Sunday, November 25, 2012

Real Growth in the LDS Church

Today's Elder's Quorums lesson (which I'm teaching) is from Teaching For Our Times with the focus on two talks, both from the April 2012 General Conference:
The Rescue for Real Growth by Bishop Edgley
Was It Worth It? by Elder Evans

These two talks, along with the many other talks from the April and October 2012 General Conferences are in response to the alarming trend of members leaving the Church.

Consider this quote from Elder Marlin K. Jensen, "Maybe since Kirtland, we've never had a period of - I'll call it apostasy, like we're having now."  He told this to a group of Utah State students back in January of 2012.  This Reuters article summarizes the discussion held between Elder Marlin and the college students: Special Report: Mormonism besieged by the modern age.

For my lesson, which I'm calling REAL GROWTH, I plan on dividing it up into three parts:
1) on the chalk board, write a list of all less-active people in our ward - it is more of an awareness activity for members of the class (i.e. do we know who we should be rescuing?)

2) ideas, comments and discussion from Rescue for Real Growth

3) ideas, comments and discussion from Was It Worth It? which is really a talk about one's personal testimony.

Each of these parts will have a column on the chalk board.  Then I'll have a 4th column entitled "Real Growth" and I'll be writing in that column what "real growth" means.  Besides comments from the class, I will draw and share ideas from a couple of LDS links: What is Real Growth? and Worldwide Leadership Training Highlights Path to Real Growth.

Rescue For Real Growth
- one of the most meaningful and important ways to establish real growth in the Church is to reach out and rescue those who have been baptized yet are wandering in a less-active state.
- story of visiting a ward as stake president; bishop wanted to split ward; he interviewed and called a less-active member to be a stake missionary w/o knowing she was less-active
- from this he learned:
* many less-actives have loved one praying for them
* it's not easy for less-actives to just walk back into church
* some less-actives are trying and willing to come back
* many less-actives will hold callings if asked
* less-actives deserve to be treated as an equal (to an active) and to be viewed as a child of god

- we should see less-actives not only as a single child of god, but as generations of blessed lives (story of older member who fell away, came back, but now laments the inactivity of all his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.)

Was It Worth It?
- our most important work is always within our own home and family.  it is within families that the church is established and real growth occurs
- attending church, fhe, prayer, scripture study, fulfill callings, visit the sick and lonely, teach, share testimony, write letters to missionaries and military service personnel, show love and forgiveness
- share the gospel with others; naturally and normally
- story of Dave; his friend was in college, returning to activity, invited Dave to the next interview with his bishop; was later baptized, married and sealed in temple.
- story of Eileen who felt inspired to send her less-active friend a book.  Eileen later learned from her friend that she too felt inspired to send a letter to the same less-active friend
- seek the spirit in inviting others; "never delay a prompting"

- growth in the number of active members
- increased faithfulness of members (daily prayer, scripture study, fhe, love at home, personal experiences with the atonement
- receive the temple blessings and covenants
- achieving the end goal of eternal life and exaltation for all of god's children requires real growth in our homes and wards
- whole families = real growth
- the making and keeping of temple covenants
- 'real growth is a constant effort, and it is a blessing that comes when we are able to save and help one another, particularly one by one.'
- we aren't just trying to get people back to church, but rather, to the temple
- real growth comes as we apply gospel principles in our daily lives

direct link to talks from 2012 Worldwide Leadership Training