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Becoming: The Power of the Church

It is one thing to discuss the power of the Gospel – to analyze JS-H 1:19 (which I will do here eventually) and dissect what it means to “deny the power (of godliness).” It is quite another to discuss the power of the Church.

A little while ago, our home ward saw some major organizational changes. The Primary Presidency and the Relief Society Presidency were changed – with two new presidents who felt overwhelmed and inadequate. (I know this, because they each said so on their individual blogs.) They received no detailed training, except for what they had observed in previous callings. They were given the keys that pertained to their callings (the ones that unlock physical doors) and some printed materials to read, told to talk with the persons they were replacing and thrown into the deep end of the pool – with a command to swim. They weren’t given the option to sink; they simply were promised the ability to swim – even if they had never been taught to swim.

The power of the Church does not reside in its prophets and apostles – although they are necessary to distill the authority under which the real power operates. The power of the Church does not lie in its Presiding Bishopric, its Quorums of the Seventy, its Stake Presidents or its Bishops and Branch Presidents – although the latter men directly oversee and facilitate the exercise of that power. It is found in the hearts and spirits of all of the average, normal, unexceptional men and women who willingly shoulder burdens and responsibilities they can’t carry – and carry them anyway. It is found in the growth experienced by Sister P and Sister M – the same growth that Sister R and Sister L will recognize whenever they hand over their keys and handbooks to their replacements and pick up whatever burden the Lord has in store for them at that time.

Church Headquarters provides vision and unanimity and direction for the body of Christ, but the members of each ward and branch do the leg work that builds the muscles that drive the heart that powers the Church – and in that lies the glory and power of God.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • davidson February 24, 2008, 2:31 pm

    I really like this, Ray. Especially this line:

    “It is found in the hearts and spirits of all of the average, normal, unexceptional men and women who willingly shoulder burdens and responsibilities they can ?t carry – and carry them anyway.” I see the keeping of covenants here.

  • Michelle D February 24, 2008, 2:36 pm

    Hey, I’ve had callings where I felt like I was thrown in the deep end of the pool without being taught to swim! It’s amazing how quickly the Lord helps you learn the essentials so you can stay afloat long enough to learn the day-to-day mechanics of a calling. Some of these experiences have taught me clearly why there are organization presidenCIES, not just a president! Isn’t it amazing how the Church runs so well with ordinary humble people striving to do their best, sometimes succeeding and sometimes falling a little flat but getting up to try again?! There really is a lot of power in that kind of action born of faith, obedience, and trust!

  • kilpatrickclan February 24, 2008, 9:24 pm

    In my last calling, I went from Primary Teacher to Primary 2nd Counselor. It was amazing how my feelings about the children changes. I went from being pretty tired of the kids in primary (as a teacher), to really loving and caring for each and every child. It really was a “mantle” kind of experience. Having been set apart, I truly felt the promptings that I could only feel in my calling. Yes, it is the members that keep things going. Faith without works is dead.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 24, 2008, 10:52 pm

    Welcome, kilpatrickclan!

    Nice thoughts, Ray. Power to the people. 🙂

  • davidson February 24, 2008, 10:56 pm

    Yes, welcome, kilpatrickclan! Isn’t it a wonderful thing to feel Heavenly Father’s love going THROUGH you to the children? That’s a neat experience.

  • Ray February 24, 2008, 11:28 pm

    I think my next post is going to be about the two churches of which I am a member – the one that guides my life and the one that is my life. If anyone wants to take a stab at what I mean, I might just add it as a comment to this post, instead.

  • davidson February 24, 2008, 11:31 pm

    Either way, I’d love to hear what you are thinking.

  • Ray February 24, 2008, 11:46 pm

    It’s been a physically and emotionally exhausting weekend here in Houston. I’ll tackle it in a day or two, davidson. In the meantime, everyone else, feel free to speculate to your hearts’ content.

    😉

  • facethemusic February 25, 2008, 6:07 am

    Alison! You beat me to the punch!! But it’s true! 100% true. Good article, Ray!!

  • Ray February 28, 2008, 7:24 pm

    We are associated with two very different churches: the hierarchical, authoritative one that provides counsel for the entire world and the horizontal, cooperative one within which we struggle to grow and share and serve and learn within our own individual lives. The first is led by the President and our prophets and apostles; the second is led by our Bishops and ward presidencies, with direction from the Stake Presidency and the High Council. That, in my mind, is the absolute genius of the organizational restoration – the authority of global guidance combined with the community of self-governing pilgrims. The overarching vision and power of godliness and of eternity is provided by the global leadership; the underpinning power of the Gospel and the organizational church is evident at the local level.

    If someone is not converted to both churches (the theological and the practical), that person will not grow to be able to become perfected by the grace of God, imho.

  • davidson February 28, 2008, 9:19 pm

    Succinct and true. I liked it, Ray.

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