Chapter 12: Come Back and Feast at the Table of the Lord

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The heartache and joy that accompanies Howard W. Hunter Chapter 12: Come Back and Feast at the Table of the Lord is tremendous. When loved ones leave, it is heart breaking but if they return, the joy is overwhelming. With that in mind, please remember to be sensitive to those in your class. 


Click image to download

If it wasn't for the callings my mother received when I was younger we would have never gone to church. With her callings, we at least went once in awhile or for part of the 3 hour block. If it wasn't for a few key teachers that extended real genuine love towards me as a youth, I would not have understood the value of going to all of church regularly. Don't underestimate a kind smile in the hallway or a warm shake. However, also be aware of the opposite. I know a few individual who want to come to church but hate the big fuss made when they do. They try to slip in unnoticed because that's all they are ready for right now. Pay attention to the promptings of the Spirit. A warm smile may be perfect for one person but a full hug may be just what another individual needs.

Teaching Ideas

  • Use my 4 square images to prepare your class before you teach. Send them in an email, post on Facebook throughout the week. Get your class thinking about a few points of the lesson before Sunday (let me know if you like these). When you click the image above, you download a file that contains all the images. You can absolutely print them out too. The easiest way is insert them into a word doc then print.
  • The 4x6 image I made is Luke 15:4-5. There is so much to learn from these few short verses I had to make a handout focused on it. Put it on your mirror as you ponder this lesson, hand them out to your class as a reminder, or dissect the scripture during class. You can order prints to pick up the same day at Target.
  • Home and Visiting Teaching can certainly go right along with this lesson. I personally feel, however, that it is only a small portion of this lesson. If someone is going to be welcomed with open arms, they need to know more than 2 people. 
  • This is one of those lessons that are made significantly more powerful with personal experiences. Do you know someone that has come back to church through the efforts of others reaching out? See if they are willing to share their story. I love the story of Elder Richard G. Scott's grandma role in his membership in the church. You can read about it in his talk, "I Have Given You an Example." 
  • The visual of feasting at the table of the Lord would make a great display or object lesson. Fill a table with delicious food (or pictures of food). You can even label them with some of the blessings the gospel brings. Then have a table in the corner of the room with nothing on it but an empty plate, silverware, and a chair. How can we not reach out and share our food with others? They are starving! And what's worse they know there is so much more to eat at the other table but can't figure out how to get back to the right table. 
  • You could do a similar object lesson with real food at one table and fake food at the other. Satan has counterfeits that will leave you empty and still searching for something else. You could also have people sit at the table at different lengths- someone right at the feasting table, someone else at arm's length- can still eat a little, and someone just out of reach. It's important to check our own sitting arrangement regularly as well.
  • What's the difference between someone reaching out in love and someone reaching out in order to check it off their list? Give a few examples of how our behavior and even words change- you can even ask a few to role play for you ahead of time then discuss it during class. 
  • Focus on covenants. What makes covenants powerful? Why does focusing on the relationship with the Savior have a greater impact than asking people to come to church every week? What happens to the focus?
  • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk in April 2016 General Conference goes so well with this lesson (see the talk link in the guide below). While your focus should still be on President Hunter's words you may get some good ideas on how to organize your lesson from this talk. 
  • There is a section in the new teaching manual, Teaching in the Savior's Way about your role as a teacher to reach out to those that don't attend class but should. Read it and see how you can put it into action next time you teach. 
  • Check in our private Facebook group for more great insights. This chapter's video is only available there- sorry didn't realize I couldn't download it from the group. 

Questions to Ponder

  • What can you learn from the parable of the lost sheep? 
  • In what ways are you a lost sheep?
  • How does the parable of the lost sheep direct the way you serve in the Church?
  • As the Lord's undershepherd, what is your responsibility?
  • How can you help others return to Church activity?
  • How have you been blessed through someone reaching out to you when you were struggling or lost?
  • How can you reach out to others without making them feel like a project? 
  • What can you learn from President Hunter's experiences in section 3?
  • How can an emphasis on covenants help Church members return to activity?
  • How do your covenants help you remain active?

Suggested Study Guide


If you can, read this chapter at least twice. Each time you'll notice something new especially after you've studied these other articles. Howard W. Hunter Chapter 12: Come Back and Feast at the Table of the Lord


Use some of these verses as you teach- combining the words of the prophets and the scriptures helps reinforce these eternal principles.

Ezekiel 34:1-16

Luke 15:11-32

John 10:1-16, 26-28

1 John 1:7

Mosiah 18:8-10

Helaman 6:3

3 Nephi 18:32

Moroni 6:4-6

D&C 38:24

Watch: Reach Out With Love (about 8 1/2 minutes)


President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, "He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home" is a very powerful talk (this was given April 2016). One of the favorite lines is, "The sheep is worthy of divine rescue simply because it is loved by the Good Shepherd."


Also in the April 2016 General Conference, Elder Mervyn B. Arnold gave the talk "To the Rescue: We Can Do It." In his talk he reference a boat rescue with 4 principles we need to follow as we seek to bring others back. 


In April 2015 General Conference, Elder Brent H. Nielson shared a story about his sister's struggles with the Church in his talk, "Waiting for the Prodigal." In his talk he also reminds us that we are each a prodigal son or daughter.


Sister Rosemary M. Wixom in the April 2105 General Conference relates a struggle of a sister's beliefs in the talk, "Returning to Faith." She talks about how she became inactive despite a great support system and how she returned.


In President James E. Faust's April 2003 General Conference talk, "Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered" he speaks to the parents of those that have left the Church. "The Good Shepherd is watching over them."

Music Suggestions

Play a musical number, listen to these hymns as you study throughout the week, add some music to a slideshow, or recommend the hymns the week you are teaching. 

"Because I Have Been Given Much"- Hymn #219 (not available online due to copyright)

"Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy"- Hymn #335 (Men's Choir

"Come Along, Come Along"- Hymn #244

"Come unto Jesus"- Hymn #117 or listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

"Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd"- Hymn #221

"I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go"- Hymn #270

"Lord, I Would Follow Thee"- Hymn #220 or listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir