Many members are experiencing or have family members experiencing what is being called a “crisis of faith” which has led some of them to reject the Lord’s Church and His restored Gospel.
There are many reasons behind these faith crises ranging from sin leading to a loss of the spirit to reading anti literature to reading “histories” that don’t match up with what the individual felt they were taught in Church.
Whatever the reason, there are some keys to helping restore (or at least alienate as little as possible) friends and family to the faith.
1. Don’t use language that belittles. If you had a friend that was never a member of the Church, but started investigating the Gospel and they had a question about something they read on the internet, we wouldn’t respond to that person by saying, “Do you believe President Nelson is a Prophet or not? Just stay away from reading things that cast doubt.” Or “Just read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, nothing else matters.” The investigator would think you couldn’t answer the question and a person in a faith crisis will too. When a friend or family member has a faith crisis respond in a similar tone that you would an investigator.
2. Don’t try to make the Gospel sound appealing to the values of the world or worldly. The Gospel is peculiar and stands apart from the world. If we apply the values of “Babylon” to the Gospel, our friends and family will be converted to Babylon, not the Gospel.
3. Apply consistent principles. If we say our friends can’t depend on something for truth, make sure you explain why it isn’t reliable and why what you want to share is. Simply saying “You wouldn’t go to enemies of the Gospel to learn the good things about it” doesn’t cut it. A rational person looking into a new product, service, religion, or candidate for office, is going to look into all sides and try and discern truth from error. If you wanted to find out someone’s guilt or innocence and they said, “Don’t listen to anyone accusing me of X, just listen to me,” you would laugh at them and probably find their story even more suspect than you did before.
4. Make sure the apologetic information you share is honest. Nothing is worse than trying to help someone and the information you give them isn’t honest. The person struggling will think you’re dishonest, or “brainwashed.” We have written about this in the past. For some examples, see our Sacred Cow archives here.
5. Make sure when defending the Gospel, you avoid dismissing the teachings of past prophets. This goes along with consistent principles. If you dismiss the teachings of past prophets, why are current prophets any more trustworthy? Bad trees do not bring forth good fruit. If our current leaders are worth listening to, they must have come from a line of leaders just as inspired. As Joseph Smith taught, “If we start right, it is easy to go right all the time; but if we start wrong, we may go wrong, and it be a hard matter to get right.” – Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 343
If we can follow these five steps, we can not only effectively save those in a faith crisis, but also build a testimony in both our friends and ourselves that will weather the storms that are sure to come.