Dear 100 Hour Board,
For those who are church members: why do you stay in the church?
I love the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I understand that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is far from perfect, but I feel like it's more likely to move in the right direction if I stay.
-Sunday Night Banter
At present, the sense of community from the people in it I respect, and a desire to connect with some higher power, a feeling of something missing.
I believe in God, and I feel like it's still the right thing for me to be a member of the Church. It has many problems, but it doesn't have to be perfect to still help me become a better person.
In the first place, for me, I believe in a God. I think I have honestly tried to examine a worldview devoid of a higher power and I simply can't do it; it makes nonsense of my personal convictions and my lived experience.
Given that inclination, the Church is the idealist's balm for my cynical soul.
The principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are folded into a sweeping, all-inclusive cosmological understanding of truth, progression, and perfection. Those principles push me to be a better person than I am, and they insist--with no exceptions--that kindness, faith, and love are the principal ingredients to a happy, fulfilling life. My experiences have borne that out. The gospel teaches me that the relationships which I build here on earth are not just ephemeral ties that dissolve at the end of this dreary mortal sojourn, but that they are the most important possessions I have, and that they will last for eternity. My experiences point me to a relationship with a kind, benevolent Being much greater than myself.
Now, in other answers I've often criticized--sometimes quite directly--cultural foibles and occasional institutional missteps in the Church. It is true that the mortal organization doesn't always live up to such a lofty calling as teaching and living the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it's true that sometimes even I go to my church meetings and roll my eyes at unrefined, plainspoken, emotional messages without getting much out of them. I still have improvement of my own to go about. And no matter how hard we try to do the right things, there will always be fellow Saints who are unkind, arrogant, crude, or narrow-minded. But the invitation of the Church is to participate a vision of something better; to build the kind of society that lives and loves perfectly. We may never reach the kind of exalted unity of Zion in my lifetime, but to actively do my part to build that community wherever I go is a far nobler and more fulfilling goal than to idle away my time in my own pursuits.
The late, great Hugh Nibley once said that it seems every mortal thing we want here on earth is either destructive or ultimately trivial. Developing my relationship with God seems to me to be the most important thing I can do. And while it's surely not perfect, I hope that the Church can be bettered and improved through my continued participation in it, and that it can continue to better and improve me. Ultimately those frailties and foibles which trouble me will fade away, and in the meantime, it is the principles of the gospel which will guide myself and those around me into making this fallen, unhappy world into a better place.
As difficult and complex as the Church is and always will be - It's part of my identity. I believe in the Gospel. It taught me the ideals of love and progress that I strive toward. The Church is my community, and though I won't say that I'll never leave, I think that there's still a lot for me within it.
I could write many reasons. But one of the things that resonates with me so well is the powerful experiences I've had in the temple while doing the work for my ancestors. I feel their love and appreciation so strongly I cannot doubt the work I do for them is real. This tells me I'm exactly where I need to be in my life.
Dear The Struggle Is Real,
I stay because I believe in my Heavenly Mother and love that this religion allows me to connect with and worship Her. I stay because, despite the MANY cultural problems that I have to deal with, I love that people generally try to be nice and provide a supportive community. The answers we give to some of life's greatest questions make a lot of sense to me and feel good.
I had to work through a really rough period. I let go of the suffocating expectations, I stopped following blindly and started asking questions, and I got comfortable pointing out problems. I created a personal relationship with the Godhead that didn't rely only on what other people have told me. I pray the way that works for me. I found people like me who don't pretend the Church is perfect and who are completely honest when we talk about our personal faith journeys. This version of the Mormon experience that I've found within the Church is the direction I see more people heading in the future, and it's a much brighter, more inviting place, so I think I don't mind sticking around.