Handbook 2:
Administering the Church

 

9.5 Ministering

The Savior showed by example what it means to minister as He served out of love for His Father and for His Father’s children (see John 15:9–10). He loved, taught, prayed for, comforted, and blessed those around Him, inviting all to follow Him (see Mark 8:34). Ministering sisters prayerfully seek to serve as He would. To provide such care, each adult sister has ministering sisters assigned to watch over her.

Members of the Relief Society presidency instruct ministering sisters in how to care for, watch over, remember, and strengthen one another. Presidency members can give this instruction in a ministering interview, in a Sunday meeting, or in another Relief Society meeting.

Ministering sisters are not sustained or set apart.

 9.5.1

Responsibilities of Ministering Sisters

Ministering sisters represent the Lord, the bishop, and Relief Society leaders. As sisters minister, they prayerfully seek to serve as the Lord would, “comfort[ing] those that stand in need of comfort” and helping each become a true disciple of Jesus Christ (Mosiah 18:9; see also John 13:35).

Ministering sisters seek to be led by the Spirit as they provide Christlike caring. They counsel with those they are assigned and seek inspiration about how best to meet their needs, using the time and resources available.

Ministering sisters are flexible in how they minister. They customize their contacts and service, and any messages, to meet the needs of sisters. Personal visits are important when they can be made. Ministering sisters may also reach out through phone calls, texts, emails, letters, contacts at church, attendance at family events, and service.

Meeting individual needs starts with prayerful consideration and with a conversation with the assigned sisters. Ministering sisters listen so they can understand how best to serve. They discuss the frequency and type of contact sisters desire. They also discuss the kind of messages sisters would like.

Ministering sisters can be an important source of help to those they serve. Some ways are listed below:

  1. 1.

    They help sisters strengthen their faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

  2. 2.

    They help sisters and their families prepare for their next ordinance. They may 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.

  3. 3.

    They become acquainted with the sisters’ interests and needs, and they recognize special events in their lives.

  4. 4.

    They offer help when sisters and their families are unemployed, ill, lonely, moving, or have other needs.

  5. 5.

    They help sisters and their families become self-reliant.

 9.5.2

Coordinating Ministering

Ministering is a coordinated effort between the elders quorum and the Relief Society. Working under the direction of the bishop, the elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies prayerfully coordinate ministering as follows:

  1. 1.

    The elders quorum presidency recommends to the bishop ministering companionships and ministering assignments for the individuals and families of the ward. The Relief Society presidency recommends ministering companionships and ministering assignments for Relief Society sisters. Elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies discuss specific assignments before recommending them to the bishop.

  2. 2.

    As appropriate, the ministering brothers and sisters of an individual or family may discuss together their efforts to meet needs. When necessary, they may contact their quorum or Relief Society presidencies for additional help and resources.

  3. 3.

    Members of the Relief Society presidency hold interviews with ministering sisters at least quarterly (see 9.5.4).

  4. 4.

    Elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies meet quarterly to discuss the strengths and needs of individuals and families learned through ministering interviews. As needed, they also coordinate ministering assignments.

  5. 5.

    Following that meeting, the elders quorum and Relief Society presidents meet together quarterly with the bishop to address the needs of individuals and families. They may also coordinate ministering assignments and obtain the bishop’s approval for their recommendations.

  6. 6.

    As needed, the elders quorum and Relief Society presidents discuss with the ward council the strengths and needs identified in ministering interviews. Members of the ward council make plans to serve and bless ward members.

 9.5.3

Organizing Ministering to Meet Local Needs

The Relief Society presidency prayerfully recommends to the bishop assignments for ministering sisters to care for the sisters in the ward. Presidency members discuss the strengths and needs of sisters and their families. They recommend dedicated ministering sisters for new members, less-active members who may be receptive, and others such as single mothers and widows.

After the bishop has given approval, a member of the Relief Society presidency meets with ministering sisters to give them their assignments and to counsel about the strengths, needs, and challenges of those to whom the sisters minister. This conversation may take place in a ministering interview or whenever needed.

The Relief Society presidency normally assigns sisters into companionships of two. A married couple may be assigned to minister together if that would most effectively meet the needs of a sister and her family.

Mia Maids and Laurels may serve as companions to Relief Society sisters. Parents and leaders counsel with each Mia Maid and Laurel, and she may be assigned as a ministering sister when she is willing and able to serve. A member of the Relief Society presidency extends ministering assignments to Mia Maids and Laurels.

A Mia Maid or Laurel serving as a companion to an adult sister does not have ministering sisters assigned specifically to her. She is ministered to by those who minister to her family and is also cared for by her Young Women leaders.

The guideline that two responsible adults be present with youth does not apply to the assignment of ministering companions. However, under the direction of their bishop, leaders should use wisdom and seek inspiration when assigning youth as companions to adults.

Adult companions should avoid situations that might be misunderstood. They should exercise care regarding isolated one-on-one situations so that youth have a safe and rewarding experience with ministering. Additionally, leaders should use wisdom in not assigning youth to difficult home or family situations.

When youth are assigned to a companion who is not a parent, leaders should confirm that parents do not object to the assignment.

With approval from the mission president, leaders may consider asking full-time missionaries to help with ministering 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 minister to new members, part-member families, and less-active members.

 9.5.4

Ministering Interviews

Members of the Relief Society presidency hold interviews with ministering sisters (including Mia Maids and Laurels) at least once each quarter. Interviews may be held throughout the quarter and need not be long to be effective.

Preferably, these interviews are held in person and with both members of the companionship. A married couple assigned to minister together can meet with elders quorum leaders, Relief Society leaders, or both.

Ministering interviews are held to:

  1. 1.

    Counsel about the strengths, needs, and challenges of assigned sisters and their families.

  2. 2.

    Determine what needs the elders quorum, Relief Society, or ward council might assist with.

  3. 3.

    Teach and encourage ministering sisters.

Between interviews, ministering sisters communicate information as needed—in person or through phone calls, texts, or emails. They share confidential information only with the Relief Society president or directly with the bishop.

Each quarter, the elders quorum and Relief Society presidents meet together with the bishop to address the needs of individuals and families. As needed, they also coordinate ministering assignments. The elders quorum or Relief Society president reports urgent needs to the bishop immediately.