Principles of Teaching Youth
Strengthen the Family
The ideal place for youth to learn and live the gospel is at home, under the loving guidance of righteous parents. A Christ-centered home gives youth the best preparation to receive the sacred ordinances of the gospel. (See Teaching, No Greater Call, 127–43.)
For this reason, the auxiliaries, activities, and programs of the Church (including the Duty to God and Personal Progress books, For the Strength of Youth, and youth curriculum materials) exist to support parents as they help their sons and daughters become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Lord commanded, “First seek to obtain my word” (D&C 11:21). Part of preparing spiritually is studying for yourself the doctrine you will teach. The Spirit will guide you to that which will be most relevant and helpful to the youth. Then, as you strive to live what you teach, you will be able to testify of the truthfulness of the gospel from your own experience. (See Teaching, No Greater Call, 12–20.)
Helping youth become converted requires the combined efforts of parents, leaders, advisers, and teachers, including seminary teachers. Counsel together about the needs of the youth. Find out what they are learning at home, at church, and in seminary so that you can build on it as you teach them. Together you will be able to create a much more powerful learning experience for the youth than you could accomplish separately.
There are many opportunities for parents, teachers, advisers, and leaders to counsel together. Here are some examples:
- Leadership meetings, such as ward council or bishopric youth committee meetings.
- Brief, informal gatherings before or after regular Church meetings.
- Telephone or email communications.
Minister to the Youth
Teaching youth means more than just imparting information. Christlike teaching involves mentoring and encouraging the youth in their personal efforts to live the gospel in daily life. It may include reaching out to them beyond regularly scheduled meetings, classes, and activities.
Try to love the youth as Heavenly Father loves them. He sees the best in them; He has patience as they grow. He encourages them even when they struggle to do what is right, and He never gives up. (See Teaching, No Greater Call, 31–39.)
Teach the Gospel
In all gospel teaching, the Spirit is the real teacher. If you seek His guidance, He will touch your heart and inspire those you teach.
One of the best ways to invite the Spirit is to engage the youth in discussing the scriptures and the most recent teachings from living prophets. The online learning outlines will help you find the most relevant resources.
Often the youth have their own spiritual experiences and insights to share. They can do this in family home evening, in classes or quorum meetings, in Mutual activities, as guests in Primary, or in many other formal and informal settings. When they share their testimonies with each other, the Spirit bears witness, and all are edified. (See Teaching, No Greater Call, 50–59.)