Everyone has a place in the Church, and as disciples of Christ we can help new and returning members feel like they belong.
When my family first moved to Southern California, I found it challenging to figure out how to fit into the new community. When we joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shortly after, we also had to learn how to live by a new faith. In the Ensign article “We Can Do Better: Welcoming Others into the Fold,” Betsy VanDenBerghe outlines how we can help new and returning members like my family feel like they belong in the Church.
VanDenBerghe says, “We can create a greater sense of belonging as we reassure and include those who are new to the Church.” Reassurance would have helped me as a teenager, because I often felt self-conscious when I didn’t know the answer to a basic question in a Sunday lesson. I believed in the doctrines I had been taught, but I didn’t know everything—and it showed.
Like one recent convert VanDenBerghe mentions in her article, I felt like there was “the expectation to suddenly understand everything.” I felt isolated from my peers because many of them had grown up knowing the core doctrines. But like VanDenBerghe says, “It doesn’t take much to ease this sense of isolation.” Luckily for me, a few of my peers and leaders offered me their friendship by including me in church activities, explaining new doctrinal concepts without judgment, and being good examples of disciples of Christ. Because of their efforts, I formed lasting relationships that helped me stay involved in my new faith.
Our community can be a tightly knit one, so it’s important to remember to look outside our friend groups for those who may be struggling. We can fulfill our responsibility as disciples of Christ to “find unity in diversity” and “make room for each member of the Church of Christ” so that all members feel like they belong.
Read Betsy VanDenBerghe’s four tips on how to better welcome new and returning members in her article “We Can Do Better: Welcoming Others into the Fold.”
—Sam Niven, Latter-day Saint Insights
FEATURE IMAGE BY MELISSA ASKEW
Find more insights
Listen to Sister Carol F. McConkie talk about how we can uplift, encourage, and reassure others in the video “Lifting Others.”
Take a look at Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s message about “Unity in Diversity” to learn more about the importance of embracing our differences.
What a great article. It’s so important to want to expand our reach and friend circle to include other people, especially because of the sense of belonging it can give to people who feel marginalized.
We’re glad you enjoyed this article! And yes, reaching out to and including others can make a huge difference to someone who is feeling alone.
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