Exploring furthers priesthood purposes

Exploring in the Church is a valuable tool for furthering Aaronic Priesthood purposes that is seldom used to its potential, according to Elder Jack H Goaslind, Young Men general president, and K. Hart Bullock, director of LDS Relationships for Boy Scouts of America.

Exploring is much more than dribbling a basketball; it's designed to meet the needs of the priest-age young man while achieving the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood, the two leaders emphasized in a Church News interview. If properly used under trained, mature leadership, Exploring can enhance a young man's preparation for a full-time mission and for his future vocational life.Brother Bullock recounted and explained the six experience areas of Exploring:

Social, which helps a young man prepare himself to interact effectively with other young men, young women and adults.

Service, which helps develop an awareness of the needs of others and the responsibility and opportunity of helping meet those needs.

Citizenship, which helps develop pride in a young man's country and awareness of civic responsibilities.

Fitness, which not only strengthens young men physically, but also spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

Outdoor, which provides settings for young men to grow close to leaders, have spiritual experiences and develop self-reliance.

Career, which enhances understanding of social and economic systems and provides insights into possible career paths.

Added Elder Goaslind: "The great thing about Exploring is that all six of these areas help reinforce and can be tied in with the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. They can dovetail in very well."

He recited the six purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood and cited several examples of how they are complemented by the six areas of Explorer experience.

Become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live by its teachings: Explorer activities should bring a young man in close association with good priesthood leaders and peers who are living gospel principles. They give him a place to participate where living of Church standards is encouraged. Outdoor activities often provide an ideal setting for leaders to share their testimonies and for young men to have personal and group spiritual experiences.

Magnify priesthood callings: Exploring provides many opportunities for leadership development and learning in carrying out assignments and responsibilities on an individual and group basis.

Give meaningful service: Service should be a key ingredient of Aaronic Priesthood and Explorer post activities. These experiences put young men in contact with leaders who are role models of service and faithfulness.

Prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood: As priesthood and Explorer activities are successfully carried out, young men are prepared to receive additional authority and responsibilities that accompany their receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Commit to, worthily prepare for, and serve an honorable full-time mission: Exploring enhances social skills and provides opportunities for speaking, leading and planning.

Live worthy to receive temple covenants and prepare to become a worthy husband and father: Career preparation plays a significant role in helping young men prepare to lead and provide for a family.

Besides having served as an Explorer adviser, Brother Bullock has served as a bishop, branch president, as a counselor in three other bishoprics and on two high councils. He has seen posts that function well and those that haven't functioned at all. He shared several keys to making the program work.

Leadership: "This goes back to the bishopric capturing the vision of the needs of the priest-age young man and how Exploring can help meet those needs. With that vision, the bishopric can, through prayerful selection, call the right man to serve. Ideally, the leader should have the Church experience and spiritual strength to help our priest-age youth through some challenging years."

Training: "Leaders need to be trained so they know how to implement the program. The local Boy Scout councils and their districts have a great basic program to train Explorer leaders."

Post officers: "If young men are properly called and trained as post officers, they learn valuable leadership skills that will help them on their missions and in other aspects of their lives."

Planning: "If post leaders and officers will plan the program for a year, keeping in mind Aaronic Priesthood purposes, they can be successful. Hopefully, they would print that program and distribute it to all the priests in the ward and their parents, then carry out their plans."

Brother Bullock concluded by expressing his deep feelings for Exploring and conviction that the program can work well if leaders are committed.

"I really have a love for Exploring; it's what got me involved initially as a professional Scouter, after I was called to be an Explorer adviser as a newly returned missionary.

"I've seen the program work many times and personally experienced it as an adviser, where it effectively prepares young men as missionaries and to meet the challenges of life."

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