At the general offices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, numbers are used to organize and classify essentially every single entity of the Church. Everything from office extension numbers to bank account numbers to each individual member’s 11-digit membership record number. The most complex of processes are made easier if you know the right numbers. The most commonly used numbers, however, are those of all the worldwide geographic subdivisions of the Church known as stakes, missions, districts, wards, and branches. These are called units. A unit number (between 3 and 7 digits) provides a lot information. Every unit is accounted for, from the largest stakes in Utah to the tiniest branches in Mongolia. Every unit has a number.
There are more units in the church than I can even count. This is good. I can tell you first hand that stakes and wards are being divided and realigned constantly to accommodate growth all across the globe. That, you can imagine, requires a lot of numbers. Though the Church is able to stay so well organized while keeping track of all the individual units wherever they may be, there is one type of unit that does not receive nor require a number. This unit is the family. And the family is the fundamental unit not only of the Church but of society in general.
God created families in order to provide an environment here on earth in which we could feel and show love, give and receive support, and learn and teach essential skills that prepare us for Eternal Life. That is not an official Church explanation, but it’s mine and it works for me. The past, current, and future Church depends on righteous family units to carry the work forward. Within the bonds of a gospel-oriented family, our children are prepared to be missionaries, marry in the temple, and be leaders that will make full church activity an endless round in their posterity. Without righteous families, the work and glory of God becomes increasingly more difficult to bring to pass.
In a recent addition to the “Pioneers in Every Land” series on lds.org, the story is told of how the government in Ghana put a “freeze” on Church activity and prevented worship services in all LDS meetinghouses for over 18 months. This caused the members to have to stay in their homes and bravely continue their church activity amongst themselves despite the strict federal prohibition. The segment is called “You Can’t Close My Heart” and you can click this button to view it right now.
My favorite line, and the inspiration for this thought, is when Brother Andam said, “The family is a unit of the Church, and can operate when authorized.” This really struck a chord with me, because I work all day with units and numbers and money and members and all of the things that make the Church run…yet in all reality the true units of the Church, the center from which all gospel progression really originates, is the family. And yes, they do operate. And God has authorized them since the beginning. Additionally, our homes can and should become spiritual sanctuaries in which we could partake of the sacrament and feel the spirit as if at church.
God provided families for us to truly centralize our own personal ministries. The most essential skills for building lasting relationships are developed and exercised within the walls of a harmonious home. If the very definition of “unit” involves togetherness and oneness, what are we doing to truly build family UNITy? Let us remember how God feels about the family and the role that it plays in His plan. The family really is the most important unit of the church, even without a number.