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When we value our membership and covenants in the Lord’s church, it can be anguishing to watch the people we love step away from them. We can feel hurt and then allow this hurt to dictate our behavior. This only drives a wedge in our relationships. How can we support our loved ones while holding firmly to the hope that they will return to the covenant path?
Step one is to maintain the relationship. It has been said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. All your testimonies in the world will not matter if your loved one does not know you love them. Long before you preach, correct, or convince, you must love them with no ulterior motive—with love unfeigned. This means your love cannot be dependent on whether or not they return to full church activity. If your love is a trick to get them to come back, it isn’t love at all. Love them right where they are—today.
When asked how a person should approach loved ones who had left the church, President M. Russell Ballard taught, “My answer is please do not preach to them! Your family members or friends already know the Church’s teachings. They don’t need another lecture! What they need—what we all need—is love and understanding, not judging. Share your positive experiences of living the gospel. The most powerful thing you can do is share your spiritual experiences with family and friends. Also, be genuinely interested in their lives, their successes, and their challenges. Always be warm, gentle, loving, and kind.”
Read more key ideas in the article “How Do I Support Family and Friends Who Have Left the Church?” This article is from the Gospel Q&A series from LDS Daily.
Also read “What Church Leaders Are Saying about When Loved Ones Turn Away from the Church.”
Rochelle HaleJuly 7, 2022
We have had several family members and friends leave for various reasons ranging from questions of testimony or preferred lifestyle or Church doctrine, etc. One relative was very vocal when another family member decided to attend another "generic" church, but we maintained our relationship through our common testimony and belief in Jesus Christ, though not necessarily agreeing on details of doctrine. We try to "love, share, and invite" while respecting our friends and family who are not of our faith, so why wouldn't we do the same with those who have departed? Of course, we may be sad or disappointed, but continued love and example will prevail in the long run.