7.4 Home Teaching
Under the bishop’s direction, quorum and group leaders oversee home teaching. They instruct home teachers in their duties and inspire them to perform these duties well.
Home teaching is a priesthood responsibility of teachers, priests, and Melchizedek Priesthood holders. Accordingly, home teachers are assigned by priesthood leaders. They are not called, sustained, or set apart.
Responsibilities of Home Teachers
Home teaching is one way Heavenly Father blesses His children. Home teachers “visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties” (D&C 20:51). They are assigned to families and individuals to “watch over … and be with and strengthen them” (D&C 20:53). They “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” (D&C 20:59).
Where possible, home teachers visit members in their homes at least monthly. Home teachers may also find other meaningful ways to watch over and strengthen the families they are assigned. For example, they may render service to the families or contact family members by mail or telephone.
Home teachers represent the Lord, the bishop, and quorum or group leaders. They can be an important source of help to members. They consult with the head of the household about the family’s needs and about ways to be most helpful.
Home teachers become acquainted with family members’ interests and needs and recognize special events in their lives.
As needed, home teachers help parents ensure that their children are blessed, baptized, and confirmed. They may also help parents ensure that their sons have the Aaronic Priesthood and Melchizedek Priesthood conferred upon them and are ordained to priesthood offices at the appropriate ages.
Home teachers offer help when members are unemployed, ill, lonely, moving, or have other needs.
Home teachers help members strengthen their faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and encourage them to make and keep sacred covenants. This service is especially important to new members and less-active members.
Home teachers make appointments for their visits at times that are convenient for the individuals or families. They remember that they are guests of the members they visit.
Each visit should focus on a planned purpose. Before visiting a home, companions pray together. They discuss ways they can strengthen those they will visit. Based on this discussion and the guidance of the Holy Ghost, they share a message, usually taken from the scriptures and the First Presidency’s message in the Ensign or Liahona magazine. Other messages may come from the bishop or other leaders. The head of the household may also request a special message. Home teaching visits typically include a prayer.
Each month, home teachers report to quorum or group leaders on the spiritual and temporal welfare of the members they visit. If a member’s needs are urgent, home teachers report them immediately.
Organizing Home Teaching
A household that is headed by an elder usually has home teachers from the elders quorum. A household that is headed by a high priest usually has home teachers from the high priests group. When a household is not headed by a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, the bishopric determines whether that household should have home teachers from the elders quorum or the high priests group. In making this decision, the bishopric may consult with the priesthood executive committee and ward council.
In organizing home teaching, quorum and group leaders prayerfully discuss the needs of individuals and families. Leaders discuss ways home teachers can watch over and strengthen these members, consulting with the priesthood executive committee and ward council as needed. Leaders also consider factors such as distance, travel, and safety.
Based on these discussions, leaders assign a companionship of two home teachers to each household where possible. They obtain the bishop’s approval for each companionship and each home teaching assignment.
Quorum and group leaders assign the most effective home teachers to members who need them most. When assigning home teachers, leaders give highest priority to new members, less-active members who may be the most receptive, and others who have the greatest need for home teachers, such as single parents, widows, and widowers. It is often helpful to assign a youth leader to a family where a young man or young woman is experiencing special challenges. Home teachers should be assigned to converts before the converts are baptized.
After consultation with the elders quorum president, high priests group leader, and Young Men president, a member of the bishopric extends home teaching assignments to teachers and priests. They are assigned as companions to Melchizedek Priesthood holders.
Aaronic Priesthood holders participate with their companions in watching over and caring for the members they visit. This may include making appointments, sharing messages, and giving service. This experience helps them with their priesthood training, including mission preparation (see D&C 84:106–7).
Elders quorum leaders in young single adult wards assign home teachers to each member in the ward. Single members who live together as roommates may be visited at the same time. However, home teachers should focus on serving the individuals and should report on each person separately.
With approval from the bishop in exceptional cases, Melchizedek Priesthood leaders and Relief Society leaders may assign a husband and wife as a companionship where visits by a couple are needed. Couples report these visits as home teaching and visiting teaching. Normally, young parents are not given such an assignment because it takes them away from their children.
Adapting Home Teaching to Local Needs
In some locations, visiting every home each month may not be possible for a time because of insufficient numbers of active priesthood holders or other challenges. In these circumstances, leaders give priority to visiting new members, less-active members who are most likely to respond to invitations to return to Church activity, and members with serious needs.
Leaders do their best in using available resources to watch over and strengthen each member. Any adaptations they make to home teaching should be considered temporary.
Some suggestions for adapting home teaching are outlined in the following paragraphs.
With approval from the bishop, Melchizedek Priesthood leaders and Relief Society leaders may temporarily assign only home teachers or only visiting teachers to certain families. In some cases, leaders may assign home teachers to visit a family one month and assign visiting teachers to visit Relief Society members in that family the next month.
With approval from the mission president, leaders may consider asking full-time missionaries to go home teaching with Melchizedek Priesthood holders on a limited basis. The mission president communicates this approval to the stake president, who informs bishops. When such approval is given, full-time missionaries are assigned primarily to visit new members, part-member families, and less-active members.
Based on needs and priorities, quorum and group leaders may make some visits to help fulfill the quorum and group’s home teaching responsibilities.
Reporting Home Teaching
Quorum and group leaders receive monthly home teaching reports from each companionship. In addition, they meet with home teachers regularly to discuss the spiritual and temporal welfare of the members they are assigned and to make plans to help members in need. Confidential information should be reported only to the elders quorum president or high priests group leader, who reports it to the bishop.
The elders quorum president and high priests group leader give the bishop monthly home teaching reports. Each report includes a list of those who were not contacted. Reports give special attention to new members, less-active members, and others who have serious needs. If a family or individual has urgent needs, the elders quorum president or high priests group leader reports this information to the bishop immediately.