During the 2015 Seminar for New Mission Presidents, held June 24 through June 28 at the Church’s Provo Missionary Training Center, new mission presidents and their wives participated in large group sessions led by members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The couples, who began service in their missions in July, each came to the seminar prepared to learn from the Spirit.
Instead of speaking to new mission presidents and their wives from the pulpit, as has been done in the past, members of the Quorum of the Twelve conducted interactive sessions. The Brethren invited participation by asking questions, encouraging responses, and turning to examples in the scriptures of the principles they were teaching.
One new mission president summarized from what he learned from the experience: “It is the Spirit that is the teacher. It is the Spirit that is the converter. It is the Spirit that matters most” in teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, he said.
It is a pattern of teaching that Church leaders have been modeling for years.
“As we teach the gospel, we should humbly recognize that the Holy Ghost is the true teacher,” states the manual, “Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching,” lesson 6. “Our privilege is to serve as instruments through whom the Holy Ghost can teach, testify, comfort, and inspire. We should therefore become worthy to receive the Spirit. We should pray for the Spirit’s guidance as we prepare lessons and as we teach. We should do all we can to create an atmosphere in which those we teach can feel the influence of the Spirit.”
The manual continues: “We may at times be tempted to think that people will draw closer to Heavenly Father because of our efforts alone. We may suppose that it is our persuasiveness that convinces them of the truth. Or we may imagine that our eloquence and our knowledge of a particular gospel principle will inspire and edify them. If we begin to believe such things, we get in the way of the convincing power of the Holy Ghost.”
In “Teaching the Gospel in the Savior’s Way, A Guide to Come Follow Me: Learning Resources for Youth,” leaders are instructed to rely on the Holy Ghost.
“The most important part of your service will be your own daily spiritual preparation, including prayer, scripture study, and obedience to the commandments. We encourage you to dedicate yourself to living the gospel with greater purpose than ever before. As you do, you will understand how to help youth learn the gospel by their own study and faith, to discover the truthfulness of the gospel for themselves, and to strengthen their families and others by sharing their experiences, insights, and testimony.”
Every worthy Latter-day Saint can teach the gospel in the Savior’s way, the introduction continues. “As you follow His example, the Holy Ghost will help you know what to do.”
Teaching the Savior’s way allows the teacher and students to learn from one another. Every class participant is given an opportuity to talk and to share. Instead of telling students what they should learn, the teacher facilitates an atmosphere where the Spirit is the true teacher.
The Lord instructs us in Doctrine and Covenants 88:122 to “appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege.”
And we learn in 2 Nephi 33:1 that “when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.”
It is a pattern also modeled for missionaries in Preach My Gospel:
“As a missionary, you have a great responsibility to teach from the heart and by the Spirit. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: ‘Our purpose is to teach the message of the restored gospel in such a way as to allow the Spirit to direct both the missionaries and those being taught’” (Preach My Gospel, chapter 3, “What do I study and teach”).
An important part of teaching by the Spirit is preparation.
“If you have properly prepared yourself, the Holy Ghost will enlighten and guide you as you teach,” according to “Teaching No Greater Call,” lesson 9. “You may receive impressions about those you teach, what you should emphasize in teaching them, and how you can teach them most effectively. Your diligent efforts will be magnified as you humbly obey the whisperings of the Spirit. You will also be able to help those you teach recognize the influence of the Spirit.”
The pattern of teaching modeled in the 2015 Seminar for New Mission Presidents was also taught a year earlier, during the 2014 Seminar for New Mission Presidents. Prior to the seminar in 2014, the new mission presidents and their wives were invited to study and prepare for their training lessons. “The facilitators and teachers listened more, lectured less, and asked more inspired questions than in previous seminars,” said Elder David A. Bednar of the Quourm of the Twelve during the seminar.
Inviting the Holy Ghost to be the teacher, he said, is a central purpose in all of the Lord’s patterns for faithful learning and teaching (Church News, “Elder Bednar: Learn, Teach, Hasten the Work in the Lord’s Way,” July 11, 2014).
“Learning by faith requires both the heart and a willing mind and is the result of the Holy Ghost carrying the power of the word of God both unto and into the heart.”
In closing the 2014 seminar, Elder Bednar reminded those in attendance that the Lord is hastening His work. “We have a role to play. I pray we will keep pace with the hastening — that we will not just simply do what we have always done the way we have always done it,” he said.