Some Sundays, I don’t want to go to church. Some religions are lackadaisical about attendance requirements, but Mormonism is not. Either you go as often as you can and are deemed “active” or you fall below that standard and are deemed “less-active.” I would add that those who obsess with attendance to meetings and auxiliaries are “over-active,” e.g. cutting a vacation short in order to avoid missing an auxiliary meeting that would have otherwise functioned just fine without you.
Aside from those Mormons who hold a volunteer position that requires them to physically be there, like to teach a class, why is it imperative that everyone else go each week? If salvation is an individual matter, why does it seem roll call plays a huge role on your perceived spirituality? Who came up with the term “active” as a way to describe someone’s attendance rate? Why is that even an issue?
The LDS Tech Wiki describes “active” as, “Participating on a regular basis, such as attending meetings, observing the principles of the gospel, and accepting Church callings; Under current Church policy, those who attend meetings at least once a month” Reference.
Is attendance a good measure of one’s spirituality? I’m pretty sure Jesus would argue against it. In fact, I think he did, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). The statistic seem to agree: “67 percent of active adult Latter-day Saints pray daily, compared to 83 percent in other denominations; and 41 percent reported reading the scriptures daily or several times a week, compared to 52 percent in other denominations” Reference. It seems that forced attendance yields poor personal spiritual habits.
Let’s get away from the roll call obsession in the Mormon church. It doesn’t matter if you attend once a year or once a week, God sees beyond our church attendance whether we are striving to be kind, loving, and charitable. Living a Christ-centered life doesn’t happen at church, it happens wherever we are. Whether by circumstance or choice, our attendance (or lack of) does not define us. How we think and act are ultimately the deciding factors of who we are.
What do you think? Does attendance matter? Should church attendance be part of “worthiness” requirements for temple recommends or ecclesiastical endorsements?