Dwight Durrant is a seminary teacher at Lone Peak High School in Utah. Recently, while working on a landscaping project with his brother, Devin, Dwight said, “I am hearing a consistent complaint from my seminary students. Many of them feel they are being taught the same lesson twice on Sundays — first in their Sunday School class and second in their Young Women class or Aaronic priesthood quorum meeting.” Devin responded that, sadly, that wasn’t the first time he had heard that sentiment expressed.
In conversation among the three of us — Sister Carol McConkie, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency; Brother Joseph Brough, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency; and Brother Devin Durrant, first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency — we all agreed that Sunday youth lesson duplication is a common concern. We would like to share a few of our collective thoughts on the subject as well as a possible solution that we hope will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, this feeling among some of our youth.
‘Come Follow Me’
When Come Follow Me was originally introduced to the Church in 2012, a greater emphasis was placed on “doing” in Sunday School and Young Women classes, as well as Aaronic priesthood quorum meetings, but in different ways. Sunday School lessons placed a stronger emphasis on youth involvement in teaching gospel principles, while the Young Women and Aaronic priesthood lessons highlighted a stronger focus on living and applying what they were learning. More specifically, Aaronic priesthood quorums were invited to place an increased emphasis on the importance of counseling together as quorums, determining their duty, and making plans to fulfill that duty while Young Women classes were invited to put the doctrine into practice, keep their covenants, and participate wholeheartedly in the work of salvation.
With approximately four years of Come Follow Me experience behind us, we might now ask this question: “Is the Come Follow Me curriculum being utilized as designed to bless the lives of the youth in our wards and branches?”
As a basis for our discussion, let’s take a quick look at key elements of the three different stated purposes as outlined today at lds.org in the Teaching the Gospel in the Savior’s Way section under the heading The Purposes of Each Organization and Auxiliary (lds.org/youth/learn/guidebook/organizations).
Young Women: “Young Women Sunday classes provide unique learning experiences that help young women become worthy to enter the temple and prepare for their eternal roles as covenant women, wives, and mothers. … As young women exercise their agency to participate in learning experiences that invite the Holy Ghost, they are enlightened, encouraged, and strengthened to live the gospel personally and in their families.”
Aaronic Priesthood: The purposes of Sunday quorum meetings are to help “Aaronic priesthood holders … become converted, fulfill their sacred duties, be ‘standing ministers’ (Doctrine and Covenants 84:111), prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and temple ordinances, and become worthy missionaries, husbands, and fathers. They meet together in a Sunday quorum meeting, which is more than just a class. Each meeting is prayerfully planned by the quorum presidency with the assistance of advisers, but always under the direction of the quorum president, who holds priesthood keys.”
Sunday School: “Sunday School strengthens faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by providing opportunities for young men and young women and their teachers to learn and teach the doctrine of the gospel together and to strengthen one another in living it. … In Sunday School, special emphasis is given to helping youth develop skills and confidence to become Christlike learners and teachers” (ibid).
A possible solution
Recognizing a lesson duplication concern and the different purposes of each organization, let’s consider a solution. Primarily, we must all recognize the importance of coordination among the leaders and teachers of our youth. While we share a common monthly theme, the lesson outlines focus on different aspects of that theme. If lesson coordination doesn’t happen the youth suffer, possibly without the teachers even being aware of the frustration of the youth. At LDS.org, the following clarifying information is found under the title Frequently Asked Questions (lds.org/youth/learn/train/faq).
The question, “How should teachers coordinate their efforts?” is asked. Here is the response:
“Helping youth become converted requires the combined efforts of all teachers of youth (Aaronic Priesthood, Young Women, Sunday School and seminary). They should counsel together about the needs of the youth and let these conversations help determine what to teach. Teachers may decide to coordinate their weekly lessons to maximize their effectiveness for each youth and each class. They may also coordinate to share teaching ideas and techniques.”
As we coordinate together as teachers, we must be careful to not take away the responsibility of the youth in the gospel learning and teaching process. As mentioned earlier in this article, Aaronic priesthood quorum presidencies should play a key role in the planning of each quorum meeting. Young Women presidencies fill a similar role as they minister to others at church, at home and in various circles of influence as part of the great work of salvation.
How might you best make this coordination happen in your ward or branch?
Our shared goal
In summary, as leaders and teachers of young Latter-day Saints, we all share a common goal. That goal is to provide our youth each Sunday with opportunities to “do” — to learn and teach the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ that they may more fully live those principles each and every day of their lives.
We invite you to take time to coordinate the learning and teaching efforts in your ward or branch, with the help of your young people, so that what is taught in the youth Sunday School classes is not a duplicate of what will be taught in the Aaronic priesthood quorums and Young Women classes so that “both [teacher and learner] are edified and rejoice together” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:22).