Church News and Events

Create Classrooms of Faith, Hope, and Charity, Teachers Told

Contributed By By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 1 March 2014

During the “Evening with a General Authority” broadcast to CES educators and personnel February 28, Elder Neil L. Andersen teaches that classrooms of faith, hope, and charity will help the young people of the Church develop their faith in Christ.

Classrooms of faith, hope, and charity will help the young people of the Church develop their faith in Christ, said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a broadcast to educators in the Church Educational System originating from the Tabernacle on February 28.

More than 45,000 teachers and associates in 137 countries listened in through satellite broadcast.

Watch the broadcast here.
Read the full text of the talk here.

“You are a remarkable army of faith-filled, devoted men and women, unified in the great purpose of teaching and preparing our youth,” he said.

Currently 725,000 students are enrolled in seminaries and institutes around the world, in addition to the more than 40,000 students enrolled in religious education classes in the Church schools of higher education. Elder Andersen spoke of the great responsibility of those who work in the seminary and institute programs of the Church.

Elder Andersen, joined in the Tabernacle by his wife, Kathy, and many other Church leaders, spoke of the important time in the history of the world and how instructors of the youth need an increased spirit of faith, hope, and charity in their classrooms, adding that instructors “have enormous influence on the lives of the youth.”

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is fulfilling its prophetic destiny—growing and strengthening to include every nation, kindred, tongue, and people,” he said. “You are a most important part of the stone cut without hands, rolling forth to fill the whole earth. …

“Let us remember those who sit in your classrooms are some of the most spiritually sensitive sons and daughters of God that have ever entered mortality,” the Apostle said, adding that the youth of the Church are the hope of the future.

Faith

Teachers have the great opportunity to be an important part of the development of faith, Elder Andersen taught. As they encourage faith, show the fruits of faith, examine faith, and bear testimony of their own faith, every student listening will know their instructor is speaking from the heart, he said.

“Spiritual understanding rarely comes from a lecture,” said Elder Andersen. “It comes in classrooms where questions are welcome, where doubts and fears can be expressed, and where honest opinions are never dismissed. It comes from obedience, private study, and prayer. Spiritually, the classroom of faith becomes less like a lecture hall and more like a fitness center. Students do not get stronger by watching someone else do the exercises. They learn and then participate. As their spiritual strength increases, they gain confidence and apply themselves all the more.”

The Savior taught by listening and observing, and teachers can follow His example as they use the scriptures, share simple stories, ask questions, and share parables and real-life examples.

“Invite the students to teach and to share their feelings; encourage them to act in faith and to report on what they are learning,” he said.

Teaching should always be centered in the doctrine of Christ, the Apostle taught, adding that if instructors are ever not sure what to teach, they can always speak of Christ.

“Speak of the doctrine of Christ, the gospel of Christ, His life, His death, His Resurrection, and His magnificent Atonement,” he taught. “And my dear brothers and sisters, continue to build and strengthen your own faith in Christ as you follow the same principles you are teaching your students.”

Hope

Faith in Christ brings hope, and individuals are able to increase their hope in Christ as they help their young brothers and sisters to better see why they are on earth and what awaits them in the future, taught Elder Andersen.

“Symbolically, you are like a force helping young trees to grow in a very windy place. In nature, trees that grow up in a windy environment have compensating strengths. As wind whips a young sapling, forces inside the tree do two things. First, they stimulate the roots to grow faster and spread farther. Second, the forces in the tree start creating cell structures that make the trunk and branches thicker and more flexible to the pressure of the wind. You, like the forces in a tree, help stimulate deeper spiritual roots and a stronger resolve to resist temptation.”

Faith in Christ brings hope, and individuals are able to increase their hope in Christ as they help their young brothers and sisters to better see why they are on earth and what awaits them in the future, taught Elder Andersen.

 

“This is a wonderful time to live upon the earth,” he said. “The youth you teach live at a time that has long been anticipated. The gospel is restored in its fulness. Part of their responsibility in mortality is to help prepare for the Savior’s return.”

Just as President Monson and other prophets before him have testified, the times prior to the Savior’s return include days of deceit, iniquity, commotion, and confusion, said Elder Andersen.

“Our days are not unexpected days, and the Lord has provided for our spiritual safety and for the safety of our students,” he said. “As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory power of revelation and spiritual gifts given to the righteous. The Lord gives us added power as we are willing to remain righteous in a wicked world.”

Elder Andersen spoke of his youth, when there were only 13 temples in the entire world.

“With the upcoming temple dedications in Gilbert, Arizona, this Sunday and in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in early May, there will be 143 operating temples. Eighty-five percent of the membership of the Church now live within 200 miles of an operating temple. There are 27 more temples that are under construction or in design.”

The blessings of the temple are one compensatory gift to this generation, he said.

“With temples has also come technology, and with technology the blessing of more fully turning the hearts of the children to the fathers,” he said. “This past year for the first time we have been able to see our generations online. … There is spiritual power in tying our youth more completely to their fathers.”

Mentioning a talk he gave at RootsTech—a conference focusing on family history held in Salt Lake City earlier in the month—Elder Andersen encouraged teachers to challenge their students to prepare names for the temple and to visit LDS.org and explore the conference. [Read the talk he gave here.] The blessings of temples and technology—along with many others—help individuals to be firm and true in a world whose spiritual moorings are deteriorating.

“As your students realize the indescribable power and greatness of God, combined with their value as sons or daughters of God, they develop spiritual balance,” he said. “They recognize their dependence upon God but also their accountability before Him, the importance of their own choices, and what they may become. In Christ hope comes alive.”

“Teach our sons and daughters that there is an important work for them to do. You will remember the Lord speaking to Moses while he was yet a young man. He said, 'I have a work for thee, Moses.' The Lord has a work for each of those in your classroom. To prepare Moses for his important role, the Lord showed him 'the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created.' He saw worlds without number. We can imagine just an inkling of what he saw as we look at the beautiful images transmitted back to earth through the Hubble space telescope.”
 

Charity

“No matter how articulate you are, how well you prepare, and how talented you are in relating to youth, without the pure love of Christ you will not succeed,” Elder Andersen taught. “As your soul is filled with the pure love of Christ, your spiritual gifts are magnified, and you are better able to reach your students. Christ is our example, and we follow Him.”

The new youth curriculum emphasizes teaching in the Savior’s way. Quoting from the guide, Elder Andersen said, “He loved them, prayed for them, and continually served them. He found opportunities to be with them and to express His love. He knew their interests, hopes, and desires and what was happening in their lives. He knew who they were and who they could become. He found unique ways to help them learn and grow—ways meant just for them. When they struggled, He did not give up on them but continued to love them and minister to them.”

Sharing a personal example of a seminary teacher who showed him charity, Elder Andersen said that still, 45 years later, he remembers the expression of love from his seminary teacher and fellow students. He also spoke of the time that his wife, Kathy, taught early-morning seminary and the great impact her teaching had on her students.

“When this charity, the pure love of Christ, is in the classroom and in our relationships, there is a spirit of trust and openness,” he said.It is through applying the divine principles of Come, Follow Me that teachers are able to strengthen their own teaching.

As teachers listen to and observe their students, without being too concerned about following a prescribed lesson plan, they are able to cultivate a spirit of trust, acceptance, and openness in their classes.

“As parents do their part, as we do our part, and as our young brothers and sisters do their part, there comes into their soul what the prophets call a ‘mighty change of heart,’” Elder Andersen said. “They come to understand their dependence upon their Heavenly Father and upon their Savior. They recognize that they will be accountable for their lives, and they begin a lifelong adventure of repentance and accepting and keeping covenants. They become less enticed by worldly values and they take upon themselves the name of Christ. They continue their journey of mortality as disciples of Christ, growing in faith, hope, and charity.”