Some people who are curious about the church don’t feel comfortable right away about the Mormons and their religion.
If you want to study the church on your own, your best source of information is the church itself. Anyone who is teaching about the church has a goal, and when other churches or hate groups work to teach about the Mormons, their goal is to be sure you won’t like what you hear, and so, they may present false information, misrepresent beliefs, or even truly misunderstand it. If you want to hear about the Mormon religion the way you would if you were a member of the church, use the Church’s own resources. You can search online to learn what they want people to know who are investigating the church, and also to see what they present to their own members. You can read their literature online. You can even chat with a missionary online. The Internet is a wonderful source of information for learning about the church privately.
The first step is to visit Mormon.org. This is a website for people who aren’t members of the church, but who want to know more. It’s set up to easily help you find answers to the questions you have about church beliefs, or about life and God. The site opens to one of the many questions people often have about religion, with an option to click on a video to learn what we teach about this question.
If you want to choose your own topic, look to the top of the screen and click on “Basic Beliefs.” The left side navigation offers a number of topics you can read about. Also across the top is Ask a Question. This gives you three choices. You can click to have missionaries visit you at your home, or you can enter the chat room if it’s open. This chat room is only for people who are not LDS and is hosted by missionaries, who are there to answer the questions of sincere investigators. If you’re ready, you can also click a link along the top of the screen to find out where the nearest Mormon church is and when they meet. This page also has a link to information on what to expect when you visit. In addition, you can search for a specific topic.
Do you want to know what information is available to church members? You won’t find contradictions, but you will find more than is on the page for investigators. For this, go to LDS.org, the website for church members. With the exception of the ward and stake websites link, the site is open to anyone without registration. Wards are congregations, and stakes are a group of wards, divided geographically, much like a Catholic dioceses. These pages don’t contain doctrine; they are the communications resource for the members of a particular congregation and have membership lists, activities, and leadership rosters, and so are protected for the privacy of those listed.
This site has a tremendous amount of information. Here you can learn about temples, family history, and church history. You can read the magazines the church publishes for its members. You can even read the actual lesson manuals used by teachers and students while at church. You can learn to protect your family from hardships such as job loss or illness. Many people who are not LDS visit the Provident Living section for practical information on living safely. You can also learn how to hold a family night or build family relations. You can even read the Book of Mormon. There are many sources for both doctrine and everyday life, and you can spend many months just reading all that is available.
Eventually, of course, you’ll want to know if all this is true. You may, at this point, want to meet with missionaries who can guide you through the process of finding out if it’s true, but if you still prefer to work alone, visit Mormon.org again and read “How Can I Know This is True?”
Once you’ve discovered what God the Father wants you to know, it is time to visit a church meeting and see how it really operates. There are nearly always missionaries in the foyer, identifiable by black name tags pinned to their jackets. They will be happy to sit with you and help you understand what you’re experiencing. In order to join the church, you must meet with them for a series of lessons, since we want people to make an informed decision to join our church. They can guide you through the remainder of the process of learning about the church.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.