We have reached 2019 and the start of a new home-centered and Church-supported plan for teaching from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Come, Follow Me. A change of this magnitude can be accompanied by trepidation and uncertainty, but consistently moving forward with faith will help us be successful as we take our place as the prime gospel teachers of our children.
Why the Change?
In his opening address in the October 2018 General Conference, President Nelson said, “The adversary is increasing his attacks on faith and upon us and our families at an exponential rate. To survive spiritually, we need counterstrategies and proactive plans. Accordingly, we now want to put in place organizational adjustments that will further fortify our members and their families.”
Consider the words he used: “attacks,” “survive,” “counterstrategies,” “proactive plans,” “fortify.” These are battle terms, and it makes perfect sense. The War in Heaven continues to rage on the earth today and we cannot afford to have an “all is well in Zion” attitude. The adversary has increased his attacks on the righteous and on families and we need to fight back. The prophet is calling upon us to take an active role in opposing the efforts of the adversary by being proactive in strengthening our families and ensuring the gospel is taught in our homes. This is a matter of spiritual survival.
What is the Goal?
Every battle has an objective. What is the goal here? Elder Quentin L. Cook summed it up in this manner: “World conditions increasingly require deepening individual conversion to and strengthening faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement.”
It’s not enough to know the gospel; we have to be changed by it. We need the same transformation that King Benjamin’s people felt so that we also experience “a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). It’s not about what we know, but about what that knowledge helps us to become. When we are converted to the gospel and to the Savior, we will understand the active role we must take in building his kingdom in preparation for his coming. We will be able to fight the ever-increasing attacks by the adversary and avoid being spiritually wounded in the battle. And, we will strengthen our children and give them the opportunity to do the same!
What It Will Take!
The conversion we seek cannot be attained without commitment and the Holy Ghost. These are required to accomplish our objective.
Eleven years ago, Elder Oaks said the following, and it has new meaning for us today:
But here is a caution for families. Suppose Church leaders reduce the time required by Church meetings and activities in order to increase the time available for families to be together. This will not achieve its intended purpose unless individual family members – especially parents – vigorously act to increase family togetherness and one-on-one time. Team sports and technology toys like video games and the Internet are already winning away the time of our children and youth. Surfing the Internet is not better than serving the Lord or strengthening the family. Some young men and women are skipping Church youth activities or cutting family time in order to participate in soccer leagues or to pursue various entertainments. Some young people are amusing themselves to death—spiritual death.
Some uses of individual and family time are better, and others are best. We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.
We need to commit to making gospel teaching a priority in our homes. The beauty of it is that this effort will be different in each home and family, as Elder Cook emphasized in his latest conference address. Not only do we need the Holy Ghost to testify of truth as we teach, but we need the Holy Ghost to direct our teaching efforts. Parents can and will be blessed with guidance as they seek to know the best ways to implement this program. Heavenly Father wants to help us and has given us the tools. We simply need to try!
Our orders are clear in the battle against the adversary. The Prophet of God on the earth today has called for us to establish a home-centered Church and to fortify our homes and families. Let us choose to let go of anything that keeps us from establishing a home where the gospel is taught and where the Holy Ghost can testify of truth. Let us use this new approach to set our feet firmly on the covenant path that will lead us back to our Father in Heaven.
If you have concerns or feel that inspiration is slow in coming, perhaps you can find help from recent conference addresses. Following are a few examples of conference messages that have addressed the topic of teaching in the home. Read through them and see if anything speaks to you. If so, follow the hyperlink and read the entire article. We have been prepared for this over many years.
“The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know. Children are being born into a world where they ‘wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’ (Ephesians 6:12). However, mothers need not fear. When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.” –Julie B. Beck, “Mothers Who Know,” October 2007
“Do not try to control your children. Instead, listen to them, help them to learn the gospel, inspire them, and lead them toward eternal life. You are God’s agents in the care of children He has entrusted to you. Let His divine influence remain in your hearts as you teach and persuade.” –Russell M. Nelson, “Salvation and Exaltation,” April 2008
“We may be well-advised to consider together, in family council, standards for our homes to keep them sacred and to allow them to be a ‘house of the Lord.’ The admonition to ‘establish… a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God’ provides divine insight into the type of home the Lord would have us build. Doing such begins the construction of a ‘spiritual mansion’ in which we all may reside regardless of our worldly circumstance—a home filled with treasure that ‘neither moth nor rust doth corrupt.’” –Gary E. Stevenson, “Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples,” April 2009
“Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results.” –David A. Bednar, “More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” October 2009
“Teaching in the home is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, where the influence of the adversary is so widespread and he is attacking, attempting to erode and destroy the very foundation of our society, even the family. Parents must resolve that teaching in the home is a most sacred and important responsibility. While other institutions, such as church and school, can assist parents to ‘train up a child in the way he [or she] should go’ (Proverbs 22:6), ultimately this responsibility rests with parents.” –L. Tom Perry, “Mothers Teaching Children in the Home,” April 2010
“Challenges and temptations are coming at our teenagers with the speed and power of a freight train. As we are reminded in the family proclamation, parents are responsible for the protection of their children. That means spiritually as well as physically.” –Larry R. Lawrence, “Courageous Parenting,” October 2010
“We understand and believe in the eternal nature of the family. This understanding and belief should inspire us to do everything in our power to establish a Christ-centered home.” –Richard J. Maynes, “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home,” April 2011
“Teaching our children to understand is more than just imparting information. It’s helping our children get the doctrine into their hearts in a way that it becomes part of their very being and is reflected in their attitudes and behavior throughout their lives.” –Cheryl A. Esplin, “Teaching Our Children to Understand,” April 2012
“As you center your home on the Savior, it will naturally become a refuge not only to your own family but also to friends who live in more difficult circumstances. They will be drawn to the serenity they feel there. Welcome such friends into your home. They will blossom in that Christ-centered environment. Become friends with your children’s friends. Be a worthy example to them. One of the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds.” –Richard G. Scott, “For Peace at Home,” April 2013
“As parents, we are to be the prime gospel teachers and examples for our children—not the bishop, the Sunday School, the Young Women or Young Men, but the parents. As their prime gospel teachers, we can teach them the power and reality of the Atonement—of their identity and divine destiny—and in so doing give them a rock foundation upon which to build. When all is said and done, the home is the ideal forum for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.” –Tad R. Callister, “Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children,” October 2014
“We make the Sabbath a delight when we teach the gospel to our children. Our responsibility as parents is abundantly clear. The Lord said, ‘Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion … that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents’ (D&C 68:25).” –Russell M. Nelson, “The Sabbath is a Delight,” April 2015
“We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.” –Russell M. Nelson, “A Plea to My Sisters,” October 2015
“Certainly, sisters, we need to use sensitivity, but let us also use our common sense and our understanding of the plan of salvation to be bold and straightforward when it comes to teaching our children and youth the essential gospel principles they must understand to navigate the world in which they live. If we don’t teach our children and youth true doctrine—and teach it clearly—the world will teach them Satan’s lies.” –Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Rise Up in Strength, Sisters in Zion,” October 2016
“As you teach, lead, and love children in the Savior’s way, you can receive personal revelation that will aid you in creating and arming valiant, sin-resistant children.” –Joy D. Jones, “A Sin-Resistant Generation,” April 2017
“Importantly, a home should be the ultimate combination of time and space wherein individuals and families remember most effectively God’s great and precious promises. Leaving our homes to spend time in Sunday meetings and to enter the sacred space of a temple is vital but insufficient. Only as we bring the spirit and strength derived from those holy activities back with us into our homes can we sustain our focus upon the great purposes of mortal life and overcome the corruption that is in the world.” –David A. Bednar, “Exceeding Great and Precious Promises,” October 2017
“We call upon parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church. The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility. We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.” –First Presidency Letter, 2/11/99