Help! A Mormon friend just invited me to an LDS service – What should I do?
Most Latter-day Saints love to invite friends of all faiths to a variety of services – baptisms, Tabernacle Choir concerts, Temple open houses, returned missionary talks, and more. It’s a mark of trust to receive such an invitation and I would strongly encourage you to attend if just a few conditions are met. Two are for you, the born-again Christian, and one is for your LDS friend.
1. Aim for Respectful Observance
“Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship …” (Acts 17:23)
First, born-again Christians must commit to quiet and respectful observance. When the Apostle Paul toured the Greek Areopagus in Athens, he made careful observations of their religious practices and even converted those observations into a thought-provoking sermon introduction. Furthermore, born-again Christians would be justifiably offended if a Mormon made a scene at one their worship services. It’s imperative to demonstrate the same respect we would hope to receive from them (Romans 13:9-10).
A few years ago, I led a small group of born-again Christians around Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Before entering the Temple courtyard, as is my custom, I asked my guests to be both respectful and friendly. Before I knew it, one of my guests was in a tense conversation with a sister missionary that ended very badly. Unfortunately, my Christian friend succeeded only at perpetuating negative stereotypes and harmed my relationships with the staff. I’ve found that LDS people are fine with disagreements, so long as they’re made respectfully and appropriately.
2. Politely Decline the Chance to Miss your own Worship Service
“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Born-again Christians often wonder if they should miss their regular worship service to attend an LDS sacrament meeting. Scripture, in my opinion, would discourage it in at least three different ways.
First, the Bible is clear that God is the object and ultimate priority of worship (Ephesians 3:21). As much as we love our LDS friends, the worship of God is our first concern.
Second, the church body needs every part ministering grace to the whole (Ephesians 4:7). God very much wants you to exercise the gift he gave you on a weekly basis.
And third, LDS people need to see Christians who have a supreme love for God and His people (Deuteronomy 6:5; John 13:35). Actions speak louder than words. And if your actions show a supreme love for God and His people, they will speak volumes to your LDS friends.
3. Propose a Follow-Up Conversation
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)
The born-again Christian should always insist on a follow-up conversation where the Bible is given opportunity to speak. By inviting you to this event, your LDS friend is likely hoping that you’ll have a powerful feeling that commends the doctrine presented. In much the same way they gained their testimony in the LDS Church. Because that experience has such prominence in Mormon thinking, Latter-day Saints tend to diminish the Bible in favor of that experience. Your friend, however, needs to see you do the exact opposite – interpret the event through the lens of the Bible.
Most LDS people initially find this approach narrow-minded at best and cold at worst. But here is where a discussion (rather than a hit-and-run proclamation) has powerful potential. Your friend needs to think through the consequences of his or her emotional subjectivity. I’ve found that this simple question can get the ball rolling, “If I feel one way about what we saw and you feel the opposite, how do we break the tie? How would we determine which is right?”
Attending an LDS function can accomplish a lot of good if done the right way. Your respectful observance can earn you a fair hearing when you begin to express your biblical concerns. And as your friend is exposed to the Word of Christ, perhaps God will begin to grant the faith that saves (John 6:44).