It's a new year with new ways of teaching. Before you lead your first LDS General Conference discussion, keep these four things in mind.
Doubt Not, Fear Not
Change is good! My seminary teacher used to say this to us all the time as she taught about the Fall. I always think of her biting into a juicy red apple as she says it. Without change, we wouldn't be here. The fact that we are being given the opportunity to study the words of the prophets even more often than before is excellent! I know the change from a traditional manual can be a bit nerve wracking but remember the scripture in D&C 6:36, "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." As you continue to exercise faith in the Lord to guide you in leading a discussion (as you already have with past lessons), you are going to be fine. Yes, it will probably stretch you a bit more but that's what we are here for- to learn and grow!
It's Not a Lesson
Sister Jean B. Bingham stated, "The point I’d like to make is that they are not lessons anymore. They are facilitated spiritual discussions." This means you need to actively encourage your class to come prepared to discuss the General Conference talks beforehand. Post the talk link on your ward's Facebook page, send out an email with a few questions to ponder beforehand, share some quotes online, or make sure the schedule is posted in the ward bulletin. People need to know what to read and that you fully expect them to come prepared.
Sister Bingham went on to say, "The discussion leader does not need to come prepared with all kinds of extra materials. You might come prepared with a few thoughts of your own, a few scriptures that relate, maybe another quote, but really, the material in each conference talk is more than sufficient to have a wonderful spiritual discussion." Your goal is to start the discussion but most of the talking will be done by others. Worried about the silence or coming up with questions? See my post about how to get your LDS class talking and 8 questions you can always ask.
Share Quotes with Your Class
One of the problems people have struggled with in the past is asking people to read a specific part of the General Conference talk easily. It gets a little confusing when you say page 35, third column, fifth paragraph (especially when people are viewing it digitally instead). Here are two easier ways you can share quotes for your class to discuss.
Use the Gospel Library App to easily share quotes. Simply highlight the lines you want read then click the share icon and the method you wish to share it. I recommend text but email is also a good option. Add a little note before like "Quote #1" so those that are reading are ready when you need them to be. Combine this with the LDS Tools app so you can easily text those in your class that volunteer to read. Save time by having the quotes ready to be texted in your drafts. Then when you get to church and ask for people to read quotes before the discussion starts, you simply have to enter their number and send it. The great thing about this method is it gives you an easy way to say thanks for helping out after its over too- send another text!
Looking for something a little more hands on? My Computer Is My Canvas has editable discussion handouts ready for you to use. There are handout tags, nugget wrappers, quote posters, and more. Add the text then print and pass out in class. And since you can edit them, you can use her packet for every discussion you lead.
The best news of all is that you don't have to prepare your discussion alone! There are all kinds of great resources waiting for you!
- General Conference Discussion Helps for Specific Talks- I came up with ideas and questions for every General Conference talk from the Apostles and General Church Leaders as those are the primary focus for the next 6 months. Remember though, you might only need to use one idea as your class will do most of the talking- instead focus on the questions. You can find them all under the General Conference tab.
- Private Facebook Group- Perhaps the best resource of all is other teachers like you. Come join my private Facebook group to get ideas from others leading the same discussion. You can use the group search bar to find the thread with your Conference talk on it and start discussing ideas with others.