Exploring Family Systems Factors Experienced by Unchurched Mormons as They Transition to a Non-LDS Church in Salt Lake City


Robin Gattis

Publication Date



In this dissertation I explore the family systems factors that unchurched Mormons experience when they transition to a non-Latter-day Saints (LDS) Church in SLC, with intent to inform the design of an effective ministry model for ELC (ELC) in SLC.

I review the literature to examine the historical context of Mormon families in SLC (SLC), and specifically how this historical context impacts family system factors. My review revealed a social pattern in which the LDS Church used strategic compromises (my term not a term used in the LDS culture) to resolve social conflicts when the strategic compromise would further a future LDS economic or social agenda. These strategic compromises altered the SLC society by expanding the religious beliefs and lifestyle practices beyond those taught by the LDS Church, thus making it more prevalent for individuals to leave the LDS Church and transition to a non-LDS church, thus causing conflict and anxiety in families.

I also examine Family Systems Theory (FST) literature, and explain how FST is helpful to understanding family systems factors when un-churched Mormons transition to a non-LDS church. I demonstrate how FST can inform the design of an effective ministry model for ELC.

I conducted field research using semi-structured interviews and a focus group to explore family systems factors experienced by unchurched Mormons as they transition to a non-LDS church. The central theme that emerged from the field research was belonging; and addressing this issue became paramount for the design of a ministry model for ELC. After researching Edward T. Hall’s four zones of belonging, I determined the social zone and the social belonging it provides was the best way to help unchurched Mormons regain a sense of belonging as they transition to a non-LDS church.

ELC in SLC will design a ministry model that functions like a relational network. First ELC will develop and implement a missional community ministry prototype to serve as a learning experience to inform this model. This prototype will be a neighborhood Halloween party, which is currently being developed and implemented for 2016.

Mentor: Charles Fleming, DMiss

Degree Name

Doctor of Missiology (DMiss)

First Advisor

Fleming, Charles

Document Type



Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Missional church movement; Missions to Mormons; Utah; Salt Lake City


Missions and World Christianity


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