It’s a question familiar to most converts: Why did you join the Church?
Sometimes it’s an easy one to answer, sometimes the answer is not so easy.
When I first got asked this question (which is often for a new convert), I would give my entire conversion story because I felt it was necessary so that my answer didn’t seem superficial. I gave the long version because I still hadn’t worked out the simple answer. Sure, I had a short answer, but I didn’t like it. It seemed insincere and I knew there was something more.
I’ll get it out of the way. The simple answer to the question was that I joined as a result of a Pascal’s Wager type deal. I told myself to try the LDS Church for a year. If after a year I discovered I didn’t like it or that it was a sham, all I’ve lost was a year, but if I liked it and found out after a year that this is where I belong, I’d gain so much.
That was essentially my answer.
But there had to be something more. I knew that that answer wasn’t sufficient. I knew that there was more to my conversion than Pascal’s Wager. It’s just taken eight months for me to fully realize it.
I can now say, with confidence, that what led me to this Church was what led the early Saints to it: the Spirit.
The missionaries, rightfully, put a big emphasis on the Book of Mormon. After all, if the Book of Mormon is really what it claims to be, it follows Joseph Smith was a prophet which would lead the investigator to conclude that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s true church. The thing is, the Book of Mormon wasn’t the deciding factor for me. Sure, it played a role. I had problems with it. But it wasn’t a case of having a testimony of the Book of Mormon and being baptized. I didn’t even have a complete testimony of the Book of Mormon until months later (see my post from February). The baptism questions say nothing of the Book of Mormon.
As I have been learning more about Church history, that is something I have found. The early Saints didn’t join the Church because they believed in the Book of Mormon. They joined because of what the Spirit was doing. They met Joseph Smith, attended meetings and found that the Spirit was alive there. The Saints were on fire. Seeing that fire, they joined the Prophet Joseph and the Church.
Looking back and reflecting on last summer as I was considering joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what I keep on coming back to was the Spirit. Church services could be slow and boring at times, but I knew the Spirit was alive. It was moving. Like the early Saints, I saw the Spirit working in the people and in the community. I wanted to be a part of it.
Am I flip-flopping? Am I just coming up with a more appealing reason just so that it sounds better? I don’t think so. Pascal’s Wager was what made me comfortable with making the decision (I felt better telling myself if I didn’t like it, I could leave in a year), but deep down inside, there was a desire for what I found in the Latter-day Saints. The Spirit was moving and I wanted to be a part of it.
Today, I am.