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blueglass

youth sunday school and gospel topics essays

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Posted (edited)

Last sunday was easter, I looked forward to going to church with the family, and my daughter invited her best friend who is not a member to church.  Sacrament meeting was good, one hymn was of a dirge variety - choir number was beautiful
my wife taught gospel doctrine on the doctrine of atonement and comments/discussion enlivened the lesson and there was a good spirit.  

A few hours after getting home from church and we had taken my daughter and friend to the airport, my wife was distraught over an event at church.  I asked what happened, and she said, "you didn't hear from [daughter] what happened today?"  "Uh, no what happened - I thought sacrament was good".  

Then my wife proceeded to explain how for sunday school the regular teacher was not there this sunday, and they pulled in the full-time missionary elders last minute to teach the older youth 15 - 17y/o.  The missionaries could have given a great lesson on the resurrection, the events of holy week, the atonement and salvation?   But no - they chose to say they were asked on short notice and didn't have a lesson planned, so "let's just open it up to questions - ask us the hard questions you're afraid to ask!"  

A boy - a senior in HS was asked by a friend at school why black members of the church were not offered the same blessings of the priesthood at the same time as other members.  How should we answer a question like this?  the missionary started answering this question by presenting the analogy of giving a 4 year old a chainsaw. He said you don’t give them a real chainsaw because they “would probably kill themselves because they don’t know how to properly handle it.” 
my daughter asked if he was actually comparing black members to 4 year-olds? Elder backs off and recoils and says he didn't mean it like that.  The young elder then tried another approach and went on to tell the story of Moses - how Moses first received the higher Melchizedek priesthood commandments, but when he came down the mountain, he saw that they were worshiping the golden calf, so subsequently he broke the higher law tablets, and gave them the lower commandments for the Aaronic priesthood because the Israelites were not ready. The young elder 14months of experience on the mission said that God gives the priesthood to people who he trusts and that we can always trust the prophets to do the right thing because it truly was a revelation from God [to not give blacks priesthood, temple blessings, or sealings]. 

Then the missionary said if you have other questions then just go read the gospel topics essays written by church scholars.   

Next question was asked by the bishop's son pertaining to why the same sex couples policy was walked back after 4 years.  Two other boys in the class after they found out my daughter's friend was from a state in the NW teased that she must be a liberal feminist.  

Class then ended.  

Points of discussion. 

  • How can we better prepare missionaries to not miss the mark, and to better prepare for teaching opportunities?  
  • what can we do in teaching situations when classes go off the rails? 
  • Where do we go for better answers to the questions our older youth have?  - youth which were inoculated early, but have lost trust in leadership?  
  • How are we training our young Elders and Sister missionaries on utilizing the gospel topics essays?  Do they really read and understand them?  
Edited by blueglass
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34 minutes ago, sunstoned said:

The class reaction to the antidotes the elders used were justified.  They were offensive.  Hopefully, the feedback the elders received will motivate them to craft a more truthful and acceptable message.   I think using the essays to teach these concepts would be a good idea.  They are written using a faithful lens, and they are officially approved by the church.  Using the essays would also help standardize the teachings somewhat.

Does anyone know if gospel topics are taught at the MTC or in training materials for new missionaries by trainers in the field?  When I was a FT missionary we had photocopies of photocopies for all kinds of topics, from the gathering of the lost ten tribes, to old talks about why blacks were prevented from ordination or temples due to disobedience in the pre-existence, we had talks and essays for all kinds of things.  Nothing official - but an answer.  The  more speculative and wild the more popular unfortunately.  

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

18 year old kids trained in the first principles and the restoration have no business trying to answer deeper questions like this to kids just 2-3 years younger.

What they should be trained to do is refer them to their parents or Bishop.  Not given some official answer to memorize.

Where did the young Elders pick up these analogies and explanations if not from professor Bott, seminary teachers, parents or bishops?  

Edited by blueglass
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I’m curious what folks would consider as good, better, best level responses to the two questions posed during the class.

 I think JLHPROF’s suggestion fits nicely in the good category...would be better if combined with an invitation to take questions regarding God’s will directly to the source and a testimony regarding God’s promise to impart wisdom to anyone who asks with the requisite intent...which might lead to a useful discussion regarding the characteristics of that requisite intent and how best to develop them.

 

 

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No matter how we try we cannot stop stupidity - it is a natural human trait that each of us has come to know well in this life. First, missionaries need to be taught that we teach the fundamentals .... ALWAYS. We preach, teach, and testify of Christ; we teach repentance, baptism, and gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those in authority. I have known a lot of missionaries in my time and I could count on few than five fingers how many were really capable of answering in depth questions on the more complex areas of doctrine and church history. They are an extremely rare commodity and should be - these individuals are each very young. 

Regardless of age, they need to be taught and re-taught, that fundamentals come first.

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Point of Information: How has the LDS leadership indicated that the Gospel Topics Essays should be introduced and used among the membership at all?

I appreciate some info on this, thanks!

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4 minutes ago, Joshua Valentine said:

Point of Information: How has the LDS leadership indicated that the Gospel Topics Essays should be introduced and used among the membership at all?

I appreciate some info on this, thanks!

Assuming good faith here, but Elder Ballard's address to CES and to all Saints in a Utah regional training (both transcripts online)

'It is important that you know the content in these essays like you know the back of your hand. If you have questions about them, then please ask someone who has studied them and understands them. In other words, “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” as you master the content of these essays."

https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/evening-with-a-general-authority/2016/02/the-opportunities-and-responsibilities-of-ces-teachers-in-the-21st-century?lang=eng

 

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Posted (edited)

I don't know if the video with Elder Snow is still up ( there were three published videos talking about the new direction the Gospel Topics section was taking, including the essays) but when introduced (2013 iirc?) he said the Gospel Topics were meant to be used as part of the personal study.  Looking back on the more recent changes, it would seem to me the intent for more active personal study has been in the works for a long time.

Edited by Calm
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5 hours ago, blueglass said:

Last sunday was easter, I looked forward to going to church with the family, and my daughter invited her best friend who is not a member to church.  Sacrament meeting was good, one hymn was of a dirge variety - choir number was beautiful
my wife taught gospel doctrine on the doctrine of atonement and comments/discussion enlivened the lesson and there was a good spirit.  

A few hours after getting home from church and we had taken my daughter and friend to the airport, my wife was distraught over an event at church.  I asked what happened, and she said, "you didn't hear from [daughter] what happened today?"  "Uh, no what happened - I thought sacrament was good".  

Then my wife proceeded to explain how for sunday school the regular teacher was not there this sunday, and they pulled in the full-time missionary elders last minute to teach the older youth 15 - 17y/o.  The missionaries could have given a great lesson on the resurrection, the events of holy week, the atonement and salvation?   But no - they chose to say they were asked on short notice and didn't have a lesson planned, so "let's just open it up to questions - ask us the hard questions you're afraid to ask!"  

A boy - a senior in HS was asked by a friend at school why black members of the church were not offered the same blessings of the priesthood at the same time as other members.  How should we answer a question like this?  the missionary started answering this question by presenting the analogy of giving a 4 year old a chainsaw. He said you don’t give them a real chainsaw because they “would probably kill themselves because they don’t know how to properly handle it.” 
my daughter asked if he was actually comparing black members to 4 year-olds? Elder backs off and recoils and says he didn't mean it like that.  The young elder then tried another approach and went on to tell the story of Moses - how Moses first received the higher Melchizedek priesthood commandments, but when he came down the mountain, he saw that they were worshiping the golden calf, so subsequently he broke the higher law tablets, and gave them the lower commandments for the Aaronic priesthood because the Israelites were not ready. The young elder 14months of experience on the mission said that God gives the priesthood to people who he trusts and that we can always trust the prophets to do the right thing because it truly was a revelation from God [to not give blacks priesthood, temple blessings, or sealings]. 

Then the missionary said if you have other questions then just go read the gospel topics essays written by church scholars.   

Next question was asked by the bishop's son pertaining to why the same sex couples policy was walked back after 4 years.  Two other boys in the class after they found out my daughter's friend was from a state in the NW teased that she must be a liberal feminist.  

Class then ended.  

Points of discussion. 

  • How can we better prepare missionaries to not miss the mark, and to better prepare for teaching opportunities?  
  • what do we do in teaching situations when classes go off the rails? 
  • Where do we go for better answers to the questions our older youth have?  - youth which were inoculated early, but have lost trust in leadership?  
  • How are we training our young Elders and Sister missionaries on utilizing the gospel topics essays?  Do they really read and understand them?  

 

Bwa-ha-ha, this is great.  I was recently asked to be the second adult in a youth class of 13-14yo's where the teacher told the girls what was said and asked in that room could stay in that room - the girls started asking questions about polygamy.  I think I may of saved the day - I asked them if their teachers in school told them all of the answers (I happen to be a teacher too) - we all agreed that the best teachers did not tell students answers to test questions, or answers to many things.  - What is the point of school? - the point is to learn how to think for yourself, and figure answers out for yourself.  end of discussion.... with a bunch of 13-14yo's smiling and really happy that they were free to think and answer questions for themselves :D  I guess everyone can debate if that was a good direction to send them in or not - works for me.

 

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15 hours ago, let’s roll said:

I’m curious what folks would consider as good, better, best level responses to the two questions posed during the class.

 I think JLHPROF’s suggestion fits nicely in the good category...would be better if combined with an invitation to take questions regarding God’s will directly to the source and a testimony regarding God’s promise to impart wisdom to anyone who asks with the requisite intent...which might lead to a useful discussion regarding the characteristics of that requisite intent and how best to develop them.

What answers have you given in the past for these two questions?  For the first question the elders stood by their view that God's revelations were at play in banning blacks from temples and priesthood blessings.  For the second question on changing policies regarding lgbtq and increased fatigue in trusting leadership on these issues?  

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15 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

No matter how we try we cannot stop stupidity - it is a natural human trait that each of us has come to know well in this life. First, missionaries need to be taught that we teach the fundamentals .... ALWAYS. We preach, teach, and testify of Christ; we teach repentance, baptism, and gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those in authority. I have known a lot of missionaries in my time and I could count on few than five fingers how many were really capable of answering in depth questions on the more complex areas of doctrine and church history. They are an extremely rare commodity and should be - these individuals are each very young. 

Regardless of age, they need to be taught and re-taught, that fundamentals come first.

Yes I agree, that on easter sunday at least this should be an easy decision and instinct should kick in when asked to speak or teach on the spur of the moment.  Dig deep and share how you became converted to the cause of Christ, 1Peter 3:15 "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."

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10 hours ago, changed said:

 

Bwa-ha-ha, this is great.  I was recently asked to be the second adult in a youth class of 13-14yo's where the teacher told the girls what was said and asked in that room could stay in that room - the girls started asking questions about polygamy.  I think I may of saved the day - I asked them if their teachers in school told them all of the answers (I happen to be a teacher too) - we all agreed that the best teachers did not tell students answers to test questions, or answers to many things.  - What is the point of school? - the point is to learn how to think for yourself, and figure answers out for yourself.  end of discussion.... with a bunch of 13-14yo's smiling and really happy that they were free to think and answer questions for themselves :D  I guess everyone can debate if that was a good direction to send them in or not - works for me.

 

WHat are a few tools we can teach older youth on how to wrestle with this paradox of sustaining and trusting the prophets, yet also thinking for yourself on the issues -  sifting through revelation, speculation, and bad opinions spoken by leaders in positions of authority and power?  

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1 minute ago, blueglass said:

WHat are a few tools we can teach older youth on how to wrestle with this paradox of sustaining and trusting the prophets, yet also thinking for yourself on the issues -  sifting through revelation, speculation, and bad opinions spoken by leaders in positions of authority and power?  

I think the biggest influence is parenting style.  Black and white punitive  parenting often leads children to believe God is the same. 

Leadership style from youth leaders is next in line to give kids permission to think for themselves. However, fear has long been the teaching style to keep kids in line. 

Whenever I teach I always begin by reminding the listener to pray for confirmation of any truths they believe they are walking away from my lesson with.  Maybe that’s a start.?

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, california boy said:

As appalling as these answers are, you have to remember that these were the answers to those questions not all that long ago.  I think members can see more clearly now how those answers sounded to non members.  These kinds of past answers along with all the very good examples and service the church has done has helped shaped the worlds attitudes towards Mormonism.

True - these were the answers, but explanations will not die easily, and new justifications emerge in the vacuum created by the "we don't know why" era recently resurrected by surreptitious editors in the June 2018 ensign.  Many scholars publicly panned the ensign articles that month.  Professor Marcus Martins calls upon the church to kill these pseudo-doctrines which still pervade our culture, and I quite frankly would like to turn the page on this history and move on - yet it still pops up in Sunday school to reopen old wounds. 

Here was the response by the church to Professor's Bott's (Professor of religion teaching Mission Prep at BYU) statements to the press:

"The positions attributed to BYU professor Randy Bott in a recent Washington Post article absolutely do not represent the teachings and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,”  https://universe.byu.edu/2012/02/29/professor-didnt-follow-university-media-policy-when-speaking-with-washington-post/

BYU University Communications also released a statement yesterday.

“The comments attributed to Professor Bott do not reflect the teachings in the classroom at Brigham Young University,” said Dean of Religious Education Terry Ball.

Edited by blueglass
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3 hours ago, blueglass said:

WHat are a few tools we can teach older youth on how to wrestle with this paradox of sustaining and trusting the prophets, yet also thinking for yourself on the issues -  sifting through revelation, speculation, and bad opinions spoken by leaders in positions of authority and power?  

..." The most significant distinction between the pseudo-relativism of position 4 and the contextual relativism of position 5 is the self-consciousness of being an active maker of meaning...." - http://perrynetwork.org/?page_id=2 

 

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Posted (edited)

The “ask me anything” approach taken by these young missionaries was prideful and ill-advised. They could scarcely have been better prepared for it than the teens they were purporting to teach. 

They would have done better on the spur of the moment to have read aloud the scheduled lesson from the “Come Follow Me” manual, posed the appropriate questions to the youth and invited them to respond accordingly, adding their own thoughts as inspired by the Spirit. 

Or, they could have given the youth one of the lessons they as missionaries give to investigators. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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21 hours ago, blueglass said:

 

  • How can we better prepare missionaries to not miss the mark, and to better prepare for teaching opportunities?  
  • what can we do in teaching situations when classes go off the rails? 
  • Where do we go for better answers to the questions our older youth have?  - youth which were inoculated early, but have lost trust in leadership?  
  • How are we training our young Elders and Sister missionaries on utilizing the gospel topics essays?  Do they really read and understand them?  

How can we better prepare missionaries to not miss the mark, and to better prepare for teaching opportunities?  I would say tell them not to do stuff like this and report it when they do.

What can we do in teaching situations when classes go off the rails? I would say say, “Hey I think we’re off the rails here.”

Where do we go for better answers to the questions our older youth have?  - youth which were inoculated early, but have lost trust in leadership?  I would find out what their individual or shared concerns are and go from there -- this is a very personal, individualized matter.

How are we training our young Elders and Sister missionaries on utilizing the gospel topics essays?  Do they really read and understand them?  I don’t know, but if I were a mission president getting this kind of report, I’d figure out a way.

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7 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

The “ask me anything” approach taken by these young missionaries was prideful and ill-advised. They could scarcely have been better prepared for it than the teens they were purporting to teach. 

They would have done better on the spur of the moment to have read aloud the scheduled lesson from the “Come Follow Me” manual, posed the appropriate questions to the youth and invite them to respond accordingly, adding their own thoughts as inspired by the Spirit. 

Agree wholeheartedly.   Just trying to repair some of the pain/stress from my daughter who had the courage to invite her friend to church.  The Lord will make things right.  

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4 hours ago, blueglass said:

WHat are a few tools we can teach older youth on how to wrestle with this paradox of sustaining and trusting the prophets, yet also thinking for yourself on the issues -  sifting through revelation, speculation, and bad opinions spoken by leaders in positions of authority and power?  

I became interested in the Church when i was 13 years old having minimal contact with the Church or members -- my brother only (long story). My parents forbade me to associate with this cult. I had my brother's materials, and received a powerful, indisputable witness as to which church I should join, the Book of Mormon, and a number of personal matters. I read all I could about the Church, hiding materials under my bed, sharing what i learned with my friends (one of whom joined the Church when we in high school), and when I went off to college, I found the Church (a small branch) and joined.

I heard some doozies all the way through. If a spiritual witness is real and important to you, convey this to those around you and when they face a paradox, they will know what to do to stay with the Church and keep the best that the leaders have given them, leaving everything else aside. The ordinances and covenants, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost are still valid no matter what they say or did, or what we think they said or did, or how much significance we attach to any of this compared to the personal spiritual witness (which should be less!).

There is a developmental aspect to all this but the Lord will not keep anyone at any age or level hanging if they choose to cultivate those attributes that the light of Christ (their conscience) and the Gospel lead them to. I can only speak as someone who started with nothing, was given what I needed, and was exposed to a bit of nonsense and disappointment early on, both before, during and after joining the Church. In retrospect, I'd say a healthy acceptance of my own nothingness (i.e. how helpless i was without a testimony) helped me to not sweat the comparatively small stuff I saw and heard from those who nonetheless loved and served me and otherwise set good examples aside from these kinds of faults.

 

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23 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Where do we go for better answers to the questions our older youth have?  - youth which were inoculated early, but have lost trust in leadership?  I would find out what their individual or shared concerns are and go from there -- this is a very personal, individualized matter.

How are we training our young Elders and Sister missionaries on utilizing the gospel topics essays?  Do they really read and understand them?  I don’t know, but if I were a mission president getting this kind of report, I’d figure out a way.

ok to recap you're advising not to do open Q&A on these tough topics, and focus more on personal ministry, YW/YM leaders meeting personally with youth (with a companion), friends and mentors reaching out.  

Do you think I should write or call the mission president about this?  

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2 minutes ago, blueglass said:

ok to recap you're advising not to do open Q&A on these tough topics, and focus more on personal ministry, YW/YM leaders meeting personally with youth (with a companion), friends and mentors reaching out.  

Do you think I should write or call the mission president about this?  

Yes. I would let you bishop know also.

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Posted (edited)

I was at a Q&A in Calgary Alberta, President Hinckley (First Counselor at that time) at a Priesthood meeting 16 and up said he decided not to speak but to take questions instead.  There were at least a thousand men and the big question I remember is why there was not a Temple closer than Cardston to Calgary.  If the big question of the youth really was the Priesthood ban I fear for their future enjoyment of the Gospel.

Edited by Metis_LDS
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