Did you notice how many talks were given about ministering? It's funny since the announcement about the new way we minister wasn't until the last session but there are multiple references throughout General Conference. What questions do you have about ministering?
Here are the General Conference talks that I found were mainly focused on ministering:
- "Young Women in the Work" by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson
- "Inspired Ministering" by President Henry B. Eyring
- "Ministering with the Power and Authority of God" by President Russell M. Nelson
- "Be With and Strengthen Them" by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
- "Ministering as the Savior" by Sister Jean B. Bingham
I've combined all the questions and thoughts for these talks into one super lesson help. A lot of the questions and ideas can go for either talk so go through and find what's right for your class.
- What can you personally do to help each Young Woman/Man understand their value better?
- What are some ways Young Women/Men might be uniquely qualified for ministering?
- How can we help Young Women/Men feel more welcome and apart of the whole ward?
- How can Young Women/Men help with missionary work, retention, activation, temple and family history work, and teaching?
- In what ways does ministering fulfill the two great commandments?
- How can we change our Pharisee/Sadducee ways and minister in the holier way?
- What does ministering look like to you?
- How does this new way of thinking about ministering allow for more care, not less?
- What does it mean to "bless them in every way you can"?
- How is ministering "pure religion undefiled before God"?
- How does ministering bless our own lives as we minister to others?
- How does ministering bring unity to our wards?
- How can you share the light of the gospel with those you minister to?
- What benefits can you see as your ward becomes more unified?
- What are some ways you can meet the needs of those you minister to?
- How does ministering bless the youth?
- What are your strengths and talents? How can you use them in your ministering?
- How can we strengthen our desire to truly minister to one another, especially when life gets tough and crazy?
- What are some of the benefits from the Elder Quorum and Relief Society working together in this ministering effort?
- How can holders of the Priesthood/Relief Society sisters uniquely minister to others?
- How do you see ministering changing lives including your own?
- How would you like to be ministered to?
- How is ministering a step up from home and visiting teaching?
- What do you hope to see change with this new way of ministering?
- What scripture story is a great example of ministering to you?
- What questions do you have about ministering?
- What obstacles might be in your way to truly minister to others?
- What obstacles do you put up so others can't effectively minister to you?
- How can you increase your love for others, especially those you don't know or don't automatically get along with?
- What can you do to create unity between you and those you minister to?
- What does it mean to minister?
- How can you involve your family in ministering?
- What questions do you have about the ministering interviews?
- How can you supplement your monthly visits so it makes a difference in the lives of those you minister?
- What do you think the biggest challenge will be in ministering to others?
From the Church for Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson's talk, "Questions are one way to invite pondering. Consider writing on the board a few questions that Sister Oscarson’s message answers, such as How can we involve young women in the Lord’s work? Invite members to search her message for answers to these questions and discuss what they learn. What blessings come when young women are involved in ministering? Perhaps class members could share experiences they have had ministering alongside young women. Based on our discussion, what do we feel inspired to do?"
The Church recommends for President Henry B. Eyring's talk, "President Eyring tells of two sacrament meeting talks about ministering that impressed him. Perhaps you could ask half of the quorum or Relief Society members to review the words of the 14-year-old boy and the other half to review the story about the home teacher. As they read, members could think of advice they might give a young man or young woman who is newly assigned to minister to someone. How can we 'become even more inspired and charitable in our … ministering service'?"
For President Russell M. Nelson's talk, the Church suggests, "President Nelson invites priesthood holders to “rise up” and use the priesthood to bless Heavenly Father’s children. Invite members of your quorum or Relief Society to search the examples he gives and discuss how they help us understand how the priesthood can be used to bless their families and others. What experiences can we share when we have been blessed by priesthood power? How can we help others or ourselves have the faith to use the priesthood of God to 'minister in His name'?"
The Church suggests for Elder Holland's talk, "As members of your quorum or Relief Society learned about changes to the 'priesthood and Relief Society ministering concept,' what questions did they have? Elder Holland’s message may provide answers. Members could look for gospel principles that Elder Holland teaches are the foundation of these changes. What invitations do we find in his message? What blessings are promised? How can these new ways of ministering help us become 'true disciples of Christ'?"
For Sister Bingham's talk, the Church recommends, "In her message, Sister Bingham invites us to ask ourselves questions that can guide our ministering efforts. Members could discuss how these questions could guide their efforts and then look for answers to Sister Bingham’s question, 'So what does [ministering] look like?' You might spend time reviewing some of the examples Sister Bingham shares of individuals ministering and invite members to share examples of their own. What do we find in Sister Bingham’s message that increases our understanding of why and how we minister?"
These are my ideas. My hope is that reading my thoughts will be a springboard to finding the right plans for your class. Remember you are leading a discussion, not teaching a lesson so you may only need one of these ideas.
- There are several great ministering videos that you can include throughout your discussion. Discuss with your 4th Sunday teacher which to use so you aren't taking each other's materials.
- Ministering in the Aaronic Priesthood (about 2 1/2 minutes)
- A Vision of Ministering (about 4 1/2 minutes)
- Effective Ministering (about 15 minutes)
- Why We Minister (about 3 minutes)
- Simple, Individualized, and Led by the Spirit (about 2 1/2 minutes)
- Overview of Ministering Interviews(about 4 minutes)
- One Coordinated Effort (about 3 minutes)
- Invitation to Act (about 3 1/2 minutes)
- Unity of the Faith (about 3 1/2 minutes)- Bible Video
- Discuss why your class thinks these changes have been made right now. Why an increased focused on ministering at this precise time? What will this do for us? Use this as an opportunity to discuss why the Church is putting so much emphasis on true ministering right now. We will be learning about ministering for the next six months- there is obviously a reason for it even if we can't see it right away.
- Invite the youth into your lesson and let everyone get to know each other better. If we are to minister together, we need to be able to be comfortable with each other and really know one another.
- Go over what a ministering interview will look like. Ask your Relief Society or Elder Quorum's President to do a little role play with you and demonstrate how it's done and why it's important. Then discuss what people noticed, how it makes them feel, and why they feel we have moved from strips of paper to interviews when given assignments.
- Keep in mind that there will be many different levels of understanding and abilities when it comes to ministering. Even if you feel like you completely understand the true meaning of ministering, there are others that don't. There is always something that we can all learn.
- Compare ministering to how we now do Sunday lessons- with councils and open discussions. It allows us to be more in the moment as well as really personalize things and be in tune with the Holy Ghost. What other comparisons can you draw?
- Considering combining one of these talks with one of the ministering lessons for 4th Sunday as there are two extras topics. Ask your president which ones won't be taught and go at ministering from that angle as well. See my 4th Sunday helps.
- Use my handout to better understand the multitude of ways ministering can be accomplished- look for examples in the General Conference talks, write down how you would like to be ministered to, as well as how you think others might receive it. This can be done in groups, as pondering time, or as a whole. It can be very enlightening to hear how others are looking to be ministered to.
- Go over some basic case studies to really drive the point home of what ministering would look like versus a checklist visiting and home teaching style assignment. For example, "You visit a person whose house is generally put together, comes to Church every week, knows the 'correct' answers, etc." On the surface this person would look like they only need a brief check-in every quarter, however, there is always more to the story. While in the past you may have delivered a brief message and went on your way, what might you do now? How does ministering help us see some more of the story? What can we do to avoid easy assumptions?
- Ask a few people ahead of time to help you get a conversation going about different examples they have of ministering and their testimony of it.
- One of the key components of ministering is doing it with pure love. Discuss how charity and ministering are related. You can do this by writing the two words on the board and briefly brainstorming words to go under each one. Then draw a line from charity to ministering to demonstrate how ministering is a way we put charity into action (This idea came from a sister in our Private Group- be sure to join for more ideas!).
- Give everyone a few minutes to glance through the part of Sister Bingham's talk that discusses what ministering looks like. What part stuck out to them? If someone were to minister to you today, what would that look like? What did you notice about those examples?
- It's time to think outside the box. Draw a square on the board with a common event or problem that may occur in your ward. For example, someone having a baby or going through surgery. If we are thinking of typical ways to help, what would that be? Write these answers inside the box (bring meals, send a card, etc). After a few, ask your class to stop and rethink about the problem. If this was you, what did you REALLY need, not simply what was nice. What would have really helped you? Write these uncommon ways to "solve" a problem outside the box. This is the type of thinking we now need!
- Review some of the Frequently Asked Questions with your class. You can make a poll on Facebook beforehand with the questions for people to vote on which questions they have so you know which ones to focus on.
- Ministering is being a real friend. Talk about ways we make friends (See my 6 Keys to Having More Friends to ideas), keep friends, and be a friend. Then share how that is ministering plain and simple.
- One thing that will hopefully go away with ministering is the lack of reaching out. An easy assumption is to think that someone else will take care of it but what happens is no one does anything. Ministering allows us to serve all those around us and to listen the Holy Ghost more, not the checklist or assumptions.