The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the LDS Church, provides a spiritual home for millions of persons around the world. Each year, that number continues to grow. As people come into contact with the Church, they often wonder what is required to become a member and participate fully in the life of the body. There are actually a few well-defined steps to go through in order to achieve full membership in the LDS Church.
- Learn about the doctrines and practices of the LDS faith. If you live in an area where LDS missionaries are currently deployed, this is usually an easy task. The main purpose of the missionary program is to provide simple and easy-to-understand information about what the Church stands for and what it teaches. Interested persons can arrange to go through what is popularly called the missionary discussion series. Two missionaries of the church will come to your home and teach a series of six different sessions, with each session dealing with some aspect of the Church’s history, practices, and teachings. Generally, the first visit includes giving a copy of the Book of Mormon to the interested party and urging the individual to read the text during the next few weeks. Each discussion in the series is kept to a short period of time, usually less than an hour. This is to allow the individual time to digest the information a little at a time.
- Visit the LDS church during a worship service. At some point in the discussion series, the missionaries will invite the seeker to visit a worship service at a local LDS church. The local church may be referred to as a branch or a ward, depending on the numerical size of the congregation. Visiting the main worship service, which is referred to as Sacrament Meeting, allows people to see how members of the Church worship, as well as get a feel for the local church family. Often, the missionaries will arrange to sit with the seeker, and introduce the person to others attending the meeting.
- Seek a testimony. As the learning process continues, the missionaries often ask the seeker to pray about the teachings and seek what is referred to as a testimony. Essentially, a testimony is a personal experience in which the seeker receives a sense from God that what the individual is being taught is truth, and that the individual is to accept the teaching. When the seeker has reached a point of affirmation on the basics beliefs of the Church, it is not unusual for the missionaries to invite the individual to join the Church. If the seeker responds affirmatively, the missionaries make the necessary arrangements for the individual to meet with the local branch president or bishop of the ward for a final interview before the baptismal service is scheduled.
- Participate in the rites of baptism and confirmation. The final steps to full membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are participation in the rites of baptism and confirmation. The baptism is performed by immersion, and conducted by men holding the proper office of the Priesthood in the Church. Following the baptism, members of the Priesthood will lay their hands on the head of the individual and confirm him or her a member of the Church. The confirmation may take place immediately following the baptism, or may occur as part of the next regularly scheduled Sacrament service.
Membership in the LDS Church is considered to be a serious matter, and not something to be entered into lightly. Generally, the Church places a great deal of emphasis on seekers having a basic working knowledge of what the Church teaches and the responsibilities of a member before moving forward with the baptism and confirmation.