Friendshipping Tips

Posted by: Andee / Category: , ,

Couldn't resist adding this photo... I love The Office!!

Oh, the first in a huge series of articles from the mega-mammoth stack of Ensign magazines is officially here! I can't help myself but talk out loud when I read these articles. Sometimes I catch myself saying, "Oh. My. God!" and roomie will walk out of his bedroom and say, "What?" I have to zip my mouth closed.

Anyhoo, this post is about Friendshipping Tips.

Friendshipping is when an active member of the church goes out of their way to be extra-super-dee-duper-friendly to inactive members or people who have never been Mormon, and try to convert them. This is exactly what bugged the hell out of me when I was in high school, and it still gets under my skin.

This article was published in the random sampler section of the March 2001 Ensign, on page 70.
As always, the article will be in quote blocks and italicized, and my comments mixed in will appear just like this.

Friendshipping Tips

Visiting a less-active member can at times be intimidating. When I received a new visiting teaching route that included a less-active sister, I put the assignment on my refrigerator door, where it stayed for a month while I mustered up the courage to call her. When I finally did call, I got a chilly reception.

Gee wiz. Why in the world do you think you got the chilly reception? You talk about her like she carries some kind of extraterrestrial virus that could turn you into some freak of nature! It would be quite obvious to her that you really didn't want to go see her, and put it off to the last of the month. I don't blame her for being "chilly."

While I was struggling with this assignment, I happened across a scripture that changed my attitude: "Lovest thou me? ...Feed My Sheep." (John 21:16). I realized that as a disciple of Christ, I needed to reach out to His sheep that have strayed. Instead of thinking of this woman as hostile, I began to think of her as my sister--a child of God--who needed to be loved back into the fold.

Um... how convenient. You just happened upon that scripture at that time huh? This looks less and less like a true story (shocking, I know) and more like some story made up to fill space in the mag.

Here is another issue I have with that paragraph. Reaching out to His Sheep that have strayed? What if they don't feel that they have strayed? Personally, I am pretty damned happy to be out of that church.

It is good that this woman finally realized that the angry-hostile-less-active woman was also a child of God. It's a shame it took a random sampling of her scriptures to remind her of that. Pathetic, actually. Lets move on.

As I visited with this sister, and later with other less-active members, I discovered a number of things that have improved our friendships.
  • Be a true friend. At first less-active members may act cold toward home or visiting teachers, but don't give up. As you continue to come by with a smile and show interest in them as you try to share a message, they will realize that you are sincere in your offer of friendship.
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

Who is actually being sincere here? Lets face it. Home and visiting teachers only go to less-active member's homes because they have to. Do they really go out of their way to be friends with people who are less active? Most of the time, the answer to that is a big, fat, no.

Being a friend is being a friend. The church doesn't even have to enter the conversation... ever. If the only reason you are stopping by my house is to get me to go back to church, it's insincere!

Onward.

  • Keep them informed. Call less-active members and keep them informed of upcoming ward events. While some may not be ready to attend church, they may be willing to join other ward or branch activities.

That, or they might get annoyed by the constant church crap and catch on that you are all church all the time. That would get old, and quick.

  • Offer rides. Invite them to ride with you to ward or stake meetings and events. Arrange for Primary, Scout, or Mutual teachers and advisers to offer rides to family members who may not otherwise be able to attend auxiliary functions. Once they attend, they will likely make friends with other ward members.
Um... so once they are "friends" with other ward members you can get 'em back...? The logic is kind of flawed here to me. Offering someone a ride is a nice thing to do, but again it's pretty damned insincere.

Are you offering them rides to get-togethers that are not about the church? No. Again, this is purely for one reason, and that reason isn't friendship. It's to get the member back in church.
  • Bake a treat. Once, when a sister would not return my calls, I left cookies on her doorstep along with an inspirational message. She called the next day to thank me.
Um. Okay... so you leave this woman with one of two choices.

She can wait for you to continue calling her, stopping by her home unannounced, and leaving little messages, or she can just bite the bullet and call and say thank you.

I don't know about anyone else here, but I was raised to say thank you when someone does something like that. It's kind of playing into her guilt. "She is going to have to talk to me now. All I have to do is something nice and then she has to say thank you. Works every time. As long as I get what I want." Gawd.
  • When appropriate, share a gospel message. Some sisters really do long for a spiritual uplift despite their unenthusiastic response. Share a short spiritual message or leave one in a note. Include your testimony of the love Heavenly Father has for her, and include your own feelings of love for her family.
This one made me roll my eyes. You are basically saying, "Keep dishing out the gospel crap even though they make it painfully obvious they don't give a damn." Take a hint. They don't care or they don't agree with it. Period. Leave 'em alone!

Sorry, that one is kind of personal... it happened to me many times!

  • Seek common interests. Invite a sister to go with you to take a class, shop, or attend a sporting or cultural event.
Would you be spending time with this woman if you didn't have to? What is the motive here? Real friendship, or church attendance? The answer is right in front of you. Would you ask her to go to a class, shop, or attend a cultural event if you didn't have another motive? If the answer is no, you are lying to her about your "friendship."
  • Remember special days. I birthday card or telephone call shows you care, and bringing special treats on holidays can brighten any family's day.
That is nice. However, you bring up the treats thing again... as if a person is going to bite into a piece of fudge and think, "Wow... that was so good. Maybe there *is* something to all this Mormon stuff!

Come on!

Would you have called her if you didn't have her on your home teaching list? Would you even care if she had a birthday if she was on another route? Nope.

Don't get me wrong... real friendships can emerge from situations like these... but in my opinion, thats is because there is a connection there. Not because you brought her dessert.
  • Pray for them. As you remember less-active sisters in your daily prayers, you'll find you have increased awareness of their needs and new ideas of things you might do that may further soften their hearts.
Written by -Kersten Campbell, College Station Second Ward, College Station Texas Stake


Ahh, yes. Praying for them will surely make a difference.

The one thing this article misses completely, is that some people are perfectly happy without the church. Shocking, I know... but true.

Ugh.

Now this... this is friendship!

Andee


9 comments:

  1. Steve-o Says:

    An underlying theme to this article is that inactive members are inactive because they don't have any friends, and thus "friendshipping" will bring them back to the fold. There's no discussion here of attempting to find out what the inactive member's concerns are or why they might not be attending church. It's very much like that pamphlet I received from the church membership records office on Friday in response to my resignation letter. You know the one: "if you've been offended, we invite you to come back" or something along those lines.

    It is incredibly shallow to assume that people quit going to church because they have no friends or because someone offended them. It is, however, much easier for church leadership to address these issues with the faithful than to bring up all the "intellectual" issues disaffected members might have with the church and talk through each one of them.

    People will continue to leave the church and to be barraged with the kind of annoying behavior described in this Ensign article (love bombs and the like) as long as this is the picture of inactivity the leadership paints.

  1. Andee Says:

    So true, Steve-O. So true.

    This friendshipping topic is right up my alley because it was a constant thing for me as a teenager.

    None of the adults nor the girls gave a rats ass about me when I was there... but when I didn't show they suddenly felt they needed to show love? Insincere. I use that word a lot, but it's a perfect description.

  1. Truly Confused Says:

    Now Andee, stop it!!!! Some of us want the treats. Won't bring be back, but if someone wants to make me homemade cookies or brownies I am not going to say no. Hell, I may even let them in the door at some point...just saying here, if it makes them feel better.....

    Some people do leave because they don't feel welcome-it is true. But a sincere openess and friendliness at church to start with would solve that one. The rest of the people who don't go to church have way bigger reasons for being there. Like the fact it isn't what it is says it is and it is based on lies.

    (ok, I will say that for some they have find a community that meets a need for them, and I am happy for them)

  1. Andee Says:

    Haha!

    Heaven forbid I stop them from bringing over the yummies, but it just makes me roll my eyes every time.

    It wont stop them, thats for sure. They will continue to push and push the gospel on me until I either snap and tell them to bug off, or turn into Molly Mormon herself!

    What to do...

  1. Steve-o Says:

    I, for one, am voting for Molly Mormon!

  1. Truly Confused Says:

    Please don't turn into a Molly. Reading your non-Molly blog is the highlight of my day (sometimes I am just too tired to comment). I can't read it at work because they block blogs, but it is the first thing I do when I get home from work. (ok, I actually change and take my bra off first, but your blog comes second)

  1. Andee Says:

    You have nothing to worry about trulyconfused!

    Please promise me one thing...

    If I ever... EVER... start to sound as if I can apologize or defend the church on issues like polygamy, racism, and falsehoods... please take a gun and put me out of my misery.

    Please.

  1. Truly Confufsed Says:

    Deal, as long as you do the same for me!!!! But really, the church is true. I testfy that as a woman I am nothing and that the penalty for my attraction to black men should be death on the spot....Oh yeah, and it will be my priviledge to marry a man with 900 other wives....

  1. Andee Says:

    You are so freaking funny...

    Yes, we are blessed to be women in these latter days.

    I stay strong in my faith that some worthy priesthood holder will some day find me worthy enough to be in his presence in the celestial kingdom. I hold my breath in anticipation.

    *puke*