The following is excerpted from LDS Living. To read the full article, CLICK HERE

On the first of every month, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints all over the world join in a combined fast and testimony meeting for our church services. The sacrament meeting hour is occupied by volunteer congregational speakers lining up to share their testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel. This meeting can be extremely fulfilling, as genuine, inspired, and heartfelt testimonies can be an answer to prayer.

And yet, as a convert to the Church, fast and testimony meetings were a strange sight to me at first. I still remember the sheer shock I felt when I saw a queue of people waiting to share their conversion stories and other lessons they had learned about the gospel in front of the entire congregation. I had never seen anything like it in my life. Years later, I started to notice a common pattern with many testimonies (even amongst Primary-aged children) where they begin with, “I know this church is true, and I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet … ”

Regrettably, over the years, I would habitually tune out during the meeting, finding little spiritual fulfillment when people began with that statement.

It wasn’t until much later, as a married father of three children (two of whom are teenagers) that I realized the power and significance of that most commonly stated introduction.

As a stake Young Men president, I spent considerable time working with boys who grew up in the gospel, attended sacrament and priesthood meetings, and for many years openly expressed their testimony of the gospel. Then, as they reached their teenage years, I started to notice a pattern where many of them at varying times began to struggle, wrestle, and even doubt their faith—and more importantly, what they believed about God’s plan for them and for the Church.

I’d hear things like:

  • “I just don’t think the Church is true anymore.”
  • “I just don’t like it. It takes so much time and I’d rather be doing things I like to do.”
  • “It doesn’t make sense how this church expects so much.”
  • “The Church just isn’t for me.”

As an eager leader, I would spring into action at the first declaration of these types of statements, considering them as the beginning of a crisis of faith. I would do everything by the book by demonstrating love and commitment. I would spend time with the young men and offer anything I could, including bribery with their favorite candy, food, or games, to inspire them to plant a “mustard seed” of faith and turn their life around.
But I found the more engaged I became, the further away those teenagers went from the covenant path.

Not knowing what to do, I turned to the scriptures for answers. I prayed for help. I pleaded with my Heavenly Father for insight into how to help so many young people who seemed to be sprinting away from making sacred covenants.

I was guided to a simple answer as the Spirit gently whispered three straightforward words into my mind: study Joseph Smith.

This response seemed bizarre and even misguided to me, but I felt strongly that I should follow the prompting.

To read the full article, CLICK HERE