By Sister Neill F. Marriott Young Women general presidency
and Sister Susan S. Taggart Young Women general board
The converting power in the Come, Follow Me lessons for youth grows as teachers offer their students time to choose a gospel principle they will commit to live in the coming week. This part of the lesson is called “Live what we are learning” and moves the learning experience into personal religious behavior of individual young men and women. It generates conversion to gospel truth in their lives as they act on what they are learning.
If we’re not inviting our youth to live the doctrines they are learning in ways that are meaningful to them, we are robbing them of a very powerful part of the inspired teaching process in Come, Follow Me.
In his book Act in Doctrine, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said it in a different way: “We should always remember that the Holy Ghost is the ultimate and true teacher — not us. ... The lessons we teach and the testimonies we bear are preparatory to a learner’s acting and learning for himself or herself” (p. 116).
When teaching this principle of “learning, then acting,” a teacher asked, “You mean, we should stop the lesson, end early, and give five to 10 minutes of class time to the youth for their discussion about the lesson?” Yes! And not just any discussion — this special time at the end of the lesson is for the students to discuss what gospel principle they are willing to act on and apply to their own lives.
Agency is key in this process. Let the youth choose their own action. An invitation to act starts the students thinking of their own personal responses. The converting power of the Holy Ghost comes only when the youth use their agency to act and live what they are learning. Sometimes well-meaning youth leaders set forth a “challenge” for the youth to do during the coming week. How much better would be an invitation to apply the lesson based on the youth’s own inspiration?
Elder Richard G. Scott, who served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has said, “[A learner’s] decision to participate is an exercise in agency that permits the Holy Ghost to communicate a personalized message suited to their individual needs” (“To Learn and to Teach More Effectively,” BYU Education Week devotional, Aug. 21, 2007).
In the suggested format of the Come, Follow Me lessons, each week the class begins with a time to “Share experiences” the youth have had as they worked on living a principle of the gospel in the preceding week.
In a Young Women class, a class president began by sharing her own efforts to apply the doctrine she had learned in a previous class. This class president was truly leading as she articulated her efforts to live a particular part of the gospel and thus inspired the other young women to share their experiences too.
After class members have volunteered their experiences of acting on doctrine during the past week, the “Introduce the doctrine” and “Learn together” portions follow, in which a teacher uses the methods of Teaching in the Savior’s Way.
For the most effective learning, the students need to have time, perhaps five to 10 minutes before the class ends, to consider what they have learned during class and individually choose a principle to include in their daily life. This is when we invite them to act. This portion of the class is called “Live what we are learning.” Within this last part of class, the teacher, or perhaps a member of the class presidency, invites members of the class to counsel together and choose personal goals to apply the gospel in their daily actions.
Perhaps a relatable way to invite the youth to apply the lesson could be to have the class president lead the invitation to act by sharing something of the lesson that she wants to include in her coming week. She could share her thoughts and her choice of how to apply the lesson to her life. She could ask for the impressions of other class members. It would be helpful for the youth to write down what they plan to do. If they are willing to counsel together about their ideas and thoughts, more of the class will be strengthened in their resolve to take action too.
One young woman chose to pray in a more honest way, leaving behind repetitive words and thoughts, to strengthen her relationship with God. As she prayed more deeply, the Spirit opened her mind to a better understanding of her relationship with God and also with her parents. She saw that the more open and honest she was with her parents, the closer her relationship was with them. Likewise, her open, honest prayers drew her closer to Heavenly Father. Because of the invitation to act on the principle of prayer and because of the time given in class to discuss and ponder, this sister took action and applied her own inspiration about how to improve relationships through prayer.
Have you ever considered that what happens during the week is just as important, and perhaps more lasting, than what goes on during the lesson?
Effective teachers give ample time at the end of the Sunday lesson for their students to discuss and ponder how consistently applying a gospel principle can lead to lasting personal conversion.
These teachers, or perhaps the class president, invite the youth to take action during the coming week, to live what they have learned. The following week, the youth can strengthen one another as they participate in the “Share experiences”portion of the class by discussing how they applied gospel principles the preceding week.
The cycle of “share, learn, live” is a powerful tool in the Come, Follow Me lessons. From such sharing, learning and living the doctrine, conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ will deepen and continue to grow.