“The poorest shack in which love prevails over a united family is of far greater value to God and future humanity than any other riches. In such a home God can work miracles, and will work miracles. Pure hearts in a pure home are always in whispering distance of Heaven.”
David O. McKay Church News, Sept.7, 1968
See side bar for additional labels, or if the above labels do not take you to the post.
For an idea to organize and teach GOSPEL TOPICS in your home, go to GOSPEL STUDY in the side bar.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Gospel Study Ideas for Families

Gospel Study

Here is an overview of a gospel study method (system) for teaching children in the home.  For the basic structure, see the youth and primary programs for the LDS Church.

See current Primary sharing time themes for the year for your monthly themes.
  They are available here .
The youth curriculum is now organized in monthly themes!  You can co-ordinate your monthly gospel study topics with theirs found here or here .

“…we should build a consistent, planned program of introducing the principles of the gospel [to our children]…Of course there are other organizations that can help, but we should want to be certain that we know what they are learning, and that we take the time and have the patience to determine carefully and in a planned, organized way, that they are growing up with a sure foundation on which to build their lives.”                
                                                                                                        Elder L. Tom Perry Ensign Nov. l988



“Do not be discouraged because you cannot learn all at once; learn one thing at a time, learn it well, and treasure it up, then learn another truth and treasure that up, and in a few years you will have a great store of useful knowledge which will not only be a great blessing to yourselves and your children, but to your fellow men.”        
                                               G. Homer Durham, Discourses of Wilfred Woodruff, Bookcraft, l969)

1.      Plan to focus on a gospel principle each monthDiscuss and pray what and how to teach, what resources are available, and what you want to have happen each month. 
         Select a theme ( Jan. ORDER  Feb. LOVE  June COVENANTS Nov. GRATITUDE) and focus (specific gospel principle: ORDER home organization  LOVE in the family  COVENANTS of baptism GRATITUDE for our bodies) for each month of this year. What do you want your family to know and feel? (2 Nephi 25:26) Consider General Conference talks (as Pres. Hinckley asked), YM, YW and Primary themes, the Seminary standard work for the year, and family and cultural events. 
2.       Prepare: Post the theme and focus for the month, along with a supporting scripture,   
      hymn, and quote from the Prophet or an Apostle (On the fridge? A table easel?). One  
      idea is to memorize the scripture by repeating it before meals, and to learn the hymn by
      singing it together (accompaniment CD’s are available from church distribution or can be
      accessed on line). See the preface of the hymnbook for motivation and inspiration.Click here to read from the preface.   The children’s Songbook can also be used. You could also make a scripture glue-in with the
      quote on the front and personal notes on the back. Click here for information on scripture glue-ins.
·         Weave the month’s focus into your plans for Monday night family home  
   evenings, Sunday instruction with your family, daily scripture study, and
   activities.  Most church resources have a topical index, and now many (including the  
   scriptures, church  magazines, manuals, hymns and primary songs, Preach My 
   Gospel, and selections from the Family Home Evening Resource Book and the Gospel
   Art Picture Kit) are available on line at lds.org.    
·         Organize and schedule a “wrap-up” wholesome recreational activity for the end of the month to make a fun, family memory, pull together the theme and focus, bear testimony of its truthfulness, and create a setting where the spirit can be felt. See "The Nephi Experience" on this post and other ideas written at the end of this post.  Click here to view the "Plan of Salvation" activity.

3.     Proceed with your plans. Enjoy learning the principles of the gospel as a family!
 Be persistent, yet flexible with your plan. You may not teach and do all you hope to each day, but your efforts add up to weeks, months, and years of diligence! (Mosiah 4:27)
·         Seize teaching moments to testify of the truthfulness of the month’s principle––meal time, travel time, bed time, prayer time, family home evening, scripture study, parent-child interviews, family council, family activities, etc. In the Book of Mormon, Enos relates that the words that he had often heard his father speak concerning eternal life and the joy of the saints were what brought him to his knees to pray and repent.

“And these words… shall be in thy heart; And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when  thou  sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down and when thou risest up.”   
 Deut. 6:6-7                                                                    

Theme and Focus Ideas
Some Related Areas and Principles
           *focus on one each month
Home organization/church organization
family organization/the creation/plan of salvation/goals
Love in the family/loving our neighbors/morality/
chastity/brotherhood/dating/courtship/marriage/loving ourselves/YW theme and values/covenants
Family unity/teamwork/wholesome family recreation/.
Christ-like communication/world-wide brotherhood/Zion

Victory over self/the Sacrament/prayer/faith
scripture study/testimony/repentance/baptism/honesty/
integrity/the Sabbath day/the Holy Ghost

The arts/journals/testimony/spiritual treasures/
the armor of God/our talents/sharing our talents/
gifts of the spirit/education
Plan of salvation/the temple/choosing the right/
being happy/internalizing the gospel/
the joy of work/covenants/eternal marriage/relationships
Family heritage/pioneer heritage/family history and temple work/family reunions/freedom/
family traditions/wholesome family recreation 
Light of example/gaining knowledge
light and truth/happiness/prayer/faith/education/
missionary work/the light of Christ
Being the Lord’s instrument/patriarchal blessings/priesthood blessings/the Book of Mormon/
plan of salvation/families are forever/YW personal progress/obedience/covenants/purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood
Missionary work/gardens/work/follow the Prophet
family preparedness/the plan of salvation/repentance
Gratitude attitude/memories/records/repentance/
the life of Christ/the Atonement/thanksgiving/prayer/
true religion
Charitable service/follow the Savior/Christmas/
brotherly love/the pure love of Christ/gifts and giving/
family traditions

End-of-the-month idea for the topic of "Obedience"- have an activity entitled "The Nephi Experience."  See 1 Nephi 2 - 5 
(more ideas for activities to "wrap-up" a month are written after these pics)

Lehi explaining that the family would be going into the wilderness.

The wilderness (notice the sign)


drawing straws...
Getting the brass plates...
The "Liahona"...definitely of curious workmanship!

Following the "Liahona" in your hearts brings you to even better food...spiritual food!

                                                                                        We did it!

pictures from the "Nephi Experience", an end-of-the-month activity for the topic of "Obedience."

Please do not copy slides.

Topical Gospel Study Experiences
The gospel can be studied and put into practice by individuals and families in a variety of ways.  Here are some ideas for implementing topical theme study in your home:
  • Simple scripture reading and discussion
  • Older children teach the younger ones
  • Share responsibility for different weeks (Mom, Dad, children, grandparents, etc.)
  • Have a scheduled week for aspects of teachings -- first week introduction, second week scripture stories and background, third week ancestor and prophet's lives, last week activity and service.
    We have had a great experience for many years, sharing the monthly study of a gospel principle with extended family and friends. It has added enthusiasm, momentum, and fun.  Each family plans a couple of months during the year and these are "their" months. They plan the theme, gospel principle for the focus, give lesson suggestions and activity ideas to put the principle into practice. There is no need to do large charts, lamination, or visual aids for everyone in the group. We all do our own family home evenings and teaching in the home, but we usually share an activity together at the end of each month. This activity is a way to put into practice what we have been studying all month, and has the added benefits of getting together to reinforce what we've learned, strengthen friendships, and share in the creativity of other families. Also, we only have to plan a few activities during the year as individual families -- we just "show up" and participate when another family has planned the activity! 
    One month our friends, Gene and Lucy Peterson and family, helped us learn about missionary work. Our scripture for the month was Doctrine and Covenants 4:2, and our hymn was "Called to Serve." We all received mission calls and passports in the mail, and all shared the same arrival date in the special "MTC" (Grandma and Grandpa Peterson's home). What a fun evening! We were trained by our MTC President (Gene), given rules, flew to our missions (lining up on the sides of the hall as we were fed peanuts and Sprite by our flight attendants), met our mission presidents (some of the dads of the families) who briefly trained us in teaching the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and how to pray, then we went "tracting" to all of the outside doors of the house. My ten-year-old daughter was my companion. We finally got inside one door (only suspecting that the dear sister behind the door was already a member of the church), and Angie had the opportunity to teach about the Book of Mormon and share her sweet testimony. She said, "Our family just finished reading the Book of Mormon. I went to my room and prayed and I know for myself that it is true." This "pretend" experience became very "real." We all met in the family room of the Peterson's home for a brief "homecoming" where some of the "missionaries" shared their experiences in proselyting. As we left, the Peterson family challenged us to give away our six copies of the Book of Mormon during the next few months. Shortly after this activity, we were traveling in 
California as a family. Angeli, my little companion, ran up to me after a meeting to ask me for two copies of the Book of Mormon for two new found friends. About a year later when I was in California for a "Know Your Religion" talk, I noticed a young girl waiting to talk with me after my lecture. She was holding a copy of the Book of Mormon which she informed me had been given to her by my daughter Angeli. She had read it, gained a testimony of it, and was waiting for permission from her parents to join the church. She asked me to thank Angeli for her, and I could hardly wait to do so! 
    Who knows whether or not Angeli would have had the courage to place two copies of the Book of Mormon in 
California, or to give a copy to a non-member teacher at her junior high, had she not had a "trial run" at the Peterson's home. Many months have given our family such enriching experiences, and these "end of the month activities" are some of our favorite memories. One month when we were focusing on service, we divided into groups to do a "service scavenger hunt" where we "checked off" services on a list as we went to homes in our neighborhood to help out. One month our focus was on the pioneers, and we hiked part of the Mormon trail and shared stories about our pioneer ancestors around a campfire. We have staged a "mock disaster" to help us learn preparedness, worked together to do "sub-for-Santa" projects, held devotionals early on Easter morning, had talent shows, gone on road rallies to focus on choosing the right, done secret service, and held graduation services for a month of attending the "University of Unity." 
    One month we taught the hymn to our younger children using hand actions. "Our" hymn was to be sung for the closing hymn in Sacrament Meeting. Both parents were on the stand, and our children were on the second bench. As the hymn began, we looked down, to see our little children standing on the benches doing the hand actions to the hymn! The older children were trying to pull them down and stuff them under the bench! At least they were singing! The preface in our church hymn book states: "Music has boundless powers for moving families toward greater spirituality and devotion to the gospel. Latter-day Saints should fill their homes with the sound of worthy music. Ours is a hymn book for the home as well as for the meetinghouse. We hope the hymn book will take a prominent place among the scriptures and other religious books in our homes. The hymns can bring families a spirit of beauty and peace and can inspire love and unity among family members. Teach your children to love the hymns. Sing them on the Sabbath, in home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time. Sing as you work, as you play, and as you travel together. Sing hymns as lullabies to build faith and testimony in your young ones." President Packer teaches, "Choose from the sacred music of the church one favorite hymn . . . one with lyrics that are uplifting and the music reverent. Select one that, when it is properly rendered, makes you feel something akin to inspiration. Now, go over it in your mind thoughtfully a few times. Memorize the words and the music. Even though you have had no musical training, even though you do not play an instrument, and even though your voice may leave something to be desired, you can think through a hymn. I suspect you already have a favorite . . . You can only think of one thing at a time. Use this hymn as your emergency channel. Use this as the place for your thoughts to go. Anytime you find that . . . shady actors have slipped in from the sideline of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, think through this hymn . . . Then you will begin to know something about controlling your thoughts. This sacred music will change the whole mood on the stage of your mind. Because it is clean and uplifting and reverent, the baser thoughts will leave." (That All May be Edified Bookcraft, 1982 Pg. 38-39). Teaching our families a hymn each month allows them to use the hymns to their benefit and to learn to love them. 

Benefits of topical gospel study and related experiences:

    Knowing a scripture, hymn and a quote about a gospel principle makes teaching it to others an easy accomplishment. Preparing a 2 1/2 minute talk is simple! The church magazines have topical indexes in the December issues to help with quotes. Also the church website, http://www.lds.org contains topical indexes for related articles. 
    A love for gospel study is "caught" by family members as they focus on learning the gospel principle by principle. One family faced a challenge when wildfires flamed near their home in Alaska. The neighborhood was evacuated, and as the family was instructed to leave their home, the children grabbed the monthly topical resource materials they were using, a framed copy of their family motto, and ran for the car. They didn't go back for their toys, or even clothes, they went back for the things they'd learned to love. In the car, they were comforted by singing their family hymn. 
    We have found that placing a scripture on the fridge, and repeating it before meals, helps us to memorize it. Singing the hymns before family prayers helps to bring the Lord's spirit into our home. Early morning devotionals have been one way to learn the hymn a line at a time and help us put on the armor of God each morning. During General Conference, our younger children are often surprised when "our" scriptures are quoted, and our hymns are sung. We try to place quotes and reminders around our home to encourage us about what we are focusing on each month. Having a theme opens the door to bearing witness of related gospel truths as experiences are created for you and your family to feel the spirit and learn together.

A checklist for teaching the principle for the month might include:
1.    Did we teach as Bruce R. McConkie admonished?

  • "Teach the principles of the gospel
  • Teach from the standard works
  • Apply the principles taught to the needs and circumstances of the hearers
  • Testify that what we teach is true"

    Also, did we teach of the Savior and of his prophets and increase our desire to follow them? 
2.    Did we have some fun learning the principle? (If not, don't end the chapter yet!) 
3.    Did we make some kind of record of what we studied, what fun we had, and what we learned?  
4.    Do we feel that even though we might not have done everything we planned, and even though we would have liked to have been better organized, etc., that the Lord does know the desires of our hearts as parents, and He will fill in the gaps? Elder Ballard said, "We must recognize our limitations. No one can do everything. When you have done the best you can, be satisfied and don't look back and wonder how you could have done more. Be at peace with yourself for what you didn't do. Congratulate yourself for what you did!" (Ensign, May 1987).

To read an essay on what "doing your best" really means (or a way to think about how it can relate to you), click here

Click on these Resources for more ideas and info:

                                           Sharing Time Outline 2011
IN summary, here is a list of some benefits of topical theme study:

  • The "Jacob approach- a holistic approach spoken of by Jacob's son Enos in the Book of Mormon. Enos relates that it was "the words that I have often heard my father speak concerning eternal life and the joy of the Saints" (Enos 1:3) that brought him to his knees to pray when he was in the forest hunting. You are constantly teaching gospel principles- the gospel is 'in the air' as it is studied, sung about, taught through the scriptures and in family home evening, and as family activities are centered around the theme. "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto they children, and shalt talk of them when thou liest down and when thou risest up" (Deut. 6:7).
  • Divide and Conquer the gospel menu (How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!) "Do not be discouraged because you cannot learn all at once. Learn one thing at a time. Learn it well and treasure that up. Then learn another truth and treasure that up, and in a few years you will have a store of useful knowledge which will not only be a great blessing to yourselves and your children, but to your fellow men" (Wilford Woodruff). King Benjamin tells us not to run faster than we have strength (see Mosiah 4:27).
  • Internalization of gospel principles through focusing on a gospel theme each month and planning activities that will allow family members to put the related principles into practice can help move those truths from the 'have to' column to the 'love to' column. Learning by 'doing' is what gets the gospel into our hearts. Our obedience is increased. "Programs blindly followed bring us to a discipline of doing good, but principles properly understood and practiced bring us to a disposition to do good" (Elder Glen L. Pace, Ensign May 1986, p. 24).
  • Planning ahead allows families to ask, "What do we want to have happen?" and helps us anticipate fun activities that will help internalize gospel principles all year. The energy and enthusiasm generated by having a plan is contagious. Teaching ideas will come to you as you prayerfully look for ways to teach principles and make memories.
  • Opens the door to opportunities for parents to bear testimony of gospel principles that are being taught, and for the spirit to bear witness to your children that what you are teaching is true. "Parents should bear their testimonies often to their children in their home- actually express to your children exactly what it is about the Church you know to be true. If we think our children know these things just because they live in the same house with us we are mistaken. We need to say the words so our families can feel the same spirit of testimony that we have felt. Family Home Evening is an ideal time for that to take place" (Loren C. Dunn, Ensign Jan. 1973).
  • Love and gratitude increase for the prophets, scriptures, hymns, church resources, and for gospel principles, your family, others, and the Savior as you carry out this plan to focus on them through study and activities.
  • Ideas for Extending and Enriching Topical Theme Study
    • For families with young children, the primary has a general theme for the year, with stories, activities, and references printed in the Friend each month found here. These can be incorporated into theme study as a means to reinforce at home what they are learning in Primary. One idea is to select a prophet or a specific prophet's teachings to tie in to your monthly study for the year, (see the Friend for the year 2001). Achievement Days Activities, Scouts, and Gospel in Action goals can provide a topic for the month or can be incorporated into the above topics.
    • For families with teenagers, the New Era, the young Woman values and personal progress activities, the Duty to god program, Scouts, Pres. Hinckley's B's (see New Era January 2001 issue) and the Strength of Youth Pamphlet, scripture mastery, and other areas of church topical areas can all be used for topical study.
    • Families can also use the The Family: A Proclamation to the World, missionary discussions, Pres. Hinckley's ten virtues (Standing for Something. Times Books, USA, 2000), and the the Articles of Faith as a basis for yearly study (with a focus or specific topic for each month).
    • To focus on those who have exemplified living the gospel principle you are studying for the month, have them to "dinner." While you are gathered for a meal, tell about someone from the past, or someone from the present (perhaps even someone who is sitting at the table with you). A place could even be set for this mystery person. Tie your stories in with the topic or theme.
    • Use poetry to extend your theme study by memorizing a related poem for the month. You could keep these in a binder for reference.
    • Studying monthly themes with family or friends can provide added support and excitement.

For a short (but growing) list of stories,scriptures, and quotes used in some of Scott and Angelle's lectures, go here.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...