At the start of every April and October, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds its semi-annual General Conference. Across the valley, TVs tune in to watch the leadership’s messages. It’s a chance to hear the men we believe are prophets, seers, and revelators – men that are relating God’s message.
Yet as each session begins, many will only casually watch from their couches. Some will distractedly work on homework, doze off and otherwise place a mere tertiary focus on what is being said.
It is a tragedy that a hallowed meeting such as this is treated with such apathy.
A large part of the problem stems from the media that Conference is broadcast in. TV is a casual media that’s chiefly used for entertainment. Whether we like it or not, anything we watch from our couch will subconsciously be viewed in the same way. The message, while spiritual and enthralling in person, becomes entirely lost in this format.
Outside of Utah and a few other Western states, General Conference is not broadcast at home. Members must put on their Sunday best, drive to a chapel and sit in pews to watch the First Presidency address them. The same reverent atmosphere found in Sabbath day services is present with those watching. There is no room for someone to put any focus on casual activities.
Thanks to TV and its shallow, irreverent format, there is a feeling that General Conference is just another show, only a little more entertaining than an infomercial. Many church members indifferently view Conference as a vacation from church meetings, a chance to sleep in and stay home on Sunday.
Twice a year, there should be a feeling that there is a high, holy holiday – an opportunity to reflect on our lives and listen to God’s will as it is related through his mouthpieces.
How on earth can we carelessly put our attention in such minor activities while this is going on?
Some may complain that spending an entire weekend solely focused on church is too hard, that other things are more important. When a certain ancient king gathered his people together to provide God’s word before he died, those people gathered together, built make-shift huts and stayed to listen through his address. How much easier should it be for us to spend a few days in reflection, actually listening to what is being said?
General Conference may be only six months apart, but the messages that are given are hardly common. Instead of ignoring its holy nature, maybe we should give General Conference and the church leadership’s message the respect and reverence they deserve.