I would guess most of us have heard or been a part of awkward conversations at church in which we are trying to suss out a new-to-us persons’ membership status. More often than not, someone might come on out and ask “Are you a member?” This goes OK for people who are, but wouldn’t it be awkward to be labeled a “non-member. ” How welcome do you feel at a church where everyone smiles, insists they are glad you are there, but persist in referring to you as a “non-member”?

So odd.

Once in a while, some thoughtful person will instead use the term “friend of the missionaries” which is better, but still odd. Why are we so obsessed about the status of people (besides needing to know if you can submit their name to teach CTR 6)? Why can’t we all just be friends?

I have recently been transcribing one of my ancestor’s missionary journals. He served in the late 1800s and referred to non-members as “Strangers. ” I guess “non-member” is at least a step up from that.

To the members: what language do we use that leaves our visitors out? Are there other languages that do it better than English?

So to all the people who have attended LDS services and never came back because you were mystified by otherwise welcoming people insisting that you were not one of us by labeling you non-members: Please forgive us, we are idiots.