5 The Four Aspects of the CES Objective

Teaching The Gospel A CES Resource for Teaching Improvement, (2000), 20–22

Principles to Emphasize

Teaching Students the Gospel of Jesus Christ

“Part of the charge to teach the gospel is to teach only those principles and doctrines that are in harmony with what the scriptures and the Brethren teach” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 4).

Teaching Students by Precept and Example

It is not sufficient for religious educators to teach by precept; they must also “exemplify the principles of the gospel” in their own lives (see Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 5).

Providing a Spiritual and Social Climate

If students and teachers are to “learn, associate, and be edified together,” teachers must create “a positive and uplifting setting” and provide students an “opportunity to associate with others who hold the same values and beliefs as their own” (see Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 5).

Preparing Young People for Effective Church Service

Students will be more prepared for effective Church service if teachers “show how men and women who love the Lord exemplify an attitude of service and . . . note the blessings that come through such service. In addition, . . . students should be encouraged and given opportunity to practice principles of service and fellowship outside of class as well as in it” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 5–6).

Note: If a significant amount of time has elapsed since teachers were taught lesson 4, you may want to review “The Objective” (handbook, 3) before beginning the activities suggested in this lesson.

Suggested Training Activities: Teaching Students the Gospel of Jesus Christ (20 minutes)


Show presentation 5, “The Charted Course of the Church in Education” (0:50). This presentation is a historical re-creation of a 1938 address by President J. Reuben Clark Jr. of the First Presidency to seminary and institute of religion teachers. The text of the presentation is on page 4 of Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook. Invite teachers to listen for what their “chief interest, [their] essential and all but sole duty” is. Following the video, ask teachers:

  1. According to President Clark, what is a CES teacher’s “chief interest, [their] essential and all but sole duty”?

  2. What does the phrase “all but sole duty” imply?

  3. What are some of the competing objectives that divert us from this duty?

  4. How do the words of modern prophets help us teach the standard works?


Distribute handout 4. Show presentation 6, “Teaching Students the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (7:30). This presentation shows another excerpt of an address by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from April 1998 general conference. The text of the excerpt is provided on the handout. Following the video, ask teachers:

  1. What type of teaching is insufficient to sustain our youth “when the stresses of life appear”?

  2. What distinguishes “superficial” teaching from “substantial” teaching?

Group Work

Invite teachers to get in small groups and identify examples of superficial teaching and substantial teaching. Have each teacher suggest a way their teaching could be made more substantial. Ask them to share their examples and suggestions for improvement.


Invite teachers to carefully read the third paragraph of the section entitled “Teaching Students the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (handbook, 4). Ask teachers:

  1. Why is President J. Reuben Clark Jr.’s warning not to modify the doctrines so critical for teachers to understand and apply? (see handbook, 4).

  2. What difference does it make when teachers have faith in the converting power of doctrine? (see handbook, 4).

Scripture Activity

Invite teachers to read 2 Timothy 3:1–7 and look for the prophetic description of troubles in the last days. Ask teachers what they think the remedy to these troubles might be. Invite them to read 2 Timothy 3:13–17 and look for the remedy identified by Paul.


Read together the first statement from handout 4 by Elder Boyd K. Packer, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Your Objective: Teach the Scriptures “While studying [2 Timothy 3] one day, . . . I glanced down the page, and one word stood out, not accidentally I think. I read it eagerly and then discovered that the Apostle who had prophesied all of that trouble had included in the same discourse the immunization against all of it. . . .

“‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. . . .’ [see 2 Timothy 3:13–17]. . . .

“And there you have it—your commission, your charter, your objective in religious education. You are to teach the scriptures. That is the word that stood out on the page— scriptures. If your students are acquainted with the revelations, there is no question—personal or social or political or occupational—that need go unanswered. Therein is contained the fulness of the everlasting gospel. Therein we find principles of truth that will resolve every confusion and every problem and every dilemma that will face the human family or any individual in it” (Teach the Scriptures [address to religious educators, 14 Oct. 1977], 4–5; or Charge to Religious Educators, 3rd ed. [1994], 89).

Suggested Training Activities: Teaching Students by Precept and Example (15 minutes)


Invite teachers to carefully read the material under the heading “Teaching Students by Precept and Example” (handbook, 5). Lead a discussion using the following questions:

  1. What are two ways you can teach your students? (see handbook, 5).

  2. What does it mean to teach by precept? (see handbook, 5).

  3. How can teaching by precept influence students to draw closer to Christ?

  4. What does it mean to teach by example? (see handbook, 5).

  5. When have you seen a teacher’s example be a vital part of his or her teaching?

  6. What do you think is the relationship between precept and example?


Read and discuss the statement from handout 4 by President Spencer W. Kimball.

Set an Example

I want your students “to have beautiful, abundant lives patterned after the ideal image of an eternal family. This they would learn, a little from what you would tell them, but far more from what you would show them. . . .

“. . . Of course, you will do all you teach your students to do: to fast, to bear testimony, to pay tithing, to attend all proper meetings, to attend temple sessions in due time, to keep the Sabbath holy, to give Church service, ungrudgingly, to have home evenings and family prayers, and to keep solvent, and be honest and full of integrity. . . .

Example is better than precept without personal performance, which is like ‘sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.’” (Men of Example [address to religious educators, 12 Sept. 1975], 3, 7; see also Charge to Religious Educators, 24–25).

Writing Exercise

Invite teachers to reflect on the lessons they have taught in the past few weeks, in light of the words of President Spencer W. Kimball on handout 4. Invite them to write their answers to the following questions:

  1. When have you felt a greater understanding of a precept because of the example of a teacher or leader?

  2. Which, if any, of the elements of being a good example listed by President Kimball could you improve in your daily life?

  3. What difference would it make to your students if you strengthened your example in these areas?

  4. What steps can you take to provide a stronger example?

Suggested Training Activities: Providing a Spiritual and Social Climate (15 minutes)


Invite teachers to carefully read the material under “Providing a Spiritual and Social Climate” (handbook, 5). Ask teachers:

  1. What kind of climate should CES classes provide for youth and young adults?

  2. In the classroom, how are spiritual and social elements related?

  3. What have you seen happen in a CES classroom when one of these elements was out of balance?

Group Work

Separate teachers into small groups and have them identify some of the elements of a “positive and uplifting setting” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 5). Have groups record their considerations intwo columns under the headings “Social Setting” and “Spiritual Setting.” When they have finished, invite the groups to share their ideas. Following the discussion, give teachers a few minutes to prepare a plan for improving the social and spiritual climate of their classroom.

Suggested Training Activities: Preparing Young People for Effective Church Service (15 minutes)


Invite teachers to read the material under “Preparing Young People for Effective Church Service” (handbook, 5–6). Ask teachers: How can religious education in CES prepare young people for effective Church service?


Read together the second statement from handout 4 by Elder Boyd K. Packer.

Knowledge of Fundamental Gospel Principles

“Some time ago I interviewed a young bishop in Brazil. He was twenty-seven years old. I was impressed that he possessed every attribute of a successful Church leader— humility, testimony, appearance, intelligence, spirituality. Here, I thought, is a young man with a great future in the Church.

“I asked myself, as I looked at him, ‘What will his future be? What will we do for him? What will we do to him?’ In my mind I outlined the years ahead.

“He will be a bishop for perhaps six years, then he will be thirty-three years old. He will then serve eight years on a stake high council and five years as a counselor in the stake presidency. At forty-six he will be called as a stake president. We will release him after six years to become a regional representative, and he will serve for five years. That means he will have spent thirty years as an ideal, the example to follow, the image, the leader.

“However, in all that time, he will not have attended three gospel doctrine classes in a row, nor will he have attended three priesthood quorum lessons in a row.

“Brethren, do you see yourselves in this illustration?

“Unless he knew the fundamental principles of the gospel before his call, he will scarcely have time to learn them along the way” (“Principles,” Ensign, Mar. 1985, 8–9).

Ask teachers: How does a knowledge of the fundamental principles of the gospel prepare young people for effective Church service?

Group Work

Distribute copies of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, published by the Church in 1990. Invite teachers to form pairs or small groups and read the section entitled “Friendshipping” on page 9 and “Conclusion: Worthiness and Service” on page 19. Have teachers look for ways students can serve and fellowship in and out of class. Following the group work, have them share their findings and compare them with what they read in the handbook.