Below are questions often asked about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you have more questions, we’d love to set up a missionary visit.
Yes! Definitely. After all, “Mormon” is just a nickname. We’re members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Accordingly, we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the World, and He loves us all more than we can imagine. Does that mean we have exactly the same beliefs as every other Christian church? No. But we definitely consider ourselves devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Trinity is the term many Christian religions use to describe God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Latter-day Saints believe very strongly in all three, but we don’t believe they’re all the same person. We do think they are one in purpose. Their purpose is to help us achieve true joy, in this life and the life to come (which we also believe in).
Yes. Jesus is the foundation of our faith. In fact, we prefer to call our Church by its full name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Book of Mormon says, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).
The term “Mormons” is a nickname that comes from a book of scripture unique to our Church called the Book of Mormon. We didn’t come up with the nickname, but lots of people use it to describe the Church and its members. In the past, we've embraced the term and even used it ourselves, but recently we have asked people to call the Church by its full name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This way, everyone knows that Jesus is the core of our religion and beliefs.
“Latter-day Saints” is a good way to refer to your friends who are members of the Church.
Yes. Very much so. It’s the word of God, a sacred volume of scripture, and required reading for a happy life. Along with the Bible, we also find inspiration in other books of scripture unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They all work together to teach us important truths about Jesus Christ.
The Bible was written by inspired men called prophets. God spoke to prophets like Moses and Isaiah and they wrote down His teachings. These writings make up the Old Testament. The New Testament is a collection of first-person accounts from Jesus' followers and letters from Paul and other Apostles. Both of these testaments were later translated and compiled into the book we know today as the Bible.
Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a book of inspired scripture that exists to give us direction in our lives and connect us to Jesus. Where does the name come from? Hundreds of years ago, an ancient prophet named Mormon compiled a record of his people. Turns out they faced a lot of the same challenges that we do. And just like us, they found strength when they turned to Jesus Christ. Today, the Book of Mormon is meant to be read alongside the Bible as a way to feel closer to God and understand His great love for all of us.
Here’s a short synopsis of the epic thousand-year history:
In essence, the Book of Mormon is a story about a family. Lehi is a prophet in Jerusalem. God warns Lehi in a dream to take his family and leave Jerusalem because it will be taken over. They cross the ocean to the Americas. Laman and Lemuel, the oldest sons, don’t believe their father Lehi was inspired. They are always complaining. Their younger brother Nephi is full of faith. Nephi is chosen by God to lead the family and be their teacher.
The people eventually split into two groups: the Nephites and the Lamanites. These groups are often at war and their faith is constantly being tested. This faith fills the pages of the Book of Mormon in the form of powerful sermons, life lessons, and spiritual experiences.
After Jesus is resurrected, He appears to the people in the Americas. He teaches them about baptism and forgiveness. He heals their sick and blesses their children. He establishes His church. Unlike those in Jerusalem, the people listen to Jesus. Afterward, they live in peace for hundreds of years.
Over time, the people lose faith and war breaks out again, wiping out nearly the entire population.
Like the Bible, the Book of Mormon has many authors. It is a collection of journals and histories passed down from one writer to another over a period of about 1,000 years. The first author is the prophet Nephi, who left Jerusalem with his family in 600 BC and sailed to the Americas. Nephi passed the record to his younger brother, who then gave it to his son. Each author gave the record to someone they trusted. Mormon was the name of the prophet who gathered all the writings into one book, so it is called the Book of Mormon.
In 1823, Joseph Smith was led to the ancient records and translated them by the power of God.
The Book of Mormon supports the Bible and often clarifies the teachings of Jesus Christ. In the Bible, both Mark and Luke tell the same stories about Jesus, but you can learn more when you get information from two perspectives.
Together, the Book of Mormon and Bible contain thousands of years’ worth of inspiration, guidance, and instruction. By studying both books, you can get a better understanding of who God is and what He wants for you.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are just like anyone else. They have ups and downs and everything in between. In fact, you might be surprised just how normal we can be! Latter-day Saints have a reputation for being a happy, peaceful people. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have challenges. Everyone in life is fighting a hard battle—but when you try your best to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, you have additional strength and peace to make it through.
As far as lifestyle is concerned, Latter-day Saints try to keep Jesus front and center. Their beliefs about the Savior and His teachings affect their day-to-day decisions about how they speak, dress, and act. For example, they try to avoid working on Sundays so they can attend church, serve others, and spend time with family. Faithful members of the church also do not smoke, drink alcohol, or gamble.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ choose not to drink beer because we believe in an inspired health code that encourages us to take care of our bodies. Most of it is common sense stuff. No illegal drugs. No alcohol. No tobacco. Reasoning for avoiding other substances, like coffee or tea, is perhaps less obvious. However, we believe these instructions came from God, so we try to abstain from those substances.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many cultural traditions, as well as customs, that focus on the family. For example, Church members reserve one night a week for family home evening, or family night. Other activities throughout the week include church gatherings like potlucks and small parties, or youth groups for teenagers. Many of our traditions are standard, like celebrating holidays with our families, and others are more unique—like offering a sacred blessing for a new baby during church. As families, we pray together, read scriptures together, and on the first Sunday of every month, we even fast for 24 hours together.
Nope. Mormon families come in all sizes and shapes. Do we have a recommended family size? No, again. That’s a deeply personal decision. Loving families can be big, or small, or anywhere in between.
No. Early in Mormon history, the Lord directed that a limited number of Church members practice plural marriage. However, revelation was received in the late 1800’s to end that practice. Since then, the Church has taught that monogamy is the marriage practice that the Lord commands today. Although some people today still practice polygamy, these people are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a safe place where people can come for the hope of a better life through Jesus Christ. The Church provides sacred tools, practices, and teachings that help you develop and nurture a relationship with God. And on top of all that, being a member of the Church means belonging to a community of people who care about each other.
Yes, both as individual families and as a Church. After all, if Christ’s birth and Resurrection aren’t worth celebrating, what is? Sometimes people confuse us with a few Christian religions that don’t celebrate holidays, but rest assured, we do.
Church service times vary from congregation to congregation. However, you can always count on one main meeting for everyone followed by a separate class split by age groups or general interests.
The service for everyone is called “sacrament meeting.” This meeting consists of songs, prayers, and sermons (or “talks”) given by different members of the congregation every week. But the most important part of the meeting is when we take the sacrament (or Communion) to remember the Savior.
More and more people are rejecting the idea of organized religion and prefer to just be spiritual and try to live good lives. But people need both. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides the structure and priesthood authority necessary to fulfill all of God’s commandments, including baptism and taking the sacrament (or Communion). You should go to church on Sundays, while also making an effort to be spiritual and serve others throughout the week.
Just try to look nice. You’re welcome to come in any tasteful clothes you feel comfortable in. But just so you know, most men wear suits or button-up shirts and ties, and women typically wear dresses or skirts. Children usually dress up too.
We hope not. Many of our members come to church by themselves each week. However, if you’d like someone to attend with you for the first time, feel free to contact the local missionaries and they’ll find you a friend to sit with. It’s always hard being new, no matter the situation, but you’ll quickly get to know the other members and feel at home.
Yes! You are invited to join us for weekly activities, social outings, service projects, and church services. We’d love to get to know you and will appreciate your involvement in the community.
No. Visitors aren’t required to participate. When the bread and water of the sacrament (or Communion) is distributed to the congregation, you can simply pass the tray to the next person. Other than that, feel free to sit back and just enjoy the service. In a Sunday School class, the teacher often asks for volunteers to read. Simply don’t raise your hand if you’d rather not participate.
This probably depends on the size of the congregation you’re visiting. Some congregations are so large that the regular members may or may not realize you’re a visitor. Others are so small that the members all know each other and will definitely recognize and welcome a newcomer. Either way, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself or ask questions. Everyone will be glad you’re there.
They can and they do. They preach from the pulpit, serve as missionaries, leaders, counselors, and teachers, along with many other responsibilities.
No. We don’t solicit donations or pass a plate.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially founded in Fayette, New York in 1830. The first President of the Church was Joseph Smith. He had a vision of Jesus Christ and God the Father and was called as a prophet to restore the Church of Jesus Christ. He received the priesthood of God, translated the Book of Mormon, and sent missionaries to preach the gospel across North America and overseas.
The Church headquarters moved to Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois to escape persecution and find a place for its members to gather. Due to suspicion and local political conflicts, the prophet Joseph Smith was unlawfully jailed in 1844 and killed by a mob.
Brigham Young became the next President of the Church. He led the Saints across the plains of the United States in covered wagons to the Rocky Mountains of Utah. Since that time, the Church has grown dramatically throughout the world. Today, there are over 15 million members in 170 countries worldwide.
Life of Jesus Christ
Resurrection means the reuniting of the spirit and body after death, never to be separated again. Jesus rose from the dead, or was resurrected, three days after His crucifixion. He still lives today, and we too will be resurrected and can live again with God.
No one knows when that will be. But we do know that He will come again. Angels declared to Jesus' Apostles, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). The Bible and the Book of Mormon talk about the signs that will precede the Second Coming such as wars, famines, and the gospel of Jesus Christ being preached to all nations.
In the Bible, Jesus is referred to by nearly 200 different names, titles, and descriptions. Many of these titles do a wonderful job capturing His majesty and mission.
- Son of God
- Lamb of God
- Bread of Life
- Light of the World
- Living Water
- Prince of Peace
- Holy One of Israel
- Only Begotten
- Good Shepherd
Nature of God
We believe that we are all children of our Heavenly Father. And as a kind and loving father (a perfect father, actually), He is aware of you. He knows you—your challenges, your triumphs, your strengths, and your incredible potential. And knowing all that, He loves you. A lot. Nothing means more to Him than your salvation. That’s why He wants you to get to know Him.
If you’re looking for undeniable scientific proof that God exists, we’d suggest a different approach. Each one of us can receive the knowledge that God is real, but it happens through a deeply personal process of seeking God through study, service, prayer, and divine inspiration. When we have that knowledge, we can see proof of God everywhere we look—in nature, in the course of our daily lives, and in the answers to our prayers.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, perhaps no title for God is more important than Heavenly Father. This is because we believe every person has a spirit, and God is the father of those spirits. We are literally His children, and He wants to have a relationship with us. Other names for God (which come from the Hebrew language) can also be found in the Bible—such as Elohim, Yahweh, and Abba—which is how Jesus Christ addresses God when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. And what does Abba mean? Father.
The Bible encourages us to pray, while providing lots of examples and advice on how to do so:
“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.”
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
1 John 5:14
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.”
When Jesus Christ was encouraging His disciples to pray, He offered a prayer as an example for them. This has become known as the Lord’s Prayer, and we can pray using the same pattern. We start by addressing God and showing gratitude, then asking for the things we need, before closing our prayer with “amen.” You can find an account of it in both Matthew 6:9–13 and Luke 11:1–4.
There are many different ways to pray. We can pray by ourselves, or as a family. We can offer prayers at mealtime, before bed, first thing in the morning, or anytime, really. The important thing is that we take the time to sincerely offer our gratitude to God and ask Him for help.
In addition to prayer, meditation can help us center our minds on God and help us feel the Spirit. In that sense, meditation can help us prepare to pray.
Temples and weddings
It depends. Temples are only open to members of the Church who have worked to prepare themselves to get the most out of their temple experience. But when temples are first built, and at other special times, open houses are held for the public so they can take a tour inside. Also, many temples have visitors’ centers and grounds that are open to all.
For Latter-day Saints, a temple is different from other church buildings. It’s a place where members of the Church go to make promises with God. That includes promises to keep the commandments, to be good husbands and wives, and to help take care of each other by sharing what we have. Also, because we believe families are forever, lots of the work done inside temples is to make family bonds even stronger. Marriages are performed to last for all of time—not just “until death do you part.” Parents and children become eternal families. We remember our ancestors. Temples are busy places!
Families are central to God’s plan for our happiness, and marriage is meant to last beyond “until death do you part.” In the temple, husband and wife are united forever. This marriage ceremony is called a temple “sealing” because the couple is joined together for this life and for eternity. The bride and groom promise to honor and love one another completely and commit to follow the teachings and example of Jesus. In turn, they are promised that their marriage and their family will endure into the next life.
In temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, husband and wife are united forever. This marriage ceremony is called a temple “sealing” because the couple is joined together for this life and for eternity. After that ceremony, however, weddings are often celebrated traditionally, with a reception for eating, dancing, and coming together to celebrate love.
Specific and unique religious clothing is something common with many religions. Religious clothing serves various purposes. Mormon underwear, more appropriately called the temple garment, consists of two pieces, similar to an undershirt and shorts. They are worn under the clothing by adult members of the Church. They serve as a reminder to them of promises made to God. They are considered sacred to the members who wear them
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can marry whomever they like. However, sacred temple marriages are reserved only for two worthy members of the Church to participate in the marriage ceremony that happens in the temple.
Life after death
For us, heaven is living in the presence of God and Jesus forever. The scriptures give us some insight into what it will be like. Jesus declared, “In my Father's house are many mansions” (John 14:2). One of the greatest joys of heaven is that if we are righteous, we can live with our families forever and become “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). Of course, we don’t know every detail of what heaven will be like, but ultimately, we believe that it is a place of “never-ending happiness” (Mosiah 2:41), which sounds pretty nice.
We have a different view of hell than the images of lava, fire, and pitchforks portrayed in movies. For those who choose not to follow God in life, their spirit will go to a temporary hell when they die. In this case, “hell” refers more to a state of mind than an actual place. Pain will come from regret and sorrow—not from fire and brimstone.
But God and Jesus are infinitely just and merciful. We believe those people who did not have a chance to know Jesus and accept Him in life will have that opportunity after they die. They will be taught His gospel, and if they turn to God, they will have a place in heaven after the Final Judgment.
The Final Judgment happens after Jesus returns to the earth and we are resurrected. Based on our actions and the desires of our hearts, we will experience different “degrees of glory” as described in 1 Corinthians 15:41–42: “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.” Because of the perfect love and understanding of the Savior, everyone will still have a better life than they had on earth, but only those who followed God will be able to live directly in His presence.
When Latter-day Saints get married, they understand that marriage is meant to last forever. Marriage ceremonies in temples contain the words “for time and all eternity,” not “until death do you part.” But it’s not the words that make eternal marriage possible—it’s the power of God. Children born to couples married in temples are automatically “sealed” to their parents. Families who join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints later in life can also go to the temple to be sealed together.
It’s okay to be sad. You can be sad and still have faith that God loves you and that things will be okay in the end.
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your feelings, such as a grief counselor, a family member, a trusted friend, or a religious leader. Allow them to comfort you, even if they can’t fully understand what you’re going through.
You can also find peace in the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is there and He cares about you and is aware of you. Jesus took upon Himself all suffering so He would know how to help you overcome yours. You can be with loved ones again after death. These teachings don’t take away all of the pain, but they can provide hope and understanding.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Happiness is a choice. We can choose to be happy even when things go wrong. We need to remember that God loves us and that “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28). We're here to grow through challenges, but we are also here to find happiness along the way. We can choose happiness by not comparing ourselves to others, being grateful for the things we have, surrounding ourselves with positive people, serving others, and recognizing God's hand in our lives. The Book of Mormon tells us that “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).
That’s a tough question. It all starts with the little stuff. The first thing is to have a desire to change and have hope that it's possible. You can do it with God's help. The Book of Mormon tells us that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).
Pick a few small things that you can work on. These could be spiritual goals like praying, reading the scriptures, or going to church. You could also set goals to overcome bad habits or sins. Jesus paid the price for all of our mistakes, sins, and sorrows because none of us is perfect. If you don’t know what you need to change, try asking God. You could also meet with missionaries who can help you know more about what God wants for you.
Yes. Jesus made it clear that being born of water and of the Spirit is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven (see John 3:1–13).
Latter-day Saints believe that the Lord revealed a person is old enough to be baptized when they are at least 8 years old. Most people are able to discern right and wrong when they are this age. This is why members of the Church do not practice infant baptism. Instead, children may be baptized beginning at the age of eight.
If baptism was performed without the proper authority or in a manner not consistent with how the Savior was baptized, it will need to be performed again. Baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a prerequisite for membership.
God has provided a way for everyone to receive all of His blessings—even after death. Baptisms and other essential ordinances can be performed on behalf of those who have died without the opportunity. The Apostle Paul spoke of baptism for the dead in the Bible (see 1 Corinthians 15:29) and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue that same practice in temples today.
Here’s how it works: Latter-day Saints study their family history to discover names of people who have died without being baptized. Members are then baptized on behalf of those ancestors in the temple. This service for others is offered in love—and because life continues after death, those who have died are aware of the ordinances and can choose whether or not to accept them.
After a person is baptized, those with proper priesthood authority place their hands on the baptized person’s head to “confirm” him or her a member of the Church and give the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Jesus taught that baptism is required to enter the kingdom of heaven. But what about people who die without being baptized or even knowing about Jesus? How can they be saved?
Thankfully, God is loving and has provided a way for everyone to receive all of His blessings—even after death. In the temple, baptisms and other essential ordinances are performed on behalf of those who have died without the opportunity. The Apostle Paul spoke of baptism for the dead in the Bible (see Corinthians 15:29) and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue that same practice in temples today.
Here’s how it works: Latter-day Saints study family history to discover names of people who have died without being baptized. Members are then baptized on behalf of those ancestors in the temple. This service for others is offered in love—and because life continues after death, those who have died are aware of the ordinances and can choose whether or not to accept them.
Every member has a duty to share the gospel; however, it is always a choice for someone to serve a full-time mission or not. Young people are especially encouraged to serve missions because it is such a great opportunity for learning, serving, and growing.
No. As a matter of fact, many missionaries pay their own way. Often, they’ll save for years in advance. Sometimes families will make financial sacrifices to help send a missionary out.
No. In fact, “Elder” is not a name but a title for male missionaries. Female missionaries are similarly addressed as “Sister,” followed by their surname. They are titles of respect and honor.
No. Inspired Church leaders assign each missionary to a specific area where they will serve. Some will stay in their native countries, and some will go abroad, but all are happy to serve knowing the assignment ultimately comes from God.
Depending on the day, you can find missionaries visiting with others, volunteering in the community, teaching about God, and more. But they’re never too busy to help you if you need it.
Working in pairs helps keep missionaries safe. It is also patterned after the way Jesus instructed: “And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two” (Mark 6:7).
There are over 65,000 full-time Latter-day Saint missionaries throughout the world. There are likely missionaries in your area if you ever need them.
The first step is usually to meet with missionaries. They will teach you the basic beliefs and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They can also answer any of your questions about the Church and let you know what is expected from members.
You should also start attending worship services. You will find the joy of belonging to a community of people who care about each other and strive to follow the example of Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, once you are ready to join the Church, you can choose to be baptized and become an official member. You can be baptized either by missionaries or by someone you’ve come to know at church.
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