Last night, as I drove the sister missionaries back to the Church, I mentioned to them that I love Elder Donald L. Hallstrom's talk, "Converted to His Gospel through His Church." Click here to read it.
In this talk, Elder Hallstrom explains that Church activity and the gospel are not the same: "Sometimes we use the terms gospel and Church interchangeably, but they are not the same. They are, however, exquisitely interconnected, and we need both."
The gospel is Heavenly Father's plan by which we become like Him - through developing faith, repenting, and reconciling ourselves to God. The Church, as established by Jesus Christ, has His authority to help us accomplish these things by providing us with Christ's true teachings and the necessary ordinances of the gospel.
Thus, just as the gospel and the Church are not the same but are "exquisitely interconnected," the same goes for conversion and activity in the church:
"It is possible to be active in the Church and less active in the gospel...Activity in the Church is an outward indication of our spiritual desire. If we attend our meetings, hold and fulfill Church responsibilities, and serve others, it is publicly observed. By contrast, the things of the gospel are usually less visible and more difficult to measure, but they are of greater eternal importance. For example, how much faith do we really have? How repentant are we? How meaningful are the ordinances in our lives? How focused are we on our covenants?"
We often wonder: How can someone be fully active in the Church as a youth and then not be when they are older? How can an adult who has regularly attended and served stop coming?...Perhaps the reason is they were not sufficiently converted to the gospel—the things of eternity."
We need both the Church and the gospel. The scriptures make it abundantly clear that we cannot become converted without the Church (for example: 3 Nephi and Moroni). However, we are stopping short if we think, "Okay, I'm doing enough." We increase our conversion by focusing on our covenants, repenting, and building our faith.
Next topic: What is Conversion?