Hi folks. Sorry about this post, the content has been bugging me for several days. I've been reluctant to post, because to be blunt I'm more than a bit grumpy at the moment. I'm currently an assistant in the Ward HP group and over the last week or so I've been getting emails from the HP group leader & bishop advising of new initiatives from the Pacific Area Presidency regarding re-activation efforts. Every email comes with a forward from the Area Presidency (so i know this is coming from higher than our local leaders) detailing what is expected of priesthood leaders, and a new requirement for "ministering".

So far the list of "minimum expectations" stands as follows.
1 night per week visiting inactive members as presidencies.
1 night per week conducting PPI's
Ward council to be held every two weeks, and quorum/group/auxiliary presidency meetings in the off week.
And now today i get an email that we are to spend 1 night per week doing trade-offs with missionaries to visit inactive/part-member families - in addition to the visits we do as presidencies.

So basically we are at 4 nights per week that we are expected to be out working in our callings. To his credit our bishop has decided that the trade offs with the missionaries will be alternated weekly between HP and EQ - I guess that one night every two weeks will give an opportunity to go home teaching.

So at the moment I am very annoyed at these expectations, and frankly I have absolutely no intention of meeting them. Furthermore I am of the opinion that I cannot sustain the area presidency in this, and by extension the stake president, bishop or HPGL if they are intent on following through with these requirements. I grew up pretty much not knowing my father because he was out doing church stuff every night of the week, and I have absolutely no intention of the same happening with my kids. Perhaps these demands would be achievable for someone with no kids at home and who no longer works full time so they can spend time with their wife during the day. But for someone who works for a living and has a family it is completely unreasonable. As it is, on the nights I go home teaching or have a presidency meeting, or ward council, I walk in the door after work, gulp down dinner and go out again, with barely time to say hello, then get home long after everyone else is in bed. That is tolerable one night per week, but intolerable 4 nights per week.

So how would others here handle this situation? Is this a worldwide thing, or just pacific area? Would you just meekly go along with it believing it to be the Lord's will to continually bother people who want no contact with the church, while neglecting your own family? Or would you stand against it, and if so, in what way?

Frankly I think these expectations will drive people away from the church, not toward it. At the moment I have absolutely no desire to be part of an organisation that makes such ridiculous demands on the time of a father and husband. As much as I love the doctrines of the church, I cannot see that such expectations would come from a loving Heavenly Father, and sounds more like a hare-brained scheme by someone trying to big note themselves. Every time I get another email telling me what I am supposedly doing every night starting next week, I am barely restraining myself from sending an email to the bishop and stake president telling them in no uncertain terms what I think, which is not very complimentary toward the Area Presidency. Yes i know we shouldn't criticise leaders etc etc, but if you haven't gathered by now I am furious, but at a loss as to how to handle this, and very close to saying something that I know I'll regret. Any clues in Internet land?

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Honestly, I haven't heard anything like this.  Then again, I am only in a singles ward and I've never been in a presidency position other than secretary.

From what little I understand, family should come first.  Prayer about the expectations would be a good idea.  I do admit that it sounds like it is overboard.

I'm in the bishopric of my ward. So far, we haven't received these kinds of mandates in our area (Las Vegas). On the other hand, I have been involved in asking people to do things beyond what they believe they can do. I have gone to my leaders and told them about concerns I've had with callings and ended up getting released (but not in a bad way, if you know what I mean).

Honestly, you are in a challenging situation. I believe you have every right to talk with your bishop about your concerns. I know our bishop has adjusted some of the requests made by our stake leadership because he feels they put too much burden on the members of the ward. If things are as you say they are, I would tend to agree. This is way too much to ask of the members. The church should be there to support the growth and development of individuals and families. If your family is suffering unduly because of the demands of your responsibilities to the church, something should change.

Of course, I do believe that our church leaders are (mostly) inspired. I believe that they always act out of a desire to do what is best for God's children. The challenge can come when it seems that they aren't as sensitive to the needs of one group as they are of another. The rescue is important, but I tend to believe that when Jesus went out after the one, he made sure the ninety and nine were secure before he left.

Not sure if any of this helps, but those are the thoughts I had as I read through this.

I can completely understand your frustrations.  I have been in situations where the demand seems to be too much.  At the same time I would counsel that you should look beyond the burden and try to understand the blessing.  It sounds like there is a great need in your area to re-activate members.  While it might be difficult to fulfill these expectations, you never know what might come from it.  Often times in my life I get the greatest blessings when the task seems the hardest.  We don’t always understand why we are asked to do things, but remember that we all have the ability to talk and seek counsel not just from our leaders but also from the Lord.  It is difficult to understand why your are being asked to do this when the assignments are coming via emails.  My advice would be to have a face to face discussion with your leaders and try to understand the reasons, as well as express your concerns about these new expectations.  I would suggest against taking the attitude of blowing off your responsibilities because of a lack of understanding or because they seem to be “too much”.  In my opinion, and please take it lightly because I don’t know you or the situation, based on your post you are shutting yourself off and allowing pride to get in the way of your understanding.  I would challenge you to pray and talk with your leadership to gain perspective and who knows maybe through that the assignments/expectations will change.

Sometimes we are required to do hard things. Because something is hard doesn't mean that it isn't right to do. In the early days of the church fathers were often commanded to serve long missions in foreign lands, leaving their families for years. Does this make God unloving? God will bless us if we follow his will. I would advise you to talk to your bishop about your concerns. I would also pray about it.

I have felt that way. Yes there has always been a strong encouragement for "One night a week with the missionaries. This can be delegated throughout the HP group leadership or the quorum both HP and Elders. Monthly PPIs have been in the books for years and Ward council, PEC, and Welfare meetings along with visiting the inactive members. I served in a branch of 60 active members and 180 inactive members that by the handbook should be visited every month. The elders quorum president and I were determined to take one night a week and visit every family on the list. After 3 months and hundreds of miles on both cars (the branch boundary was 50 miles north south and 60 miles east west) We decided to prayerfully select a few each quarter and both visit those who need and wanted visits and remove (unfortunately) at their request others from the rolls. I recently had the calling that you have now. The first and primary purpose of the church is to..."Strengthen the Family." As the HP group we take one Saturday morning a month to have a service project. We try to consolidate the Nick knack projects to once a month, focus on an inactive family that needs help and turn it into a Family activity involving the Ward the missionaries the community and the youth. This consolidates a lot of "needs" into one lump time slot. Yes I have seen energetic parents serve in the church to the demise of their family. They have the idea that if I keep serving the Lord will preserve my family. This only goes so far. Yes as members of the church our calendars fill too full with service opportunities. Yes we need to teach our family members the joy of serving but not at the expense of serving our family. Delegation, coordination, consolidation, and planning all help. Ask the Lord what works for you and your stewardship as a leader and as a Patriarch in your home. You also have a voice in your leadership meetings. Ask the question, "How can we as leaders be more efficient so that our families can enjoy us more? I am glad that you recognize this as a problem there is a solution, the Lord is on your side on this, He will guide you.

Update. We had a HP leadership meeting tonight. The other assistant had concerns too. The HPGL said not to worry too much, because we will NOT be following their mandate. He sent the emails to us to gauge our reaction, and figured since neither of us replied we were in stunned silence. He said if we thought the demands on us were bad, the expectations on him added up to him being out 8 nights per week! I should note that each thing is worded in a manner like "the high priest group leader shall visit every high priest in their home at least once per month. He is to devote at least one night per week to this". Note the word "devote" which implies exclusivity. In the HPGLs words, "it looks like they brainstormed a bunch of ideas, put them together as a list of expectations, and forgot how many days there are in a week".

I know the expectation to PPI, do missionary trade offs hold meetings etc is not new, we have been doing all these things as a ward for a while. What was new was "priesthood leaders are to devote one night per week exclusively for...", and it was this expectation that annoyed me. Where we previously would spend one night per month doing these things, and sometimes we would combine functions on a single night, it was now lifted to one per week and each task to be exclusive.

Anyway the HPGL said the only thing we will change from what we are currently doing is to get the whole HP group doing trade offs with the missionaries, so each one will go out maybe once every 6 months. The expectation is the leadership will go out every week, but the HPGL says that as long as the missionaries are reporting they are having trade offs we should get away with it. As for the other requirements we will continue doing them on an approximate monthly basis like we have been doing. I know it sounds like we are directly disobeying a directive from the Area Presidency, but as the HPGL says, we will follow the spirit of the instruction, but not to the letter, because that is unrealistic. So I'm glad to see that common sense is prevailing at the local level, even if it is completely lacking higher up.


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