Welcome to another session of General Conference! We’re starting with Elder Quentin L. Cook’s talk, “Deep and Lasting Conversion to the Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”as that talk definitely opened up all sorts of fun new adjustments for us all! When you read through this talk, remember to check the footnotes as well. There may be some things in there that strikes up an important discussion topic for your class. I also recommend including President Russell M. Nelson’s “Opening Remarks” as it’s the introduction to Elder Cook’s talk. Who is ready for 2019?!
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recommends the following for leading this discussion:
“Members might be interested to hear from each other what their first reactions were when they heard about the changes described in Elder Cook’s message. If a friend of another faith were to ask them why the Church is making these adjustments, what would they say? Encourage them to look for possible answers in Elder Cook’s message. What can we do as individuals and families, and as a quorum or Relief Society, to ensure that the changes accomplish what the Lord intends? As part of this discussion, you could also share insights from President Nelson’s opening remarks that inspire members to ‘enthusiastically embrace’ these changes.”
Questions to Ponder
Why is it important to you to have a home centered and church supported gospel study?
How do you think this new plan will bless your life?
What are you most excited about with all the adjustments coming in 2019? What are you nervous about? What was your initial reaction? Has it changed?
How have you seen the Lord preparing us for these adjustments?
How can we teach our children to focus on the Savior more during Sacrament and help them feel the Spirit? (even if our children are out of the home or “our children” encompass those in other families")
What else can we do to strengthen our faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?
In what ways do you think this new harmonized curriculum will strengthen and bless your family? What are you excited about!?
How do you honor the Sabbath now and how do you feel the change will help you honor it better in the future?
How can we include our children and others in temple and family history work so they can participate in helping those beyond the veil receive the gospel?
In what ways are we now required to perhaps “step up our game” in response to these adjustments? What things might you need help with?
How can we make our homes a source of spiritual strength and increased faith?
What can we do to better feel the influence of the Holy Ghost as we go through these adjustments?
In what ways might these adjustments allow the gospel to be brought to all of God’s children in its simple purity?
How can we adjust our thinking of “church” as something that happens on Sunday to something that happens all the time?
What positive changes have you seen within your home or hope to see as a result of these adjustments?
In what ways do these adjustments help us prepare for the Second Coming?
What questions do you have about the 2019 adjustments?
How can we reach out and help each other through these adjustments, especially those that struggle with in home study?
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.
During the week before you teach, try doing a fun social media or email activity. Send out my fun graphic (pictured above) and get people to respond with emojis, gifs, or real word reactions to the changes at church. On Sunday, you can review some of the reactions or do a percentage of how many people are excited versus sad, etc.
Write the purposes and blessings Elder Cook mentioned for these adjustments (the second set of bullet points in the first section of his talk). Then discuss how these changes might help us do these things as well as how we can start on them now. You may want to divide into groups for this, assigning each group one bullet point. Some questions you might want to include in your discussion: What does a deepened conversion mean to you? What can we do now to deepen our conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? Why is it important to deepen our individual conversion in this increasingly fallen world? Why is it important to strengthen our faith right now? What else can we do now to strengthen our faith?
The Lord teaches us line upon line. He has been guiding us to address related core concerns throughout the last few years such as honoring the Sabbath day, ministering, and temple and family history work. What other ways have you seen the Lord preparing us for these changes? Invite three individuals at different stages in their lives to share how these core concerns have helped them prepare for these changes.
Continuing with the line upon line theme, gather some blocks and stack them as your class lists ways the Lord has helped us be ready for these changes. Stack them so they will end up looking like stairs but have it so the bottom of the stairs faces you and the top part, faces the main part of the class (you are trying to conceal what it really looks like). Then turn your creation or the table you built it upon so everyone can see the stairs. There is a reason the Lord teaches us a little at a time. You may want to discuss why we might not have been ready after the first step but now we are. You might also want to include things that we have bee inspired to do as a result of General Conference and how that will continue to help us be ready for the changes.
Display an image of Christ and a sacrament tray. One of the things we need to focus more on is the sacrament ordinance on Sundays. This is a time to remember Jesus Christ and renew our baptismal covenant. One of the goals for these changes is to help do that. What can we do now to focus more on the Savior and ordinances of the sacrament? How do you see these changes helping us increase our focus on the Savior and his atonement for us? How can we help the children and the youth recognize the sacredness of the sacrament?
Does your ward already have a weekly email or use social media for announcements? Be sure your class is aware of these methods (there will be some that don’t know!) and how to use them. With permission from your President, discuss how these communications might be of the most benefit to your class (keep it an uplifting, helpful conversation such as, “I’d love to see when everyone’s birthday is” or “A lot of different colors make it hard for me to read.” Also take time to encourage people to open, read, and act upon the communications received. What are some things we can do to make sure we don’t just scroll past the message? For me, if it’s an important email that I don’t have time for or I need to remember to take action on something that I can’t right when I read it, I’ll use my email providers snooze feature and set it for a time when I can give it the proper attention. If it’s Facebook, I use the save feature and make it a habit to check out my saves once a week. You may need to show people how they can do that (click on the dots in the upper right corner of every post then click “save for later.” Access your saves in the left sidebar on desktop or the menu button on mobile). Discuss how your ward is preparing to cut back on announcements during church now. You may also want to discuss where the ward bulletins can be found on Sundays if people were unable to get one when they came in.
Ask your class in an email or on social media to read through Elder Cook’s and Elder Nelson’s opening remarks and highlight all the promises and blessings given to us as we embrace these adjustments. You may need to remind people the night before to bring their highlighted copy to church on Sunday. Then ask people to share the promises that really stood out to them and how they see it fulfill the four purposes mentioned earlier.
Elder Cook mentions that the new adjustments announced will help all of Heavenly Father’s children on both sides of the veil through missionary work. Ask a few people to share current missionary experiences or ask the missionaries if they would like to share a conversion story. What challenges do we face when being missionaries in our everyday lives? What are some examples of missionary work you can do in your everyday life? What can you do to talk more of Christ in your daily lives? What upcoming activity might be great to invite your friends and neighbors to? You may want to review Melanie’s suggestions on how to be a missionary without ever leaving your comfort zone as well. She even included a great handout.
At the beginning of the discussion, hand out my Goal Dump sheet. Encourage people to write down any goals or ideas they like or feel prompted to implement in the top section of the sheet throughout your discussion. Then at the end, encourage your class to go home and set those goals as needed. In an email during the week or when you teach next, be sure to follow up and let people share their experiences.
Display scriptures, scripture makers, and if you have one, the new Come, Follow Me- for Individuals and Families manual on a table. Elder Cook shared a story of a family that piloted the new curriculum and shortened Sunday schedule. President Nelson mentioned in his opening remarks a sister that enjoyed using their home as the church. Have two people come and read their quotes in front or your display. Then discuss how Elder Cook says the new curriculum needs to influence more powerfully family religious observance and personal religious observance. What does family religious observance mean to you? What does personal religious observance mean to you? What experiences do you have where the Holy Ghost was felt during personal scripture study and prayer?
You may want to end with a quick Q&A about how the new schedule will work next year as far as you know now. You can ask the Relief Society or Elder Quorum President to lead the Q&A. They might not have all the answers yet but sometimes knowing things are being discussed and more answers will be coming is helpful! You may also want to have the Primary and Sunday School President come in to answer any questions regarding those classes. For example, one question that has been asked a lot in Facebook groups is whether or not there will still be a Primary Program presentation. The answer is Yes! You can even highlight one of the Come, Follow Me- for Individuals and Families lessons and address concerns.
Elder Cook stated, “We know that when we have better teaching and more spiritually prepared class members, we have a better Sunday Church experience.” What does this quote mean to you? How do you prepare now for Sundays? What do you personally want to do better to prepare for Sunday classes? How can your preparation enhance the Sunday Church experience for another? Have you been blessed by another person’s comments during class? What are some things that keep you from sharing your comments? What can we do to support others and encourage them to share their experiences during class time?
One last point you might want to address is that we may stumble and fail sometimes as we make these adjustments. There may be weeks when we fall terribly short of what we need to do. However, this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a gospel all about second chances and third and fourth and fifth. Keep trying! Share with each other what works and what doesn’t! Ask for help! If you someone that feels they will need help as well, come join my Come, Follow Me- For Individuals and Families group.