Many new and returning members aren’t comfortable at church because they don’t feel like they belong. Sometimes even those with strong testimonies struggle to remain faithful when they feel excluded. Church leaders address this issue in a recent video series titled Unity in Diversity, encouraging us as members to be more sensitive, inclusive, and loving in our interactions.
Here are four ways to help new or returning members feel like they belong:
Recent converts or less-active members may feel lonely or uneasy at church, but offering a simple hello can ease their anxieties. Carol F. McConkie says, “When anyone’s shadow darkens the door of a chapel, they ought to feel immediately embraced and loved and lifted and inspired.” Warmly greet them, interact with them, and introduce them to other members. Be the genuine friend they desperately need.
The key to making new or returning members feel included is letting them know you want them there! Elder Dallin H. Oaks teaches, “If we make [the Savior] our role model, we should always be trying to reach out to include everyone.” We can create a greater sense of belonging as we reassure and include those who are new to the Church.
Many new converts are overwhelmed with the pressure to suddenly understand everything, and some may feel lonely if their family members and friends don’t understand their new beliefs and habits. Sister Jean B. Bingham counsels, “When you choose to put yourself out there, you are blessing someone else’s life.” You can cure others’ loneliness by inviting them to dinner or going to the temple together. Your genuine love and friendship can make all the difference!
There are so many members of the Church who come from different backgrounds. Elder D. Todd Christofferson explains, “People can bring different gifts and perspectives.” Focusing on your similarities with these members rather than your differences will allow them to feel accepted, loved, included, and ready to embrace salvation within the body of Christ.
Modern apostles and prophets are urging us to find unity in diversity, encouraging us to make room for each member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no matter what their circumstances may be.