Starting January 2019, we have been instructed to focus on the home-centered and Church-supported gospel learning.
When the announcement was first given last October, initial focus was placed on the “two-hour Church.” While many members welcomed the change, some did express disappointment for having “less Church.” As we attend Church, we can feel the sweet spirit during our worship, which keeps us unspotted from the world. 1Some members have described our sabbath day worship as a way to recharge our spiritual batteries, enabling us to survive the challenges of the world. With the increased challenges of the world, recharging our spirituality once a week will not be sufficient. We need to be actively seeking to recharge our spirituality more frequently.
President Russell M. Nelson explained that “the adversary is increasing his attacks on faith and upon us and our families at an exponential rate. To survive spiritually, we need counterstrategies and proactive plans.” 2 Apparently, the new guidance is a “proactive plan” that requires us to act, instead of being acted upon.3
President Nelson taught us that, “As Latter-day Saints, we have become accustomed to thinking of ‘church’ as something that happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what happens at home. We need an adjustment to this pattern. It is time for a home-centered Church,supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings.”2
Speaking of “Church support,” my initial reaction was focused on how to ensure that members are effectively utilizing the extra one hour each Sunday to study the gospel. However, Elder Quentin L. Cook reminded us “to counsel together and to seek revelation for implementing these adjustments—while not looking beyond the mark or trying to regiment individuals or families.”4
to counsel together and to seek revelation for implementing these adjustments—while not looking beyond the mark or trying to regiment individuals or families.Elder Quentin L. Cook
Family members should counsel together in finding what will work best according to their own circumstances. For you who are single, or belong to part member families, or have family members living far away, the Lord has also prepared a way for you to enjoy the blessings from home-centered gospel study.
When we implement the home-centered gospel learning, the following advice will be very helpful: “When we study the gospel, we're not just looking for new information; we want to become a “new creature.”5 “This means relying on Christ to change our hearts, our views, our actions, and our very natures.… True Conversion requires the influence of the Holy Ghost.”6
Since true conversion is the objective, and the influence of the Holy Ghost is crucial, focus should not be on how much or how fast we study at home. Efforts should be on our insights, testimonies and spiritual experiences; recording what we have learned; applying it into our lives; actively sharing our gospel knowledge with others; and engaging in activities that will invite the presence of the Holy Ghost.
It is commendable to acquire more gospel knowledge; a better understanding of the scriptures; and greater appreciations on the teachings, love, example, and sacrifice our Lord and Savior. However, it is more important to develop righteous family traditions and habits with our loved ones and to start gospel learning in our homes.
Elder David A. Bednar explained that “the power of the Savior’s gospel to transform and bless us flows from discerning and applying the interrelatedness of its doctrine, principles, and practices. Only as we gather together in one all things in Christ, with firm focus upon Him, can gospel truths synergistically enable us to become what God desires us to become and endure valiantly to the end.”7
“God has revealed a pattern of spiritual progress for individuals and families through ordinances, teaching, programs, and activities that are home-centered and Church supported. Church organizations and programs exist to bless individuals and families and are not ends in themselves.”8
As we exercise faith and move forward in practicing gospel learning at home, the Savior will bless us with increased understanding, greater love among our family members, enhanced strength in facing our daily challenges, and homes filled with joy and peace. I know that these new directions are from God because of His great love for us. In the name of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ. Amen.■
1 see D&C 59:9
2 Russell M. Nelson, Opening Remarks, General Conference, October 2018
3 see 2 Nephi 2:14
4 Quentin L. Cook, “Deep and Lasting Conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ', General Conference, October 2018
5 see 2 Corinthians 5:17
6 “Conversion Is Our Goal', Come, Follow Me -- For Individuals and Families
7 David A. Bednar, “Gather Together in One All Things in Christ”, General Conference, October 2018
8 Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 1.4)