Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared:
Living prophets are leading this church today. The greatest security of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comes from learning to listen to and obey the words and commandments that the Lord has given through living prophets. I would hope that the world would understand the importance of having a living prophet on earth today. (In Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 19; or Ensign, May 1995, 17)
As the teacher for this course, you have the opportunity of helping your students recognize the blessing of living in a day when living prophets are upon the earth. You can help them know that Heavenly Father speaks today as He has in all dispensations. When the living prophets speak in an authoritative capacity to the members of the Church, what they say is “the mind of the Lord, … the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” (D&C 68:4).
Prayerfully study the scriptures and general conference addresses. Seek the Holy Spirit as you choose learning activities that help students grow spiritually. Help students discover, understand, and live the truths presented in the conferences of the Church.
This manual supplements your preparation by providing introductory information to the chapters, identifying scriptures and gospel principles, and suggesting ways you can help students understand the doctrine and apply it in their lives.
Religion 333 is designed to be taught in a single semester. This manual contains seven chapters:
Our Need for Living Prophets
The Living Prophet: The President of the Church
Succession in the Presidency
The Quorum of the First Presidency
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Studying General Conference Addresses
The first six chapters include content and insights that you can use as a resource as you teach the doctrinal foundations for this class. As the teacher you have the flexibility to teach these lessons the first six class periods of the semester or to spread them throughout the semester. Chapter 7 provides ideas on multiple methods for teaching the words of the General Authorities from the most recent conference issue of the Ensign or Liahona magazine. The remaining class periods should be taught from the conference issue.
The lessons in this manual are designed to last 50 minutes. If your class meets twice a week, each lesson should last approximately 50 minutes. If you meet only once a week, each lesson should last approximately 90 minutes. For a 90-minute class you might teach one of the lessons from this manual as well as material from the Ensign or Liahona. You will need to adapt the course material to your individual teaching circumstances. During a typical semester, instruction from the Ensign or Liahona will constitute approximately 75 percent of the classroom time.
Each chapter in this manual has three sections:
Some Doctrines and Principles
Ideas for Teaching
The “Introduction” section highlights general themes contained in the chapter and will help you gain a quick vision of the overall topic.
The section entitled “Some Doctrines and Principles” contains a list of central doctrines and principles related to that lesson topic. In addition to the doctrines and principles identified in the manual, you might find other important truths in the scriptures or conference issues of the Ensign or Liahona that you feel meet the needs of your students. This is your prerogative as the teacher. However, you may wish to survey the other chapters in the manual before teaching additional principles. If a principle or doctrine is not addressed in the suggested lesson material, it may be presented in another chapter that supports the topic more completely.
The “Ideas for Teaching” section provides a specific teaching idea for each of the items identified under “Some Doctrines and Principles.” This section may also contain teaching suggestions for significant ideas not listed under “Some Doctrines and Principles.” These “Ideas for Teaching” help you prepare lesson material and learning activities. Adapt the lesson suggestions to fit the classroom environment, student needs, and time constraints.
Commentary in the student manual. The Teachings of the Living Prophets Student Manual (Religion 333) contains valuable commentary by General Authorities and general officers of the Church. Several teaching ideas in the teacher manual refer you to the commentary found in the student manual. Encourage students to use this resource both in and outside of class. Furthermore, each chapter of the student manual concludes with a “Points to Ponder” and “Suggested Assignments” section. The questions under “Points to Ponder” and the activities in “Suggested Assignments” help students consider more carefully the supplemental readings. Many of these questions and activities can also be adapted into teaching ideas for use in class.
Words of the living prophets, General Authorities, and general officers of the Church. As you study current talks given in general conference and articles in Church magazines, look for additional material that could supplement the lessons in this manual.
Seminaries and Institutes of Religion website. Seminaries and Institutes of Religion also has a website, si.lds.org, with many resources that may help you.
Use the general conference addresses of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles extensively to supplement this manual as you prepare lessons and present information in class. Messages by members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles found in Church magazines, talks given on other occasions, or official communications that are periodically sent out by the Brethren may also be considered.
The manual could be used in several ways, including the following:
You may choose to closely follow the teaching suggestions as outlined.
You may use this manual as a study guide to identify principles and themes you want to develop in your lesson.
Choose doctrines, principles, events, and applications that are most important for your students to know and do. Much of what you teach will come from this manual and the student manual; however, be sure to consider using scriptures to supplement the principles from the manuals. Let the promptings of the Holy Ghost and the needs of your students guide you as you decide what to teach. (For more information on what to teach, see Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook for CES Teachers and Leaders, 2, 19–22.)
You are not obligated to teach all of the suggested doctrine and principles in each chapter, and you will likely find that you do not have the time to do so. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled, “Remember, your highest priority is not to get through all the material if that means that it cannot be properly absorbed. Do what you are able to do with understanding” (“To Understand and Live Truth” [address to CES religious educators, Feb. 4, 2005], 2).
Remember the role of the student as you select different teaching methods for a lesson. Speaking to religious educators, President J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961) stated, “You do not have to sneak up behind this spiritually experienced youth and whisper religion in his ears” (“The Charted Course of the Church in Education” [address to seminary and institute of religion leaders, Aug. 8, 1938], 6). You can expect students to be spiritually mature and to take their role as learners seriously. When organizing your lesson, help your students take responsibility for their learning. The following suggestions may be helpful:
Encourage students to read assigned sections of the student manual or general conference addresses and corresponding scriptures before each lesson.
Give students the opportunity to ask and answer questions. Good questions are a valuable tool in helping students take responsibility for their learning. You may wish to occasionally invite students to come to class with a question written down. Help students see that the questions they ask in class may prove to be more important in the learning process than questions asked by the teacher. As they study the teachings of the living prophets, encourage students to identify principles, explain meanings, share insights, and bear testimony of the truths they learn. Create an environment where students feel the Spirit of the Lord and have the privilege and responsibility to listen and speak to edify one another (see D&C 88:122).
Look for opportunities to use key passages of scripture as a second and third witness to the principles you teach from the curriculum. Allow time for students to identify verses of scripture that add insight or witness to the principles being taught.
Avoid using lecture as the only teaching method. Instead, allow students to discover truths by guiding them to truths you and others have found. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that effective teachers help students find answers for themselves:
“I have observed a common characteristic among the instructors who have had the greatest influence in my life. They have helped me to seek learning by faith. They refused to give me easy answers to hard questions. In fact, they did not give me any answers at all. Rather, they pointed the way and helped me take the steps to find my own answers. I certainly did not always appreciate this approach, but experience has enabled me to understand that an answer given by another person usually is not remembered for very long, if remembered at all. But an answer we discover or obtain through the exercise of faith, typically, is retained for a lifetime” (“Seek Learning by Faith” [an evening with Elder David A. Bednar, Feb. 3, 2006], 5).
Rather than disseminate information through lecture only, look for teaching methods that will help students take a more active role in the learning process. (For more information on how to teach, see Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook for CES Teachers and Leaders, 2–3, 19–20, 23–24.)
Invite students to apply the counsel of the prophets. Help them become disciples of Jesus Christ and not just gospel scholars. Elder David A. Bednar further counseled us to help students go “beyond mere cognitive comprehension and the retaining and recalling of information” in order to help them “put off the natural man (see Mosiah 3:19), to change [their] hearts (see Mosiah 5:2)” (“Seek Learning by Faith,” 3).
When teaching students with disabilities, adapt the lessons to meet their needs. For example, many lessons require students to read either aloud or silently and to write responses on paper. To adapt to nonreading students, you might consider reading aloud yourself, having fellow students read, or using prerecorded materials to narrate the scriptures (such as an audiotape, CD, or mp3). When lessons call for written responses, you might encourage oral responses instead.
For more ideas and resources, go to disabilities.lds.org and the section in the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Policy Manual (2009) on “Adapting Classes and Programs for Students with Disabilities” (available at si.lds.org).