Help for Life Challenges

Someone I love doesn’t see the need to go to church. What can I say to them?

Family spending quality time together
If a loved one asks if attending church is really necessary, how might we respond in a loving, helpful way?
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Perhaps you’ve heard someone say something like this: “I see myself as being spiritual, and that is enough for me. Why would I need to be part of a church?” How might we respond to that question in a loving, helpful way? This is an important issue, because, as researchers have found, “people who step away from formalized religion are also more likely to lay aside personal religious practice.”

This week’s Come, Follow Me chapters (and other verses in the Book of Mormon) offer important insights into why we need a church. Consider these verses:

  • “Whosoever were desirous to take upon them the name of Christ … did join the churches of God” (Mosiah 25:23).
  • Jesus Christ said, “[They] that will hear my voice shall be my sheep; and [them] shall ye receive into the church, and [them] will I also receive” (Mosiah 26:21).

From these verses, we learn that those who follow Christ unite with his church.

The Church Is Important to Jesus Christ

A powerful pattern found in the Book of Mormon is how deeply connected Jesus Christ is to the church. Note this scriptural pattern:

  • “The Lord did…establish his church” (Alma 29:11).
  • “God did establish his church” (Alma 29:13).
  • Jesus Christ said, “This is my church” (Mosiah 26:22).
  • He also said, “Break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church” (3 Nephi 18:5). and “Ye know the things that ye must do in my church” (3 Nephi 27:21).

Elder Kevin S. Hamilton taught, “I have heard some who would try to decouple or disconnect Jesus Christ from His Church and His apostles by saying things like ‘I follow Jesus, not the Church’ or ‘I follow the Savior, not the apostles.’ … You cannot accept Jesus Christ and reject His Church or His authorized messengers. You cannot separate Jesus Christ from the Church of Jesus Christ.”

A Few Scientific Benefits

People are often surprised to learn that scientists have identified several proven benefits from coming to church. Here are a few:

  • The Pew Research Center found that “People who attend religious services weekly or more are happier than those who attend monthly or less.”
  • In a Harvard study of more than 100,000 people in the United States, researchers found that regularly attending religious services was associated with lower risks of deaths of despair.
  • Church attendance is also good for marriages. Researchers found that “The data tell us that regular churchgoers are between about 30 percent and 50 percent less likely to get divorced, compared to Americans who are unchurched.” They also pointed out that couples who regularly attend religious services together report being more satisfied in their sexual relationship than those who do not.
  • Another study found that frequent churchgoers had lower blood pressure.

These benefits, and many more like them, are all interesting, but they aren’t the reason we go to church. After all, the scriptures don’t say, “Ye shall go to church and have lower blood pressure.”

No, there is more to consider.

The Deep Spiritual Benefit

The reality is that the Church helps us grow spiritually, and perhaps most importantly, helps us receive ordinances that are required for exaltation. After Jesus Christ appeared to the Nephites everyone was “converted unto the Lord, and…united unto the church of Christ” (3 Nephi 28:23), receiving ordinances that can be obtained in no other way.

President Dallin H. Oaks taught, “Despite the good works that can be accomplished without a church, the fulness of doctrine and its saving and exalting ordinances are available only in the restored Church.”

One More Important Scriptural Pattern Regarding Church

President Ezra Taft Benson taught that a key purpose of the Book of Mormon was to “expose the enemies of Christ” because “The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time.”

Thus, it is important to see another scriptural pattern: those who are opposed to God seek to destroy his Church. We read:

  • “[Alma and the sons of Mosiah were] going about to destroy the church of God” (Mosiah 27:10).
  • “[Nehor worked to] lead away the people of the church” (Alma 1:7).
  • “It was [Amlici’s] intent to destroy the church of God” (Alma 2:4).
  • “[Amalickiah sought] to destroy the church of God” (Alma 46:10)

The Book of Mormon reveals the tactics of the adversary so that we can be aware of them in our modern lives. President Russell M. Nelson taught, “Please hear me when I say: Do not be led astray by those whose doubts may be fueled by things you cannot see in their lives. Most of all, let your skeptical friends see how much you love the Lord and His gospel. Surprise their doubting hearts with your believing heart!”

▶ You may also like: What true followers of Jesus do: The sacred moment in Lehi’s dream found all over scripture

I Need His Church

If someone were to ask me, “Why would I need to be part of a church?” I might just share my personal experiences. I’ve found that regularly participating in worship services helps me recenter my life on Jesus Christ. Receiving ordinances that can only be obtained through the church likewise fills my heart with the Savior’s love. Lessons learned in church meetings have helped me make choices that lead to happiness. And opportunities to serve in the church have given me rich experiences in understanding what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Simply put, my experience has taught me that being part of the Church of Jesus Christ connects me with him.

When Church Is Hard

In When Church Is Hard by Tyler Johnson, you’ll find empathy and understanding about challenges you may face as you navigate life in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the context of current-day issues. You’ll also discover how the decision to stay can be not only reasonable but a powerful commitment to furthering the common good—including the good of marginalized members.

If you are struggling with questions and seeking to square your intuitive sense of the good found in the Church with questions about its history, doctrine, culture, or practices, this book is for you. Available at Deseret Book and

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