I was asked about “submission to the church” and “criticism as rebellion.” Here is my response:
The church is formed by a mutual agreement between the members and the leaders. The leaders occupy their positions because they are sustained to the offices they hold. When sustained, they are the office holders. No one has the right to preside or conduct church activities other than the regularly constituted church authorities. It is their right.
But if you love the church and want her best interests, it is a mistake to leave her uncriticized for mistakes and blunders. Those who care for her the most will be the most eager to help. Criticism designed to improve, to overcome mistakes or solve dilemmas the church faces is what a person who cares would always do. Only a fool would mistake comments motivated by concern and care as a sign of rejection or rebellion.
The church is struggling. Only about 10% of the converts remain with the church today. Half of the returned missionaries drift into inactivity within two years of returning home. Temple marriages in the U.S. are ending at a rate nearly comparable to national averages, and the fertility rate of Mormons in the U.S. has dropped to nearly the national average. Tithing contributions have dropped. There is a crisis underway at present. If a member cares, they owe it to the church to offer views for discussion.
I think using professional business consultants to help solve the crisis is what has led to the crisis. They do not, indeed cannot, understand the things of the spirit. It is impossible to treat the Gospel as another commodity and market it like you would soft drinks, cars or office supplies. Businessmen cannot remedy a spiritual illness. The church does not need good marketing. Indeed it grew the most as an overall percentage of growth, when it boldy proclaimed a new doctrine, a new revelation from heaven, and suffered the indignity and criticism of the entire world. While editorial pages were railing against the church, and cartoonists were mocking Joseph Smith, the church went from nothing to tens-of-thousands. That was how the truth should always be spread. Not by aligning with the world and employing its methods, but by proclaiming the truth and rejecting the world.
We’ve been using more and more of the same failed business marketing approach to try and smooth out the message and deliver it more agreeably to the world. That will NOT attract those seeking the truth. We must not blend in, but must stick out. Doing more of this marketing and social-science driven management will lead to less: Less activity. Less retention. Less tithing. Less membership. Less success. It needs to reverse.
Sooner or later someone who is open to that message will decide the failure has continued long enough and will decide to return to what established the church in the first place against all opposition.