Teach and Live at Home to Reinforce Church Lessons

  By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer

  • 17 September 2013

Parents must do more than just live by example. They must become “mentors” or guides, someone with whom their children can develop, taught Brother Matthew O. Richardson, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency.  Photo by Janneke Ann Marquez.

Article Highlights

  • Applying what you learn at church in your home helps deepen your conversion to living the principles of the gospel.
  • Asking questions and having conversations are crucial to strengthening family relationships and understanding each family member’s level of personal conversion.
  • Modeling, setting examples, and mentoring are important in teaching, especially in the home.

“Everything that we have been doing should improve learning and teaching in both the Church and the home.” —Brother Matthew O. Richardson, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency

PROVO, UTAH

Everything done in the Church is designed to help assist in the home, Brother Matthew O. Richardson, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, said during a presentation at Campus Education Week at Brigham Young University on August 21. 

“Sometimes we can get a little backwards,” he said. “We send our children, we send individuals, we send ourselves to be educated in the Church building, and then we come home and take off our Church clothes as fast as we can.”

Rather than being simply a place to go on Sundays, church should be a place of rejuvenation and an opportunity for individuals to attend and leave recharged to go and live the gospel in their homes, he noted.

“Everything that we have been doing should improve learning and teaching in both the Church and the home,” he said.

Brother Richardson spoke of some research that showed only one-third of “active” members of the Church actually have family scripture study, family home evening, personal scripture study, and personal or family prayer. Another third would “dabble” in those activities, and the last third were not participating at all.

Drawing from the writings of a 15th-century Confucian scholar named Wang Yang Ming, Brother Richardson said that “there has never been a people who know but do not act. Those who are supposed to know but do not act simply do not yet know.”

He spoke of the process of conversion and how as individuals apply what they learn at church in their homes they are able to deepen their conversion to living the principles of the gospel.

“For me the question comes—but how do we do that?” he said. “How do we teach [our families]?”

Asking questions and having conversations are crucial to strengthening family relationships and helping parents know where their children are in terms of their personal conversion. Another important element to teaching at home is through example, he said.

Matthew O. Richardson, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency.

“Modeling becomes an important part of teaching, especially in the home,” he said. “We are finding most of the research says we learn great stuff in church and then when we come home we don’t live those principles, and all of that gospel learning comes unraveled.”

Parents must do more than just live by example. They must become “mentors” or guides, someone with whom their children can develop.

“More than example, perhaps we need more mentoring,” he said. “It’s more than just going about your life and being an example, ... but also as we invite people along the way in mentoring we become a guide of sorts.

“One of my favorite songs that has helped me in trying to find a better way to learn and to teach is ‘I Am a Child of God.’ ” 

He said he looks to the Primary song as a great model of the kind of parents who will lead and guide and walk beside their children to help them find the way.

“They don’t just drag [their children] down the path,” he said. “They teach [their children] all that they must do to live with Him someday. This is a good model of mentoring.”

It is in the home that parents are able to reinforce what they—and their children—have learned at church.

“Homes should be an opportunity to harvest one’s own experiences,” he said.

Part of developing strong relationships comes as individuals do their part—whatever that role may be—within their family unit.

“Often, we are so disgruntled with our part that we don’t look at the value of what we are doing,” he said.

Brother Richardson spoke of the experience of Church President David O. McKay when he was a young missionary serving in Scotland. He had been serving for a short while and was beginning to get homesick and a bit discouraged. While visiting a castle, he saw above a door a stone that had a carved inscription of the quote, “What E’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part.”

It is through everybody doing their part—no matter how large or small—that families are able to create a better climate for the Spirit to teach and testify in their homes. It is also important for men, women, and children to honor and respect the divine roles of both fathers and mothers in the home, he said.

A big part of parents teaching in the home comes from relying on the Holy Ghost to teach by the Spirit. Rather than just talking, lecturing, or telling their children how to live or what to do, parents must teach appropriate to the setting, time, and context.

Quoting from President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency, Brother Richardson said, “The pure gospel of Jesus Christ must go down into the hearts of ... people by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Although the learner can choose to accept or reject the teachings, the teacher must act in faith that the Holy Ghost will testify to the learner that the teachings are true, penetrating the learner’s heart and causing conversion to occur.

As the doctrines enter into the hearts of the teacher and the learner, both of their actions will reflect a deep conversion. It is by acting on opportunities to teach, through open dialogue, asking and answering questions, and inviting others to act that families can experience a deeper conversion.