Bill Pringle - Bill@BillPringle
This talk was given 22 October 2006, shortly after General Conference. We were to talk about something from General Conference that impressed us. As always, I approached the assignment from a slightly different angle.
Good morning, Brothers and Sisters. I'm very glad to be here today and to be able to speak with you. I am also glad that you are here today ... for a number of reasons.
I want everyone to close their eyes. That's right, close your eyes. That means you, too.
Now, I want each of you to imagine that you are the only person here today. You are the only person sitting in the congregation. All the talks today are directed at you. When you go to your classes after Sacrament meeting, you will be the only person there, and the lessons will be directed specifically towards you and your needs.
Don't you feel special? But, does that sound like fun? Do you like being here all by yourself? Probably not.
Okay, everyone open your eyes. (I hope not too many of you fell asleep. ;^) Just check the person next to you and make sure their eyes aren't still closed.
The fact is, that although those of us who prepared talks and lessons today would like to think we are the main reason that you are here this Sunday, that probably isn't true. We don't tend to get up Sunday morning and say, “I'm looking forward to hearing all those great talks.” Most of us are here today because we like to be here. We enjoy the people we meet here. We like to see them. We like to talk to them. We like getting smiles and hugs from them. That's why being the only person in the congregation or in the class doesn't sound like fun.
Now, I want everyone to look around and smile at the people you are glad to see today. Turn around in your chair. Get up and look around. And keep smiling.
Do you notice that people are smiling back at you? That's because they are glad to see you here, just like you are glad to see them here. Okay. Everyone can sit down now.
I hope you have learned a very important lesson just now. Not only are you glad that others are here, but the others are glad that you are here as well. Every Sunday that you are here, you help many people be happier because you are here. Today, each of you will help some people be happy.
I'm going to give each of you an assignment. I want you to think of all those people you smiled at just now, and to make a special effort today to tell that you are glad to see them here in Church. Now, some of you are a bit shy, so you can wait until somebody tells you they are glad to see you, and then you can say “me too.” Hopefully, after you do that a few times, you will have the courage to go up to somebody else and tell them you are glad they are here. I promise that if you do this, not only will you make them feel happier, but you will feel better as well.
Now I want you to look around and think of all the members that you like that aren't here today. Think about them, and identify the three or four people you most miss today. I'm going to give you another assignment, and this one will be a little harder to do, but I promise you that if you manage to fulfill this assignment, you will feel much better about yourself, and you will make others feel much better as well.
Have you identified three or four members that you miss? I want you to contact those people this week, and tell them you missed them in Church today. Ask them if they are okay. Was something wrong? Can you help them with something? Now, this part is very important ... I then want you to tell them that you hope to see them in Church next week. Can you do that? Can you accept that assignment? Good.
Now that means, of course, that each of you have to be here next Sunday to see if they come. And hopefully that will mean we have to set up some more chairs. I would love it if we had to open up the divider in the back to make room for all the people who will be here next week.
By the end of our meetings today, most of us will have learned a very important lesson. There are a lot of people who are glad to see us on Sunday. And hopefully that will encourage all of us to be here every Sunday.
President Hinckley has told us that there are there things that each member needs:
Now, we are a small Branch, so there aren't a lot of assignments to go around. However, each of us can be a friend. We can make sure that everyone who comes through these doors feels welcome, and that they are glad to be here. In many ways, that is the most important assignment we can be given, because if people are glad to be here, then they will want to come back. And if they come back, they can get more out of the Gospel.
The fact is, there are a number of reasons that you should be in Church every Sunday. Of course, we should be here to learn more about the Gospel. But we should also be here to practice the Gospel. We should be here so we can be a friend. So we can make others feel welcome. So we can help them gain the blessings of the Gospel.
There are practical reasons to be here every Sunday as well. Some of you might have noticed that during Sacrament meeting, there is somebody who walks up and down the aisles looking at people. He is counting how many people are at Sacrament Meeting. This number is reported to the Stake Presidency. The number of people who attend Sacrament Meeting is used in a number of decisions in the Church. It affects how much money we get from the Stake for our activities. It affects whether or not we can get our own building. It can affect how many missionaries we have serving here.
President Boik: what is the average number of people who attend our Sacrament Meeting? (About 100) Do you think that is how many active members we have? (Probably 200)
Our branch seems different than many of the other wards in the Stake. In most of the wards that I've been in, there is a group of active members who are there pretty much every week. They might miss a couple of meetings a year, but for the most part, they are there every Sunday. So, the average number of people at Sacrament Meeting is a good estimate of how many active members there are in the ward.
In our branch, it is a bit different. We have a number of members who come a couple of times a month, rather than every week. That means that the number of people attending Sacrament Meeting in our branch isn't a good estimate of how many active members we have. We have more. If everyone that comes here fairly often showed up on the same Sunday, we would have to open up the divider in the back so that everyone could have a seat.
Although the number of people at Sacrament Meeting affects a number of things, the most important reason people should be here every Sunday is because we can help one another get the most out of being at Church. The more people here, the more visitors feel welcome. The more people here, the more friends everyone has to make them feel good. You need to be here every Sunday not only for yourself, but for others. So you can help others get the blessings of the Gospel.
At this point, President Boik is wondering what all this has to do with General Conference. Well, during the second session on Sunday, Elder David A. Bednar spoke about how when he was a Stake President, he would visit the homes of the less active members and ask them why they weren't coming to Church. Most people responded with one of two answers: either they were offended by something that somebody said or did to them, or they didn't feel welcome there.
And then he would say something like this.
Let me make sure I understand what has happened to you. Because someone at church offended you, you have not been blessed by the ordinance of the sacrament. You have withdrawn yourself from the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Because someone at church offended you, you have cut yourself off from priesthood ordinances and the holy temple. You have discontinued your opportunity to serve others and to learn and grow. And you are leaving barriers that will impede the spiritual progress of your children, your children's children, and the generations that will follow."
Many times people would think for a moment and then respond: "I have never thought about it that way."
Now, if those people had a good friend at Church, do you think they would have become less active? Probably not.
The fact is, that each of us will probably be offended by something that somebody at Church says or does. We are all human. We all stick our foot in our mouth at least once or twice a year. Or a month, or a week, or whatever. So, if somebody says or does something that bothers you, just remember that they are probably having a bad day, and they probably didn't mean it the way it sounded. If it still bothers you, then talk to one of your friends here at Church. Maybe they can help you get over whatever happened. Or, maybe they can explain how that's just the way that person is, and you should just shrug it off.
But for heaven's sake, don't quit coming over it. There are a lot of people here at Church that need you to be here. And, more importantly, you need to be here so that you can gain the blessings of the Gospel.
I hope and pray that each of us make a commitment to be here every Sunday, and to make sure that others feel good to be here. I have found that I get a great deal of joy out of life when I am living the principles of the Gospel, but I get even more joy when I am helping others enjoy the blessings of the Gospel.
God loves each one of us, and he wants us to be happy. And he has told us that the best way to be happy is to live the Gospel. And it is hard to live the Gospel if you don't come to Church.
I want you to know that I know the Church is true, and that it is the key to our happiness. I want you to know that I love each one of you, and that I'm glad you're here today. And that I hope to see all of you (and more) here next week as well.
And I leave these words with you in the name of our beloved Savior, Jesus the Christ.