Early LDS leaders taught that the New Jerusalem Zion would be built before Christ makes his triumphant return. Some of us (or our children) will be called upon to assist in building the New Jerusalem Zion society. Will we be ready? What can we do to better prepare ourselves and our posterity for that honor?

It proved an insurmountable challenge for the early Utah Saints to remain on the Celestial level economically. Within 2 years of Brigham Young organizing all the members into United Orders, well over 90% of those orders failed.

As a group, they were unable to successfully make the transition in one generation from the Telestial-level economics of dog-eat-dog competitive Free Enterprise to the Celestial-level Law of Consecration and Stewardship.

Aware of their challenge to successfully transition, how can we improve our chances that we can one day permanently cross that chasm between the Telestial and Celestial-level economic cultures?
Utah’s own history shows the way. Clearly, the early Saints needed a stepping stone to help them make the transition. Early Church leaders taught that co-operatives were that stepping stone to Zion’s economic system.

To assist the body of the Church in making the transition, the Brethren called on them to fully embrace Cooperative Free Enterprise, or “Cooperation” as they called it. In cooperatives, the point is not for a few business owners to get rich, but to spread economic benefit among everyone who participates in the business. They taught that cooperation would help the Saints acquire two of the three attributes of a Zion society mentioned by the Lord in Moses 7 – to become “of one heart and one mind” and to achieve “no poor among them” status.

Unfortunately, the members only had ten years to get used to Cooperation before Brigham launched them even higher. Had he waited a generation (or two), it’s likely the Saints would have been more successful.

We today can increase our capacity to live in a Zion culture by participating in that same “stepping stone to the Order of Enoch”, and we don’t even need to wait to be commanded! We can choose to do so under D&C 57’s good-things-of-their-own-will clause. We can do it by following Lorenzo Snow’s strategy that yielded remarkable results in making Brigham City into a world-renown example of Cooperative Free Enterprise in the 1870s.

Here’s how he did it:
1. Established a single cooperative general store.
2. The profits were used to establish new cooperatives to manufacture consumer goods that otherwise had to be imported.
3. Each new cooperative sold its goods through the original co-op store.

Today, I and some fellow “Ziontists” are taking baby steps to revive Elder Snow’s strategy, but we’re doing it online. We expect it will eventually help those involved to prepare to live higher-level economics in anticipation of the day when the Lord calls the Church to build the official Zion society in Jackson County.
Read more about it at ZionBuilders.org.