Each young man will serve the Lord as he recognizes the needs of the poor and helps to ease their burden by willingly gathering fast offerings.
Materials needed: pencils for marking scriptures.
Study the story about John.
Prepare a copy of the handout “Basic Guidelines for Gathering Fast Offerings” for each young man (see page 14).
Ask a young man to come prepared to tell the story of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:30–37, in his own words.
Suggested Lesson Development
Empathy for the Needy
What is the longest period of time you have gone without food? How did you feel?
In what ways do you think a person who is always hungry may act differently than someone who has enough to eat?
Story and discussion
Explain that problems such as hunger exist in many places. Have the young men listen as you tell the following story about a young man named John and his family (or you may substitute an appropriate personal story).
John was an active member of his deacons quorum. Each month he gathered fast offerings without thinking much about it; he had always believed that the deacons had to gather fast offerings becaused no one else wanted to do it.
John’s father was injured in a serious automobile accident and was unable to work for a period of two and a half months. Because of this, John’s parents did not have enough money to buy food and clothing and pay other bills they needed to pay each month.
John knew his mother and father were worried. It was difficult for them not to show their concern. As a result, John and the other children were also worried.
How would you feel if this happened to your fathers?
Knowing John’s family was having some financial difficulties, the bishop and the Relief Society president came to visit John’s parents. After they left, John noted a big change in the attitude of his mother and father. They seemed much more relaxed and became more cheerful. The children noted this change of attitude and stopped worrying as much. Family activities soon returned to normal.
John’s father was skilled with tools. As soon as he started to recover and get around, he took his tool case to the meetinghouse for short periods of time and made minor repairs and improvements that were needed. As he gained strength, he would work longer until he was strong enough to go back to his regular job.
While his father was unable to work, John noted the arrival of food and clothing from the bishop’s storehouse. Funds were provided to help pay the rent and to pay the gas, electricity, and medical bills.
Where did the bishop get the money to take care of John’s family? (From fast offerings.)
How do you think John felt toward all those ward members who had given their money for fast offerings?
How do you think John’s family felt about his quorum’s efforts to gather fast offerings?
Gathering Fast Offerings
Explain that the Savior taught that those who are his true disciples will care for the needy and feed the hungry. Because we have the priesthood, we should act as the Savior’s disciples and do the things he would do if he were here.
One responsibility that we have as priesthood holders is to gather fast offerings to help provide for those in need. By fulfilling our assignment to gather fast offerings, we demonstrate to the Lord that we are his disciples and that we love our neighbors.
Ask the young men to listen to what the Savior said about helping those in need. Have the assigned young man tell the story of the Good Samaritan in his own words.
What did the Good Samaritan do for the wounded Jew?
What is Christ teaching us in this parable?
How does gathering fast offerings help us care for the needy?
How should we act when we receive an assignment to gather fast offerings?
Tell the following story about a young man who gathered fast offerings several years ago. Have the young men listen to see if they can find examples of how he and his family felt about this calling.
A Wagonful of Fast Offerings
“Less than ten minutes after I was ordained a deacon, I was assigned a Church job.
“‘Next Saturday you will go with Fred Edwards to gather fast offerings. Meet Fred at Brother Pehrson’s at ten in the morning. If you tend to your job and don’t play around too much, you should be finished by noon.’
“… I ran home excitedly and told my mother of the assignment. …”
What was the young man’s attitude when he received the assignment?
“It seemed like a long time between Monday and Saturday. Part of the time I was excitedly waiting, and part of the time I was a bit afraid. I hoped the members wouldn’t think I was begging when I asked for the fast offerings.
“Fast offerings (and tithing) were often given in kind at that time. That meant they donated eggs, butter, flour, loaves of bread, vegetables, or anything else that the Church members grew or made or produced. …
“Although it was only three blocks to Brother Pehrson’s house and I didn’t have to be there until ten o’clock on that Saturday, mother wakened me at seven. First I had to take a bath, usually reserved for later on that day. Then she made me shine my shoes, but she wouldn’t let me put them on, or my new overalls, until I was ready to leave. With my clean, starched white shirt, my new stiff overalls, and my tight Sunday shoes, I thought I was ready to leave. But no. She made me wear a tie!
“‘… Be sure you are polite. Say “please” when you ask for the fast offerings and “thanks” when they give them to you. … If Sister Schultz is home, ask her if there is anything you can do to help her. …’”
How do you think the young man’s mother felt about fast offerings?
“Our first home was Brother John Anderson’s, just a block from Brother Pehrson’s. … Sister Anderson answered our knock.
“‘Well, well, we have a new deacon, haven’t we?’ she said, as she took the measure from Fred. ‘How is your family, Chris? And how is yours, Fred?’
“Before we could answer, she went into the house, then returned with the measure full of flour.
“Fred took out the notebook and pencil and wrote: ‘Sister John Anderson, two pounds of flour.’
“We were now at the front gate of Ed Peterson’s. In answer to my knock and query, Sister Peterson handed me a lumpy cloth sack.
“‘Here’s a dozen eggs. …’
“Next on our list was the John Jacobsens. They were newlyweds. …
“‘It’s a loaf of bread I just baked,’ she said. I could feel the warmth of the bread through the sack. …
“Next on our list was George Peterson and then Jorgen Olsen. They both gave us some flour.
“Our last place was the home of Sister Sena Schultz. … ‘Come right in, boys. I certainly have something for you, but before I get it would you do me a small favor?’
“‘Sure, I guess so. What is it?’
“‘One of my pet lambs got out of its pen and I can’t seem to get it back by myself. Now, Fred, if you will get over in that northeast corner of the lot and you, Chris, get over on the other side, between us we can shoo it back in the pen.’
“Fred and I began waving our arms and shouting. Sister Schultz kept waving her apron and yelling, ‘Shoo! Shoo!’
“The lamb must have thought we wanted to play. It ran from side to side in the lot, and once in awhile it would jump high in the air arching its tail. It must have taken us a half hour to get that lamb cornered and pushed back in its pen.
“‘Oh, thank you, boys. …’
“‘Oh, wait a minute. I’m forgetting something.’ And she reached into her apron pocket and brought out an envelope that had been folded and refolded and then wrapped twice across with string. On the outside was written, ‘Ten cents fast offering from Sena Schultz.’
“‘She always has something for us to do,’ said Fred, as we walked back to Brother Pehrson’s house.
“Brother Pehrson checked our record. ‘Let’s see, eight pounds of flour, one dozen eggs, a loaf of fresh bread, and thirty-five cents in money. … I am sure some needy persons will be very grateful to you for gathering this’” (Chris Jensen, “A Wagonful of Fast Offerings,” Ensign, July 1978, pp. 34–36).
What did Chris do to show that he had a positive attitude toward fast offerings? What things might we do to have a good attitude about collecting fast offerings?
Pass out copies of the guidelines handout to the young men and review and discuss the guidelines together.
Basic Guidelines for Gathering Fast Offerings
Basic Guidelines for Gathering Fast Offerings
Have a pleasant attitude. When you fulfill this assignment from the bishop, you are acting as an agent of the Lord.
Dress neatly, as prescribed by your bishop.
Greet the person answering the door: “Good morning, Sister Jones.”
Introduce yourself in a respectful and cheerful manner.
State your purpose, such as, “The bishop (or branch president) sent me to receive your fast offering.”
Hand the fast offering envelope to the member; he or she will place the fast offering in the envelope, record the amount on the donation slip, put the slip in the envelope, keep the copy of the slip as a receipt, and return the envelope to you.
Return your envelopes to the person designated by the bishopric.
Discuss with the young men any other guidelines that might be applicable.
Ask one young man to take the role of an Aaronic Priesthood holder gathering fast offerings. Another young man will represent the person approached. Ask them to demonstrate the proper way to talk to the person answering the door in the following situations:
A child answers the door instead of an adult. (Ask for the child’s mother or father.)
The member is negative or angry. (Be courteous.)
New converts want to know how much to contribute. (A minimum guideline would be the price of two meals, but we have been counseled by the Church to be generous.)
Explain that there may be some families in the ward whose only contact with the Church is the home teacher or the young man who gathers fast offerings. Such families may judge the entire Church by the attitude of the young man who gathers fast offerings. By gathering fast offerings, young men give these families an opportunity to serve their Heavenly Father.
Aaronic Priesthood holders are authorized representatives of the Lord. By completing their assignments, young men help fulfill the Lord’s plan for the poor and needy. Faithful Aaronic Priesthood holders become partners with the bishop in giving every family in the ward an opportunity to share in the work of the Lord.
Testimony and challenge
Bear testimony that by gathering fast offerings the young men are helping Heavenly Father and Jesus care for the poor and needy. Challenge the young men to take this responsibility seriously and to fulfill it with dignity to the best of their ability.