Getting the Most Out of Sacrament Meeting

by Darrin Lythgoe

You go into sacrament meeting every week, but how much are you taking out?

Sacrament meeting is an ideal place to fuel up on spiritual energy, so try to tap into the following advice.

Start Off Right

To have a good experience at sacrament meeting, you’ve got to start preparing before you reach the chapel doors. Why not try to—

  • Plan to keep the sabbath day holy before Sunday arrives. Setting a spiritual tone is important, and having a goal will keep your intentions in focus.

  • Get enough sleep Saturday night. If you end up dozing through meetings, you obviously won’t learn very much.

  • Get up early enough so you don’t have to rush. Be at the meetinghouse in time to find a good seat and enjoy the service right from the start.

  • Dress appropriately. Dressing your best will get you in the right spirit to show reverence and respect. This is especially important if you are administering the sacrament.

  • Enter the chapel reverently. If you see friends, greet them warmly, but remember where you are.

  • Pray that you will be alert, understand the speakers, feel the Spirit, and be able to remember and apply what you learn.

During the Program

Now that your mind and heart are open and prepared, you’re ready to learn. A few more ideas will help:

  • Put aside anything that may be a distraction. Don’t doodle or play with your personal belongings.

  • Keep your mind on the subject. Resist the temptation to daydream about last night’s big game, next weekend’s dance, or why your brother’s socks don’t match.

  • Try not to overreact to crying babies or other noises. Unless you’re in a position to help, ignore minor disturbances.

  • Show reverence for the sacrament. We take the sacrament to renew the covenants we made at baptism and to help us remember the atonement of Jesus Christ. Listen to the prayers. As the bread and water are passed, think of what they stand for and what Jesus did for us.

  • Listen carefully to the speakers. Assume they are talking directly to you. Ask yourself if the Lord is sending you a message through them.

  • Avoid the classic “bored” position (your elbows on your knees and your head in your hands or on the bench in front of you). That can be distracting for the speaker, and is a better stance for snoozing than for learning.

  • As you listen, try to recognize the Holy Ghost testifying of truth. Listen hard, with your ears and your heart. Let the feelings you have make a deep impression, and try to remember it.

  • Take notes of the things you think you’d like to look back on later. You might even carry a Church meeting notebook or journal. You’ll retain a lot more of what you learn as you write it down.

  • If it’s fast and testimony meeting, or if the speaker is bearing his testimony, be aware of your own testimony and how you got it.

  • Don’t watch the clock. Counting the minutes will only make a meeting longer. It could also offend or intimidate the speaker.

  • Take it with you. The messages delivered during sacrament meeting aren’t meant only for Sundays. Keep them fresh during the week by reading your notes and by making a real effort to incorporate them in your life.

Sacrament Scriptures

To prepare you before the meeting, or to get you back on the right track during the sacrament, you might try looking up the following scriptures:

For Some Must Push and Some Must Pull

Last year marked the Oregon Trail’s 150th anniversary, and to celebrate, young women from the Unity First Ward, Burley Idaho Stake, decided to try a four-day, authentic pioneer trek along the trail that runs close to their homes.

They donned pioneer skirts and bonnets and ditched modern conveniences like makeup for the 32-mile trek. They camped out, pressed their own fresh cider, made “johnny cakes,” and listened to numerous stories about pioneer experiences along the way. Every night two girls kept watch over the horses, camp, and fire.

On the last day, as they tromped into Oakley, Idaho, they noticed a man standing on the balcony of one of the original pioneer homes. As they got closer, they realized it was Elder David B. Haight. He greeted the tired group and invited them into his ancestral home, recounting the history of the area, and bearing his testimony that “the gospel is the hope of the world.” By the time the trek was through, the young women had learned more about hope than they’d ever dreamed.

It’s Okay to Blow Them Up

If you want to use a dynamite Mormonad in a lesson, on a bulletin board, or on the wall of your room but you don’t want to cut up your magazine, or if you want the Mormonad in a larger size, there’s a solution. Take the whole magazine to a local copy center that makes color copies. For a few dollars they can make a color copy up to double the size with fairly good results. And take this notice with you so they’ll know we give permission to copy Mormonads for personal or Church noncommercial, incidental use.

Not Just Hot Air

Even though Susan Chappel of Edinburgh, Scotland, is learning to play the bagpipes at one of her city’s top bagpipe schools, she’s got a lot more going for her than strong lungs. She also gets great grades at school, works part-time on a farm, plays badminton, fences, plays guitar and piano, reads old Scottish poetry—the list goes on and on.

Still, her major goal is to serve a mission. “I’d really love to go,” she says. “Missionaries get people interested, help them understand the gospel. I love to share my feelings of the gospel, and I think it would be a wonderful feeling to have someone I’ve taught want to be baptised.”

What Comes Around Goes Around

The youth of the Harbor Ward, Palos Verdes Stake, California, have been going down to help members of the Mexico Tijuana Stake for about ten years. They’ve built and repaired homes, renovated chapels, and done roofing and landscaping. This year the youth from Tijuana returned the favor.

As part of a neighborhood antigraffiti campaign, the Tijuana Saints came north to work with the Palos Verdes Stake to paint and clean a high school in Wilmington. The project was so unique it got lots of media coverage.

The Mexican youth were granted weekend visitors’ passes. They spent hours cleaning debris from the Banning High campus courtyard and repainting graffiti-marred walls. After the work was finished, the youth got together for a night of multicultural food and entertainment. The Tijuana Saints performed several ethnic dances and musical numbers. They stayed in members’ homes, and on Sunday morning had a joint sacrament meeting.

“They are really a model group of Latter-day Saints,” said Bishop David Bond of the Harbor Ward. “They did a lot of good for our ward.”

Abseiling Anyone?

One of the highlights of the Waverly Australia Stake’s girls’ camp was instruction in abseiling, which many of you know as rappelling, or “descending a steep drop by a rope.” They said it required good communication and cooperation to successfully negotiate the ropes, and those were two of the skills they were working on at camp.

Of course they also worked on unity, spirituality, and integrity. Activities like a testimony meeting, a night compass hike, and a “commando course” helped them with that. “I look forward to camp every year so we can baecome a ‘circle of friends,’” said Emma Walker, quoting the camp’s theme.

Hats Off

The Beehives of the Centerville 20th Ward in Utah had a great time making hats for the children at a local oncology camp. Because the children are being treated for cancer, many of them lose their hair. They love the hats with fun decorations like buttons, beads, bows, flowers, toy cars, and trains—even plastic bugs that the Beehives used. What a way to cap off a service project!

No Sleeping In

Young Women of the Mountain View Sixth Ward, West Jordan, Utah, didn’t use long summer days to sleep in last August. Instead they increased their testimonies and felt the Spirit as they met every morning at seven to read the Book of Mormon together out loud.

The object was to finish the Book of Mormon by the end of the summer so they would be “armed” with the power of God. They said it was their way of putting on the “armor of the Lord.”

By the end of the month, they’d read the entire Book of Mormon and developed a new spiritual camaraderie. Armed like this, they were more excited than ever for a new school year.

Gentle Persuasion

This is a great story! Kirsten Leichty, who is a Mia Maid and attends the Bitburg American High School in Germany, had the assignment to give a persuasive speech in her honors English class.

What better topic to speak on than the Book of Mormon? With the help of her family and her ward missionaries, she got enough copies of the Book of Mormon to give one to each member of her class. She then spoke about it, bore testimony of it, and challenged the class to read at least ten pages of it.

She got an “A” on her assignment because she was so persuasive. Almost everyone read it. “The buzz she sent rippling through the school was immediate,” said LDS schoolmate Joe Roller. “Not only were the students eager to ask Kirsten questions, but the other 20 or so of us LDS students had the opportunity to add our testimonies to Kirsten’s.”

With all the seeds she planted, this great story might never end.

Photography by Matt Reier