

If God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, then wouldn't there be prophets upon the earth today, when we need them the most?

So, you see, for me the issue of a modern-day prophet made sense, compared to the way the Lord has "run His house" from the beginning.

However, I am still puzzled by all those animals on that ark! I don't doubt, I just can't wrap my mind around it. No big deal, I can't wrap my mind around the universe being infinite with no beginning or end either...but I still believe the universe is real.

Are his issues similar to my "animals on the ark" kind of thinking, or is he seriously having doubts and misgivings about doctrine?

In my mind, there is a huge difference between the two. Maybe I am wrong, or maybe I am misunderstanding. Please forgive me either way, if so.

Sincerely, TG.
~Sister Tough Grits

Life in the Church soon teaches us that the Lord does not ask us about our ability, but only our availability. And then, if we demonstrate our dependability, the Lord will increase our capability. ~Neal A. Maxwell

Blessed are those that can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused. :lol:


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#19 prisonchaplain

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 03:34 PM

TG, I'll assume the best and figure that his concern about the priesthood is something he already relegates to the same category as your Ark question. Personally, since I know that the goal of the church is for all to become engaged in ministry, and for all men to gain the priesthood, I would not have too much problem with the church turning these orders into something I'd call an ordinance (similar to baptism and sacrament). I've invited my friend to call me for lunch some time. He live's 1 1/2 hours away, so it's a question of when he is in town. It will be interesting to hear how he's doing when I next see him.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -- Lord Acton


#20 Wingnut

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 04:46 PM

I don't feel like I have anything to add to this conversation, but I just wanted to say how much I appreciate this thread. It's been very uplifting so far.
Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. -- C.S. Lewis

If we're going to be stupid about this, we're going to be stupid on my terms. -- my husband




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