Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Lesson - How can I participate effectively in councils in the Church? - What I Did.

Dude, I'm so sorry I've been so lackadaisical about posting my lessons lately.  I cannot get over how busy I am.  Also, I feel like I my lessons haven't been as exciting as usual.  I usually spend hours and hours looking up fun object lessons or making cool games, but lately I just haven't been feeling that.  Lack of time, exhaustion...and maybe the Spirit telling me, "You don't have to do all of this extra stuff."  It reminds me of President Uchtdorf's talk, "Forget-Me-Nots."  He was saying something about not needing to cross-stitch a thing with the theme of the lesson for each woman if you're teaching Relief Society.  And I was like, "Am I doing that?

I need to update this with THREE lessons I've done in the past three weeks.  I'm going to start with this one.  And I'm warning you - this won't be a ton of help in the creativity department.  If you're looking for some creative object lessons, posters, etc. that go with this lesson, go here.  Back when my depression wasn't kicking my butt. :)  Depression really takes the wind out of your sails.  (Still struggling with that.  Still needing to go to the doctor about it.  Still not being able to afford said doctor meeting.)

*Before class, write on the board, "Why does the Lord use councils?"

1.  Finishing up last week's stuff

Last week, we did the lesson on testimony, and I had the kids write their answers to a couple of questions on a sheet of paper.  We had time to go over the first one, but not the second one.  The kids really wanted to share their second answers this week, so we did.  The question had been, "When has someone else's testimony really affected you and why?"

So the ones who wanted to share did, and it was really nice.  Brought the Spirit to class in an effective way.

2.  Making Connections

I handed out these worksheets:

Making Connections
1. Share an experience in which you learned something about the gospel in a meaningful way. You could include experiences from church, seminary, family home evening, personal scripture study, or everyday life.


2. Share your experiences participating in council settings in the Church, such as class and quorum presidencies or bishopric youth committee meetings. What did you do to prepare for the meeting? What did you do to participate? How did the council help accomplish the Lord’s work? 

To model for them what I was looking for (they all kept staring blankly at question number two and asking what I wanted.  I was all, "Um, do what it says....?"  Is it that cryptic?  I think sometimes they don't want to bring their thinking caps to church.  Their thinking caps are tired from school. :)) , I gave them some examples from my own life to answer the questions.

My answer to question number one - two experiences.  The first experience I shared was from when I was 14 years old and at my first EFY.  We had special devotionals on Thursday nights.  Our counselor gathered us up into a nice room somewhere on BYU's campus and brought a big old box of doughnuts.  "Who wants dougnuts??"  She yelled.  We all cheered and said, yes, yes, yes, we wanted doughnuts.  So she addressed one girl first.  "Do you want your doughnut?"

"Heck yes!"

"Okay.  Hey, Julie, you need to do 20 sit-ups so that Sandy can have her doughnut."  (The counselor had talked to Julie about this beforehand and Julie had said yes.)

Sandy was like, "Oh.  Jeez.  Sorry, Julie."

"It's okay!" she said cheerfully when she was done.

And so it went with each girl.  Do you want a doughnut?  You do?  Julie, do 20 situps for her.  

Julie was starting to shake and sweat pretty badly.  She was really suffering.  One girl said, "No, I don't want my dougnut.  Not if Julie has to do sit-ups for me."

The counselor said, "Eh, too bad.  She still has to do sit-ups for you."

Twenty more sit-ups.

A couple of the girls started to cry.

One girl asked if she could do the sit-ups for her own doughnut.  Nope.  Only Julie could do the sit-ups.

When all the girls had been offered doughnuts and Julie had done five million sit-ups, our counselor told us that this was like the atonement - Christ had to do it - no one else.  And he atoned for our sins, whether or not we make use of the atonement.  It really struck home to me.  I still remember it, 22 years later.

Another example from my life to answer number one was my very first day of seminary, in 9th grade.  Our teacher brought out this huge, amazing-looking cake.  He sat down and was like, "Mmmm-mmm.  This sure looks good."  And he just started devouring the cake.  Mooshing it into his face.  Making satisfied sounds.  Licking his lips.  Repeatedly exclaiming how amazing it was.  He was really FEASTING on it.  It was hilarious.  He was covered in cake and so thoroughly enjoying it.  Then he said that reading the scriptures needs to be like this for us.  Not dainty bites.  Not licking the frosting once.  Really feasting upon them.  That always stuck with me, too.

To answer question number two, I told them about a couple of ward council meetings I had been to and about the Bishop/Youth Council meetings I went to as a young woman and my role in those and how they worked.

Once I gave the kids these examples, their wheels were turning and they were prepared to answer those questions for themselves.  Then we shared everyone's answers.

2.  Scripture Activity

I put them into groups of two.  Then I gave each pair one of these slips (each slip is different for each team):
Why the Lord Uses Councils

Directions: With your partner, look up the following scripture. On the chalkboard, write how the scripture answers the question, “Why does the Lord use Councils?” Then, in the space below the scripture on this paper, write how the counsel in this scripture could be applied to your relationships with your families.

Matthew 18:20

Why the Lord Uses Councils

Directions: With your partner, look up the following scripture. On the chalkboard, write how the scripture answers the question, “Why does the Lord use Councils?” Then, in the space below the scripture on this paper, write how the counsel in this scripture could be applied to your relationships with your families.

Moroni 6:5
Why the Lord Uses Councils

Directions: With your partner, look up the following scripture. On the chalkboard, write how the scripture answers the question, “Why does the Lord use Councils?” Then, in the space below the scripture on this paper, write how the counsel in this scripture could be applied to your relationships with your families.

D&C 38:27

Why the Lord Uses Councils

Directions: With your partner, look up the following scripture. On the chalkboard, write how the scripture answers the question, “Why does the Lord use Councils?” Then, in the space below the scripture on this paper, write how the counsel in this scripture could be applied to your relationships with your families.

D&C 88:122

After everyone was done writing their answers on the board and writing their answers to the second question on their papers, we went over them.  I had each pair share their scripture, and we all took out our scriptures and marked those verses, writing "councils" in the margins next to them.

Then I had the students share how the counsel in these scriptures can apply to families.

Here are some of the applications I came up with early, just in case they had a hard time applying them:

A.  Matthew 18:20 - The Lord will be with your family when you gather in his name for family scripture study, FHE, family prayer, etc.
B.  Moroni 6:5 - Praying for each other in FHE, family prayer, etc. really unifies us and helps us to know that others in our family truly care for us.  There is something really special about that - someone praying for you when you're right there.
C.  D&C 38:27 - we need to be unified as a family - no division between us.
D.  D&C 88:122 - We need to listen to each other when we meet as a family  And we need to listen to everyone's thoughts respectfully.

3.  Some Experiences in Councils

I emphasized D&C 88:122,  where it says that you need to listen to each other.  I told my students a couple of experiences some people I know have had in councils that applied.

A.  My friend was once in a presidency, and they would have meetings, but the president didn't ever listen to anyone else's ideas, and she always made executive decisions.  This made my friend really frustrated, because she felt like she had some ideas to contribute.

B.  A relative worked in a group that plans Relief Society meetings - the ones that used to be called Enrichment.  The main lady in the group had planned a lot of things that were fun, but didn't spiritually feed the women they were planning for.  With some gentle coaxing from my relative, they were able to plan activities that were not only fun, but also had a point and helped to feed the womens' souls.

*We ran out of time right here.  But if we had time, I would have done the following.

4.  Acting on the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

I was going to give each student a section from Dieter Uchtdorf's talk in Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting in February of 2012.  They were to read the section, then write a question at the bottom of the paper about the portion they read.  Then they were going to trade papers.  The second person would read the first person's portion, and then answer the question the first person had written.  Here are the worksheets:

Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Directions: Read the following section from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, “Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” in the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting in February of 2012. Write a question about participating in councils that could be answered by your section. In a few minutes, you are going to trade your paper with someone else in the class and have them read your section and answer your question.

My dear brothers and sisters, thank you for being with us today. President Monson has asked that I speak to you. He sends his love and blessings to all of you.

We know you have set aside other things to attend this worldwide training session, and we commend you for your faithfulness. We love you for your willingness to consecrate your time, talents, and resources to building the kingdom of God.

We have received wise counsel today from those who have devoted their lives to hearing and heeding the voice of the Holy Spirit. We urge you to carefully consider their counsel.

Of course, we know that hearing words of counsel and acting upon them are two very different things. The Savior spoke of the difference when He said that those who hear and obey are like those who build their houses upon a rock. And those who hear but don’t follow—well, they could just end up being ex-home owners.

Church members are wonderful in their desire to be obedient and follow the Lord. But sometimes, in spite of our good intentions, we delay doing what we should do or we misunderstand what we were taught. As a result, inspired words of counsel might not have the promised effect.

Question:

Answer:


Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Directions: Read the following section from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, “Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” in the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting in February of 2012. Write a question about participating in councils that could be answered by your section. In a few minutes, you are going to trade your paper with someone else in the class and have them read your section and answer your question.

I am reminded of a story about a woman who had a dream in which her husband gave her a beautiful necklace she had always wanted. When she asked her husband what he thought the dream meant, he smiled as only a loving husband can and said, “You’ll find out tonight!”

That evening the husband came home and handed his wife a beautifully wrapped present. She opened it with deep appreciation for her sensitive husband, only to find a book entitled A Guide to Understanding Dreams.

President Harold B. Lee has said to the teachers of the Church that it is not only important to be understood but also not to be misunderstood.1

So the first thing we must do is understand. The second is to put our understanding into action. This is the “Put Your Shoulders to the Wheel” part.

In that spirit, and building on what Elder Ballard’s group discussed, I would like to offer some additional counsel and then a few suggestions as to how you might implement what you have heard today.

Question:

Answer:


Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Directions: Read the following section from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, “Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” in the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting in February of 2012. Write a question about participating in councils that could be answered by your section. In a few minutes, you are going to trade your paper with someone else in the class and have them read your section and answer your question.

We human beings have a strange tendency to complicate simple things. We set up rules, laws, bylaws, processes, and subprocesses. Eventually, we pile up load after load until we end up under a huge weight of expectations that are so complicated it is difficult to keep track of them, let alone meet them.
This is one of the reasons Paul said, “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Too often, we complicate the beauty and simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ with endless lists of meticulous expectations. However, when we focus on the “why” of the gospel, much of the confusion fades away. Why are we here? Why are we asked to obey the commandments? Why is the Atonement of Jesus Christ of such value to us?

The proper “why” questions will lead us to the proper “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “how” decisions.

Elder Ballard and his group gave us a great example by asking, “Why do we meet in councils? Is it to arrange and rearrange the ward calendar? to discuss staffing problems? to schedule cleaning the building?”

Question:

Answer:

Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Directions: Read the following section from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, “Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” in the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting in February of 2012. Write a question about participating in councils that could be answered by your section. In a few minutes, you are going to trade your paper with someone else in the class and have them read your section and answer your question.

Such issues may be urgent and necessary, but are they the most important? There are many ways to enhance our precious council time, like always coming well prepared. We could handle scheduling or other organizational matters by memo, phone, e-mail, or text. When we allow organizational matters to dominate our efforts and time in our councils, we run the risk of missing the mark of why the Lord has called us to minister in His Church.

We meet in councils to seek the inspiration of the Spirit in building the kingdom of God. We meet to seek the answers to two basic questions:
    1.
    How can we help our members better love the Lord our God with all their heart, soul, and mind?
    2.
    How can we help our members better love their neighbors as themselves?
Every other thing we discuss in our councils within our Church organizations should derive from these great commandments, for everything else hangs upon them.

Once we understand the “why” behind our council meetings, it is easier for us to focus appropriately on how to accomplish it. For example, as we consider ways to increase love for neighbor among our members, we might decide to plan a service activity in which we include our less-active members and our friends of other faiths.

All of our discussions concerning young and old, from welfare needs to missionary work, from gospel teaching to strengthening families, should be framed in this context.



Question:

Answer:
Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Directions: Read the following section from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, “Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” in the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting in February of 2012. Write a question about participating in councils that could be answered by your section. In a few minutes, you are going to trade your paper with someone else in the class and have them read your section and answer your question.


By simplifying and strengthening the council process and by inviting the Spirit, we will find the life and fire of the Holy Spirit, who provides guidance and heavenly support for our efforts.

Some may be tempted to say, “Just tell us what to do, and we’ll do it.” While we commend a righteous desire to be obedient, there is more to leadership in the Church (and more to life) than simply checking items off an assigned to-do list.

As you have noticed, the new handbooks do not specify in great detail every action you are to take in your calling. These handbooks were provided for the right amount of structure without regimenting every detail. It might be wise to look at the handbooks and even the scriptures not as checklists or detailed scripts but rather as opportunities to prepare our minds and hearts to receive divine inspiration for our responsibilities.
Unfortunately, we sometimes don’t seek revelation or answers from the scriptures or the handbooks because we think we know the answers already.

Brothers and sisters, as good as our previous experience may be, if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the Spirit. Remember, it was the questions young Joseph asked that opened the door for the restoration of all things. We can block the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father intends for us. How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew?

Question:

Answer:

Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Directions: Read the following section from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, “Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” in the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting in February of 2012. Write a question about participating in councils that could be answered by your section. In a few minutes, you are going to trade your paper with someone else in the class and have them read your section and answer your question.

Another topic I would like to discuss is the difference between growth and real growth. We have heard some about this today. In Church terms, growth could be defined as new members. New members come through children baptized at age eight as well as convert baptisms. Real growth, however, is defined as growth in the number of active members.

In some areas of the Church we have dramatic growth in new members, yet active membership remains stagnant or grows only a little. We have some measurable ways to indicate activity in the Church, such as sacrament meeting attendance, ordination to the priesthood at the right age, missionary service, and possession of a current temple recommend. Perhaps the more accurate indicators of real growth in the gospel of Jesus Christ are those that we can’t measure as easily, such as daily prayer, scripture study, family home evening, love at home and for our neighbor, and personal experiences with Christ’s Atonement. These are recorded not by a clerk in Church records but in our hearts and in heaven.

Our missionary efforts are compromised if we baptize God’s children but do not maintain love and friendship with these precious new members who are excited to find fellowship with the Saints and a place of belonging in the household of God.

Here again, our councils can deliberate on the spiritual and temporal welfare of every member—taking special care to consider each new convert. Our work as a council is to help our members grow in their love for Heavenly Father and their fellowman. If we focus our efforts here, one-on-one, many more members will feel that they have found a home in the Church—that they have found the “why” of the gospel.

Brothers and sisters, let us remember that you and I are not perfect. Consequently, our councils will not be perfect either. At times they will be understaffed. At times they may include one or perhaps several people who are not fully engaged in the work or who are distracted by the complications and stresses of everyday life.

Question:

Answer:

Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Directions: Read the following section from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, “Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” in the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting in February of 2012. Write a question about participating in councils that could be answered by your section. In a few minutes, you are going to trade your paper with someone else in the class and have them read your section and answer your question.

Please do not give up. Be careful not to over-idealize your expectations of how your councils should operate. Once again, if you are focused on the “why” of the gospel, the Spirit will direct your humble efforts.
President Hinckley once said, “We are here to assist our [Heavenly] Father in His work and His glory, ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere.”2 What a humbling statement by a prophet of God.
If your circumstances are less than ideal, please take comfort in knowing that the Lord will support and enhance your efforts, sanctify your decisions and actions, perfect them through the tender mercies of Christ, and “consecrate [your] performance … , that [it] may be for the welfare of [your] soul” (2 Nephi 32:9) and the souls of those you serve.

As I mentioned earlier, there is little good in hearing the word of God if we do not translate what we hear into our lives. Consequently, we ask that you take the following steps without hesitation and continue to do so throughout your service in your callings.

First, individually and as councils, prayerfully consider the instruction you have received. Think of priesthood power in the home, honoring divine covenants, rescuing others, focusing on the one, strengthening our youth, and building eternal marriages and families by applying gospel principles in our daily lives.

Question:

Answer:


Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Directions: Read the following section from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, “Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” in the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting in February of 2012. Write a question about participating in councils that could be answered by your section. In a few minutes, you are going to trade your paper with someone else in the class and have them read your section and answer your question.

As you consider these topics, ask yourself about the “why” of your service and ministry and the resulting “therefore what” in your responsibilities as individuals and as councils. In this process, please open your hearts and minds to the will of heaven, and I promise that the Spirit will reveal the things that matter most—for you, your family, and your responsibilities in the Church.

Second, as a result of pondering and discussion, determine a few specific actions you will commit to implement. Please keep in mind that the actions of each organization, ward, stake, family, and individual may be different. They should fit your circumstances and needs. The unity we seek is not necessarily that we all do exactly the same things at the same time but that we each listen to and always follow the direction of the same Holy Spirit.

Third, once you have made these commitments, follow up on them within the scope of your responsibilities and callings at each of your council meetings. Please do this. We ask you also to bring your decisions and efforts before the Lord in your daily prayers and ask for further light and direction. Trust Him. He knows you, and He loves you.

My dear brothers and sisters, we love and admire you; we pray for you. We know that you desire to heed the whisperings of the Spirit, to follow the Savior, and to be His hands in this great work. I bear witness that this work is true, that you are called of God. The Savior is at the head of this Church with President Monson as His prophet.

Dear friends, may you always find joy in your righteous service is my blessing and my prayer, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Question:

Answer:

And that's it!
 

17 comments:

Leslie said...

Wow! Your lesson is amazing! Thank you! This is very helpful! And I'm sorry about your struggle with depression...have you ever tried 5-htp? You can buy it over the counter at Costco and Walgreens and other drug stores...no side effects and works fast in raising your serotonin!
Thanks again!

Kar said...

Thank you so much, Leslie. I feel like my lessons are soooo boring lately, but I think I'm getting burnt out. :) So I appreciate that you don't think this lesson is loser-ish.

Heather said...

Kar, Definitely NOT loser-ish! I love your ideas. Just a reminder to try to see yourself through the eyes of others, I am pretty sure that I am not the only one that knows you are amazing. Hold on, great things are in store.

Susan Goodell said...

I feel my lessons to be less exciting with the new program this year as well. It is just a perception however because I think it is the way it is supposed to be. The students do more to participate and drive where it goes. Now I feel the best lessons are when it goes somewhere I did not plan for it to and we feel the spirit.

Travis said...

I really enjoy being able to click on your web site and read your ideas. They truly help me so much. I think you are very creative and very inspired. Please do not feel like you are not doing a good job. Read your comments and you will see you are doing a great service to others. You do a beautiful job and I look forward to click on you and help me as I am not creative in any way shape or form. Keep up the great work

Jennifer said...

I agree with Travis. My lessons have been much better since I started referencing your Blog for ideas. Thank you so much!

Dori Mosher said...

I am a full-time school teacher for the same age that I teach sunday school. Also, two of my own children are in the class ( and one in the older class - plus three others in other classes). Needless to say, I am heavily involved in the lives of teens and kids, so when I have this extra day of responsibility, my mind, energy, and creativity have taken a hike. Your lessons have saved my life! Thank you for putting these together and for especially for being willing to share them. (And the kids in the ward especially thank you :) )

Sam Rushforth Taggart said...

Thank you so much for this information! It's just what I needed...and even though you may not think this is creative...it's way better than anything I would have come up with. I appreciate you taking the time to blog these things.

mj said...

I am a career teacher of 23 years and I have used your lesson ideas without comment. You do an amazing job in creating lessons that really teach the objectives. Thank you for sharing! You are appreciated! Marjean Johnston

Eric and Rachel said...

This lesson was truly a blessing for me today. Thanks for your time and effort plus inspired ideas that help not only us teachers, but the students as well!

J-me said...

I also love your lesson plans- they help me think a little outside of my box and often give my lessons a direction. Thank you for your time and effort typing them up and sharing.

Neil said...

Holy Cow! I was stuck with this lesson and not finding a lot of direction, but you nailed it! Thank you so much!

Annonymous said...

I'm Missing your lessons thoughts for this week. How to explain the importance of marriage to others...would love to hear what everyone did?

KS said...

Thank you for the time you put into this site. I love my 16-17 year olds that I teach. Your ideas are always there to help me especially when we have our own personal family crisis' and I don't have the mental energy to come up with creative ideas.

Karyn said...

Thanks for the work you did in creating and putting all these lessons on your blog. You are amazing and gifted and my kids love the lesson ideas you come up with!

Trish said...

Thank you! You are a gifted, spirit driven teacher. We all appreciate that you share your hard work with us. :)

Petersonfamily said...

Thank you for putting so much work into these. I am a school teacher and a Sunday school teacher and sometimes I am just burned out on teaching and coming up with lesson plan ideas. I've been teaching SS for 4 years and feel like my idea well is dry. Since the kids aren't trying to get a "grade" and that church is a different atmosphere than school, I feel like I have to do more "dog and pony tricks" in SS. I took some of your ideas from this lesson and was able to adapt them to make it work for my 16 year old class.THANK YOU!! I used your left right left game idea but purchased items from the dollar store that seemed silly but that could symbolize a way to be effective in a council. I put them in paper bags and stapled them closed then let students choose a bag before the game. They couldn't open them until the end of the game and then they had to think about what their item had to do with being effective in councils. Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing your creativity!!!

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