“Never let a problem to be solved become more important
than a person to be loved.”
—President Thomas S. Monson,
Finding Joy in the Journey
Accessed May 11, 2020 from
Many are in awe over how some of the Church's decisions that preceded this pandemic were so well-timed and prescient. They include the following:
  • Emphasizing home-centered gospel learning with the Come Follow Me curriculum.
  • Eliminating the waiting period between getting married civilly and being sealed in a temple.
  • Putting Elder Uchtdorf, a former pilot and airline executive, in charge of missionaries worldwide. Who better to oversee the missionary evacuation?
I'm certain the list could go on and on.

However, members and local leaders, not our top church leaders, dropped the ball on one big important thing - the digital directory/email system and the digital calendar.

Our System of Communication Excludes So Many

Right now, this digital system is the main tool local leaders and members are using to stay in touch and convey official information.

This same system is exactly what is marginalizing inactive and intermittent members right now. Why? Because they don't have access to it.

They could, they just don't.

The active and interested have always had access to information. The inactives and marginalized have not. But they could if the digital system was fully utilized.

How Can They Be Full Participants?

In order to access the directory and calendar, you must have an account. This is the same account you use to access FamilySearch by the way. However, in order to access your local unit's digital tools, you need to enter your Membership Record Number (MRN).

Temple worthy members have no trouble accessing their Membership Record Number because it is on their recommend. For others, it's not so easy.

Men who serve regularly in the Church often get lulled into thinking that everybody knows about all this stuff because they themselves interact with it regularly. For others, this is not the case.

Certainly, anyone can waltz into the clerk's office and ask for their Membership Recommend Number, provided they know where the clerk's office is and perhaps who the clerk is.

I've been in my current ward for almost nine months. I don't know where the clerk's office is. I don't know where the Bishop's office is either. I can check who the clerk is though ... on the digital tools because I already have access to them.

Okay, I checked. There are three clerks. I can recognize one from his picture. There aren't pictures of the other two and I don't have the faintest idea who they are.

Since I'm a seasoned member I may risk this gauntlet to get the information I need but most won't. We need to make things easier for them.

Besides, no one can waltz into the clerk's office in the current pandemic, not even the clerk.

Make it Easy!

If you are in some type of leadership position, take a look at all the people you have jurisdiction over. Is their information on the directory? Are there phone numbers for everyone in the household and the household itself? Are there Email addresses for everyone? Are there photos of everyone? Are they all current?

Take the time to assist people you oversee in getting digitally set up properly. This will help you because you will be able to send out emails to them, call them, text them, and access the correct information for them.

This will not only help current leadership function better, but it will also help future leadership function better. That may be you!

In addition, it could conceivably help everyone in the ward or even the stake!

It could also help the worldwide Church. After all, they use this email system to reach members. Are we forgetting that?

The Dismal Digital Calendar

Take a good look at the ward/branch and stake digital calendars. Pick out a holiday like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, or New Year's Day. Is there a meeting or an event scheduled? Do you really think it's going to happen?

Bad information on paper tools or bad information announced in meetings gets corrected. Why does it persist in digital tools?

Do you know what happens in this situation? If you don't, I'll tell you: You are training people to view the digital calendar as being unreliable! This is completely self-defeating both now and in the future. Once this idea takes hold, it will persist. Do you want people to consider the digital calendar unreliable?

Sadly, much of the information that does get included on the digital calendar isn't enough for people to fully understand what the event is or how they can participate because it doesn't answer the full spectrum of questions - who, what, when, where, why and how.

The digital calendar should be the most complete calendar resource because it is the only tool that can handle the full details of everything. We have to make it brief in announcements, the bulletin, or other paper tools because the media is limited.

Allow the Digital System to Work as it Should

The Church has designed these wonderful tools to help everything function better. If the tools are improperly used or underutilized, it serves Satan's purposes.

Whatever role you currently have in the Church, do what you can to use digital tools and utilize them properly.

You could start by reading the guidance in the Help Center (Tools on LDS.org), especially concerning the Directory and the Calendar.

Leaders could actually help themselves by calling and supporting Stake Website Administrators and Ward Website Administrators. These callings' jurisdiction is entirely over digital tools and not just an appendage to another calling with additional responsibilities like presidents, clerks, counselors, etc.

Members Should Be Managing Their Own Directory Information

This should not be an administrative headache for leadership. If they can figure out a good way to equip everyone with their MRN then people can manage their own information themselves. Per instructions:

Although ward administrators can make updates to a member's profile, it is much better to encourage members to make their adjustments to their own profile. This makes members directly responsible for the information they choose to publish about their household.
Let's make certain we include everyone in everything, especially communication channels!

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