The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church

The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church

American Millennials--the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s--have been leaving organized religion in unprecedented numbers. For a long time, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was an exception: nearly three-quarters of people who grew up Mormon stayed that way into adulthood. In The Next Mormons, Jana Riess demonstrates that things are starting to change....

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Title:The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church
Author:Jana Riess
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The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church Reviews

  • Cristina Rosetti

    This book is game-changing for the way scholars talk about Mormonism and the Mormon experience. Many older scholars and members of the Church may be surprised by the NMS findings, including the reasons people leave and the things they find rewarding.

    However, for anyone who has ever had a beer with a Mormon, the book will not be too surprising. And for the beer drinking Mormons, it may even be validating.

  • Jen

    I can’t say I learned a lot from this book, but I found the study so interesting and insightful. And at times surprising! I enjoyed seeing where I fit in, and it did cause me to ask a lot of question myself. Why am I a part of this church? What do I agree with? Disagree with? What could possibly entice me to leave? It was a good chance to examine myself.

    So far—it would take something huge to get me to deny my faith. And while I am not always 100% comfortable with the institution, I am a firm bel

    I can’t say I learned a lot from this book, but I found the study so interesting and insightful. And at times surprising! I enjoyed seeing where I fit in, and it did cause me to ask a lot of question myself. Why am I a part of this church? What do I agree with? Disagree with? What could possibly entice me to leave? It was a good chance to examine myself.

    So far—it would take something huge to get me to deny my faith. And while I am not always 100% comfortable with the institution, I am a firm believer in the doctrines of the church.

    I liked the combination of statistical and anecdotal analysis, and it was well written.

  • Zarin Ficklin

    Since this book is largely about minority groups in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I should preface how I fit: I’m male, white, and married; I live in Utah, feel confident in my beliefs, and consider myself an “active member” — which is different from many of profiled member groups, including: women, LGBTQ, nonwhite, and single members. Since I didn't identify with many of those groups' struggles,

    was great at building empathy.

    This book focuses on a study that

    Since this book is largely about minority groups in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I should preface how I fit: I’m male, white, and married; I live in Utah, feel confident in my beliefs, and consider myself an “active member” — which is different from many of profiled member groups, including: women, LGBTQ, nonwhite, and single members. Since I didn't identify with many of those groups' struggles,

    was great at building empathy.

    This book focuses on a study that polls members (and former members) about a variety of topics ranging from why people stay in or leave the church, how different generations interpret policies, and political leanings. My ward is predominantly Millennial and Baby Boomer, so it was insightful to see generational differences broken down in numbers. It’s easy for me to equate my church experience as the norm, so seeing the broad data was useful, especially so in a church that relies on multi-generational relationships.

    I would recommend this to church leaders and many members, but not to everyone. While I found the data and analysis mostly objective, there is an emphasis on content that is critical (in the form of empirical data, interviews, and some author analysis). I think it’s important for potential readers to understand the distinction between church culture, policy, and doctrine. During President Nelson’s leadership and the rise of Millennial there have been a lot changes and critiques are mostly focused on culture and policy.

    As a church member, there’s a careful balance between improving church culture vs. “steadying the ark.” The same balance exists in sustaining and supporting in church leadership and organization while acknowledging imperfection and fallibility. It's worth considering what amount of searching for and emphasizing issues can be damaging (or distracting) to faith — and how do you balance that while not turning a blind eye to problems?

    For someone who is wrestling doubts, reading stories about why people left the church will probably not help build faith. But for leaders, it can be very productive to better understand why people leave. And to be fair, there is also insightful content about why people stay in the church. Basically, I recommend being in the right headspace while reading — I think in matters of faith readers will often find reasons to feed their doubt or faith depending on what they are looking for.

    Overall, much of the content was fascinating. I highlighted over a hundred passages and it was especially helpful to better understand minority groups I’m not a part of. People interested in this book should also check out

    and

    .

  • Christopher Angulo

    This is a must read for anyone affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The results were expected in many parts, but some, literally made me gasp out loud. It helped me deepen my understanding about the portion of the Church that is at its prime right now (the Millennials), and the effects that older generations had upon the younger generations. Hopefully, this book will be used by many in teaching positions to better reach and strengthen our brothers and sisters in the r

    This is a must read for anyone affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The results were expected in many parts, but some, literally made me gasp out loud. It helped me deepen my understanding about the portion of the Church that is at its prime right now (the Millennials), and the effects that older generations had upon the younger generations. Hopefully, this book will be used by many in teaching positions to better reach and strengthen our brothers and sisters in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is still an enjoyable read, even you don't plan on using its material to improve your ward or family. It will help you see yourself in different ways by allowing you to juxtapose yourself with the experiences and beliefs of others.

  • Amber

    Results and analysis of the Next Mormons Survey, which Riess created to help determine how attitudes in the Mormon (yes, I know I'm not supposed to use that handle any more) church are changing generationally.

    What I loved:

    I find it difficult to find unbiased looks at the membership of the Mormon church and this was a super fascinating glimpse in that direction. My major issue was the fact that in her analysis of this snapshot survey, the author did not give enough weight to the fact that the re

    Results and analysis of the Next Mormons Survey, which Riess created to help determine how attitudes in the Mormon (yes, I know I'm not supposed to use that handle any more) church are changing generationally.

    What I loved:

    I find it difficult to find unbiased looks at the membership of the Mormon church and this was a super fascinating glimpse in that direction. My major issue was the fact that in her analysis of this snapshot survey, the author did not give enough weight to the fact that the respondents were just simply different ages, and attitudes and beliefs change with age. You can't directly compare millenials to baby boomers and say that attitudes in the church have changed. Those same millenials may change as they get older.

    What I learned:

    From my experience, the Mormon faith is a 100% faith and I was at times surprised by the lack of homogeneous orthodoxy on various pillars.

    A favorite passage:

    "The racism she felt in her midwestern stake wasn’t that different from racism she experienced elsewhere in American culture, but it actually hurt more “because I expected better. If this was ‘the true church,’ then we were expected to be better.”"

    "Theologically, believing in prophets whose teachings have undermined your very existence is challenging in a way that most heterosexual Mormons will never have to experience. In other words, for LGBT Mormons, leaving the church is never “just” about LGBT issues per se. It’s that those issues strike at the very heart of Mormon ideas of authority."

  • Karen

    The subtitle of this book was quite misleading - it sounds like a book about Millenials trying to activate change in the Mormon church. Actually, this book is a statistical analysis of a survey of roughly 1200 current and 500 former Mormons on a host of different topics, looking at the variance of answers by generation (Boomer, GenX and Millenials).

    We live in a world with a lot of hyperbole when people are talking about various issues, so it was refreshing to read something with some statistical

    The subtitle of this book was quite misleading - it sounds like a book about Millenials trying to activate change in the Mormon church. Actually, this book is a statistical analysis of a survey of roughly 1200 current and 500 former Mormons on a host of different topics, looking at the variance of answers by generation (Boomer, GenX and Millenials).

    We live in a world with a lot of hyperbole when people are talking about various issues, so it was refreshing to read something with some statistical basis. My biggest surprise is that nothing in this book was hugely surprising to me. The survey is a snapshot, and it all makes sense in the context of the time we are living in.

    She also included personal interviews, which had less of a strong methodology. Interviewees were people within one degree of separation fo her -- a friend's friend, for instance. She used these interviews as a way to personalize the statistics and tell a more readable story, but I questioned how truly representative they were. As my daughter learned in her history class today, "You can never attribute one person's experience to an entire group of people." Each person's path is unique, even within definite demographic trends.

    Her preface and conclusions seem to emphasize that the book is about Millenials leaving the church, and she wonders what the church will decide to do about that, but she also reminds us that 'although it's tempting to fixate on what the LDS CHurch is or is not doing as the primary explanation for those membership losses, ... a major explanation for disaffiliation is the changing religious landscape in America. Mormonism is not an island." Given that landscape, though not emphasized, the statistics regarding those who do continue in church participation is impressive.

    How these statistics do or don't change over time will be interesting to see - after all the Millenials, by definition are still very young with a lot of life left to live.

  • Ynna

    This was one of my most highly anticipated books for 2019 for a number of reasons, which Jana Riess highlights in the closing paragraphs of

    . I think the biggest reason I was so looking forward to this title was the possibility of feeling justified and not alone in my actions and feelings about the LDS Church. This was absolutely accomplished at the conclusion of this book. I felt less alone, and I think when a piece of literature can do that for someone, it is a triumph.

    Honestly

    This was one of my most highly anticipated books for 2019 for a number of reasons, which Jana Riess highlights in the closing paragraphs of

    . I think the biggest reason I was so looking forward to this title was the possibility of feeling justified and not alone in my actions and feelings about the LDS Church. This was absolutely accomplished at the conclusion of this book. I felt less alone, and I think when a piece of literature can do that for someone, it is a triumph.

    Honestly, there is nothing very shocking in this book. A lot of the topics (temple attendance, feminism, modesty, Word of Wisdom) were things I expected and have observed in myself and my peers. This book was incredibly well-researched and the interviews are poignant and candid. It reads like a textbook and there are a lot of charts. It is very informative and probably more interesting to a non-LDS reader, but more meaningful for an LDS millennial woman.

  • Talena

    The results of this study are not surprising, but I'm glad someone did the research so people can review actual facts and numbers. The book is statistic heavy and hard to read. And pretty boring given that most of the results are expected. (I only read it because I was interviewed for it). Read an article about the research, you'll learn just as much and won't waste so much time. Sorry, this review sounds very negative even though I truly appreciate the work that was put into the research and pr

    The results of this study are not surprising, but I'm glad someone did the research so people can review actual facts and numbers. The book is statistic heavy and hard to read. And pretty boring given that most of the results are expected. (I only read it because I was interviewed for it). Read an article about the research, you'll learn just as much and won't waste so much time. Sorry, this review sounds very negative even though I truly appreciate the work that was put into the research and presenting the findings to the public. Good job, researchers!

  • Holly

    Lengthy, detailed analyses of the statistical findings of an online survey of 1,156 self-identified Mormons and 540 former Mormons with the interest, time and stamina to respond to 130 or so questions assessing their relationship to Mormonism. Because the questions interrogate how much respondents believe and support LDS doctrine and policy, discussions of LDS problems and mistakes are a major focus.

    This is a work that exemplifies insider baseball. It will be valuable to people who are invested

    Lengthy, detailed analyses of the statistical findings of an online survey of 1,156 self-identified Mormons and 540 former Mormons with the interest, time and stamina to respond to 130 or so questions assessing their relationship to Mormonism. Because the questions interrogate how much respondents believe and support LDS doctrine and policy, discussions of LDS problems and mistakes are a major focus.

    This is a work that exemplifies insider baseball. It will be valuable to people who are invested in the institutional well-being of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, either because they want to see the church stop hemorrhaging members, or because they find its policies on things like gender or the rights of LGBTQIA+ people intolerable and are working anxiously to persuade the church to change those policies.

    Despite the fact that it will appeal primarily if not only to insiders, it seems to have been written for an audience of extremely ignorant outsiders: it's replete with extensive, minute explanations of LDS policies, practices and doctrines that will be redundant and unnecessary for anyone familiar with the church. The constant lengthy (and occasionally inaccurate*) explanations of things I have known for years if not decades, combined with the copious statistical data, made this unbearably tedious for me and essentially unreadable.

    *a few examples of errors:

    page 35: "[Religious training] starts with Primary, which until 1980 was a weekday after-school activity that was more about doing crafts and singing songs than imbibing doctrine." No. I attended after-school Primary; Riess did not. It involved plenty of "imbibing doctrine," in that there was a religious lesson every week, and while there were crafts, they were emphasized more during the summer, when Primary was on a weekday morning and lasted 90 minutes instead of an hour. It's true that in 5th and 6th grade girls were taught to embroider, crochet and knit, and we were expected to embroider a pre-printed pattern on a banner also printed with the 13 Articles of Faith, but we were also expected to memorize all 13 and prove that we could recite them verbatim from memory.

    The book would have been better--shorter, more accurate--if Riess had not included the commentary about what Primary was before 1980.

    page 57: "if all your extended family and close friends were LDS, a temple wedding was a celebration everyone could attend, with no feelings of loss or grief at anyone being excluded." Nope! I was a bridesmaid in a couple of temple weddings I couldn't attend, because even though I was a faithful Mormon at that point, I was only 19 and not allowed to go through the temple because I wasn't getting married or going on a mission.

    page 82: "Getting married in the temple is predicated on both partners either being virgins or having undertaken a repentance process under a bishop's supervision to qualify them for temple worthiness." Again, nope. Neither virginity nor repentance is required for someone who previously had sex only within marriage but has since been widowed or divorced and remained celibate thereafter.

    I suspect I would have found other errors had I not lost patience with the work and become unwilling to read it quite so carefully.

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