Panelists in a recent Seminaries & Institute Training Broadcast shared their concern about losing youth and young adults. However, instead of using the terms “lost” and “found” in this context, Chad Webb taught that “scattered” and “gathered” better describe the urgent need to gather an entire generation of young people:
We worry that we’re losing some of our youth and young adults. Instead of speaking in terms of being lost or found, the scriptures more often refer to that as scattered and gathered. There are some who are struggling with faith. But we know where they are; they’re not lost to us. But they are scattered by the influences of the world and may have removed themselves from joining with us. We have a remarkable opportunity and an urgent need to assist in “gathering” this portion of Israel.
With a call from President Russell M. Nelson to do more to gather this portion of scattered Israel, some changes are coming in the way we teach. And it’s not just to change for change’s sake. It’s to deepen the level of conversion in a way that changes the rising generation from the inside out. A few guiding principles will be a move:
From talking and telling to engaging and inviting.
From telling students where to be to meeting them where they are.
From only praising the ideal to also honoring the struggle.
From social activities to meaningful social interaction.
From a focus on class credit and graduation to a focus on spiritual growth and becoming.
From passive learners who are acted upon to active participants who are instruments of the Holy Ghost.
These are the adjustments Seminaries & Institutes will be making with our youth and young adults over the next three years. It is a new way of looking at how to gather scattered Israel right before our eyes—especially inside our own homes and wards. President Nelson has often said that gathering scattered Israel is the most important work we can be engaged in right now—and Seminaries & Institutes are putting this call to the test.
‘It Changed Everything’
One way our Church is putting this to the test is by aligning Come, Follow Me with the seminary teaching curriculum. They started this in 2019 because of what President Nelson announced in General Conference. At that time, Elder Clark, Church Commissioner of Education, said: “The prophet of the Lord stood up in general conference and said, ‘We need home centered church supported gospel instruction.’ And because he said that it changed everything.”
This alignment has been unifying in powerful ways. It has helped students have a deep learning and a converting experience while they’re in seminary and institute. Aligning with Come, Follow Me blesses families and connects their study in the home. But administrators noted they were also concerned about “gaps that would be missed in certain topics in some parts of the world because of when school breaks come. For instance, the last week of the Savior’s life might not be taught in seminary, or the First Vision or some very significant events and principles of the gospel.” These gaps were addressed through the family via Come, Follow Me where even if students missed seminary because of school breaks, they could still receive gospel instruction in the home on important principles of the gospel.
Aligning Come, Follow Me with “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”
One additional alignment and a gap that might be explored in our family study is “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” In 2009, Julie B. Beck gave a landmark address to Seminaries & Institutes titled “Teaching the Doctrine of the Family.” Here, she asked the audience:
What is it we hope this rising generation will understand and do because of what you will teach them?” Teach so they don’t misunderstand that every doctrine, every principle, everything you’re teaching leads them to the fulness of the gospel. And the fulness of the gospel is found in the temples—in temple ordinances and covenants and their eternal role. That is the full gospel.
In the Church, a primary concern is to teach the saving principles of the gospel, and the saving principles are those that are the family principles, the principles that will teach them to form a family, to teach that family, and to prepare that family for ordinances and covenants. Then teach it to the next generation, and the next. Your students have that responsibility.
Sister Beck then explained that since the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan (Paragraph 1, The Family Proclamation), everything we do in our teaching should align with and include the family proclamation:
Because the basis of the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the centrality of the family in God’s plan, using “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in our Come, Follow Me study may dramatically impact the rising generation’s ability understand the doctrine of the family. In previous years, we may have been using it as a standalone document. Today, we can integrate it into our daily lives and teaching to help create a more family focused, sin-resistant generation.
Integrating a “family lens” into everything we teach (including Come, Follow Me) can be lifechanging. In fact, it can be one of the most significant adjustments we can make in gathering those who are being “scattered” by the philosophies of the world into the safety of Israel. And, as our prophet said, “Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty.” (link)
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