Tips for Family History Consultants
Contributed By By Ryan Morgenegg, Church News staff writer
- • Help members feel the Spirit.
- • Look for opportunities to teach with members of the ward council, auxiliary presidents, or other leaders.
- • Utilize family history tools.
- • Take the time to teach other members how to figure out their own family history research challenges.
A calling to serve as a family history consultant is important to furthering the work of the kingdom. It is crucial work that requires diligence. “You are called to represent the Savior,” said President Henry B. Eyring in an October 2002 general conference talk. “Your call has eternal consequences for others and for you. In the world to come, thousands may call your name blessed, even more than the people you serve here” (“Rise to Your Call”).
A special session at the RootsTech 2014 genealogy conference led by Todd Jones, Family History Department product manager, and Shipley Munson, marketing manager for FamilySearch, addressed helping family history consultants of all levels of experience to have success by breaking instruction down into four core responsibilities.
1. Help members feel the Spirit.
When family history consultants prepare to visit members, it’s important for them to realize that people respond the best to family history work when the Spirit of God is present to influence them to take righteous action. A great way for consultants to bring the Spirit into member homes is by sharing family history stories. “Stories lead to the Spirit, which leads to conversion,” said Brother Jones. “When consultants relate family stories, the Spirit is more likely to touch members and turn their hearts to their ancestors.
“Depending on the needs of the person or family, a consultant needs to find the right tool to help feel the Spirit.” Choose an option based on the background of the person being helped. After sharing a story, a consultant might explore photos or more stories. If available, a records search can be inspirational by helping a member find ancestors’ records, or if the member has no records or information, the My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together booklet can be filled out. The booklet is available at LDS distribution centers.
2. Minister with other ward leaders.
Instruction in the class encouraged family history consultants to look for opportunities to teach with members of the ward council, auxiliary presidents, or other teachers. A regular first-Sunday class on family history or a fifth-Sunday combined youth and adult class is an option. The following is a list of suggested lessons that a family history consultant could help with:
Gospel Principles lesson
Gospel Doctrine lessons
Priesthood and Relief Society lessons
3. Get the help you need.
The Church provides an array of information, training, and help for family history consultants. “An important thing for consultants to do is dive in and experience the available family history tools themselves,” said Brother Jones. “A consultant can even submit a new ordinance request online.
“For new consultants, go online to your LDS Account and update your personal profile to indicate you are a family history consultant to get the latest updates from the Church about your callings,” said Brother Jones. Accounts can be updated at lds.org/callings/temple-and-family-history.
The LDS.org family history consultants web page is great for training consultants at all levels of experience. Consultants should take the five consultant training classes available at lds.org/callings/temple-and-family-history/family-history-consultants. The consultant training topics include understand your calling, work with members, work with leaders, prepare names for the temple, and do your own family history work.
For answers and assistance at almost any time, consultants can use the toll-free help number: 1-866-406-1830. Also view the “5 Tips” in the online consultant training. Try one of the suggestions on your next appointment.
4. Teach patrons to fish.
Family history consultants are quite often challenged to get new ideas to motivate members and keep the family history work in the ward moving forward. However, nobody can answer every question or be present when members hit brick walls in their research. Therefore, it is important that family history consultants take the time to teach other members how to figure out their own challenges.
When simply talking with other members at church, ask them if they have a research goal in mind. Give them pointers or direction on how to resolve challenges on their own.
Youth are an untapped resource for family history work. They understand the technology and nuances of online family history work and research. “One in every five new consultants called today is a youth,” said Brother Jones. “Offer to train them. Every new missionary must report to the MTC with a four-generation chart and have some stories about their ancestors.” A consultant can also organize a genealogy merit badge class or Young Women Personal Progress activity. Talk with the youth leaders in the ward and set up a time.
Family history consultants can volunteer to teach a Primary sharing time on family history work. They can also help 11-year-old members prepare a name to take to the temple when they turn 12 and are able to get a limited-use temple recommend. Also, with new converts, remember that they don’t have to wait to do baptisms for the dead.
“What should a consultant do when members get stuck?” asked Brother Jones. “For those members who can’t find any of their ancestors, help them begin by filling out their own family history with the My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together booklet. The booklet is designed to easily transfer information to an online FamilySearch.org account. For those members that have done all the work they can, suggest that they find their cousins.” (See Elder Neil L. Andersen's talk "Find Our Cousins!")
Never forget to follow spiritual impressions. Family history work is all about doing work for those who have passed on to the world of spirits. Teach members how to increase their opportunities to receive spiritual promptings. Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that the spirit of Elijah is “a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family” (“A New Harvest Time,” Ensign, May 1998, 34).