How do we minister?
- Pray daily for [the sister you visit] and her family.
- Seek inspiration to know her and her family.
- Visit her regularly to learn how she is doing and to comfort and strengthen her.
- Stay in frequent contact through visits, phone calls, letters, e-mail, text messages, and simple acts of kindness.
- Greet her at Church meetings.
- Help her when she has an emergency, illness, or other urgent need.
- Teach her the gospel from the scriptures and the visiting teaching messages.
- Inspire her by setting a good example.
(See “How Visiting Teachers Love, Watch Over, and Strengthen a Sister,” in Daughters in My Kingdom, page 123.)
“The purpose of ministering is to help others become true followers of Jesus Christ. Ministering to others includes:
- Remembering their names and becoming acquainted with them (see Moroni 6:4).
- Loving them without judging them (see John 13:34–35).
- Watching over them and strengthening their faith 'one by one,' as the Savior did (3 Nephi 11:15; 17:21).
- Establishing sincere friendship with them and visiting them in their homes and elsewhere (see D&C 20:47)” (Handbook 2, 3.2.3).
We will know we are successful in our ministry as visiting teachers when the sisters we visit can say:
- My visiting teacher helps me grow spiritually.
- I know that my visiting teacher cares deeply about me and my family.
- If I have problems, I know my visiting teacher will take action without waiting to be invited.
As we do these things, we are accomplishing the purposes of Relief Society to:
- Increase faith and personal righteousness.
“Visiting teachers sincerely come to know and love each sister, help her strengthen her faith, and give service. They seek personal inspiration to know how to respond to the spiritual and temporal needs of each sister they are assigned to visit. …
“When appropriate, visiting teachers share a gospel message. These messages may be from the monthly visiting teaching message … and the scriptures” (Handbook 2, 9.5.1).
"And their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer” (Moroni 6:4).
- Strengthen families and homes.
“Strengthening families is the focus of inspired Church programs such as home teaching (see D&C 20:47, 51), visiting teaching, and family home evening. As in all things, Jesus set the example of entering homes to minister, teach, and bless” (Handbook 2, 1.4.1).
“Many members do not have faithful Melchizedek Priesthood holders in their homes. Church leaders should give special attention to loving and supporting these members through inspired, watchful care, including home teaching and visiting teaching” (Handbook 2, 2.3).
- Help those in need.
“Assistance with spiritual and temporal welfare often begins with home teachers and visiting teachers. In a spirit of kindness and friendship that goes beyond monthly visits, home teachers and visiting teachers help individuals and families in need. They report the needs of those they serve to their priesthood leaders or Relief Society leaders” (Handbook 2, 6.2.4).
“[The Lord’s storehouse] includes Church members’ offerings of time, talents, compassion, materials, and financial means that are made available to the bishop to help care for the poor and needy. The Lord’s storehouse, then, exists in each ward” (Handbook 2, 6.1.3).
President Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of the Church, said of an experience, “Never before had I seen so clearly exemplified the utility and beauty of this grand organization as in the example we here witnessed, and I thought what a gracious thing it was that the Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph Smith to establish such an organization in the Church.” Read more…
The Relief Society presidency, in counsel with the bishop, prayerfully discusses how visiting teaching should be structured and organized in their ward or branch.
- Give special priority to sisters coming into Relief Society from Young Women, single sisters, new ward members, recent converts, newly married sisters, less-active members, and others with special needs.
- Discuss the needs of individuals and families and consider local needs and circumstances (distance, travel, and safety).
- Prayerfully seek revelation as you organize companionships and assign visiting teachers to each sister in the ward.
- Seek the bishop’s approval for each assignment.
- Do not organize sisters into groups for the purpose of visiting teaching. (See Handbook 2, 9.5.2)
“As needed, the bishop may invite the Relief Society president to attend some ward PEC meetings to … coordinate home teaching and visiting teaching assignments” (Handbook 2, 4.3).
“Leaders may adapt visiting teaching to ensure that sisters with the greatest needs always receive a monthly visit” (Handbook 2, 9.5.3).
“With approval from the bishop in exceptional cases, Melchizedek Priesthood leaders and Relief Society leaders may assign a husband and wife as a companionship where visits by a couple are needed” (Handbook 2, 9.5.2).
“Consider factors such as distance, travel, and safety” (Handbook 2, 9.5.2).
With approval from the bishop, Melchizedek Priesthood leaders and Relief Society leaders may temporarily assign:
- Only home teachers or only visiting teachers to certain families.
- Home teachers to visit a family one month and visiting teachers to visit Relief Society members in that family the next month.
With approval from the mission president, leaders may consider asking full-time sister missionaries to help with visiting teaching on a limited basis. … When such approval is given, full time missionaries are assigned primarily to visit new members, part-member families, and less-active members. (See Handbook 2, 9.5.3.)
Refer to Handbook 2, 17.2.2, “Transportation and Communication.”
“The Relief Society president gave me a visiting teaching list of 12 sisters who lived in a barrio across town. … I was busy with my other callings, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t know how to reach out…” Read more about this sister’s experience.
“Visiting teaching in the ward is determined by the bishop and Relief Society presidency after prayerful consideration” (Handbook 2, 9.5.2).
“Relief Society sisters accept their assignment to visit another as a call from the Lord” (Henry B. Eyring, “The Enduring Legacy of Relief Society,” Liahona, Nov. 2009, 123; see also Daughters in My Kingdom, page 110).
“Members of the Relief Society presidency instruct visiting teachers on ways to care for, watch over, remember, and strengthen one another. … They obtain the bishop's approval for each assignment” (Handbook 2, 9.5 and 9.5.2).
When you assign a sister, she should be able to say: “When my visiting teaching assignment was given, it was done in a way that helped me feel that I have an important spiritual mission to fulfill.”
When making the assignment:
- Explain the purposes of the assignment.
- Help her understand why the Lord has called her to minister to a particular sister.
- Suggest ways it could be done.
- Provide contact information about those she is assigned to watch over.
- Provide encouragement and instruction as needed.
- Ask her to report back to the Relief Society presidency any special needs of the sisters and any service rendered. Leaders instruct visiting teachers to maintain confidentiality (see Handbook 2, 6.4).
- In Sunday lessons or Relief Society meetings (see Handbook 2, 9.5).
- Presidency members meet with visiting teachers regularly to discuss sisters’ spiritual and temporal well-being (one on one) (see Handbook 2, 9.5.4).
The Relief Society presidency and the young single adult leader meet regularly to ensure that visiting teaching assignments help address the needs of young single adults (see Handbook 2, 16.3.3).
“By assigning our women to do visiting teaching, we give them the opportunity to develop the pure love of Christ, which can be the greatest blessing of their lives” (Barbara Winder, in Daughters in My Kingdom, page 120).
“The Relief Society presidency or those who are called to assist them receive monthly reports from visiting teachers. The visiting teachers report any special needs of the sisters they visit and any service rendered. In addition [to receiving monthly visiting teaching reports], presidency members meet with visiting teachers regularly to discuss sisters’ spiritual and temporal welfare and to make plans to help those in need” (Handbook 2, 9.5.4; emphasis added).
If a visiting teaching coordinator and supervisors are called to assist the Relief Society presidency, the presidency is to teach and train them on their roles and responsibilities with visiting teaching and on what questions they need to ask visiting teachers as they gather information:
- Did you watch over and care for [Mary]? (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 123.)
- Do [Mary] and/or her family have confidential or urgent needs that need to be reported to the Relief Society president?
- Is there anything the Relief Society presidency can do to assist you with caring for the needs of your sisters and their family?
“Confidential information should be reported only to the Relief Society president, who reports it to the bishop.
“The Relief Society president gives the bishop a monthly visiting teaching report. Each report includes a list of those who were not contacted. If a sister and her family have urgent needs, the Relief Society president reports this information to the bishop immediately” (Handbook 2, 9.5.4).
“My desire is to plead with our sisters to stop worrying about a phone call or a quarterly or monthly visit, and whether that will do, and concentrate instead on nurturing tender souls” (Mary Ellen Smoot, in Daughters in My Kingdom, page 117).
“I knew that I was more than just a number on the record books for her to visit. I knew that she cared about me” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 120).
“This organization is divinely made, divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God to minister for the salvation of the souls of women and of men” (Joseph F. Smith, in Daughters in My Kingdom, page 7).
“Let us have compassion upon each other, and let the strong tenderly nurse the weak into strength, and let those who can see guide the blind until they can see the way for themselves” (Brigham Young, in Daughters in My Kingdom, page 107).
Visiting Teaching Influences
“In ward council meetings [ward council members] … offer counsel about possible home teachers and visiting teachers for investigators who are preparing to be baptized and confirmed” (Handbook 2, 5.1.2).
“Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Daughters in My Kingdom, page 95).
“New Church members need the support and friendship of Church leaders, home teachers, visiting teachers, and other members. This support helps new members become firmly 'converted unto the Lord' (Alma 23:6)” (Handbook 2, 5.2).
“[Priesthood and auxiliary] leaders ensure that new members learn basic Church practices, such as how to … serve as a home teacher or visiting teacher” (Handbook 2, 5.2.4).
“Home teachers and visiting teachers have important responsibilities to establish friendships with new members. In consultation with the bishop, Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders give high priority to assigning dedicated home teachers and visiting teachers to new members” (Handbook 2, 5.2.5).
“You are going to save souls, and who can tell but that many of the fine active people in the Church today are active because you were in their homes. … You are not only saving these sisters, but perhaps also their husbands and their homes” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Daughters in My Kingdom, page 117).
“In consultation with the bishop, Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders assign dedicated home teachers and visiting teachers to less-active members. These leaders focus their efforts on the less-active members who are most likely to respond to invitations to return to activity” (Handbook 2, 5.3.3).
“President Joseph Smith said this society was organized to save souls. What have the sisters done to win back those who have gone astray?—to warm up the hearts of those who have grown cold in the gospel?—Another book is kept of your faith, your kindness, your good works, and words. Another record is kept. Nothing is lost” (Eliza R. Snow, in Daughters in My Kingdom, page 83).
“A heavenly record is kept of the work of Relief Society sisters as they reach out to those whose hearts have grown cold and who need faith, kindness, good works, and good words” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 83).
Temple and Family History
Visiting teachers can encourage participating in family history.
“Sarah M. Kimball and Margaret Cook … wanted to help prepare a temple for the people. Under the inspiration and guidance of a prophet and other priesthood leaders, they and their sisters ultimately helped prepare a people for the temple. This work continues today. Guided by the principles Joseph Smith taught, Relief Society sisters work together to prepare women and their families for God’s greatest blessings” (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 25).
Teaching the Gospel
“Visiting teaching gives women the opportunity to watch over, strengthen, and teach one another” (Handbook 2, 9.5).
“Sister Eliza R. Snow, the second Relief Society general president, taught: 'I consider the office of a teacher a high and holy office' " (in Daughters in My Kingdom, page 108).
“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” (D&C 84:106).