I have lived and served in about a dozen different wards and branches of the church. Each has been the same in organization and doctrine, and each has been different in size, culture and personality. Looking back I think I’ve learned something valuable from each one. And I’ve been thinking about them recently and analyzing their strengths and weaknesses.
The adjective awesome is thrown around a lot. It’s probably among the most overused adjectives right now. According to my dictionary awesome means “inspiring with an overwhelming sense of reverence or fear.” With that definition in mind I’d like to explore the question “What would an awesome unit (ward or branch) be like?”
A unit could be called awesome if it had 75% Sacrament meeting attendance (there’s always someone out sick, on vacation or at work), and at least 90% Home and Visiting Teaching. A unit would qualify as awesome if they had more individuals and families to teach than one set of missionaries could handle, and convert baptisms every month, with those converts staying active because of the love and nurturing they receive. A unit could be called awesome if it also had ongoing temple preparation classes; and if all the adults who had been members longer than one year had full temple recommends and were endowed and sealed. A unit could be called awesome if there was an ongoing teacher improvement class and graduated members could teach any of the classes on the spur of the moment, and could give inspiring Sacrament meeting talks without wasting time on how they were asked to speak and how nervous they are and how they decided what to talk about, ad infinitum. A unit could be called awesome if the majority of the members went the extra mile without having to be asked; as it is many of us have to be begged and cajoled to go even the first mile. A unit could be called awesome if it were attracting and retaining people instead of losing them to inactivity. An awesome unit would have more than one person who played the piano and organ, and more than one who could lead music, and would have a choir that practiced and performed regularly and actually sounded great. A unit would be awesome if the members didn’t get offended at every little thing and were humble and forgiving. A unit would truly be awesome if the members acted upon their testimonies and exercised faith instead of just saying the words. If it is true that “by their fruits, ye shall know them” then an awesome unit would include a culture of excellence in all they did from the bulletins to the music and speakers, to the home and visiting teaching, to the classroom lessons and discussions inspiring each other to reach higher, work harder and love more deeply.
At the other end of the scale would probably be pathetic, which is defined as “evoking pity, sorrow, or compassion; miserably inadequate”. How does a unit move up the scale? Just calling something awesome doesn’t make it so or even encourage it to be so. In addition to loving their members, leaders teaching correct principles and practices, sort of like a coach of five year old soccer players would, through demonstration and repetition, could move a unit to actions that would bear fruit worthy to be called awesome. It’s what I’m attempting to accomplish in our Relief Society. I get discouraged because it seems to be such a slow process. But when I stand before the Lord on judgment day to give an accounting I want to be able to say I did my best to both love and teach the sisters and bring them to Christ.
What do you think makes for an “awesome” ward/branch?