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Why is it important to learn about my family history?

Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness enables family relationships to continue throughout eternity. Through family history work, we can learn more about our ancestors, identify and prepare the names of those who need gospel ordinances, and perform ordinance work for them in holy temples. The Church provides many resources to help us learn about our family history and participate in temple work for the dead.

Prepare yourself spiritually

Use the resources below to understand more about family history work. Your own experiences with family history work, including experiencing the activities in this outline, will help you teach it effectively. Consider how the activities in this outline can help you plan ways to engage the youth in family history work. What will help the youth understand the importance of learning their family history?

1 Corinthians 15:29 (Members in ancient times performed baptisms for the dead)

1 Peter 3:18–20; 4:6 (The gospel is preached in the spirit world)

Malachi 4:5–6; D&C 2:1–3 (The hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers)

D&C 110:13–16 (Elijah restores the sealing keys)

D&C 128:16–18 (Ordinances for the dead create a welding link between generations)

Henry B. Eyring, “Gathering the Family of God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 19–22

Richard G. Scott, “The Joy of Redeeming the Dead,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 93–95

David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 24–27

Family History Work and Genealogy,” True to the Faith (2004), 61–64

Website: “Youth and Family History

Videos: “Elder Bednar Addresses Youth,” “The Spirit of Elijah,” “Family History: What I Found,” “#MeetMyGrandma,” “Youth Rising to the Call”

Make connections

During the first few minutes of every class, help the youth make connections between things they are learning in various settings (such as personal study, seminary, other Church classes, or experiences with their friends). How can you help them see the relevance of the gospel in daily living? The ideas below might help you:

  • Invite several of the youth to share a gospel principle that they recently learned from a parent, sibling, or other family member.
  • Invite the youth to share experiences they have had doing family history work (such as being baptized for an ancestor, participating in indexing, or preparing the name of an ancestor for temple ordinances). You could also show the videos “#MeetMyGrandma” or “Family History: What I Found.” Discuss as a class why Heavenly Father wants us to do family history work.

Learn together

Each of the activities below will help the youth learn how to participate in family history work. Following the inspiration of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for your class:

  • As a class, read together the last six paragraphs of President Henry B. Eyring’s talk “Gathering the Family of God” (or watch the video of President Eyring saying these paragraphs), looking for blessings that come from participating in family history and temple work. Do you have any youth in your class who could bear their testimonies of these blessings? Consider setting a goal as a class to become more involved in family history work. For example, class members could prepare family names to take with them the next time they attend the temple.
  • As a class, read “An Invitation to the Rising Generation” from Elder David A. Bednar’s talk “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn.” Invite the youth to find things they can do to participate in family history work. If possible, show the youth how to use to find ancestors who need ordinances. Encourage them to go to the temple and be baptized and confirmed for the ancestors they find. With the permission of the bishop, you may want to invite the ward family history consultant (or someone else who has experience doing family history work) to help with this activity. 
  • Ask the youth to read the three paragraphs of Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk “The Joy of Redeeming the Dead,” beginning with the phrase “Any work you do in the temple.” Invite them to look for and share reasons it is important to do family history work. Ask them to read the last two paragraphs of the talk and discuss things they could “set aside” in order to research their ancestors. To help the youth act on what they have learned, help them brainstorm ways they can accept Elder Neil L. Andersen’s temple challenge (see for a description of the four parts of the challenge).
  • Invite half of the youth to read the “Redeeming the Dead” section (pages 62-63) of the “Family History Work and Genealogy” entry in True to the Faith, and ask the other half to read the section called “Your Responsibilities in Family History Work” (pages 63–64). Ask them to share with each other what they learned. Help the youth begin completing a pedigree chart. Encourage them to continue working on their pedigree charts at home. Invite them to ask their parents or other family members to help.
  • Several days before class, ask a class member to review the Youth and Family History website and come prepared to teach the class how to get started with family history. He or she may want to show the video “Elder Bednar Addresses Youth.”
  • Invite the youth to read the scriptures suggested in this outline, pondering the question “Why do we do family history work?” Ask them to share their thoughts. They could also look for answers in the video “Youth Rising to the Call.” Invite them to list ways they can participate in family history work. Some ideas may include interviewing family members, recording memories, learning about their ancestors, adding photos and stories to, teaching others how to use, or doing indexing. Invite them to choose something from the list that they want to work on during the coming week. Encourage them to share their experiences in a future class.

Ask the youth to share what they learned today. Do they understand the importance of learning about their family history? What feelings or impressions do they have? Do they have any additional questions? Would it be helpful to spend more time on this doctrine?

Invite to act

Ask the youth what they feel inspired to do because of what they learned today. Encourage them to act on these feelings. Consider ways you can follow up.