“Stake centers and chapels are a luxury”
This is an excerpt from a book by Sheri Dew about President Nelson  and I wanted to share it along with some commentary.
As President of the Quorum of the Twelve, President Nelson encouraged frequent conversation with his Brethren about the “imbalance between what we are doing as a church and what we must do” as he described it.
Those who drive by or enter Latter-day Saints chapels see beautiful landscaping, nice parking lots, and handsome buildings with basketball courts inside. And yet most of the people of the earth live in China, India, and the Middle East- areas where billions live stacked on top of each other, wall to wall.
This discrepancy between the “first world” experience and these other nations we hope to take our faith to is pretty sobering especially when we consider the vastly different lifestyles.
“This imbalance is on our worry list—high on the list. One Muslim man said it this way, ‘When your Christianity is simple enough that I can take it on the back of a camel, I will be interested.’ Faith, repentance, baptism, the endowment, and the sealing ordinance are essential. Everything you’ll see happening in the Church from this point forward will be in that direction.”
I’m very encouraged to hear that this line of thinking is present in the highest councils of the church. This idea of allowing the gospel in its simplicity to flow unencumbered to the people is wonderful.
It could be that in preparing to enter these nations with our message that we will be able to strip away those things that are creating the imbalance that was mentioned. I think we have already seen steps in that direction and I can’t help but be encouraged.
“One question we’ve wrestled with,” President Nelson said, “is how to take the gospel in its simple purity and the ordinances with their eternal efficacy to all of God’s children without having basketball hoops get in the way. We are accustomed to a church that is supported at home but accomplished in the chapels. We need a complete turnaround, where we have a home-centered church supported by what takes place inside our buildings. The only buildings that are absolutely essential are temples. Stake centers and chapels are a luxury.”
We have already seen the first push toward making church a home-centered institution and I’m all for it. I think that this will be key in how we approach other nations.
I appreciate the acknowledgement that stake centers and chapels are a luxury and not a necessity; they are! Think of the amount of resources that are required to acquire the land and keep the building running.
What could this mean for the future? I’m not sure but some of the possibilities are fun to ponder. Will we see a future where the church sheds off the need for stake centers and chapels? Will we convert all existing stake centers and chapels into temples?
As we adopt this idea of a home-centered church, what else would flow from that paradigm gaining success and traction?
- Sheri Dew, Insights from a Prophet’s Life Russell M. Nelson