How do I respond to, “Your church asks too much”?
Several years ago I presided over one of our missions. Two of our missionaries were teaching a fine family who had expressed a desire to be baptized; and then they suddenly cooled off. The father had learned about tithing and he canceled all further meetings with the missionaries.
Two sad elders reported to the branch president, who himself was a recent convert, that he would not have this fine family in his branch.
A few days later the branch president persuaded the elders to join him in another visit to the family. "I understand," he told the father, "that you have decided not to join the Church."
"That is correct," the father answered.
"The elders tell me that you are disturbed about tithing."
"Yes," said the father. "They had not told us about it; and when I learned of it, I said, 'Now, that's too much to ask.' Our church has never asked anything like that. We think that's just too much and we will not join."
"Did they tell you about fast offering?" the president asked.
"No," said the man. "What is that?"
"In the Church we fast for two meals each month and give the value of the meals for the help of the poor."
"They did not tell us that," the man said.
"Did they mention the building fund?"
"No, what is that?"
"In the Church we all contribute toward building chapels. If you joined the Church, you would want to participate both in labor and with money. Incidentally, we are building a new chapel here," he told him.
"Strange," he said, "that they didn't mention it."
"Did they explain the welfare program to you?"
"No," said the father. "What is that?"
"Well, we believe in helping one another. If someone is in need or ill or out of work or in trouble, we are organized to assist, and you would be expected to help.
"Did they also tell you that we have no professional clergy? All of us contribute our time, our talents, our means, and travel-all to help the work. And we're not paid for it in money."
"They didn't tell us any of that," said the father.
"Well," said the branch president, "if you are turned away by a little thing like tithing, it is obvious you're not ready for this Church. Perhaps you have made the right decision and you should not join."
As they departed, almost as an afterthought he turned and said: "Have you ever wondered why people will do all of these things willingly? I have never received a bill for tithing. No one has ever called to collect it. But we pay it-and all of the rest-and count it as a great privilege.
"If you could discover why, you would be within reach of the pearl of great price, for which the Lord said the merchant man was willing to sell all that he had so that he might obtain it.
"But," the branch president added, "it is your decision. I only hope you will pray about it."
A few days later the man appeared at the branch president's home. No, he did not want to reschedule the missionaries. That would not be necessary. He wanted to schedule the baptism of his family. They had been praying, fervently praying.
This happens every day with individuals and entire families attracted by the high standards, not repelled by them.
Lead image from Wikimedia Commons
Get more insightful parables from President Packer in Memorable Stories and Parables.
This volume brings together 26 more of the most memorable stories and parables of Pres Boyd K Packer. Read and enjoy treasures such as The Mediator, Spiritual Crocodiles, Channeling Your Thoughts, Balm of Gilead, Of Cars and Dates, and more. Pres Packer follows the Lord's injunction to "Teach ye diligently" and does so in a manner that is clear and lasting. These short stories are great for daily inspiration and will be life lessons that are hard to forget.