Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

How do I help my nonmember friends feel comfortable when they come with me to church?

New Era

People are usually most comfortable in situations they’re familiar with, so the more you can do to familiarize your friends with the gospel and how the Church functions before they come to church with you, the better.

Talk it up. One of the best ways to begin making your friends comfortable is to talk about your Church activity. Explain early-morning seminary, weeknight activities, and Sunday meetings in your normal conversations. Try to have a positive attitude about all your activities and let your friends know you’re active in the Church because you want to be, not because your parents force you.

Friends and fun. Seeing people they know at church will make your non-LDS friends feel more at ease, so introduce them to people in your age group ahead of time if it’s possible. Church activities are a great way to form friendships, and they also help people get familiar with the Church in a less formal (and less intimidating) way.

Speak English! If you’ve been a member of the Church all your life, you may not realize that you sometimes use unfamiliar language. For instance, your friends may not know what a ward is, but might understand the word congregation better. Do you make references to being “LDS” without explaining what that means? Do you talk about going to “Mutual” or going “home teaching”? There are a couple of ways to handle this problem: First, you could simplify your language and refer to things in a more generic way. But you should also explain what the words you use mean, so they will understand what other Church members say.

Don’t forget the details. Many religions have services that last only an hour, so before you take friends to church, let them know how long you’ll be there. Also, many religions have a more relaxed dress code than we do, so let your friends know that they’ll be more comfortable if they dress up.

Be a friend. Finally, find ways to let your friends know that you care about them, whether or not they take an interest in the gospel. Be respectful of your friends’ practices and beliefs, even if they differ from yours. If a friend seems to be taking an interest in the gospel and then decides to drop it, don’t get angry or embarrassed. Instead, continue your friendship as before. No one should ever have reason to think that you befriended them simply because you wanted them to join the Church. Take time to be kind and helpful whenever you can to let your friends know that Mormons truly are Christians. Last but not least, do your best to be the kind of friend you’d like to have. After all, who wouldn’t be comfortable around a person like that?

Readers

If you bring a nonmember to church, you’re responsible for them. You should explain what’s going on and include them and make things enjoyable for them. If your friends feel the way you intend, they will look forward to their next visit to the church with you.

Katrina Howe, 12 Santa Maria, California

If I brought some of my nonmember friends to church, I would make them feel comfortable by sitting with them in sacrament meeting and explaining what the sacrament means. The way they see Church members the first time might be how they will see us forever, so we should try to make a good first impression.

Adam Brown, 14 Fredericksburg, Virginia

I’d try to be a friend to him. I would talk to him and gain his confidence. I would also put the gospel into your conversations.

David Aráujo, 14 Curitiba, Brazil

Before I brought my nonmember friend to church, I gave him a white shirt and tie for Christmas. We went to a Church-sponsored activity and then attended church for the first time. It has been more than a year now, and he is meeting with the missionaries and preparing for baptism.

Angela Westover, 19 Roy, Utah

Before I became a member of the Church, my friends helped me feel comfortable by saying things like, “We’re all family; be yourself.”

Kristy J. Cooke, 17 Terowie, South Australia, Australia

I would answer their questions about the Church, but I wouldn’t always talk to them about the Church. I would bring them to Church activities, and I would be kind and introduce them to other people. Other than that, I would just be their friend.

David Brewer, 12 Kaysville, Utah

I talk to my school friends about my church friends and tell them how much fun we have together. Then they start asking questions about the Church. When I take them to activities and they meet my friends at church, they say, “Oh, so this is who she’s been talking about.” Knowing a little about who they’re going to meet makes them feel more comfortable.

Sarah Boardman, 14 Dewitt, Michigan

You don’t need to act in a special way; just be yourself! And, most of all, be a good example for your friend.

Elisa Bonaldo, 14 Torino, Italy

In order to make a nonmember friend feel comfortable at church, you also need to be their friend at school and at home. Try to get your friends from church to be friends with them also.

Jonathan Kidd, 13 Salt Lake City, Utah

[photo] Photography by John Luke; posed by models

[illustration] When Ruth’s husband died, her mother-in-law, Naomi, encouraged her to return to her homeland. But Ruth’s love and respect for Naomi was so great that she stayed with her, saying “Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (see Ruth 1:16). Work to develop the kind of relationship that Naomi had with Ruth with your friends. It’s the kind of friendship that will lead others to the Savior. (Painting Ruth and Naomi by Robert Barrett.)