Suggestions for teaching Elders Quorum and Relief Society lessons from General Conference talks

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I was recently asked to give a presentation on teaching from Conference talks. Here is my handout:

  1. Find ways to encourage class members to read the selected talk in advance. (See 3 Nephi 17:1-3). Encourage members to come to lessons prepared to share gospel truths they have learned and their ideas about how to act on those truths.
  2. Consider contacting a few people you know and trust and know support you, and ask them specifically to read the talk so that at least a few people are ready.
  3. Read through the assigned talk several times and highlight what you think are the main points. Look at the ‘Learning from General Conference Messages’ page in the Come Follow Me Resources on lds.org. These pages give suggested learning activities for each Conference address by the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve and the Relief Society, Primary and YW Presidencies. These suggestions are a great place to start and will help to ensure that the lesson is based on the assigned talk. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “A gospel teacher is not called to choose the subject of the lesson but to teach and discuss what has been specified” (“Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 80).
  4. Teaching is more than lecturing, but it is also more than simply leading a discussion. Part of your role is to encourage participation that edifies and is based on the scriptures. Use a variety of teaching methods. The Saviour used scriptures, parables, inspired questions, discussion, logic, object lessons, analogies, preaching, silence, repetition, prophecy, experience, observation, and testimony.
  5. If you want to focus on just one part of the talk you’re teaching from, consider showing a clip from the talk. It will usually not be appropriate to show the whole talk as the expectation is that class members will have studied it in advance.
  6. Look for opportunities to focus on the Saviour. Your goal as a teacher is to help those you teach do all they can to become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Are there examples from the Saviour’s life or teachings that will enhance the message of the lesson? Bearing testimony of the Saviour will invite the Holy Ghost.
  7. Ask thought-provoking questions that promote discussion. Take time to craft these questions – you really need to carefully prepare your questions in advance; they will be the bedrock of your lesson. If you’re wondering if your questions will promote discussion try to answer them yourself. If you can answer your questions with one or two words, see if you can restate the question in a way that will require more thought or time to answer.
  8. It’s OK to ask a question and just let it hang in the air for a moment. Resist the temptation to jump in and answer your own questions or simply move on.
  9. Be careful not to end a good and purposeful discussion too soon in an attempt to cover all the material you have prepared.
  10. Invite those you teach to act on what they learn. Class members’ conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ will deepen as they understand and apply true doctrine. General Conference talks usually include a number of invitations to act or set out promised blessings dependent on our action. Unless there is a focus on doing something differently we have just had a pleasant chat. Remind class members of the invitation to act at the beginning of the next lesson.

 

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