In one of the most important paragraphs written about the contemporary LDS Church, the editorial writers for the SLTrib note:
To think of the global LDS Church in terms of monolithic absolutes would be wrong. Like any faith group, political party or other large organization, the people at its core come from many backgrounds and experiences and have a variety of opinions. And church policies change.
The last sentence is particularly germane: “And church policies change.”
But how do they change? President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the most recent semi-annual conference (183rd) affirmed that Church leaders are fallible. They have made (and are making) mistakes, but encourages those who have left the Church to reconsider. He then goes on to explain:
Sometimes questions arise because we simply don’t have all the information and we just need a bit more patience. When the entire truth is eventually known, things that didn’t make sense to us before will be resolved to our satisfaction.
While I certainly hope this is true. I wonder about timeliness. Can Church leaders respond in a timely fashion to the barrage of issues that have gotten traction since the “Mormon Moment”? The problem with the current decision-making process in the LDS Church is the time it takes to make significant decisions. For minor issues, the PR department is remarkably fast (think caffeine and Prof. Bott), but decisions on more significant “policies” seem to take forever. With the black/priesthood question being a case in point.
The problems with excruciatingly slow decision-making are numerous. To list four:
- The members and potential members that you lose with archaic doctrines and policies. How many did the Church lose while waiting for a change in the black/priesthood policy?
- The ineffectual nature of the present missionary program cries out for change. Without change a lot of missionaries are wasting their time in the mission field.
- The accelerated pace of change in science, technology, and geopolitics. Many issues will require timely responses if the Church is to survive and stay relevant.
- The growing number of members in developing countries (south of equator). They come with a whole new set of problems and issues. The Church will no longer be an institution with a majority of white middle-class Americans and Europeans.
The Church leadership needs to move away from a strictly top-down organization.