Boyd Matheson: Now that general conference is over, what’s next?

“Wow Moments” must be followed by inspired action and forward movement.

In describing his surprising connection to and relationship with President Russell M. Nelson and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Reverend Amos Brown of San Francisco’s historic Third Baptist Church said, “I had a wow moment!” Reverend Brown’s exclamation could have been used multiple times during the week of October General Conference. The test, however, is not in the moments but in parlaying such moments into inspired, spiritually determined action and forward movement along the covenant path.

Over the course of just a few days “wow moments” included: All worthy baptized members could serve as a witness to a baptism outside the temple; all temple recommend holders, including those with limited-use, could serve as witnesses to proxy baptisms in temples; all regular recommend holders could serve as witnesses to sealing ordinances; changes to Young Men and Young Women organizations; edits to Temple recommend questions; and an invitation to prepare for what will be a “different” General Conference in April 2020 as part of a bicentennial celebration of the First vision.

Oliver Cowdry’s description of “days never to be forgotten” clearly applies as much to the year 2019 as it does to the year 1820. The unfolding of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ then and now appears to be a similar succession of “wow moments.”

See all the talk summaries, photo galleries from October 2019 general conference

The thrill of “wow moments” matters, but members must be careful that the moments do not become the end – because they are just the catalyst for inspired beginnings.  Following the Saturday afternoon session, my wife Debbie and I walked out of the Conference Center with our neighbors, Joe and Kendra Stiggins. As we discussed the adjustments and the ongoing restoration, Kendra commented that it is all so exciting. Then, correcting herself, she said, “No, it isn’t exciting, it is inspiring!” In that moment, she taught me the difference between an exciting moment and inspired action toward forward movement.

Throughout history many have been excited by “wow moments,” but were never sufficiently committed to doing the hard work and heavy lifting of creating inspired forward movement.

Conferencegoers sustain church leadership during the Saturday afternoon session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.
Conferencegoers sustain church leadership during the Saturday afternoon session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

In the meridian of time, many saw the miracles of Jesus but were unwilling to set aside sin, pride, comfort or status in order to follow the Savior as disciples. Likewise, during the early days of the restoration, many were inspired by the “wow moments” of revelations, miracles, new scripture and the outpouring of the spirit. Sadly, many fell away because they were not resilient or did not take the action required to develop a personal testimony that would sustain them during difficult days or trying times.

President Nelson recognizes that “wow moments” must be followed by inspired action, increased commitment and resilient determination. He has demonstrated over and over again a pattern that takes members from an inspiring revelation to the kind of action that moves individuals, families, wards, stakes and the Lord’s kingdom on both sides of the veil forward.

Following each inspiring adjustment, the prophet, apostles and general officers have provided direction on the action required to move forward along the covenant path. For the past year the “wow moment” adjustment to ministering has been transformed by faithful members who have acted in faith and are learning to serve in the Lord’s higher and holier way. With that progress the prophet has now revealed the opportunity for all to prepare to be witnesses.

Reading the word of the Lord to Paul on the Road to Damsacus takes on new meaning: “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness” (Acts 26:16). Paul took his “wow moment” and transformed it into an inspired movement that propelled the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

Friends greet one another before the Sunday morning session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019.
Friends greet one another before the Sunday morning session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

President Nelson’s final “wow moment” of this General Conference came in his closing remarks. He said, “Thus, the year 2020 will be designated as a bicentennial year.  General conference next April will be different from any previous conference.” He then issued an invitation: “In the next six months, I hope that every member and every family will prepare for a unique conference that will commemorate the very foundations of the restored gospel.”

Shifting from the “wow moment” to the “inspired action,” President Nelson suggested, “You may wish to begin your preparation by reading afresh Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision as recorded in the Pearl of Great Price. Our course of study for next year in “Come, Follow Me” is the Book of Mormon. You may wish to ponder important questions such as, ‘How would my life be different if my knowledge gained from the Book of Mormon were suddenly taken away?’ Or, ‘How have the events that followed the First Vision made a difference for me and my loved ones?’ Also, with the Book of Mormon videos now becoming available, you may wish to incorporate them in your individual and family study.”

President Russell M. Nelson and his wife Sister Wendy Nelson wave to attendees after the Sunday morning session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson and his wife Sister Wendy Nelson wave to attendees after the Sunday morning session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Read more: 2020 a ‘bicentennial year,’ with April conference ‘different from any previous conference’

President Nelson concluded with a personalized plea and promise, “Select your own questions. Design your own plan. Immerse yourself in the glorious light of the Restoration. As you do, general conference next April will not only be memorable, it will be unforgettable.”

We do live in a day with an abundance of what Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described as, “The rush of revelation.” It is vital, as we return from that rush, that we remember that what appears to be  a “wow moment” is really a prophetic invitation to engage in inspired action and forward movement along the covenant path.