Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching: A Work of Ministering

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New to home or visiting teaching? Consider these nine suggestions.

“I know it’s the end of the month, and I’m so sorry we haven’t had a chance to discuss the Visiting Teaching Message,” said Sister Julie B. Beck’s visiting teacher. But even as she made this statement, she was leaving the home of the general Relief Society president with a basket of ironing to complete and return to Sister Beck. “Do you think we could count this?” she asked Sister Beck hesitantly.

When Sister Beck recounts this incident, tears come to her eyes as she asks, “How could this dear friend and dedicated visiting teacher ever feel that I had not been visit taught and watched over? This wasn’t the first time she’d stopped in to meet a need that month. How could she not realize that she was constantly ministering to me and blessing my family? Her care and concern for me are the epitome of visiting teaching. Of course, she could report that I had been visit taught!”

As Sister Beck’s experience illustrates, inspired visiting and home teaching are more than a formal visit and aren’t ever complete. Home and visiting teaching are about taking care of people more than completing processes, and when done correctly, they represent caring and not counting. These assignments are to provide watchcare and to minister to each other as the Savior ministered. Here are some ideas that may help you:

  • Know whom you are assigned to visit and who your companion is. The priesthood or Relief Society leaders in your ward or branch should provide you with the name and contact information of each family or individual you are assigned to visit. Introduce yourself to your companion and to the people you visit and start building a relationship.

  • Visit. Meet in the person’s home when possible. If that’s not feasible, you might consider meeting near the person’s workplace, taking a walk together, or gathering before or after Sunday meetings. Teach and inspire each other—perhaps by starting with the First Presidency or Visiting Teaching Message. Share your testimony. Share what’s going on in your lives. Develop love by being friendly and caring. Listen sincerely. Keep the confidences others entrust to you. Continue to be a friend, as time often leads to greater trust.

  • Pray with and for those you teach. It might be appropriate to ask at the end of your visit, “Can we pray with you?” The head of the household should choose someone to say the prayer. In the days and weeks between visits, continue to pray for those you home or visit teach. Ask Heavenly Father for help to know how to watch over and love them.

  • Minister. Observe and anticipate needs. For instance, if a sister you visit has an upcoming test at school, perhaps you could make her dinner sometime during the week so she can have more study time. If the brother you home teach is looking for a job, introduce him to people who might be able to help.

  • Ask helpful questions. Questions can lead to opportunities to give comfort, share relevant gospel principles, and provide meaningful service. You might ask: “What worries or concerns you?” “What questions do you have about the gospel?” Or you could be specific: “Could we help you with a household task?” “Would you like a ride to the store or a doctor’s appointment?” Questions will often bring better results than simply saying, “Call us if you need anything.”

  • Seek inspiration. The Spirit can help you know how to help those you are assigned to teach. You might be prompted about topics to discuss or assistance to offer. As you get to know them better, you may even be prompted to encourage those you visit to receive further ordinances and covenants of the gospel or to further participate in all the blessings the gospel offers.

  • Report the right information. Report on the temporal and spiritual well-being of those you visit, any service you have given, and any needs. Report confidential concerns directly to the Relief Society or quorum president.

  • Coordinate with your partner. With your partner, divide assignments as necessary to make contact and to provide watchcare. You might need to take turns visiting, providing service, and reporting the well-being of those you teach.

  • Remember. Keep track of important events in the lives of those you teach, such as birthdays and even day-to-day happenings that might be important to them.

Photo illustrations by Robert Casey, Craig Dimond, John Luke, and Jerry Garns

Photo illustrations by Craig Dimond, Matthew Reier, Danny Soleta, Welden C. Andersen, and Jerry Garns; photograph of Sister Allred by Busath Photography