Among the greatest service bishops and other youth leaders can provide is investing the time and effort to help young people come to know Christ and become converted to His gospel, declared the new Young Men general presidency.
When young men in the Church gain a love for the Savior and come to know Him as a friend, they do the right things because they want to, explained Elders Jack H. Goaslind, LeGrand R. Curtis and Robert K. Dellenbach in an interview with the Church News. "And then wonderful blessings come not only into the lives of the young men, but to their leaders as well," they said.The three members of the Seventy were sustained Oct. 6 in general conference to succeed Elders Vaughn J. Featherstone, Jeffrey R. Holland and Monte J. Brough as the Young Men general presidency. (See Church News, Oct. 13.)
Elder Goaslind is the new president, with Elder Curtis and Elder Dellenbach as first and second counselors, respectively.
"We are pleased to lead an organization that is functioning well and has at its core a great interest in the young men of the Church," said Elder Goaslind. He noted that in recent months participation in the Young Men program Churchwide has risen slightly.
"The three of us feel deep admiration and appreciation for Elder Featherstone and the counselors who have served with him during his five years as president. They have been as dedicated to the youth of the Church as any men we know and have set high standards for us to carry on. I don't think there's been a man in the Church who has given himself more to the youth than Vaughn J. Featherstone."
The new presidency members added their enthusiasm for working in concert with the Young Women and Primary general presidencies, calling the shepherding of youth in the Church at all levels a "team effort."
"What we are doing is working together as a unit of one," reflected Elder Goaslind, with the concurrence of his counselors. "We are all working to bring our young people from Primary age safely through Young Men and Young Women, then into the Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society and righteous fatherhood and motherhood. We feel great excitement for this opportunity, and we don't want to let it pass without our best efforts."
When asked about the goals of their presidency, the three Brethren pointed out that specific directives will come from the First Presidency, but they all agreed that an overall objective is to "reach out to all young men in the Church and encourage them to live so they are worthy and eager to serve full-time missions and receive their temple blessings."
Dedicated leaders play a big part in helping young men foster those attitudes and feelings, the presidency pointed out. And advisers and quorum presidencies can do much to invite back into activity those who are less-active.
"We remember the beautiful First Presidency Christmas message issued in 1985, inviting all to come back who have left Church activity for any reason," said Elder Goaslind. "We endorse their statement and plead with every young man in the Church to come back and enjoy the fruits of the gospel. We hope youth and adult leaders will make special efforts to seek out and bring back those who have lost interest. No one will be more successful than Aaronic Priesthood presidencies with their advisers in visiting the less-active and inviting them back."
An important part of activation and teaching efforts, they mentioned, is having bishoprics and other leaders take a strong interest in their young men and giving every effort to bring into their lives those things that would help them appreciate and love the gospel. And then leaving them in their callings long enough to truly make a difference. Continuity and longevity help establish positive traditions and move youth successfully through the Aaronic Priesthood program, they said.
Concern about the importance of appropriate activities throughout the week was expressed by the leaders. Activities should have a purpose and not merely be conducted for the sake of having an activity. The scriptures - especially the Book of Mormon - should be incorporated in every Young Men program and teaching experience.
In addition to the scriptures, the presidency said one of the great tools available to help bless the lives of young men is the just-released For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, introduced by President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency at the General Women's meeting and the priesthood session of general conference.
The booklet addresses 12 standards that can help young men and young women overcome the temptations and special challenges they face.
"We share the excitement of others at having this booklet introduced, together with the wallet-sized summary card which accompanies the booklet," concluded Elder Goaslind. "We hope that priesthood leaders and parents will see that every youth - active and less-active - has these presented to them."
Young Men mission statement
The mission of the Aaronic Priesthood/Young Men is to help each young man come unto Christ in five ways:
- Becoming converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Magnifying his priesthood calling.
- Giving meaningful service.
- Preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.
- Living worthy to receive temple covenants, serve a full-time mission and preparing to become a worthy husband and father.