How to make 2020 ‘a year of powerful scripture study unlike any other’

As Latter-day Saints begin studying the 2020 “Come, Follow Me” curriculum, the Sunday School general presidency is thrilled for individuals and families to dive in and experience the power of the Book of Mormon perhaps more than they ever have.

“With the 200th anniversary of the First Vision and celebration of the Restoration, I think it’s going to be a year of powerful scripture study unlike any other,” said Brother Mark L. Pace, Sunday School general president. 

“So many Latter-day Saints are trying to follow the prophet’s counsel to read the Book of Mormon. And this year, everything will be aligned in a wonderful effort to read the Book of Mormon with the ‘Come, Follow Me’ resource as a guide.”

Now with a year of experience under their belts, Latter-day Saints have felt the “profound influence” of President Russell M. Nelson’s invitation for home-centered gospel learning. “They can feel that the Lord is expecting more at home,” Brother Pace said. “They can feel His trust.”

A look back at 2019

As Brother Pace and his counselors have traveled around the world, they have spoken with Church members about their experiences with “Come, Follow Me” and what they are learning. 

Sunday School general presidency: (left to right) Milton Camargo, first counselor; Mark L. Pace, president; Jan E. Newman, second counselor.
Sunday School general presidency: (left to right) Milton Camargo, first counselor; Mark L. Pace, president; Jan E. Newman, second counselor. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Many members now understand it’s their responsibility — not the Church’s responsibility — to teach their families the gospel, said Brother Milton Camargo, first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency. 

For Brother Jan E. Newman, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, as well as for several of the Latter-day Saints he has met, the integrated curriculum has been “transformational” for studying the scriptures.

“I think what members have learned is ‘Come, Follow Me’ is a great way to help you get your feet wet,” he said. “People that maybe have struggled in the past or have just kind of systematically read verses … are now getting a better, deeper understanding of the scriptures.” 

Church meetings, including Sunday School, have improved because members come prepared. “Everybody knows what we’re going to talk about, and they’re prepared to discuss it. And it makes the job for the teacher a lot easier because people are willing to share,” Brother Newman said. 

Brother Camargo has observed how Primary children are excited to study the gospel at home and are encouraging their parents to do it. “I heard from parents saying, ‘Now we have to study with our children because they want to be prepared for Sunday Primary.’ So that was a blessing,” he said. 

Said Brother Pace: “As you go from ward to ward and stake to stake, you see just a great fervor of scripture study unlike anything I’ve seen before in my life.”

“I think we are doing a better job of doing what we always said we did. This year we’ve really done it — we’ve really been studying the scriptures. … We couldn’t be more grateful for what’s happening in the lives of the Latter-day Saints.”

A father helps his two daughters read from the scriptures.
A father helps his two daughters read from the scriptures. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Brother Pace has also seen President Nelson’s promise become a reality for Church members. “The new home-centered, Church-supported integrated curriculum has the potential to unleash the power of families,” said President Nelson as he closed the October 2018 general conference. 

As Latter-day Saints “diligently work to remodel (their) home into a center of gospel learning,” three things will happen over time, President Nelson said. First, “your Sabbath days will truly be a delight”; second, “your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings”; and third, “the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease.”

“Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining,” President Nelson promised.

Latter-day Saints “are putting to the test the prophet’s encouragement and receiving his promised blessings,” Brother Pace said. And that promise wasn’t just for 2019 and the study of the New Testament. 

“That is his enduring promise to each and every Latter-day Saint who will remodel their home into a sanctuary of faith by reading the scriptures with the ‘Come, Follow Me’ resource as a scripture study guide,” Brother Pace said.

New year, new experience

To make 2020 “a year of powerful scripture study unlike any other,” the Sunday School general presidency offered some ideas. 

First, schedule a time for scripture study using “Come, Follow Me” as a guide. Be consistent and do what works. For those who weren’t as diligent with “Come, Follow Me” in 2019 as they hoped to be or felt overwhelmed, don’t worry, Brother Camargo said. 

The cover of "Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020."
The cover of “Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020.” Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

“Start and do your best. Don’t be concerned about being perfect in your effort. Everyone does it differently,” he said. “There is no failure as long as we try our best.”

Second, listen to the Spirit. “We are hopeful that the Saints would pay attention to what the Spirit teaches them during the week as they’re reading the Book of Mormon, and that they would be in their classes on Sunday with a willingness to share what the Spirit has taught them,” Brother Pace said. 

Remember, while Sunday lessons are important, the learning that happens at home is equally important, Brother Newman said.

Third, study with questions in mind. “The Book of Mormon answers all the questions of the soul,” Brother Camargo said. “Through the scriptures, members can recognize the voice of the Lord. This year, we can have all of our questions answered by reading and studying the Book of Mormon.”

Fourth, take advantage of the new resources in the 2020 manuals. The Book of Mormon Videos are one example and “will help many families to see the Book of Mormon was a reality,” Brother Camargo said. Videos for 1 Nephi-Enos have been already released with more videos to come in 2020 and 2021. 

The recent alignment of curriculum for youth — the Book of Mormon will be studied in seminary, Young Women classes and Aaronic Priesthood quorums in 2020 — also “makes the lives of families easier and more exciting to study together,” Brother Camargo said. 

Read more: Young Men, Young Women general leaders on what to expect for 2020 ‘Come, Follow Me’ curriculum

The Sunday School general presidency also emphasized that each ward has the flexibility to have as many Sunday School classes as would be beneficial. This includes multiple adult classes, young single adult classes, language classes, or classes for friends learning of the gospel and new members.

“The curriculum for all those classes is the same: studying the scriptures using ‘Come, Follow Me,’” Brother Pace said. 

New resources

Members will find a section titled “Prophetic Promises” within the Introductory Materials about the blessings that come from studying the Book of Mormon. The Introductory Materials are a great reminder of the “why” and “how” of “Come, Follow Me.” Members should review those materials often, Brother Newman said. 

The appendix in the individuals and families manual includes additional information on learning to recognize the witness of the Spirit while studying the Book of Mormon, as well as “plain and precious truths” found within the Book of Mormon and information and background about the Three Witnesses.  

Another resource in the appendix is “Suggested Music for Families,” which lists hymns and Primary songs by week that can be used during family scripture study or home evening to support the doctrine taught in the specific scripture blocks. “We’re excited about the additional emphasis on Church music,” Brother Pace said. 

Family members sit down together to read the scriptures from books and smartphones.
Family members sit down together to read the scriptures from books and smartphones. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

“The curriculum team has done such a great job of putting together elements that help people understand the scriptures more effectively,” Brother Newman said. “I think that ‘Come, Follow Me’ is really going to open the Book of Mormon even more deeply than what the members have experienced in the past.”

The Book of Mormon “Come, Follow Me” manual will also be a wonderful tool to share with family members, friends and neighbors who might not otherwise be reading the Book of Mormon, Brother Pace said.