To help those who seek information about the Church — but who fear that asking questions might invite some unwanted intrusion in their lives — a new Web site has been created by the Church to explain the gospel while respecting the privacy of the investigator.
This new site — www.mormon.org — joins LDS.org as a Church Web site.
"We found that many people are looking for straight answers about important subjects if they can get them without an intrusion in their lives," said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council.
"This new Web site allows them to find answers to their questions, and explore the Church to whatever level of interest they may have without concern of being approached by others until they desire to learn more from member friends or missionaries."
Respondents from focus groups say the Web site creates a peaceful, calm, reassuring feeling. It is designed to ease apprehensions investigators might feel as they begin studying the Church.
"The leaders of the Church have long felt a need to present the basic principles of the gospel in an understandable manner to correct misconceptions and misunderstandings about the Church and its doctrines," said Elder Oaks.
"The emphasis of this Web site is to help investigators gain the information they seek to the depth of their interest. When they are ready, they can be introduced to someone they know who is a member or to missionaries to assist their further learning of the gospel."
The Church has maintained a Web site for the past few years that provides access to conference reports, media contacts and other general information about the Church.
Yet, findings from various focus groups have shown that the language and descriptions familiar to members can be a barrier to non-members. Findings also show that non-members need a more fundamental presentation of the Church and its teachings.
"Our beliefs, as common as they may be to longtime members, are not well known to others and are even confusing to them. The principle behind the Web site is to talk with people in simple terms, in ways they'd understand," said Elder Oaks.
"Yet, no electronic site will replace the testimony or personal interest of a member who can offer friendship and support. The Web site needs member assistance to be effective."
On the Web site's home page investigators will find five major categories; namely, the Church, families, nature of God, purpose of life, and frequently asked questions. Each page is simply and tastefully designed — avoiding the complexity of many Web sites — yet with sufficient information to give a clear explanation.
Content is based on the missionary discussions, as well as feedback from various focus groups, surveys and frequently asked questions from the Church Web site, lds.org, and Temple Square.
The Web site is designed to provide information for those who are either searching for merely cursory background, or for those probing more deeply.
For example, visitors to the section on the Church reach an introductory page that gives them several options, including an introduction to the Church. By taking that option they can explore Church history or look at the Church today. If they chose the history section, it leads them to information about Joseph Smith, The First Vision, Brigham Young and historical events. The whole process is self-directed, allowing the visitor to explore and learn at his or her pace, superficially or deeply.
Another popular feature was the list of helpful suggestions that follows certain topics. One woman in a Washington, D.C. focus group said she appreciated the encouragement to plan a weekly date night to strengthen her marriage.
To assist members in the use of this Web site, missionary Pass Along cards are being provided with the www.mormon.org address.
Still another feature simplifies the challenge of finding the closest meetinghouse and meeting schedule. By typing an address, investigators receive a map with travel directions and worship times of the nearest meetinghouse.
The Web site will be accessible Oct. 6.
"This Web site will offer a quantum leap in our ability to explain our doctrine and communicate with our friends," said Elder Oaks.
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