How are we affected in the way we learn and study scripture and church lessons? This question has popped up for many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
For example, the previous lesson manuals from the LDS Church were organized by subject, by church leaders’ wise words of wisdom or by scripture matter. These manuals included some good supplemental information to teach each Sunday and for the most part, the teacher would stand at the front of the class and teach what was written.
In Sunday school (the second hour of three hours) each year there is an emphasis on one of the canonized scripture books with supplemental information. This has worked for over one hundred years but with the needed emphasis on learning and obeying gospel precepts LDS Church leaders realized the presentation of this important information needed more consideration and individualization by each congregation (ward).
Sitting in Council
Starting in 2018, teaching for the adults in their respective Relief Society (woman’s organization) and Priesthood quorums (men’s organization) will be a little different. The first week of each month will be a group discussion and counsel on what best to accomplish in their ward area. Whether its service, a specific activity or just the chance to uplift everyone’s spirits, this first Sunday of every month will help unify the ward to fill a need.
The next two Sundays will be taught from a sermon or talk given from a past General Conferences. (Church leader Bi-yearly broadcast to all members). These talks are so inspirational and uplifting they are worth our time in hearing their message again. We listen once when they are broadcast but many times, we don’t get around to reading them again in print form.
Reaching the younger generation
It has been reported through research that less than half of the millennial-aged youth don’t even listen at all when these talks are broadcasted every 6 months. This poses a big challenge to church leaders as to how will this generation receive the messages of God meant for them?
Including these wonderful talks each month as a lesson is a brilliant idea. The words we hear every six months will be emphasized and the need of each individual congregation will be filled. Those who could not listen or read the messages will have the opportunity to listen and discuss them during a regular Sunday hour meeting.
On the 4th Sunday of each month, a topic is selected by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (LDS Church leaders in Salt Lake City) which will be updated every 6 months. The first six lessons of 2018 will be centered on the Sabbath Day. Some of those topic headings include, “The Sabbath is a day to remember what God has done for us”, “Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath” and “Jesus Christ is our example of honoring the Sabbath.”
The Sabbath day has been somewhat ignored by the world as a day we should stop our normal activity and remember our Savior. LDS Church leaders have been focusing on helping us remember how important Sunday is to God in our planned activities and church attendance.
Teaching by the Spirit:
Over ten years ago, the missionary force for the LDS Church received a new emphasis in learning and teaching through a book called Preach My Gospel. My oldest son was on a mission at the time and he and his companions were very excited about this new missionary manual.
The emphasis was to teach by what we call “The Spirit”. Meaning if we read topics from scripture and study the word of God, God will inspire us to teach what is necessary.
Each missionary had to learn to teach by this gift which greatly improved the understanding of the gospel for each individual investigator they taught. This new teaching tool was completely the opposite of what they were used to as the Missionary Training Center (MTC) had set specific lessons called “Discussions” every missionary had to memorize before they left for their assigned place.
Thinking about how these missionaries have learned to “teach by the Spirit” on their missions has influenced how the rest of the Church membership will learn as well in the coming years. As adult teachers, we will have to learn to teach by the Spirit as lessons will not have a manual but a few pages of inspired writings or just a topic chosen for that day for a 40 to 50 minute lesson.
It’s an exciting time to attend Sunday meetings for LDS Church members. Our lessons will be geared just for us in our individual wards and we will all come away uplifted and inspired for the week until the next Sunday. It will definitely help us in our families to know of the inspired messages from God and how we can improve our lives to be good Christians.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.