Make a Difference “Spend your energy on things that make a difference.”
—Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Do Things That Make a Difference” Accessed
May 1, 2020 from

Of what social sacred cows do I speak? The notion that social activities can assist in attracting and retaining members in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that they are desirable activities for members as well.

Try as I might, I cannot recall a single conversion story that included a witness coming as a result of a social event ... Have you ever heard anyone testify that they received their testimony, their witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ from a social event?

Social Events Have Replaced Just About Everything in the Church!

We don't seem to plan anything but social activities anymore. I remember when we had pure service activities, not a service segment attached to a social activity, like quickly compiling a few hygiene kits or something while we got on with the more important activity of socializing.

Over the years, we've justified social activities for basically the same reasons, basically two points:
  1. To fellowship with other members
  2. To invite nonmembers to join us for an event that is non-stressful
I think that we need to acknowledge that they don't achieve much. This is an uncomfortable fact and one we need to face.

Social events are an easy sell and non-controversial. Who is against social activities, besides me of course?

In fact, we're so good at doing them, we can organize and execute them almost effortlessly

Our social health is important and we need socialization. Can anyone argue that in our modern world this is something that is neglected? I think it is safer to say this whole aspect of life is overemphasized.

Social events don't tend to strengthen spirituality. In fact, I can't think of much of anything they actually achieve, maybe some limited fun for a limited time period.

Fellowshipping at Social Events is Episodic, Not Systematic

I don't think Church social events advance any serious objective like salvation or exaltation. I don't think they help strengthen members or assist them in living their covenants.

So, what really happens at social events:
- People segregate themselves according to social cliques.
- People come for the food, not for much else.

I've seen a distinct change over the years as well. Church social events don't seem to attract the young anymore, and it's the young we are losing. These social events are generally potlucks (pitch-in, carry-in, covered-dish dinner, pick your term) for older members.

These events have even been painful and unpleasant on occasion, depending on how other people in the ward treat us. Not everyone gets to socialize. Usually, it is a small contingent of people that do all the socializing and everybody else, often the marginalized, get left out.

It Might Be Different For Singles

Singles are the one group in the Church that don't meet as a group in regular meetings on a regular basis. Communication amongst them is sporadic and episodic. I'm not even certain if the Church has set up an email list for us through the Leader-Clerk Resources (LCR). If they have, it's never been used, to my knowledge anyway.

So, let's be clear about this. Singles events should be judged by different criteria. Now that I am single, again, I've become painfully re-aware of the unique challenges they face.

I do go to singles' events and I really have no problem with their potlucks. We really enjoy seeing each other and having a change in our usual diets is always welcome.

Recipes are generally geared toward four or more people as is food buying. If I make something, I end up eating it for about a week and a half. By the time I'm done, I'm so sick of it I never want to see it again. A potluck is welcome! My leftovers from a potluck only last me about 2-3 days.

The spiritual devotional, talk, address, discussion afterward is also welcome because its often the only thing on Sunday that I'm able to hear. Yes, I'm hearing-impaired. I'd even come for the spiritual stuff without the food.

I think single people do need social events. I'm just not convinced everybody else does.

Do We Need a Social Event?

In the Worldwide Leadership Meeting in 2008 (About 1 hour into the Roundtable Discussion in the video), Julie B. Beck said, "Years ago there was a little rule I made for myself that I think is pretty applicable to everyone." She said, that "a good reason to have a ward activity or a stake activity, is because we need it." She said, "a bad reason to have an activity is because it's a tradition."

We need to ask, "Do the members need it?"

Do we ever ask ourselves this?

Have we ever asked ourselves this?

Social Events Are About Food, Not Spiritually!

Face it folks. It's all about food. People who will never darken the doors for any of our actual religious events will come for the food.

We keep deluding ourselves into believing that the food is just the draw and they will come for the spiritual events if we persist.

However, this never, or perhaps rarely, happens.

This reminds me of the scripture and story in the New Testament.

John 6:26:

Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Jesus didn't like the idea that people were only interested in the food and not the spirituality. Why should we be promoting the food, instead of the spirituality?

Let's rethink these social sacred cows!

(This particular post has been in the works for literally years. Now that we are bereft of any Church activities, I can't be accused of fingering something or someone recent and specific.)

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