Religion Teachers Asked to Help LDS Students Find Joy

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 14 June 2017

Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education, speaks during the annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion broadcast held in the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City on June 13.  Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Article Highlights

  • Help students understand and learn the priorities of the “work of salvation.”
  • Help students learn their eternal identity and purpose.
  • Help students learn in the Lord’s way.
  • Teach repentance and learning.

“We have come to understand that the greatest predictor of spiritual success … is for a young man or a young woman to have personal spiritual experiences in their youth—for them to feel the influence of the Holy Spirit. It is more than being active in the Church; it is being active in the gospel!” —Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy

“We need to do more to help the youth and young adults of the Church experience joy—authentic, spiritual joy—in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education, told seminary and institute teachers during a training broadcast held on June 13.

“I believe the best way to do that is through deep learning of the doctrine of Christ in the Lord’s way,” Elder Clark said. “It is my witness and testimony to you that deeply learning the doctrine of Christ leads to joy in the Lord.”

Joy, conversion, and the doctrine of Christ were a few themes from the broadcast held on Tuesday morning. The annual event, broadcast from the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City, was translated live in more than a dozen languages and will soon be available in 40 different languages for seminary and institute teachers around the world.

Speakers during the event included Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy; Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of the Church Educational System; Chad H Webb, an administrator; Jason A. Willard, assistant administrator; Grant C. Anderson, associate administrator; and Lori C. Newbold, director of training services.

The conversion of the children of God

Elder Hallstrom spoke on the topic “The Conversion of the Children of God” and encouraged instructors to help their students understand and learn the priorities of the “work of salvation.”

“Educating our youth is not simply teaching them history; it is teaching them doctrine that inspires them to act,” Elder Hallstrom said. “Our role is to be an instrument in the hands of God so they might not only hear, but so they might feel, and then so they might do.”

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy speaks during the annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion broadcast held in the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City on June 13. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Elder Hallstrom spoke of three teaching patterns established in the Lord’s Church—public worship, family worship, and personal worship.

Public worship

Whether it is in a large or small meeting, public gatherings bring people together to pray, teach, testify, and edify one another.

“The most important of our public worship meetings, at least outside the temple, is sacrament meeting,” he said. “In addition to the worshipful activities that are part of most Church meetings, this service centers on the living ordinance of the sacrament. … Public worship is a magnificent opportunity to assist all of us, including the youth, along the conversion path.”

Family worship

“Public worship should promote family worship,” Elder Hallstrom taught.

Recognizing that many live in “a time of busyness,” Elder Hallstrom advised instructors to encourage worship in the families of their students.

“Some come from families where such practices are already in place and you can simply stand on the sidelines and silently cheer,” he said. “For others, it is not happening for a variety of reasons. … Without usurping the authority and responsibility of ecclesiastical leaders and parents, just model and teach righteous patterns, and help our youth discover ways they can be a source of inspiration to their families in developing habits of consistent family worship.”

Personal worship

“Ultimately, conversion is a personal matter,” Elder Hallstrom said. “Public worship leads us to family worship, which leads us to personal worship.”

Personal worship includes personal prayer, personal gospel study, and personal pondering of one’s relationship with Deity.

“We have come to understand that the greatest predictor of spiritual success—measured by ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood, receiving the endowment, serving a mission, marriage in the temple, and raising a righteous family—is for a young man or a young woman to have personal spiritual experiences in their youth—for them to feel the influence of the Holy Spirit. It is more than being active in the Church; it is being active in the gospel!”

Elder Hallstrom challenged instructors to allow the Holy Ghost to be the teacher in their classes, discussions, and interactions with students.

“The Holy Ghost has the capacity to personalize the message to each individual, to be enlightened by the Spirit of truth,” he said. So, as we teach the work of salvation and the divinely appointed responsibilities, we do so in a way that edifies, that lifts, that inspires, that leads those whom we teach to strengthened faith in Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ and His Atonement.”

Deep learning and joy in the Lord

Elder Clark spoke on the topic “Deep Learning and Joy in the Lord.”

Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education, speaks during the annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion broadcast held in the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City on June 13. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

“It is important work to teach, prepare, lift, and strengthen the rising generation,” Elder Clark said. “I feel an urgency and an intensity about that work. The youth and young adults of the Lord’s Church face many difficulties and many wonderful opportunities.”

In the midst of commotion and turmoil, the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing His kingdom and His people for His return, Elder Clark taught. The youth and young adults of the rising generation are on the front lines, and they will play an increasingly crucial role in the great work of the Lord. Because of that, Elder Clark encouraged instructors to “keep getting better and better at what you do.”

Elder Clark advised instructors to do more to help their students to experience joy—joy that has little to do with circumstance and everything to do with focus—that comes through the Savior, Jesus Christ.

“If the love, doctrine, light, and joy of Jesus Christ are in you, you can inspire them and encourage them to seek out their own private, personal, spiritual experiences with the Lord.”

The learning that leads to joy is deep learning in the doctrine of Christ, and it must be done in the Lord’s way, Elder Clark taught. “Deep learning is learning of the whole soul—the mind, the heart, the body, and the immortal spirit.”

Deep learning increases the student’s power to do three things—to know and understand; to take effective, righteous action; and to become more like Heavenly Father.

“Deeper understanding motivates more effective action, which in turn creates new insights and leads to stronger character,” Elder Clark said. “There is great joy in each element of deep learning—joy in new understanding, joy in righteous action, joy in becoming more like the Father and the Son.”

Three elements for learning in the Lord’s way

The Lord’s way to learn deeply is simple and includes three elements:

  1. Diligent study, seeking, preparing, and obeying.
  2. Gathering to teach one another in the bonds of charity, guided by an inspired teacher and attended by the grace of Christ.
  3. Receiving revelation, inspiration, and other spiritual gifts that come through the power of the Holy Ghost.

“The teacher in the Lord’s way plays an active, inspired role in engaging students in all elements of deep learning,” he said. “Two things are essential: first, that you have the Holy Ghost with you; and second, that you love the students.”

An assignment and three invitations

Elder Clark issued an assignment to instructors—first, to read and study the Gospel Teaching and Learning Handbook through the lens of deep learning, especially of the doctrine of Jesus Christ, which leads to joy.

He followed up the assignment with three invitations:

  1. Help students learn their eternal identity and purpose.
  2. Help students learn in the Lord’s way.
  3. Teach repentance and learning.

“If you will teach your students who they really are, how to learn deeply in the Lord’s way, and the divine principle of repentance, they will learn deeply the doctrine of Christ, their faith in Him and love for Him will grow, and they will have joy in the Lord,” he said. “Both you and your students will experience this marvelous promise of the Lord.”

Brother Webb spoke about faith being a principle of action and power, Brother Anderson titled his talk “Filled with Joy,” and Sister Newbold talked about the power that comes in teaching as an instructor “sees the one.”

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy sits with his wife, Sister Diane C. Hallstrom, and Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education, during the annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion broadcast held in the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City on June 13. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Audience members sing during the annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion broadcast held in the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City on June 13. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom stands with his wife, Sister Diane C. Hallstrom, and Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education, during the annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion broadcast held in the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City on June 13. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Audience members listen during the annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion broadcast held in the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City on June 13. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Church leaders attend the annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion broadcast held in the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City on June 13. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Audience members sing during the annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion broadcast held in the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City on June 13. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy sings with his wife, Sister Diane C. Hallstrom, and Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education, during the annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion broadcast held in the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City on June 13. Photo by Marianne Holman Prescott.