Minnesota Mormons: An Introduction

The doorbell rang around noon yesterday.  This happens much less often than you might imagine, so my first thought was, “UPS?  FedEx?”  I grinned at the prospect of a Christmas package.  (I was going to say “belated Christmas package”, but it is totally still Christmas, so please keep those gifts coming, friends.)

Instead, it was the second most likely possibility: Mormon missionaries.  As soon as I saw the pair of clean cut young men in white shirts and black jackets, I knew who they were.  We saw Mormons all the time in our Mexican and Puerto Rican neighborhood in Milwaukee, where they were usually playing basketball with what I’m sure were Roman Catholic children they had little hope of converting.

These were not the missionaries who came to my door (it's a mild winter in Minnesota, but not this mild), but you get the idea.

I can’t imagine they do much better around here. We were visited by another pair this fall, and one of them said to Mike, “Everyone keeps saying they’re Lutheran.  What does that mean?”  When I mentioned at Bible study yesterday that the Mormons had been to our house, all the ladies were stunned.  (Pro Tip: Jehovah’s Witnesses are more prevalent than Mormons in these parts.  The Mormons come all the way from Hutch!)

It will not surprise you that I, a Lutheran pastor, disagree with most of what I know Mormons believe.  I’ve been to one sacrament meeting, and my seminary classmate and I could not quite figure out the appeal.  I mean, it was a bunch of friendly, attractive people in their early twenties, so I guess I see the appeal, but we didn’t find much to sustain us in the meeting itself.

But the two missionaries who stopped at my door yesterday were perfectly sincere.  They didn’t push their message on me (“I’m a Lutheran pastor” can be a surprisingly effective conversation ender, even with Mormon missionaries), but they did ask this: “Do you know if anyone in your neighborhood needs to hear about Jesus Christ?”

Well, holy buckets.  You got me, Mormons.  I’m pretty sure everyone in my neighborhood needs to hear about Jesus Christ, not because they’ve never heard but because it is life-giving good news for the whole world.  And I can’t tell you about who specifically needs that good news, because I still don’t know my neighbors very well.  And that is pretty embarrassing to admit.

No matter what I think about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I appreciate the reminder that caring for my neighbors and sharing the good news is part of my Christian vocation.

Also, the last missionaries who visited raked a bunch of leaves for us.  So, thank you for that.  I mean it.

Note: Of course I know that instead of “Mormons” I should say “members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”, but “Mormons” is just so much easier to type.  

It's not just smart to go out two by two. It's also biblical. And mathematical!

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16 Comments

Filed under Ministry Matters

16 responses to “Minnesota Mormons: An Introduction

  1. Claire

    at first when I saw the picture I thought, wow did she really ask them to pose for a picture for her blog?

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  2. I love the way you tackled this idea–making it informative and humorous without being abrasive. I also do not agree with much (if any) of the Mormon’s beliefs. However, I do have to admire their rugged determination to share their message. Christians would do well to follow their example in order to spread God’s Truth. I’m guilty of not knowing my neighbors either (though we live in an apartment complex and no one is ever in a yard or something to chat with, but I digress. NO EXCUSES!) 🙂 That’s where Christians fall short, the grassroots impulse has been beaten out of us by society. Still, that can be overcome. Thanks for the essential reminder!

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    • Thank you! And “rugged determination” is a good way to describe it. Also, the last time I looked at the LDS website, I remember thinking that was something else we could learn from them–it was great!

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  3. All we get are politicians asking if they can put signs in our yard. I love that no matter who they are I just say “NOPE, parsonage and I like our tax exempt status thank you very much”. Does anyone need to hear about Jesus Christ? Good question. Some days even I need to hear about Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

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    • I forgot about politicians! We don’t get too many, and even though I don’t live in a parsonage I would say no for similar reasons (plus, Mike and I very often vote differently, so we’d have to have multiple signs). We all need to hear the Gospel, even those of us who are called to preach it!

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  4. We have a lot of people in our area that belong to the Church of Latter Day Saints. Yup, Southern California, thought to be the hot bed of radical craziness, is actually very conservative, once you get away from the ocean. I have trained myself to not say “Mormon” at least to their face. I suggest “LDS.” As in, “Oh, are you LDS?” But, I agree, Morman is way shorter to type!!!

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    • Yes, LDS is a better way, and even shorter than Mormon! The missionary said, “We’re from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as Mormons,” so I felt a little better about using “Mormon” in the post.

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  5. “We were visited by another pair this fall, and one of them said to Mike, “Everyone keeps saying they’re Lutheran. What does that mean?” ”

    Funniest thing I have read today! You’re in MINNESOTA, people! That’s like asking “What’s a snowstorm?”

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    • I thought it was pretty great! That missionary was from . . . Arizona, I think. In fact, one of the ones who came yesterday is from South Africa, so he is pretty weirded out by even the tiny amount of snow we’ve had this winter.

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  6. As a recovering Mormon (raised in the religion, no longer practicing), I think the appeal of the religion is the sense of community. It is very much a complete life style. Members are given a very specific roadmap to eternal life.

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    • Very true, Beth. When my classmate and I visited, I thought, “Wow, if I didn’t have a community already, I can see where this would be a little tempting.” I also thought that a lot of Christian communities could learn a few things from the way LDS folks create community (though certainly not all things).

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  7. I, too, am a little mystified by the attraction, not only to the Mormon faith but also to Jehovah’s Witnessess. I have had serious interaction with both lately and all it did was make me run, not walk, straight to my Savior and envelope myself in His arms. I NEED Jesus in my life. However, I do have to admit, both religions have the evangelizing part down really well, door to door, two by two, in fair weather or foul. Some of us so called Evangelical Christians really need to get off our tuckuses and learn from their example. Yes, this is a wake up call for me, too. I moved to a new apartment complex last mont and haven’t met any of my neighbors. I will be getting on that this weekend…

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  8. Pastor Maggie,
    First off God bless you, Mike, and Zoe. Thank you for being frank and kind in your posts. It should be known that I am LDS (a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints) sometimes mistakenly called “Mormon.” However I have grown up Lutheran, and thus have some personal knowledge of the Lutheran take on Christianity. I see in your post that… “I, a Lutheran pastor, disagree with most of what I know Mormons believe. you do not agree with.” I have seen some other people say similar statements, and yet so far I have not received an understanding of these disagreements. I would dearly love to know what you know we “Mormons” believe that you disagree with. I harbor no ill will nor offence, but would like to gain in my understanding of your perception of the group I belong to. I delight in your writing and thus feel safe in requesting this feedback. I can be reached off list by email if you prefer a more private conversation so we do not offend bystanders or eat up space on your Blog, or for any other reason. This can be freely posted as My email is: ditchu@gmail.com
    In the Love of Christ,
    Ditchu

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