Strengthening Quorums and Members


Elder Ballard: Thank you, Elder Oaks. We are grateful to participate in this leadership broadcast and appreciate the instructions we have received from members of the Quorum of the Twelve. As Elder Oaks said, our group will discuss some of the ways we can follow the leadership principles outlined in chapter 3 of Handbook 2 and also in chapter 4, which deals with councils. The Lord gave us a pattern in the Doctrine and Covenants. Let me just read it:

“And now, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act and direct my church, how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given” (D&C 43:8).

Our assignment is to discuss how to implement the instructions we have received in this meeting. Specifically, how do we minister to families, how do we strengthen Melchizedek Priesthood holders, and how do we help the youth reactivate and strengthen each other?

We know that Church members are facing real challenges in these difficult days. And Church growth occurs when personal lifelong conversion to the gospel results in increased faithfulness of each individual and family. This is a constant effort and it is a blessing that comes when we are able to save and help one another, particularly one by one.

We had a wonderful example that you talked about, Sister Wixom, about how some Primary leaders visited a family that needed some real help. Would you share that with us?

Sister Wixom: Yes, Elder Ballard, and it’s happening—it’s happening all over the world when Primary presidencies take the opportunity to go into the homes of the children and visit with the families. Let’s look at how it happened in Guatemala.

Video Segment 1: Ministering to Children

Narrator: Ministering to families begins with loving and caring about every family member and seeking to understand their needs.

Female: Stephanie, what’s the situation with the Vasquez children?

Female: The children really want to come to Primary, but they don’t because of their parents.

Narrator: These leaders understood that children and youth can have a powerful influence on their families. They sought the guidance of the Spirit, counseled together, and decided to visit the Vasquez family that week.

The leaders recognized that on the occasions when the children were able to come to church, they had spiritual experiences.

Female: Cindy, your mom told me that you get up early to go to church. Why do you like to go to church?

Female: Because I like to learn more of the word of God and spend time with the other children.

Female: And you, Danilo?

Male: I like to read the scriptures, and sometimes they have me go up to pray. I pray for my family and for everyone.

Female: Sister Vasquez, how do you feel, knowing that your children are attending church?

Female: I feel happy when they get out of bed and say, “Mommy, let’s go to church!” I wish I could go with them, but my husband needs me because he is sick.

Female: If you make the effort and pray for him, he will be able to go to church. Our Father will bless you and give you both the strength that you need.

Narrator: Working with the bishopric, these ward leaders planned ways to continue blessing the children and strengthening their family. An inspired Primary activity helped the children feel the love and friendship of other ward members.

Female: Today the children are interacting with the other children, which is what we wanted, so they could make friends within the Church.

Narrator: As the Spirit touched the children’s hearts, they looked to their parents for guidance, and their parents were strengthened to come back to church.

From the handbook we learn, “The family is ordained of God. It is the most important unit in time and in eternity.”

Elder Ballard: That’s a wonderful example, Sister Wixom. Now let’s talk about what did we learn from just that little example?

Sister Wixom: Did you feel the Spirit in that home? Just like Elder Nelson taught us earlier today, it was a sanctuary of faith. Those hearts of those family members, they knew the gospel was true. They just needed that visit from a Primary presidency to connect the children to the parents and strengthen that family.

Elder Ballard: And also the power of those little children and the children intermingling within the Primary organization. And so even little children can be part of this great cause of being the one that might be able to help bring another one to activity in the Church.

Anything particularly, Elder Rasband, that stands out to you that you’d like to comment on?

Elder Rasband: I was moved with the spirit of the children. In my viewing of that little segment, it was the children that helped bring their parents back, that helped bring them to church by their loving to go to Primary activities and their loving to go to church on Sunday, even though the mother and the father couldn’t go. And I think this is a great example of how the children can help bring along their parents.

Elder Ballard: The example that we had on the video, Sister Wixom, those children were learning. What were they learning? I mean, their responses, I thought, were terrific.

Sister Wixom: I picked up on that too. They had participated in Primary enough to know and feel a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the power of prayer. And they took that home to their families.

Sister Dalton: You know, it’s all about conversion, and they said they like to read in the Book of Mormon and pray. And when you’re converted, the natural result of that is that you do strengthen your brethren.

Elder Ballard: And so, Sister Dalton, how does this relate to all those that are watching this broadcast around the world?

Sister Dalton: Well, you know, I keep thinking, Elder Rasband, of the scripture “a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6), and sometimes that’s the case. But these are ordinary things that bring extraordinary results that leaders are doing all over the world.

There are some Young Women leaders I know of in Brazil who planned a Young Women in Excellence specifically with a mother who was not a member of the Church in mind. And as the daughter testified in that meeting, the mother’s heart was touched. And that relationship between the mother and the daughter was strengthened.

Elder Ballard: Sure.

Sister Dalton: And as that happens, then families are strengthened, and so it’s happening everywhere.

Elder Ballard: Elder Andersen.

Elder Andersen: I just wanted to add that sometimes we as leaders, in our anxiousness to help the children, we try to go around the parents. And in this case, they did not. And you think of that beautiful phrase that has been used in the Church for 50 years. It’s in the handbook, where it says the home is the basis of a righteous life and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions. And these wise Primary leaders understood that to just grab the children was not the answer. They had to go into the family because that’s going to be the lasting place of righteousness and goodness.

Sister Dalton: And these Young Women leaders knew that too; if they can strengthen that bond, that eternal bond between a mother and a daughter, the families will be strengthened.

Elder Ballard: One thing we also witnessed there, which was very important, it came into a council setting within the ward; they came back and they talked about their situation, and just think, the power that we have when a Primary presidency will talk specifically about a family. They decided that they wanted to go out and try to touch the life of the Vasquez family. Just think what can happen with elders quorums, with high priests groups, or anybody that’s less active or anybody that’s struggling. When we get together and we talk about someone’s need, what we can do.

Elder Rasband, I think you had an experience that you’d like to share with us on the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Elder Rasband: Well, thank you, Elder Ballard. I’m excited for this next segment because of what we’ve heard today. When you think of the direction we’ve received and the counsel; particularly I liked Elder Perry and Elder Christofferson talking about the importance of the priesthood and the quorum. And then, of course, President Packer, whose lifelong familiar themes of home and family and power in the priesthood are all wrapped into this story that we’re going to see from the British Isles. Let’s see it now.

Video Segment 2: Activation

Ben: Brother Grant has been inactive for as long as I can remember, for about 20 years.

Keith: I went inactive for all the wrong reasons and was inactive for quite a long time.

Ben: I started working with and visiting Keith and his family to help them come back. At that time, Keith was a priest, so we started working towards receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood. Once he received it, he was called as second counselor in the elders quorum presidency. I was able to really work with him and encourage him.

Ben: Is there anything that John and I can do for you?

Tracy: I’d like you to give me a blessing.

Ben: We state her full name, by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and we seal the anointing that’s taken place. Then you give her a blessing as dictated by the Spirit.

Keith: Being able to give a blessing is a privilege to act in the name of Jesus Christ, to be able to do His work.

Ben: Once he received the Melchizedek Priesthood, we set the goal to receive his own endowment and be sealed. He attended the temple preparation classes. Once he held a temple recommend, we went and did baptisms.

Keith: He helped me to prepare; he called the temple and made the appointments for us.

Ben: So I was able to help him prepare and give support and guidance as he went through the endowment, and then I witnessed him and his wife be sealed as a family.

Keith: It’s so serene and peaceful. It’s not like being anywhere on earth. It’s like halfway between here and heaven, I’d imagine.

Our family’s gotten a lot closer since we started back at church. There’s no way I’m ever going to stop going to church again. While ever I’m breathing I’m going to be there.

Ben: I felt proud, but not in a boastful way. I felt proud that Heavenly Father had been pleased with the work I’d done in working with them and encouraging them and supporting them.

Elder Ballard: Well, what do we learn from that experience with that elders quorum presidency?

Elder Rasband: Well, first of all, Elder Ballard, this is a real story. This is Ben Blackburn, who is the elders quorum president, reaching out and ministering to a quorum member, who, together with others in their quorum in the ward, brought a family to the temple and to their ordinances and covenants. How powerful is that?

Elder Ballard: And we have to ask ourselves, I think, when we see an example like that, how many more of our Father’s children, both men and women and even children, are out there that just that kind of attention given to them could end up with that kind of a result.

Elder Andersen: You know, President Monson, I’ve heard him teach us many, many times that one of the greatest feelings in life is knowing that the Lord has sent you to answer another person’s prayer. And you know how many people in the world we live in today are praying for solutions, praying for hope, and they might not even know that they’re seeking the Church or to return. But you see in this elders quorum president a desire to reach out and help a family. And that is a role that President Monson has taught us over and over again.

Elder Ballard: And was emphasized by the Brethren in the earlier part of the program. They laid out some very good suggestions as to how we can get these kinds of results in the lives of more of our Heavenly Father’s children.

Sister Wixom.

Sister Wixom: My favorite part of this segment is when that home teacher taught her husband how to give her a blessing. Those two home teachers could have given her that blessing, but a wife loves nothing more than to have her husband’s hands on her own head. And he walked him through that and provided that opportunity.

Elder Ballard: Thank you. Elder Rasband, you know, President Packer often teaches the experience of the elder. Would you share that with all the people around the world, where he was asked to give the blessing but chose not to—explain that to them.

Elder Rasband: Well, it’s much like what we have just seen where President Packer was working with a formerly less-active father and a blessing was requested. They invited President Packer to do it and he, himself, turned to the father and said, “You know how to do this, and what you don’t know, I’ll help you.” And President Packer helped him know, just how we saw this elders quorum president describe to that brother, “Here’s how you do the blessing.” And he did, and President Packer has always said, “I’m surely grateful I didn’t get in the way of that blessing by a worthy father-husband.”

Elder Ballard: That’s a great example. And what happens, Elder Andersen, to that inactive, or maybe that father or Melchizedek Priesthood leader giving the first blessing maybe after a long time, or maybe even the first one that he ever has given?

Elder Andersen: I had that experience where I helped a man who had been a member for 10 years, had never given a blessing. And the next verses of President Packer where he quotes that every man might speak in the name of God, right after that, it says, “That faith … might increase in the earth” (D&C 1:21), and what happens is there is an abundance of faith that enters into the heart of the person giving the blessing.

Elder Ballard: And so all of us that are in this meeting around the world, could we think about who are those wonderful men that have not given a blessing for a long time, that we might be able to reach out to and teach using the principles that we learned earlier from the members of the Twelve in the earlier part of this program?

Elder Andersen: Could I add one other item that I think was very important here that Elder Perry emphasized? He said, if at all possible, we need to elevate the role of the elders quorum president, the high priests group leader, so that the bishop and the bishopric can take care of their duties that they need to take care of. And I think that he said, if at all possible, they should be kept in their callings longer than a few months or even a year or two. The elders quorum president and high priests group leader should be elevated in their role in the ward.

Elder Ballard: What is the main purpose of the Church, Sister Dalton? What is this work we’re trying to do?

Sister Dalton: It’s to bring families, to seal families so that they can be eternal in our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.

Elder Ballard: Absolutely. And we could use His words, “This is my work.”

Sister Dalton: “And my glory.”

Elder Ballard: What? “To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). And so in a lot of the efforts we do in the Church, we’ve got to also always keep in mind that we’re trying to help each other make that wonderful goal of being able to go back to Heavenly Father when life is over.

Elder Ballard: Elder Andersen and Elder Rasband, talk a little bit about that effort to get that good brother to the temple, why that’s important. What are your viewpoints, both of you?

Elder Andersen: Well, Elder Perry and Elder Christofferson talked about how all of this leads us to the temple. And that good elders quorum president in England, he wasn’t just trying to bring the man back to church. He was aiming at covenants and bringing him to Christ through the ordinances of the temple. And wasn’t that beautiful to see those pictures outside of the temple? The elders quorum president beaming like a proud father as these people he had worked with, evidently, for quite a number of times because, he said, he took him first to do baptisms for the dead. He was thinking beyond just bringing him to church. He was helping connect him to his Heavenly Father.

Sister Dalton: I love that thought because that really is the case, that we have to keep our eye on the temple with all this work that we’re doing when we’re trying to minister.

Elder Rasband: I thought, when looking at that video, about 3 Nephi 18:32, and think of an elders quorum president and the family and the role the Lord played in this as well:

“Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.”

The Lord’s role in healing them, and every elders quorum president and member being the means of bringing them through that process.

Elder Andersen: That elders quorum president was turning that good man to God and to prayer and letting him develop level by level, step by step.

Elder Rasband: He sure got a calling quickly.

Elder Andersen: Yes, he did.

Elder Rasband: He comes back into activity and he’s called to be a counselor in the quorum presidency.

Elder Ballard: Well, that’s all part of the program. I mean, that’s a good idea to move him along, to give him something to do.

Elder Andersen: Right.

Elder Ballard: Anything else that we missed?

Sister Wixom: I’d just want to comment on when you read 3 Nephi 18 and you said, it says, “Nevertheless, continue to minister.” Did you notice that twice in just those verses, it says that same phrase, “Nevertheless, continue to minister” (see 3 Nephi 18:30, 32). I think that’s the Lord’s way of saying, “Never give up.” And when there is rejection, continue to love and to minister. Nevertheless.

Elder Ballard: Well, that was a great example. Thank you, Elder Rasband, for sharing that. Let’s shift now and talk about the future of the Church, which are the young men and the young women and the youth of the Church. We got wonderful instruction on service and how powerful service is affecting the individual who serves and also the person that’s receiving the service.

Elder Andersen, you have an experience that you’d like to share with us that demonstrates that in a most remarkable way.

Elder Andersen: Well, both Elder Perry and Elder Christofferson spoke about the sanctifying power of service and that the Savior taught this so importantly, that he who is the greatest is the servant, not the master. And so this illustration is of a young deacons quorum president named Spencer in the state of Arizona in the United States who helped a young man named Dayton, who is in his quorum. This one is very dramatic and might not be as illustrative as what all deacons quorum presidents would do, but it will set the tone for what we want to learn. Let’s watch.

Video Segment 3: Dayton’s Legs

Spencer: When I got called to be the deacons quorum president, I felt a great sense of responsibility on my shoulders that I should be watching out for everybody in the quorum. I met Dayton in our deacons quorum at church. Dayton has cerebral palsy, and he can’t talk or communicate that well, but you can feel his spirit. He should have the opportunity to do what everybody else does.

Dayton’s father: We’ve always tried to include him in everything that we do. Along the way we found out that he just loves the wind in his face.

Spencer’s father: Spencer knelt down right in front of Dayton and grabbed him on his knees, and he said, “Dayton, would you like to do a triathlon with me?”

Dayton doesn’t communicate other than he’ll blink for yes and he won’t blink for no. And he started blinking, and he said, “Dad, he said yes!”

Spencer: It was a different experience than the other triathlons I’ve done because when I got on that bike it felt harder pulling someone else with me the entire way. I knew that Dayton was within 5 feet of me the whole time, and it was awesome to know that there was someone else there—one of my really good friends that could be with me.

Spencer’s father: I’ve learned great lessons of love in a boy that does what Christ would do if He were here in fulfilling his responsibility as a deacons quorum president, as a friend.

Spencer: Near the finish line was very spiritual for Dayton and I because he shows me that you can do hard things no matter what your challenges are or what the circumstances are. I felt that I was out of juice. I was out of energy, but then I don’t even know where it came from; Dayton started smiling, and I started to speed up and I had the energy to sprint the last few hundred yards into the finish line, and I just felt great at the finish line. I didn’t feel that I was drained of my energy; I felt that the Spirit was there helping Dayton and I to finish that race.

Spencer’s mother: He doesn’t want to look like the hero at all. He wants Dayton to look like the hero and he’s just Dayton’s legs.

Spencer: I feel blessed to be able to hold the priesthood. I feel that Heavenly Father and my bishop—they have a lot of trust in me that I can do service for others and can act on what I think needs to be done.

Elder Ballard: I’ve seen that two or three times, and every time I do, I have to fight away the tears, but what have we learned? Let’s talk about that. What are the principles that any deacons quorum president could do? He doesn’t need to be quite like Spencer, but let’s talk about how these Aaronic Priesthood quorum leaders can touch the lives of their quorum members.

Elder Andersen: Well, Elder Ballard, we first heard Spencer say, “As I was made a deacons quorum president, I felt a great responsibility to look out after the other members of my quorum.” And this is something that we will see more and more in the years ahead, that young quorum presidents and young women take more responsibility for those their same age. Listen to this counsel in the Doctrine and Covenants to a deacons quorum president. It said:

“And again, verily I say unto you, the duty of a president over the office of a deacon is to preside … [and] to sit in council with them, and to teach them their duty, edifying one another, as it is given according to the covenants” (D&C 107:85).

Now, that’s a large responsibility, but that is their responsibility.

Elder Ballard: Sister Dalton? How does that play as it relates to young women?

Sister Dalton: You know, it, it makes me emotional because we see young women doing the same things, the Personal Progress for young women who can’t do it themselves. And I’m reminded, as you were, Elder Andersen, of a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants that says, it’s in 84:106:

“And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also.”

And these young people in our Church are incredible, and they can do for others what others can’t do for themselves—and they want to. And they’re amazing.

Elder Ballard: Thank you very much. Elder Rasband, where are the future elders quorum presidents and high councilors and bishoprics and stake presidencies? Where are they today?

Elder Rasband: Well, they’re residing in all the deacons, teachers, and priests quorums throughout the whole Church. And they are all joined by wonderful young women, in Beehives and in every organization of the Young Women. And this is the power of the future of the Church. Little Spencer here, this deacons quorum president, he inspires me. It’s just so from his heart and so genuine.

Sister Dalton: I wish every deacon in the Church could see that segment.

Elder Ballard: I don’t know why they can’t. It’ll be on the Internet.

Elder Andersen: That’s right. It’ll be in our Leadership Training Resources. And certainly, any deacons quorum president, with the help of his bishop, could see this video.

Sister Wixom: Some of those future leaders are in Primary. And when Spencer said, “I found out I could do a hard thing,” I thought, that’s exactly what our youth today need to know and feel inside, in their bones, that they can do a hard thing and stand alone, if necessary, like President Monson said at conference.

Elder Ballard: And I would think that everyone that listened to Elder Nelson talk about the importance of marriage would see this little demonstration or get their own example out of their own ward or branch. How precious are children. How precious is marriage. How precious is it to have a little boy like Dayton and a deacons quorum president like Spencer that are on the same journey. But they have a father and a mother, and without marriage, these spirit children of our Heavenly Father can’t get into homes like this.

Sister Dalton: Did you see how touched the father and the mother were, that someone would care enough? And that strengthens your faith when you see a young boy ministering as the Savior would minister. It strengthens my faith.

Elder Andersen: Elder Perry and I, just a couple of weeks ago, were at a local ward and he was going to teach some of the principles of the Melchizedek Priesthood. But we had all the priesthood there and about the time I started to speak, two of the young men suddenly left the room. And I thought, “Well, I don’t know how I feel about that.” And then, in about 15 minutes—you know, the ward was a Utah ward with homes close to the chapel—here they came back with another boy on their arms. And after the meeting, we could see what they’d done. They wanted to bring him forward. He was not there, and they had gone out after him. And in the spirit of President Monson’s teachings, they had been to the rescue right that morning.

Elder Ballard: If President Monson were here, he would say, “And reach out to the widow and reach out to the one that is lonely and is missing the blessings of the Church.” I think this is a great opportunity that we’ve had to be able to be instructed together that we might learn how to act and how to bring about the fulfillment of the covenants that await our Heavenly Father’s children as they practice some of these principles that have been taught here.

Let’s just go around the circle and wrap up our part of this little discussion. Elder Andersen and Sister Dalton, anything that you’d care to close with?

Elder Andersen: Well, I think what has come to my mind is the sanctity of marriage, the power of families. I remember President Packer said, “We are an organization of families, not an organization just of wards and branches.” And we must bring those families to Christ where a priesthood bearer, if possible, acts in the name of the Lord to help the whole family come unto Christ. And I just want to testify to you and to those who are listening that I know that this power of Christ, as we seek to bring others to Christ, He will bless us to know who to reach out to and who to help.

Elder Ballard: Sister Dalton?

Sister Dalton: You know, I think the thing that resonates with me is that this is the Lord’s work and it’s done one on one. It’s done one by one, and we have such a great example in our prophet. He leads the way and he does minister one on one. And so I don’t think that leaders should be overwhelmed. There are so many who need help, but what I felt and saw today was that we zeroed in. These leaders zeroed in on one person that they could help. And if everyone could just do that, everything would change. Families would be different; individuals would be different. I want to be like our prophet because he’s like the Savior.

Elder Ballard: Thank you very much. Sister Wixom?

Sister Wixom: Thank you, Elder Ballard. In Alma chapter 24, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies are talking about what helped them change their attitude from wickedness to righteousness, to come back to the fold, and their leader said, “I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts, that we have opened a correspondence with these brethren, the Nephites” (Alma 24:8). That opening of the correspondence with those in their ward or in their branch made all the difference in the world. And those Lamanites’ hearts were softened—and they returned.

Elder Ballard: Correspondence meaning communication.

Sister Wixom: Yes, ministering and having conversation, going into their homes, understanding their needs, and loving them as brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters of Heavenly Father.

Elder Ballard: Thank you very much. Elder Rasband?

Elder Rasband: Among all that’s been said, I enjoyed the spirit of counsel that I saw demonstrated in every one of these little video segments—Primary presidencies counseling with bishoprics, quorum presidencies counseling about how they’re going to go minister to their members, even a deacons quorum presidency, I’m sure, talked about Dayton. And this is a wonderful help to the fathers and mothers, the councils that we are able to be involved with in the Lord’s Church.

Elder Ballard: Thank you. Well, brothers and sisters, it’s been a pleasure and an honor for us to be able to participate. We hope that everyone who attends this leadership broadcast will really watch it carefully, watch it more than once, think about their own situation, their own circumstance, and determine what they can do more in their various assignments to be able to lift, inspire, and bless our Heavenly Father’s children.

We ask our Heavenly Father to bless you, watch over you, and bless you in your assignments and inspire you and give you promptings and impressions as to what you can do in your own quiet way and in working together in your ward or your stake or your family council to bless more of our Heavenly Father’s children.

Just think what would happen if every elders quorum was able to bring just one or two a year. I’m talking about each presidency working together to get that done. It’s not that hard when we bring it down, looking at the effort of reaching out to our Heavenly Father’s children that He loves and whom we have the responsibility for because we have the fulness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ.

We thank our Heavenly Father for the Restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph, and testify that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ here upon the earth and that our Heavenly Father and the Lord will bless us as we take action. May that be the case in every one of your lives is our humble prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.