By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

General Conference

General Conference is next weekend, just in case there is anyone out there who didn't know! I hope to listen to most, if not all, of it.

Sometimes people say it is the same old thing over and over. I don't find that to be a problem. At different points in my life, I tune into different things. What doesn't affect me one time will be of prime importance another time. I also find inspiration, encouragement, and motivation in the talks. And reassuring testimony. Besides, I'll bet if we were all full tithe payers, they wouldn't be inspired to talk about tithing anymore!! Then, too, there are always new converts or recently re-activated members who want to hear things explained--it is new to them, or at least a good reminder of things forgotten.

I often learn new ways of looking at things. Someone may talk about tithing, but perhaps they bring in some new information or a differnt way of looking at it, or a scripture that I hadn't realized was talking about tithing and its importance.

Different speakers appeal to different people. The General Authorities bring their own personalities and speaking styles with them. They bring their own emphasis to various topics. Someone may seem a little hard to understand to one listener, but strike another as bringing important and meaningful insight to a topic.

I love it that we get the talks in the Ensign because we can go back and study them and gain more than we would in just one hearing. Also, we can hear the talks again over at and that is good, too.

I listen to General Conference over the internet, which is now audio only, but those who have cable can often get it televised. It can be nice to go to the church to watch/listen, but it is really nice for those with little ones to be able to watch at home. The rest of us can enjoy watching or listening at home, too, and being able to relax in comfy clothes!!! I believe we can still pay attention and be reverent.

For those who are astounded that I don't have cable, I am too cheap. I admit it. I don't watch enough television to make it worth the cost. I'm pretty much just a news and weather person. Yeah, I'm weird. ;>)

I look forward to General Conference and hope you do, as well. Enjoy it!


Teaching, Part 2

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Easter today!

I've been thinking about teaching all weekend. I've thought of a couple more things we talked about in the class yesterday.

One thing is that a teacher should strive to live the gospel as best they can. One reason is to be more receptive to inspiration from the Holy Ghost. Another is to set a good example for your students. A teacher doesn't have to be perfect--none of us are--but to do the best you can and to try to grow as a person in faith and testimony is a good thing for you and beneficial for your class.

On a more minor note, we talked about not starting your lesson (or talk) by saying you are not prepared or you are nervous or by telling about how the Bishop called and asked you to talk (if it's a talk you are giving). This is a negative because immediately the class can lose interest, thinking that it's not going to be good so why listen? It is just a negative note that you don't want to play. Ironically, yesterday afternoon I got a call to teach in Relief Society this morning. Talk about last minute! But I was good and didn't say a word about it.

Another incident happened to me last summer. I had been asked to speak at a baptism on the topic of the Holy Ghost. I prepared my talk and was all set. I arrived at the baptism about 10 minutes early and sat around visiting. Then I spied the programs, so I got one for a keepsake. I opened it up and saw that I was listed as speaking about baptism and another person was listed as speaking on the Holy Ghost. Naturally, I assumed it was a misprint, but I am good friends with the other speaker so I just asked him if his talk was on baptism. He said no, it was on the Holy Ghost. He had been a member of the church for many years, but had only recently become active and he was scared silly about giving his talk and had been working on it a great deal and had it all written out. No way was I going to mess him up. I had my scriptures with me, so I turned to the Bible Dictionary and looked up "Baptism." I gave a short talk based on that--not reading it, but using it as a springboard for comments and to give me a couple of scriptures to read. It worked very well and I mention it here because if you are unexpectedly asked to teach or talk on a subject, see if there is something in the Bible Dictionary. Also, you could, if you have time, run (well, walk) to the library and get a copy of the Gospel Principles manual. It has a chapter on all the common subjects we deal with in the church and would help you out if you have to give a lesson or a longer talk.

Another thing would be to write outlines or talks for common subjects. This is good for your own edification, but would be very helpful if you had to teach or talk and didn't have much time to prepare.

And don't forget to pray for guidance and inspiration. Even if you don't have much time to prepare, you can still teach by the Spirit and edify those who hear you.

Happy teaching!


Saturday, March 26, 2005


This morning I went to a Teacher Development class at church. It was great! First, they enticed us with breakfast (mmmm!), then they had a really good teacher for the class. That ought to be a given, but it isn't always!

I love to teach, particularly the adult classes, although if I had more experience with the kids, I'd probably like that just fine, too. I enjoy the preparatory study. I usually learn something new--a new way of looking at things, a quote I'm not familiar with, something. There is so much to keep in mind when teaching.

I feel that praying about the lesson and trying to be really in tune with the Holy Spirit is the most important thing. Next would be being familiar enough with the material so that the Spirit can have something to work with in guiding you in what to say or how to say it.

One thing that was discussed a bit was eye contact with the class and showing that you know they are there and are glad. I teach Gospel Essentials and so I have guests often--investigators, new members, and people who come with their friends. I want them to feel welcome and to want to come back. My co-teacher, who is a new convert, said something that I really appreciated--he said that I made him feel welcome when he first came to the class and that it was important that he was there. I thought that was so nice of him to say that because that is one thing I try to do, but I never know how it comes off.

I'm not one for a lot of handouts (though I probably should use them some in classes where there is a list of points or some good quotes) or decorations or anything like that. However, we often sing in my class. There are some hymns and Primary songs in the back of the Gospel Principles manual and we have a couple of singers in my class who can get us started on the right note! People seem to enjoy that. We usually have 10-20 people (some are old members who just like to come to my class) so if someone doesn't want to sing, they don't feel they have to because no one notices. That's another thing that I think is important--not embarassing anyone or putting them "on the spot."

I always write a few things on the board before class starts (which lesson it is, some key verses, and what to look under in the Topical Guide and/or Bible Dictionary) and sometimes I will make a list during class. Our teacher today mentioned using simple little pictures or diagrams to illustrate a point. I hadn't thought about that, but it's a good idea. A teacher could plan them out ahead and keep it simple. Artistic ability isn't required--stick figures and other simple line drawings are fine and are quickly and easily done. Then there are pictures from the Gospel Art Kit. I have my own, but they are available in the library. One or two is sufficient and prevents cluttering.

I think that the manual, Teaching--No Greater Call is very good for learning how to teach and giving ideas on what to do in class. The teacher can bring his own personality and do what he feels comfortable with, but a little variety can be helpful in sustaining interest. Sometimes there are articles in the Ensign about using questions to teach or teaching by the Spirit or other topics of concern.

I think it is good to work on improving our teaching, but I think it is also important to enjoy it. Don't make yourself crazy, but do look for simple little things you can do to improve--line upon line, precept upon precept.

And if you are a student, try to participate. Read the lesson ahead and offer a comment or ask a question. Don't hog the floor, but do participate. Often it gives others the courage to say something, too.

We hear a lot of talks and go to a lot of classes in our church. If the talks and classes are interesting, it is so much easier to pay attention and get something out of them.