Principle of Leadership
The purpose of Church and family meetings should be to help people become more Christlike.
We hold Church and family meetings to help people achieve worthy goals and come unto Jesus Christ.
We can learn to plan and conduct effective meetings.
Concept 1. We Hold Church and Family Meetings to Help People Achieve Worthy Goals and Come Unto Jesus Christ.
During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ met often with His disciples and others (see Matthew 5:1; Mark 2:2; Luke 4:14–15; John 6:3). He also met with His followers in Book of Mormon lands after His Resurrection (see 3 Nephi 12). In our dispensation He instructed Joseph Smith that the Saints should “meet together often” (D&C 20:55).
Bishop Robert L. Simpson, who was then a Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, said: “As we strive to know God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ, we must familiarize ourselves with the standard works of the church; we must attend the meetings as outlined by our modern-day prophets, that our hearts and minds might be filled with the teachings of truth and the spirit of testimony as borne by others and, from time to time, by ourselves, as we are called on or feel so inclined. Thus we build a testimony, a conviction that God is” (The Powers and Responsibilities of the Priesthood, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [31 Mar. 1964], 3).
President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “Avoid the tendency to crowd too many meetings in on the Sabbath day. When holding your regular meetings, make them as spiritual and effective as possible. Meetings need not be hurried nor rushed, for they can be planned in a manner that permits their sacred purposes to be accomplished without difficulty” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1981, 62; or Ensign, May 1981, 45).
Ask students: Why do we have so many meetings in the Church and with our families? In what ways are some meetings more effective than others?
Read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson: “Faithful attendance at Church meetings brings blessings you can receive in no other way” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 56; or Ensign, May 1986, 44). Ask students to list some of the important meetings in the Church and explain how attending these meetings can bring blessings.
Tell students that there are required meetings and meetings that are helpful but not required. There are meetings where we worship and meetings where we plan activities. There are formal meetings and informal meetings. There are meetings where the public is welcome and others that only those who meet a standard of worthiness may attend. Explain that the leaders who hold any of these meetings can use them to help people achieve worthy goals and come unto Christ (see the commentary). In planning and holding meetings and activities, leaders should be careful not to interfere with the home, which is the most effective place to teach and learn the gospel.
Concept 2. We Can Learn to Plan and Conduct Effective Meetings.
Church leaders plan and conduct a variety of meetings. These can be for worship, instruction, or planning. Latter-day prophets teach that families should meet together weekly in a family home evening. Here parents and children encourage each other to live gospel principles and discuss family matters.
An early step in planning a good meeting involves understanding its purpose. For example, a bishop who plans a sacrament meeting should understand that the purpose of this meeting is to take the sacrament, worship, learn the gospel, perform ordinances such as confirmation, take care of ward business, and strengthen members spiritually. Once leaders understand the purpose of a meeting, they can look for the best way to achieve it.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve gave the following counsel regarding meetings in general:
“See that the written agenda … focuses mainly on people rather than programs.”
“The purposes of the meeting should be clear, and it should start and end on time.”
“Allow sufficient time to discuss people’s needs.”
“After listening carefully and sincerely to [the] recommendations [of those present], make a decision or assignment that will result in a specific, measurable course of action.”
“Make such decisions prayerfully.”
Ask someone “to take responsibility for each assignment [and] to ‘return and report’ on an agreed-upon date.”
“When an assignment is delegated, it should normally be communicated in terms of ‘what’ rather than ‘how’; that is, the person receiving it should be accountable for the result to be achieved rather than the specific methods to be used.”
(Counseling with Our Councils: Learning to Minister Together in the Church and in the Family , 124–25.)
Using the material in the commentary and your own experience, discuss how to plan and conduct effective Church and family meetings. Divide your class into small groups. Have each group design a one-page outline to help them plan and conduct meetings. Invite the groups to explain their designs.