Ministering Interviews

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Cnsl1
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Ministering Interviews

Post by Cnsl1 » Wed Mar 08, 2023 11:57 pm

I recently listened to a John Dehlin podcast where he interviewed a current bishop from Mexico. One of the things discussed involved this bishop's stake pressuring wards to report that ministering interviews occurred among 80% or more of the ministering companionships. It sounded like they were trying to get the bishop to back date the interviews to reflect better numbers for the fourth quarter of 2022 in order to look good for the area presidency or something. Listen to the podcast for more details and I apologize if I have some of the details wrong.

Ironically, I more recently received emails from an EQ counselor asking to set up an appointment for a ministering interview. I've honestly received MORE contact about being interviewed about my ministering than I have about being a minister, who my companion was, and to whom I was supposed to administer! I found that odd.

I remember when ministering took the place of home teaching. I remember local church leaders saying that we were not going to record or count the ministering. It wasn't going to be something we had to do every month. Rather the focus would be on taking care of people in a Christ like fashion. That all sounded good.

But this church likes to count stuff and report stuff (then stop reporting stuff that makes us look bad or doesn't support our propaganda or biases). So, it looks like while we're not reporting monthly visits, we are reporting quarterly interviews with the people who are supposed to go visit. So.. instead of bothering EVERYONE every month, now we only bother the ones who are active enough to have a ministering assignment. And this is an assignment. I didn't pick who I'm supposed to administer. I even didn't get asked to minister and only discovered who my companion was and who my ministering folks were after opening an attachment in an email asking for an interview to talk about these people I've never visited and some I've never met, and some I've interacted with on a professional basis and am unlikely going to want to visit with in their home and ask them about scriptures and family prayer.

This isn't a huge issue, but just a small head scratcher.

I am wondering if our ward has the same charge to interview 80% of the ministers. If so, I'll do my part to keep that 20% viable and strong.

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Hagoth
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Re: Ministering Interviews

Post by Hagoth » Thu Mar 09, 2023 7:10 am

This is a really interesting into what matters to the church. They stopped counting number of ministering visits because it wasn't getting done and the numbers look bad. Now all they have to report is if they interviewed the people who are supposed to be making the visits. If the answer is that no families were visited they can still get 100% on their numbers. Your ward is making a big effort to even schedule interviews. If I remember correctly, it also counts if they text or email you and call that an interview.

What I found really fascinating about the Mormon Stories episode you mentioned (https://www.mormonstories.org/podcast/m ... tatistics/) was the grossly exaggerated membership numbers. Mexico's census requires everyone to list a religious affiliation. Those who respond Mormon/LDS/CoJCoLDS/etc (all mapped automatically to the same thing) add up to about only 1/6 the number the LDS church claims. To demonstrate that it's not just a weakness in the census counting, they compare it to other churches. The census lists the number of people who self-identify as Seventh Day Adventists actually add up to more than what the Seventh Day Adventist church claims. People who self-identify as Jehovah's Witnesses on the census are, are you ready for this, 177% MORE than what the JW church itself claims.

Maybe it's just me, but it's almost like one of these churches cares more about the numbers than the truth.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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nibbler
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Re: Ministering Interviews

Post by nibbler » Thu Mar 09, 2023 9:21 am

I divorced myself from the game several years ago but I can't imagine much has changed. That said, I can only report on my experiences, YRMV.
Cnsl1 wrote:
Wed Mar 08, 2023 11:57 pm
I am wondering if our ward has the same charge to interview 80% of the ministers. If so, I'll do my part to keep that 20% viable and strong.
The EQP reports to the SP and the SP is going to ask about the numbers. It's not a good look when other wards are doing 60% of their interviews and your ward is only doing 30%, so you either make the effort and run yourself ragged doing visits and interviews that no one else is doing or you fudge the numbers a little. The really fun part is that the 60% number from the ward down the road is probably a little fudged too. You feel the pressure not to be the odd guy out so you add another layer of fudge on top of the layer of fudge that's already there and then the next EQP in line competes against that.

I'm sure the SP has to report to an area authority, which is another source of pressure to get the numbers up.

In the story you shared it sounds more like an area trying to qualify for a temple (back when you had to qualify, not in today's environment where it seems like a temple is thrust upon an area - You get a temple! Uh, there's like one ward and two branches on our tiny island, what do we do? Good luck, and congrats!). That or they're trying to qualify for some other milestone like a stake or ward split. I say that because backdating things and a target of 80% sounds like more than your typical "avoid looking bad in front of the leader" scenario.
We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
– Anais Nin

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Hagoth
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Re: Ministering Interviews

Post by Hagoth » Fri Mar 10, 2023 8:55 am

nibbler wrote:
Thu Mar 09, 2023 9:21 am
The really fun part is that the 60% number from the ward down the road is probably a little fudged too. You feel the pressure not to be the odd guy out so you add another layer of fudge on top of the layer of fudge that's already there and then the next EQP in line competes against that.

I'm sure the SP has to report to an area authority, which is another source of pressure to get the numbers up.
nibbler wrote:
Thu Mar 09, 2023 9:21 am
... a target of 80% sounds like more than your typical "avoid looking bad in front of the leader" scenario.
And that, in a nutshell, is a perfect description of how the institution operates. Do whatever it takes to get a "good and faithful servant" pat on the head and keep yourself in the running for the Big Leagues. Do not, however much you are tempted, do what is right. Fear the consequences that may follow.

It's just like what they tell us in Sunday school about lying. Your lies add up and you have to cover lies with more lies. Before you know it you're claiming 6X more members in Mexico than can actually be found.

What was it Brother Joseph said? "What a thing it is for a church to be accused of having only 5 million members, when I can easily find 17 million and confidently report that number in a global conference."
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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nibbler
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Re: Ministering Interviews

Post by nibbler » Fri Mar 10, 2023 9:34 am

There's the "don't look bad in front of your peers" and "earn that promotion" pressure to inflate the numbers but I think there are a few more reasons.

One day it occurs to you, "Why should I have to deal with the lecture for having bad numbers when I don't even control the people responsible for the numbers? I never asked for this job. I don't want this job. I've got real problems in life to deal with."

So there's some temptation to inflate the numbers a little to avoid the same guilt tripping lecture you've heard a dozen times.

I've also met several ward clerks that will inflate the attendance numbers a little bit. "I ain't going in there to find out but I'll assume there are 35 people in the women's bathroom." Here the justification was very clear, it was a method to squeeze one more drop of blood from a stone, get that extra $1.95 in the ward budget to be able to afford the prime rib for the ward Christmas party at the end of the year.

I know it's been the practice for a while, but reporting on interviews done is fascinating. It tells you nothing about ministering but it does measure which EQPs are toeing the line.

SP: How many families were ministered to?
EQP: No idea, but here's how many companionship interviews we did.
SP: Oh, good. At least 80% of the men in your ward are getting their quarterly allotment of guilt for not doing their ministering assignment. That's what we really want to make sure happens.
We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
– Anais Nin

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nibbler
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Re: Ministering Interviews

Post by nibbler » Fri Mar 10, 2023 9:40 am

Unfortunately this is what ministering usually feels like:
ministering.jpg
ministering.jpg (85.6 KiB) Viewed 803 times
We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
– Anais Nin

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Palerider
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Re: Ministering Interviews

Post by Palerider » Fri Mar 10, 2023 1:40 pm

I see church leadership as originally wanting to find out how the church in general is doing spiritually. But spiritual righteousness can't be measured even by "works" because no one on this planet can look into another person's heart to determine what is truly there. Not even the big Rusty Nelson, even though he may claim he can. You can be a temple attending, full tithe payer and still be molesting little kids on the side.

So I like this little saying about infantile organizations:

"When they can't measure what is important....they take what can be measured and make that important."

So you end up with "feel good" numbers which have zero bearing on how healthy your organization actually is.
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

George Washington

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